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Historic Tampa Heights elementary school that burned down expected to reopen Jan. 2021

Posted at 3:57 PM, Dec 11, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. -- A $20 million project is underway in Tampa Heights to restore the historic elementary school that burned down after Hurricane Irma.

In September of 2017, a storm from Hurricane Irma tore the roof off the historic Robert E. Lee Elementary School, causing rain to get inside the structure. We’re told when power was restored, it started an electrical fire, causing the school to burn down.

“The only thing we have salvaged is the bricks,” said Sol Fleischman, the architect from Fleischman Garcia.

In June, a construction firm began the demolition and construction process that will take at least another year to finish.

The school will have a major security update that now includes only one entrance and exit.

In total, the construction firm with JE Dunn, said they were able to save 51,000 of the original bricks.

The architect and the construction company are keeping the integrity of the original structure with the original arches and bricks around the building.

“The new entry will be a three story atrium, that has a grand stair way in it and when you walk in it will be flooded with light,” said Fleischman.


The school district filed an insurance claim that will pay for the damages of the school.

The plan is for construction to be done in November of 2020 and students will move in after winter break in January of 2021.