THE SULPHUR SPRINGS WATER TOWER…
Once I began REALLY noticing Tampa’s “Castle” again, it still took me several more months to get around to ACTUALLY looking into the story behind it. What I found out was interesting to say the least…
RAPUNZEL RAPUNZEL LET DOWN YOUR…AQUIFER!
In the early 1920s, Real Estate Promoter, Josiah Richardson, was quickly developing the area surrounding the Hillsborough River. With plans well underway for a resort & an arcade (known as Maves & would be known as the 1st official mall in Hillsborough!), he needed to make sure that he would be able to provide a large enough supply of clean water to keep everything going. So in 1925, he commissioned Grover Poole (Fitting name!) & construction began on a concrete, 214-foot water tower! By 1927, the castle like structure, fit for a King, stood tall over a boiling spring. The top of the castle served as an observation balcony that overlooked the Hillsborough River & an elevator was added to take anyone wanting a panoramic view up to the top deck. Richardson had wanted to add club rooms on the floors between the spring-fed base and the storage tank but unfortunately, That ship sank faster than the Titanic!
Between the Great Depression & the 1933, collapse of the Tampa Electric Company dam that ripped through downtown Tampa, the arcade was heavily damaged, the businesses in the arcade failed, and Richardson, who had mortgaged his resort & arcade to build the massive tower, lost everything.
SO, WHAT NOW?
The water tower sat unused for years until 2005, when the City of Tampa purchased the land & turned it into a “park” known today as “River Tower Park.” The castle like structure still stands, although boarded up to keep visitor’s out!
If you’re ever driving through Tampa, it’s definitely worth taking a detour to check it out! Just avoid going after dark as there is a large vagrant population that gather on the property & NOT all of the surrounding area is the best!
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