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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our seventh calendar year
    PCR #350  (Vol. 7, No. 49)  This edition is for the week of December 4--10, 2006.

The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region, Part One  by Will Moriaty
"Blood Diamond"  by Mike Smith
The Josh Sullivan Art Show  by Nolan B. Canova
On a Personal Note: The Return of Doug Deal  by Nolan B. Canova
Movie Theatrer Memories  by Andy Lalino
A Rocking Good Time....Theater Memories....It's Awards Time....Yeah I Say That All The Time.... My Favorite Films, Part 49: "Love Actually"  by Mike Smith
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The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region
Part One

I am by no means an expert on architecture, but I know what I like.

And what I like is architecture that I find appealing.

Appealing for a plethora of reasons.

First and foremost, with the exception of vegetation and other natural features, nothing gives me more of a sense of place than architecture. Having lived part of my life in a cottage attached to the former Melvin Asp residence in the Beach Park section of Tampa, I grew to love Mediterranean Revival architecture as this residence, a palatial pink stucco structure constructed in the 1920’s, like its related Ca’ D’Zan mansion down in Sarasota, spoke of a refined tropical Florida elegance born of dreams of villas far away in Spain and Italy. Warm gentle tropical breezes off of Old Tampa Bay would waft through high arched hallways of this house where air conditioning was rarely used or needed. Due to its open air character, the sound of Cabbage Palms rustling in the breeze was always a sensory force delight.

As I got older and lived at various other locations in the Bay area, I would become acquainted with the Brutalist form of architecture of Georgetown Manors in Tampa and the Oaks apartments in Clearwater. I would date and marry a girl who, along with all of her friends grew up in Ranch-style housing in Pinellas County. And in 1995 my first house would be a 1 ½ story Vernacular Cracker house in Plant City.

Now I know neighborhoods in large part not only by the trees to be found there but by the styles of architecture that predominate and define them.

I am glad to report that I have just about fully recovered from Shin Splint Two, which lasted from August until about two weeks ago. But I spent that time of physical inactivity finally doing something I promised I would do - - photographing the architectural treasures of the Tampa Bay region, particularly before they are razed by out of control development, McMansions, time, or all three.

Possibly St. Petersburg's finest example of Googie architecture is the Biff Burger located at 3939 49th Street North in the Disston Heights neighborhood of St. Petersburg. Built in the late 1950's, this is sole survivor of this once nation-wide restaurant chain. The Biff is known for its Classic Car Friday and Motorcycle Saturday nights.

Architectural Definitions:

Before we begin our architectural exploration, I think it only fitting that we look into the various types of architectural designs you can expect to see.

The Grace Lutheran Church located at 4301 16th Street North adjacent to the Magnolia Heights neighborhood of St. Petersburg is a breathtaking example of Expressionist architecture.
An Adobe design adorns the Allendale United Methodist Church at 3803 Haines Road at the Allendale Terrace neighborhood in St. Petersburg.
Palm Garden Apartments located at 5388 4th Street North well define the Brutalist approach to the design of apartments along waterways in South Florida as demonstrated in this photo.
The 4th Street Pub, located on the corner of 54th Avenue North and 4th Street North in the Edgemoor neighborhood is a fine example of the Vernacular local tavern.
The Central Animal Hospital located at 4801 4th Street North is one of 4th Street North's finest examples of Brutalist architecture.
Even on a dark and cloudy day, Wilson's Sports Bar located at 3030 4th Street North in the North East Park neighborhood glows a warm teal color well matching its streamlined Art Deco design. Even at night the establishment is colorful as it has electric lights on plastic palms situated on top of the roof.
Sunken Gardens Sign, Located at 1825 4th Street North in St. Petersburg's Historic Old Northeast, this sign is a fine example of Googie architecture.
The Myers Building, located at 1600 4th Street North in the Crescent Park neighborhood of St. Petersburg is a fine example of Art Deco architecture.
Not to be outdone by either the Myers Building or Wilson's Sports Lounge, the Lenox, located at 325 6th Avenue North in the Historic Old Northeast is a quintessential example of Art Deco.
Adobe: This is amongst one of the earliest form of architecture known. Dating back as far as 2200 B.C., Adobe architecture was born in the hot, dry climates of the Middle East, Africa and Spain. Adobe structures are typically constructed of locally available sand, clay, mud , straw, and sun dried brick. In the New World, Adobe architecture was largely introduced by the Spanish into Mexico and the American Southwest. Villages incorporating this form of architectural design were often known as pueblos. The most notable Adobe designs in Florida are in Miami Springs which was developed by famed aviator Glenn Curtiss in the early 1920’s. A local example would be the Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg.

Art Deco: Also known as Streamline Moderne, Art Deco was most prevalent between 1910 and 1939. Its design was an amalgamation of Constructivism, Cubism, Modernism, Bauhaus school, Art Nouveau, Futurism, streamlined technology, planes, trains, automobiles, radio, lighting and primitive African and Mayan arts. Coined from the French Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifes et Industriels Modernes (Industrial Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts) in 1925, examples of Art Deco would include the Chrysler Building in New York City and many of the structures in Miami’s South Beach community. Local examples can be found in the Crescent Lake neighborhood of St. Petersburg, and in this edition includes Wilson’s Sports Bar, the Myers Building, and the Lenox

Bungalow: Bungalow is one of the most common forms of housing architecture in the United States and was in in vogue from 1910 to 1925, with some examples being built as late as the early 1940’s. Bungalow houses are typically single or 1 ½ story dwellings with open air front porches and shingled roofs. Square in appearance, Bungalow houses are made of either wood or brick, depending upon locally available material. The California Bungalow, or derivations thereof, are the most common form in Florida and the warmer portions of the United States. Bungalow designs seen locally in the Hyde Park and Seminole Heights neighborhoods of Tampa, and the Historic Old Northeast neighborhood of St. Petersburg.

Colonial Revival: Forms of this Classic architecture also include Williamsburg, Colonial Revival was started in the 1890’s and is most common in Richmond, Virginia, Edina Minnesota and Kansas City, Missouri. This form arrived after the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 reawakened Americans of their colonial heritage. Based on the British Colonial style of the period during the Revolutionary War, Colonial Revival houses are typically two stories in height with the ridge pole running parallel to the street, a symmetrical front facade with an accented doorway and evenly spaced windows on either side of it. Typically wood in construction, side porches or sunroofs were common elements. Most Colonial Revival houses were built in the 1920’s and can be seen locally in the Palma Ceia neighborhood of Tampa and the Crescent Lake and Historic Old Northeast neighborhoods of St. Petersburg.

Googie: Also known as Populuxe, Doo-Wop, and Ray gun Gothic, Googie architecture features cantilevered structures with acute angles, roofs sloping at upward angles, geometric shapes, glass, steel and neon, and the use of design elements such as unique signing and free form boomerangs. Born in Southern California in the late 1940’s, this is probably America’s first form of architecture based on popular culture with elements relating to the space age, the car culture and futurism (ala the Jetsons). John Lautner was consider the father of this movement when he created the design for the Googie coffee shop in California. Googie architecture continued to be popular until the 1960’s, particularly in Southern California and coastal and urban Florida. Notable examples of Googie would include the Los Angeles International Airport theme building, the Seattle World’s Fair Space Needle, the golden arches design of McDonald s Hamburgers, and the original signage for the Holiday Inn Motel chain. A local example in this edition would be the Biff Burger. Comic illustrator Dan Clowes did a superb job of recreating 50’s retro Googie forms of art in his mid 1980’s magazine Lloyd Lewellyn.

Neo-eclectic: Also known as McMansions, Faux Chateaus, Frankenhouses, and Carpet Bomb Houses amongst others, McMansions are multi-story, over hyped, overpriced, and overrated pieces of conspicuous consumption crap that are growing like a visceral cancer in Florida’s landscape, particularly in coastal communities. These are basically cookie-cutter nouveau-riche mansions, hence the nicknamed play of words derived from the McDonald’s hamburger chain. Beginning as early as the 1980’s, these over-sized monstrosities became most common in the first five years of the new millennium. In Florida, many of these structures were woefully designed to capture a Mediterranean Revival look, but close inspection reveals a cheap quality where Meditteranean Revival elements such as stucco and balconies are notably absent, hence earning the nickname by my dear friend Susan Hughes of Faux Mediterranean. Virtually no space is left for a yard with these behemoths and their most damning characteristic is that of typically driving up property taxes sky high forcing many lower and middle income people out of their communities. Entire neighborhoods with McMansion houses are often nicknamed Vulgaria.

Mediterranean Revival: This author’s favorite forms of architecture are Googie, Ranch and Mediterranean Revival. Mediterranean Revival was also an amalgamation of Classical, Spanish and Beaux-Arts architectures, and was a form of architecture that was commonly used between 1896 and 1930 and was used to evoke the appearance of Italian Renaissance palaces located in seaside villages, hence its appropriate fit into the coastal communities of California and Florida where it is most common in the United States. Mediterranean Revival incorporates elements such as stuccoed wall surfaces, low-pitched terra-cotta and tile roofs, arches, scrolled or tile-capped parapet walls, articulated door surrounds, details in keystone, balconies and window grilles of wrought iron. Mediterranean Revival was one of several architectural styles used by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad when designing their depots in California. Local examples can be found in Temple Terrace, the Beach Park neighborhood of Tampa, the Crescent Park , Historic Old Northeast and North Downtown neighborhoods of St. Petersburg and would include the Don CeSar Beach Resort, the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club and the Grayl’s Hotel.

Modernist: Spanning from 1900 to the 1940’s, Modernist architecture is a large amalgamation of styles that reject reliance on classic or revival styles of architecture. Varying examples include Brutalist, Expressionist, Sarasota School, Prairie, and Ranch-style. Modernist designs in America are found in many corporate and institutional works. Skyscrapers are typical examples of Brutalist works. The term is derived from the French beton brut meaning raw concrete. Brutalist architecture features angular geometries, unadorned poured concrete, heavy use of repetition and exposition of the building’s functions. Brutalist designs and constructions reached their peak in 1950’s through the 1970’s being popularized by Swiss architect Le Corbusier and also by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Examples include the met Life Building (formerly the Pan Am Building) in New York City. Local examples would include the (St. Petersburg) Pier and the Plaza Fifth Avenue. Expressionist architecture dates back to 1900 and was born with the Expressionism arts movement in German speaking nations between 1910 and 1925. Novel materials, formal innovations, unusual massings and new possibilities offered by mass produced brick, steel and glass defined this style. Frank Lloyd Wright and Antoni Gaudi were leading proponents of Expressionist architecture in the early 1900’s, Wright creating much of Prairie style architecture. By the mid 50’s and early 60’s architect Eero Saarinen created stunning Expressionist public works with the 1962 TWA Flight Center (Terminal Five) at New York’s JFK International Airport, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri and the Washington Dulles International Airport terminal in Reston, Virginia. Many local churches have Expressionist designs in the Tampa Bay area.

Ranch-style: Cliff May fused elements of the Hispanic Rancheria with Modernist architecture to create a hybrid known as the California ranch-style house. Born in San Diego, California in the 1930’s, this style of architecture would become the ultimate middle 20th century form of housing in the United States. Most prolifically built between 1945 and 1980, this style of housing defined the Post World War Two suburban “Atomic Family” baby boomer household.

Ranch-style houses are typically single story with a long low profile, are asymmetrical, rectangular, with an L-shaped or V-shaped design, simple floor plans, open floor plans, attached garage, sliding glass doors opening onto a screened-in or windowed patio (or “Florida Room”) large windows, vaulted ceilings with exposed beams, exteriors of stucco, brick or wood, low overhanging eaves, cross-gabled, side-gabled or hip roof. Common nationwide, local examples can be found in Temple Terrace, Carrollwood, Anna Maria Island, St. Pete Beach, the Interbay, Sunset Beach and Westshore neighborhoods of Tampa, much of Clearwater, South Pasadena, St. Pete Beach and Largo, and the north and west portions of St. Petersburg.

Shotgun: Also known as Shotgun Shack House or Railroad House, this form of architecture was born in New Orleans, Louisiana during the War Between the States between 1861 to 1865. These are narrow wood frame structures, typically only 12’ wide, that were most commonly built for poor income or company store workers in the southeastern United States during the 1920’s. Narrow, long and rectangular in shape, it is said if that you fire a shotgun through the front of the structure, all of the pellets would exit out the backside due to its narrow and linear character. Shotgun shacks are most common in Chicago, Illinois, New Orleans and Key West, Florida. Local examples can be found in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa, with a handful in St. Petersburg.

Vernacular: Vernacular houses or buildings are constructed using immediately available resources addressing immediate needs. In Florida, most Vernacular houses were built between the late 1800’s and the 1930’s and are often referred to as Cracker Houses. Cracker houses are typically one, 1 ½, or two story wood structures, some with front or wrap around porches, many screened in, and in many cases, elevated several feet above the ground on brick or concrete blocks. Most commonly found in rural areas of Florida, Cracker houses can be found in Plant City, the Port Tampa and Sulphur Springs neighborhoods of Tampa and the Historic Old Northeast and North Downtown neighborhoods of St. Petersburg.

Exploration Number One: The Fourth Street North Corridor of St. Petersburg:

My first dive into the Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay region started in St. Petersburg started on Saturday September 16, 2006 when I first had lunch at that Googie designed classic car palace, the Biff Burger. From there I proceeded eastward toward my true photo target area, the 4th Street North Corridor of St. St. Petersburg. As far as I am concerned, there is hardly any city in Florida steeped in as historic and varied a collection of architecture as St. Petersburg. My evaluation of St. Petersburg alone will require several columns to cover, and can never do justice to the absolute bulk of incredible architecture there.

Neighborhoods of the 4th Street North Corridor in St. Petersburg:

The City of St. Petersburg’s official web site give an exhaustive listing and description of its neighborhoods. This exquisite and commendable work is an incredible aid in helping the architecture and history lover in all of know what neighborhoods contain what features we are looking for. Based on the City’s neighborhood listings, these are the communities that I traveled through to find the some of buildings that featured in this and next week's edition.

Fossil Park: (http://www.stpete.org/nnfos.htm) 62nd Avenue North to 77th Avenue North: Old fashioned Florida "mom and pop" motels still line much of 4th Street North such as the Kings's Best, the Palms and the Tops.
Edgemoor: (http://www.stpete.org/nnedg.htm) 54th Avenue North to 62nd Avenue North:
North East Park: (http://www.stpete.org/nnpla.htm) 30th Avenue North to 46th Avenue North: The Kentucky Motel, Pepin Restaurant, El Cap Restaurant, the Villa Royal Hotel and Wilson’s Sport Bar.
Crescent Lake: (http://www.stpete.org/nncrl.htm) West side of 4th Street North from 12th Avenue North to 22nd Avenue North: French Quarter North Restaurant, the Myers Building, Monticello Hotel, Limey's, 4th Street Shrimp Store, Oriental Rugs, and the Banyan Tree Motel.
Historic Old Northeast: (http://www.stpete.org/nnnor.htm) East side of 4th Street North from 5th Avenue North to 30th Avenue North: Sunken Gardens, Bob Lee's BLT Grill, P. Buckley Moss Gallery, Reno Beach Surf Shop, Bay Food Mart, the Lenox, the Palladium Theater
North Downtown: (http://www.stpete.org/nnmir.htm) Central Avenue to 5th Avenue North: the State Theater, the St. Petersburg Coliseum, the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Court, the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, Grayl’s Hotel, Detroit Hotel, the (St. Petersburg) Pier

In next week's column my dear friend and architectural assistant in crime, Susan Hughes, and I conduct exploration Number Two and review the architecture of downtown St. Petersburg here in Nolan’s Pop Culture Review!

"La Floridiana" is ©2006 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.