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Hillsborough Education Foundation restoring historic West Tampa building

Hillsborough Education Foundation renovations
Posted at 12:09 PM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 12:09:12-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The Hillsborough Education Foundation is located right in the heart of West Tampa.

They're located on North Howard Avenue and they're restoring their building which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

"It actually came out of a Mutual Aid Society of immigrants that came over and were working in the factories, hand-rolling those Cuban cigars, and they outgrew their membership. So they built this building in 1910. It's a National Historic Building. It's also actually owned by the city. And we rent for $1. But we're responsible for the maintenance of the building," says Kim Jowell, CEO of the Hillsborough Education Foundation.

The non-profit is renovating 83 windows and 28 doors in their 110-year-old building. They are fully restoring the building with materials that were available in 1911 and using specialized treatment made to last decades.

Jowell says, "And and you know, for us, it's about our workplace, but it's also about being part of a community and doing our part and preserving the wonderful history we have here in Tampa Bay."

The building was constructed as El Centro Espanols Clubhouse, know as El Palacio, or palace in Spanish.

It served as a gathering space back then. But now, El Centro Espanol de Tampa is back and sharing a portion of this space with the HEF.

"So they have a part of the building in the front. And it's so wonderful to see some of their members come through and tell stories about when they were a kid and they came here or their parents were here. So I tease them though because the downstairs area was the men-only area evidently at its time. And then the theater that we have that still has some pieces of, you know, the original building and the beauty, but it's really a gem for us to be able to be here and make sure that we do our part and being good tenants," says Jowell.

They hope the project will be complete sometime this summer.