Hyde Park: History by the Bay

Historic Hyde Park dates back to the 1880s, when railroad financier Henry B. Plant erected the first bridge across Hillsborough River. What is now West Kennedy Boulevard provided a means of transportation between what are now Old Tampa and New Tampa, paving the way for James Watrous to build the first Hyde Park home in 1882, at 1307 Morrison Avenue.

Nested at the water’s edge and encompassing the area between Bayshore Blvd., W. Swann Ave. and the Selmon Expressway, Hyde Park is home to some of the most stately houses in the Tampa Bay area. The park boasts well-manicured landscaping, beautiful large homes, spacious porches and live oak tree-lined streets. It is best known for its magnificent view of the Hillsborough Bay and proximity to Downtown Tampa.

Development of Hyde Park advanced at a high velocity. In 1906 Colonel Alfred Swann, a wealthy man from Tennessee and Civil War hero, and Eugene Holtsinger, also a native Tennessean and brilliant attorney, formed the Swann and Holtsinger Company. Together they purchased a large amount of land along Bayshore Blvd. and began to fill in the swampy marsh. The property quickly transformed into a picturesque streetlight-lined road, helping to connect it to Downtown Tampa. The duo’s real estate later became known as Suburb Beautiful.

The historic homes that border the roads of Hyde Park have continued to flourish. Mary Ester Parker has been living in Hyde Park for 40 years this year, and is one of the town’s longest standing residents. She has had the unique opportunity to watch the homes increase in value over the decades.

“We were very happy when the first couple of houses began selling that were way over what we had [invested] in our home. The early ones in the 60s and 70s were [selling for] $20,000 – $60,000. Then somewhere along there they started jumping up to $100,000 – $125,000, and then $250,000, and then like ‘Mopsy’ it grew,” she said.

Oftentimes homeowners and area inhabitants can be found outdoors, relishing in Bayshore’s scenic views and exceptional climate. The street offers admirable walking paths, seating and grassy plots where locals can exercise and enjoy the scenery.

Hyde Park Village

As a hamlet nestled between strong historic neighborhoods, Hyde Park Village is undergoing a revitalization process to accommodate the expansion in population and demand. Owners of the property, WS Development, are proposing a pedestrian-friendly district with highly visible storefronts. The company plans to target boutique vendors such as Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Aesop, keeping with the small-town vibe of the village. Developers hope to create an atmosphere similar to that of Charlotte, North Carolina’s Plaza Midwood that will draw in a millennial workforce and engage the active population.

Shopping and amenities are not lacking in the Hyde Park Village area. Retail includes current trends such as the simplistic style of Anthropologie, home décor from Pottery Barn, the beach-friendly wear at Tommy Bahama, must-haves for the house from West Elm and upscale fashion at Brooks Brothers. Exercise amenities can be found at the local LA Fitness.

Heart of the Best Restaurants in Tampa

The ample history of Hyde Park translates to its dining as well. Residents frequent archival restaurants such as Bern’s Steak House and Mise en Place. The antiquity of these establishments dates back to the 20s and 30s.

The Hyde Park area encompasses great modern restaurants as well, such as Irish 31, Ciné Bistro, Queenway?, Timpano, Fresh Kitchen, BOCA, Wine Exchange Bistro, Cevíche and Epicurean. These up-and-coming dining experiences are revolutionizing the restaurant industry. Ciné Bistro, for example, combines fine dining with theatre. Guests are pampered with the opportunity to view first-run movies and independent films while enjoying a full bar and a chef-driven menu in a luxurious digital cinema.

Hyde Park Highly-Rated Schools

Those who dwell in Hyde Park have access to the top rated schools within the district. Gorie Elementary School, Wilson Junior High School and H.B. Plant High School rank among the best schools in the area, each with a 10 out of 10 rating on greatschools.org. Classes are capped around 15-17 students per teacher, and each has a community rating of four out of five stars. Additional highly-ranked schools in the immediate area include: Mitchell Elementary School, Grady Elementary School, Mabry Elementary School, Roosevelt Elementary School and Coleman Middle School, all of which have either a 9 or 10 rating.

Hyde Park Events

Hyde Park residents are never at a loss for weekend activities. Recurring events include Fresh Markets, marathons and parades. Most notably, the Gasparilla Pirate Fest is held annually along Bayshore Blvd., during which tens of thousands of people nation wide gather to enjoy the parade and festivities.

Auxiliary events include the Annual Hyde Park Village Art Fair, which highlights the talents of more than 150 artists, and the Enchanted Tree Lighting Ceremony to kick off the holiday season. Hyde Park Village’s captivating Christmas display is revealed in a free, family-friendly ceremony amidst live entertainment and available refreshments.

Locals and visitors can find weekend entertainment on Hyde Park Village’s website.

Are you ready to buy, sell or refinance your home in Hyde Park? Be sure to call Benefit Title! 813-251-1420 Your Local Independent Title Agency!

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