Make us your home page

Dobyville dollhouse, smallest home for sale in Tampa Bay, has vivid history


From one angle, this dollhouse looks like one of those trendy, minimalist micro-homes, all 388 square feet of it tucked into a tiny thumbprint among the oaks of Historic Hyde Park North.

It is by far the smallest home on the market in Tampa Bay, thinner than a lane of traffic and built in 1910, a clapboard relic lost in one of South Tampa's fastest changing neighborhoods.

Tom Scarritt, 57, a lawyer, bought it with his wife, Linda, a decade ago, convinced it would make a good one-room rental for "singles and short people."

He would call it a shotgun shack, but you can't fire from one door clean through the back. The house has only one door.

But he was still charmed. The shoebox hid whispers of a century-old mystique, something prized but lost to time — all atop "the prettiest wide-plank, heart-pine floors in the world."

"These materials, they aren't going to be around in 10 years," Scarritt said. "They're going to be gone."

Turn-of-the-century shotgun cottages hold a weathered place in Southern history. Immigrant cigar rollers in Ybor City lived in cedar-shingled "casitas," paying for the $400 homes at about $2 a week. New Orleans' early creole cottages were, as one preservationist told the Times-Picayune, "beautiful in their plainness."

Scarritt's Orleans Avenue bungalow was crafted from the same mold. When it was built, it sat at the heart of Dobyville, once a thriving community of black families in segregated Tampa.

It housed generations of maids, cooks, yard workers and nannies, who walked to the mansions of Bayshore Boulevard on the wealthy white side of Hyde Park. But it blossomed into a cultural center, buzzing with churches, businesses and fraternities. A photograph, kept by the Hillsborough County Public Library, shows a woman crowning Dobyville School's short, smiling queen.

The homes of Dobyville were built of sturdy wood, with breezy windows and 10-foot ceilings to sweep in the breeze. But in the 1950s, new-home building stopped when the neighborhood was rezoned for industry. Two decades later, Dobyville was crushed beneath the Crosstown Expressway.

The Dobyville School was bulldozed. So, too, its students' homes and neighborhood stores. The Seybold Bakery, a bread factory and chief employer at the neighborhood's center, became the Seybold Lofts condominiums.

Save for a historical marker near the expressway, Scarritt's cottage is one of Dobyville's last lingering remnants. Matt Clarie, a 34-year-old lawyer, rents there now, his dark-furred pug, Blackey, guarding the porch swing.

Inside, he hung his tie rack near the stove pipe for an old furnace. He likes being able to walk to the nearby movies at CinéBistro, the upscale Hyde Park Village shopping district, his yoga studio.

Because prices are going up, Scarritt wants to sell it for $199,999, and in the two weeks since listing he has fielded a few curious buyers. The location is prized, and down the street the newer, nicer homes stretch outward in all directions. Clarie intends to move to a one-bedroom condo.

It's uncertain how much time is left in the dollhouse of Dobyville, so small, and fading, yet unmistakably there. But in a century, some things haven't changed. When an acorn hits the tin roof, the thud still resounds, as if from an old limb in free fall.

Dobyville dollhouse, smallest home for sale in Tampa Bay, has vivid history 08/02/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 11:41am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Appointments at Port Tampa Bay and Tampa General Medical Group highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Port Tampa Bay announced that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. Sowell, a former member of the U.S.Marine Corps, will support internal, external and special projects, assist the executive team with management oversight and serve as a liaison on a variety of port …

    Port Tampa Bay announced this week that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. [Handout photo]
  2. Drones restrictions coming at Tampa Bay area airports


    Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, according to a press release.

    In this February 2017 file photo, a drone flies in Hanworth Park in west London. Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems,
[John Stillwell/PA via AP, File]
  3. Gov. Scott backs off boycott of companies doing business in Venezuela

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott will ask the Florida Cabinet next month to prohibit the state's investment managers from doing something they already do not do: invest in companies or securities owned or controlled by the Venezuelan government.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott interacts with people as he holds a Venezuelan Freedom Rally at El Arepazo 2 restaurant on July 10 in Miami. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images]
  4. Superior Uniform Group reports $65.6 million in sales for second quarter


    SEMINOLE — Superior Uniform Group Inc. reported sales of $65.6 million in net sales for the second quarter, up a percentage point from the same quarter last year, the Seminole-based company reported Thursday.

    Superior Uniform Group Inc. saw a sales increase for the second quarter, the company reported Thursday. Pictured is Michael Benstock, CEO. | [Courtesy of Superior Uniform Group]
  5. Air bag inflator ruptures, driver killed in Pasco County


    DETROIT — Automaker Honda says a driver from Pasco County died in a crash earlier this month that involved an exploding Takata air bag inflator.

    Honda says a driver near Tampa has died in a crash that involved an exploding Takata air bag inflator. 
[Associated Press]