The H.B. Plant Museum is part of the University of Tampa, which was at one the old Tampa Bay Hotel. The hotel was built by Henry Plant and was a popular vacation destination when the railroad came through. The museum is quite small, but it traces the hotel's history including its brush with Teddy Roosevelt and Tampa's role in the Spanish-American war.
The best time to visit the museum is when it is having one of its exhibitions. During the Christmas season they have a Victorian Christmas Stroll and the building is beautifully decorated. Around Gasparilla they have an exhibit featuring the history of the festival. In February they had a nice collection of Victorian Valentines.
Don't expect this to keep you entertained for long. You'll be in and out in under two hours, but it is a beautiful piece of historic Tampa.
Henry Bradly "HB" Plant brought the railroad to Tampa after the civil war. He also built the enormous Tampa Bay Hotel which now is part of the University of Tampa. It costs $2,500,000 to build and another $500,000 to decorate the interior. By todays standards it might not seem like much but back when it was built in 1891 it was a fortune.
Theodore Roosevelt (former US president) and his Roughriders stayed on the grounds as they readied to go to Cuba to fight the Spanish American War. Once in Cuba they made their famous charge up San Juan Hill.
Even if you dont go inside for the history it is well worth visiting to see the golden minerettes which are a Tampa landmark.
There are often events on the lawn of the Museum such as open air concerts by the Florida Orchestra.
A dontation of $5 per adult $2 for children "is requested"
henry b. plant built the tampa bay hotel in 1891 at the cost of $2,500,000. plant was a railroad and steamship owner whose railroads connected west florida to the northern states. he owned a steamship company that sailed to cuba, the bahamas, jamaica, and new orleans from tampa bay. like flagler on the east coast plant did much to develop florida as a major winter tourist destination. today the tampa bay hotel is owned by the university of tampa. part of the hotel has been perserved as a museum to the guilded age of henry plant. an excellent place to visit to learn about florida at the turn of the 20th century.
Just look for the beautiful spires and you’ll find the former and totally over the top opulent Tampa Bay Hotel that was built in 1891. This building currently houses the University of Tampa and the Henry Plant Museum. The museum is mainly on the Spanish American War but the former hotel is free and well worth a quick look in.
A wonderful place to visit during the holidays when it’s lovely halls are decorated.
Tuesday to Friday 10 AM to 4 PM – with a guided tour at 1PM
Saturday 10AM to 4 PM
Sunday Noon to 4PM w/ live theater performances at 2PM (Sept to May)
Closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Christmas Even
Suggested Donation $5 adults, $2 Children
The University of Tampa is where my grandfather went to college. (It's also where my grandfather used to take my mom to walk around when she was a little girl and wouldn't sit still in church because she hated scratchy petticoats. I know, that an odd aside, but I love that story for some reason.)
Anyway, within the University of Tampa is housed the Henry B. Plant Museum and both the Plant Museum and some buildings of the University of Tampa are inside of the former Plant Hotel.
The museum is worth a spin through - my "cousin" (use the term loosely - I'm part Italian and on that side of the family, everyone's your freaking "cousin") got married in the ballroom when I was little and I was incredibly impressed by it. It's old-school Tampa at its most cordial and refined state. The grounds are also pretty interesting - there's some yucky old cannons and iron-worked statues I've always liked.