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Historic Seminole Heights homes add character to neighborhood

Old Seminole Heights
Posted at 5:18 AM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 08:19:55-04

SEMINOLE HEIGHTS, Fla.  — Located right on I-275, you may have passed through Old Seminole Heights dozens of times.

"Seminole Heights is located in the urban core. So we're about 10 minutes north of downtown, easy access to the interstate. A lot of people like the fact that they can quickly get to the airport, get downtown for meetings, and yet you still feel completely separated from downtown. Some people like to call it a bohemian urban village. So very diverse, very connected neighborhood," said Tim Keeports, President of the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association.

The community is full of character from the businesses and the people to the homes.

Just about every single home in Old Seminole Heights is different and unique, with its own sense of charm.

Many of these historic homes were built in the early 1900s. At one point, the trolley ran right through this neighborhood.

Allan Dobbs has lived in this neighborhood for many years.

"This will make everyone groan but I paid all of $21,000 for it in 1973. Spent a lot of time renovating that house," Dobbs said.

Dobbs, like many others here, has seen the neighborhood change over the years, too.

"But one of the really exciting changes in this neighborhood has been the commercial component. So many restaurants have moved in. I worked with one of the people that had one of the very first restaurants and they were there, they actually move the building from Florida when they are from Hillsborough, when they moved it to Florida. That was the refinery. And then after that all the places just took off. And now Seminole Heights is a real destination for food-type people," said Dobbs.

There's no doubt this neighborhood has seen change over the years. The Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association and its residents are very involved.

"But even moving in 25 years ago, it was fun to go to the old established old fashion diners and things that were here. Now, we've lost some of those. Nikos we've lost, still have the Three Coins, but there's also something appealing about those kinds of places that survived," explained resident Bruce Gibson.

Aside from the businesses, the homes are classics, too. Various kinds, from Japanese bungalows to colonials and there's something different to see on every street.

The City of Tampa requires these home and business owners to go to the Architectural Review and Historic Preservation Board to make any structural changes. The goal is to keep the integrity of the neighborhood.

"I figured out a while back just by chance. I've never lived in a house younger than I am. And I since my whole life was an older house that just spells home to me. And this neighborhood is kind of like a small town. As Bruce said you don't go much of anywhere without running into people you know," said Bill Hunter.

It's true. While this neighborhood is part of the City of Tampa, you certainly feel like you're in a small town with a true sense of pride.

"Living here is a commitment and finding someplace to live and once you get in you have to understand that you know you're a steward of these old homes and it definitely is worth it," said Francine Messano.

Every year the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association put on a home tour for people to really take a look at what makes these homes unique. The amount of work some of the residents do to keep the integrity of their home, too. It's not cheap to take care of an older home.

"We have usually somewhere in the range of 600 to 800 people attend. And it's surprising the number of people that you'll get to know who will say the reason I settled and bought in Seminole Heights, including myself, is because they went on a home tour," explained Keeports. "It helps with the preservation, it gives people an opportunity to see what other people have done, design-wise. We also often showcase some of the preservationists, so some of the people that will restore wood floors or restore windows. We also in the historic district, focus heavily on maintaining the integrity of those homes."

Anyone can join the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association for just $10.

There are also tons of events in this community, including porch parties and dog walking Saturdays.

You can find out more by clicking here.