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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our eighth calendar year
    PCR #372  (Vol. 8, No. 19)  This edition is for the week of May 7--13, 2007.

The Tampa Giant Comic Con and Indie Fest for May  by Nolan B. Canova
The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region: Part Three  by William Moriaty
"Georgia Rule"  by Mike Smith
Summer 2007 Movie Preview  by Mike Smith
Maybe They Should Ban Fried Foods, Too....Do You Hear What I Hear....Movie News....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 19: Judge Reinhold  by Mike Smith
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The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region: Part Three

Lost Treasure in Treasure Island
Googie architecture....

These two words inspire man-built images of an optimistic post World War Two society that embraced a future where all things were possible - - Where technology was the answer was to all of our ills - - where our destiny to explore outer space had no limits, or as succinctly stated in several lyrics of his 1982 song "IGY" by Donald Fagan from "The Nightfly" album:

"...On that train all graphite and glitter.Undersea by rail. Ninety minutes from New York to Paris..."
"...What a wonderful world this will be. What a glorious time to be free."
"...We'll be eternally free, yes, and eternally young."

Yes, the Jetsons would indeed be a reality in the very near future back in the early 1960's!

In his quintessential book on Googie architecture, "Googie Reduxe: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture", author Alan Hess observed that one of the remaining strongholds of this form of primarily commercial architecture, also known as "populuxe", could be found in Treasure Island, Florida.

Not surprisingly, many of the hotels and coffee shops built along the Pinellas beaches in the 1950's and 1960's used Googie architecture. Even in the first decade of this new millennium, there are remnants of Googie architecture lining the Pinellas beaches from beginning to end.

In addition, many fine examples can still be found in old hotels along 34th Street South in St. Petersburg; Broadway-Bayshore Boulevard in Dunedin has an incredible nautical/Googie hybrid motel; and of course there is the timeless Biff Burger on 49th Street North in St. Petersburg which was highlighted in our first series of Fabulous Architecture in the Tampa Bay Region in PCR #350. Lastly, there is the staggeringly beautiful example of Googie at the Econo Lodge on Dale Mabry in Tampa as noted in the second series in PCR #351.

The Treasure Island Fun Center: This doomed Googie structure was photographed a month before it was demolished.
In January 2007, I finally had an opportunity to search for the Googie remaining on Treasure Island. Much as how Donald Fagan's "IGY" lyrics represented a view point from an era gone by, it was obvious that the Googie in Treasure Island had also become a form of architecture that was from an era gone by and in danger of extinction.

Armed with my digital camera and assisted by T.R.E.E. Inc.'s Public Relations Director and my good friend Jen Thompson, we surveyed what was left of Googie on this Pinellas barrier island before high-priced sterile condominiums would finally spell doom for these once great structures.

Treasure Island Fun Center
The first site we visited was the best example of Googie in Treasure Island. But sadly the Treasure Island Fun Center was now a hollow hulk awaiting the wrecker's ball. Fortunately, we captured several images of the building and its Googie signing about a month prior to its demolition.

Signing for the Treasure Island Fun Center before it too was destroyed. Older Art Deco architecture can also be found in Treasure Island in the form of the building housing the Surf Style.

Another abandoned site was the Algiers, a classic Googie motel located along Gulf Boulevard. Fenced off and abandoned, this once proud structure will undoubtedly go the way of the Treasure Island Fun Center if it hasn't by this publication date.

The Bilmar is one of the few extant Googie motels left on Treasure Island.

Algiers - An example of Googie doomed. The Bilmar - An example of Googie extant.

Thunderbird - A fabulous example of Googie extant.

In addition to also remaining a vital like the Bilmar, this somewhat remodeled Googie structure is the most notable Googie treasure left in Treasure Island. It's worth going inside the lobby just to look at photos of the Thunderbird in its Googie heyday in the 1960s with its starburst chandelier!
Another example of Treasure Island's Art Deco houses Sunny Gifts and Surf Shop The sun has set on most Googie along Pinellas County's beaches, but like a Phoenix from the ashes, the Thunderbird still shines like a beacon in the rapidly vanishing world of the Tampa Bay region's Googie architecture.

"La Floridiana" is ©2007 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 ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.