The Stovall House is being transitioned from a dusty historic residence to a lively modern-day social club. But the transformation revives much more than iconic architecture; it also marks the emergence of Tampa as a mecca for community innovation.
The gorgeous Gulf Coast city of Tampa continues to rank as one of the leading cities in the U.S. for real estate investment, both residential and commercial. It is an exciting time for the area, which is experiencing a boom of economic development due to its expanding diversified job market, property equity growth, and an influx of influential residents. Attracting the attention of high-profile investors, such as Tampa Bay Lighting team owner Jeff Vinik and billionaire Bill Gates, the entire metropolitan area is benefitting from both commercial and cultural investments – including the $3 billion Water Street Tampa redevelopment project. But this isn’t the first time that Tampa has witnessed this kind of renaissance. In fact, South Tampa as we know it was established during a similar era of entrepreneurship and development. And The Stovall House has always been situated at the heart of the magic.
Following railroad advancements at the start of the 20th century, Tampa was a thriving commercial trade hub – attracting entrepreneurial innovators across many emerging industries. A wave of affluent residents moved to the South Tampa area, filling nearby neighborhoods with grand-scale homes of various extravagant architectural styles. The most coveted communities during this period of growth were those surrounding Bayshore Boulevard. The boulevard itself caresses three picturesque miles of coastline, overlooking the Hillsborough Bay and Davis Islands.
After years of improvements in trolley systems, it eventually stretched along the waterfront from Ballast Point Park to downtown Tampa, connecting the charming neighborhoods of Hyde Park, Parkland Estates, and Bayshore Beautiful along the way. Over the years, the area attracted high members of society and, subsequently, began to boast an eclectic array of lavish architectural details. Even today, on a stroll through the oak-lined streets, one can enjoy the beauty of craftsman, Mediterranean, bungalow, and colonial-style residences.
The Stovall House is one of the best examples of neoclassical revival architecture in the area. Located at 4621 Bayshore Boulevard, the home was originally built in 1909 by L.T Trousdale of the Florida Brewing Company. On an estate of 2.6 acres, the main house is surrounded by lush native gardens and ornamental fountains, immersing guests in a native “old-time Florida” landscape. The property earned its moniker after being acquired in 1915 by the Stovall family, who were prominent members of Tampa society over generations.
Colonel Wallace F. Stovall worked as an editor of the Tampa Tribune in 1910. His son, Wallace O. Stovall Sr., worked as the newspaper’s publisher. Architect B.C Bonfoey, of Bonfoey and Elliot, constructed the Wallace Stovall building in downtown Tampa in 1926. The prestigious firm designed many iconic buildings in the area, including Tampa City Hall. Even during less prosperous times, the Stovall’s were committed to the benefit of Tampa’s residents.
During the Great Depression, the Wallace Stovall building served as headquarters for the Works Progress Administration – an American New Deal agency that provided millions of citizens with employment opportunities through public works projects, reinvesting in their communities. Between 1934 and 1939, the WPA funded extensive renovations along Bayshore Boulevard, raising the seawall and installing the white beaux-arts style balustrade that has become emblematic of the park.
In recognition of the home’s neo-classical features and the social significance of its former residents, The Stovall House was added to the National Registry of Historic Places on September 4, 1974. It was most recently owned and occupied by Coca-Cola executive Harry Teasley and, until recently, has remained a residential property.
Since then, Tampa has evolved – and with progress, bits of history inevitably become displaced. During the 1960s, some of the once iconic residences were demolished to build high-rise condominiums. But the community along Bayshore Boulevard is intent on saving these local landmarks. As part of its mission to oversee responsible development, Tampa’s Architectural Review provides guidelines for renovations made on the structures in these neighborhoods. In an effort to preserve history, some homes have been creatively repurposed, giving them another chance at being restored to their proper stature. The nearby Taliaferro house, which features a grand portico that resembles those of the Stovall House, now serves as home to Tampa’s Center for Women. Similar approaches have proven successful in the area, such as the revisioning of Tampa’s Armature Works – which was recently transformed from a 106-year-old public transportation “barn” to a bustling entertainment destination.
And now, as Tampa merges its economic momentum with fond memories of eras past, The Stovall House is embracing a unique opportunity to do the same. The estate’s new owners, Blake and Tate Casper are committed to reviving the history of the home while restoring its cultural and economic benefit to the community. The pair has proven victorious in similar endeavors, with the success of Oxford Exchange – where they converted a century-old building into a multi-use community space in the heart of Tampa.
The Stovall House will take on a second life as a “modern-day iteration” of a private social club. The club strives to become a centerpiece of Tampa society, offering members a place to connect and converge, while immersing themselves in the same natural aesthetic that surrounded the visionaries of the city’s past. The home itself features several spaces for lively conversations or quiet contemplations. The grounds will host events with lavish hospitality, with a variety of meticulously designed indoor and outdoor gathering spaces. On the property, members can enjoy culinary excellence at The Orangery or after-dinner libations at Harry’s Bar.
The property also boasts a glorious greenhouse. The structure, which former resident Teasley called “The Orchid House,” was originally designed in England and assembled on the grounds. The Caspers have worked closely with FleischmanGarcia – an award-winning architecture firm that has been part of Tampa’s community since 1972. The firm, along with other local preservationists, has expressed its faith in The Stovall House team.
“Local historic buildings contribute to the area’s aesthetic and cultural history and stand as a reminder of its permanency and heritage,” FleischmanGarcia said. By modernizing the property while honoring its legacy, the Caspers have ensured that the iconic estate will be saved for generations.
Their vision revitalizes not only the architectural essence of the property but the social importance as well. History repeats itself, and Tampa is currently experiencing a modern renaissance. It is important that, through progress, we honor the sense of society that made South Tampa the place we love to live in today. Projects like The Stovall House embody that mission, instilling a sense of our community’s future through the lens of the past – just as the Stovall’s themselves would have wished.
The other luxurious homes near The Stovall House capture that essence as well. From the canopied streets of Hyde Park to the palatial residences of Bayshore Beautiful, a lush Florida oasis awaits you. To find your perfect piece of paradise, contact Jaime Brown of Tampa Homestyles today.
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