Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

99-year-old Clearwater building falls to make way for theater expansion

CLEARWATER

The city's two biggest history buffs watched with curiosity Wednesday as a 99-year-old building downtown was demolished.

The Clearwater Evening Sun building, more recently known as the Pat Lokey building, has stood at the southeast corner of Cleveland Street and Osceola Avenue since 1914. It is being torn down this week and next week to make way for the upcoming renovation and expansion of the Capitol Theatre next door.

Mike Sanders and Bill Wallace, who have both served as president of the Clearwater Historical Society, stood across the street as a backhoe tore through brick, wood and plaster.

They weren't there to protest the demolition of the long, skinny building at 401 Cleveland St. Instead, they wanted to see if any artifacts of historical significance should be salvaged from the wreckage.

Sanders, a local historian, real estate agent and author of Clearwater: A Pictorial History, was particularly interested in a "masthead" that was once mounted on the front of the original brick structure. It can be seen in old photographs.

He believed it said Clearwater Evening Sun the name of the building's first tenant, a newspaper. But the masthead, if it even still existed, had long been hidden under a layer of stucco.

Sanders had previously saved artifacts from other historic Clearwater buildings, including the original "Bank of Clearwater" stone header from the 1918 building at 500 Cleveland St. that's now owned by the Church of Scientology.

Sanders didn't oppose the demolition of the Clearwater Evening Sun building because it had been so dramatically altered over the past 99 years that he believed it could never be restored to its original facade.

Also, like the city's government, he has high hopes for the renovation of the 92-year-old Capitol Theatre, which he believes has significantly more historic value. The theater has been a community gathering spot since the 1920s.

"I doubt it could be restored," Sanders said of the Evening Sun building. "The old Capitol captures more of the imagination and could be a catalyst for revitalizing downtown."

The $7 million Capitol renovation will enlarge the theater, replacing two smaller buildings on either side of it, and expanding the seating from 485 to nearly 750. The theatre will close on March 25 and is slated to reopen in October, said Jeffrey Hartzog, operations director for Ruth Eckerd Hall, which runs the city-owned Capitol. That's why the neighboring building is being razed.

"The building is coming down pretty quick," Hartzog said.

A major complication is that the Evening Sun building shared an exterior wall with the Capitol next door. Demolition crews had to cut into the brick wall and separate it from the Evening Sun building's ceilings and floors.

"We have to be very careful in how we demolish that building," said Gus Pardo, a project manager for Creative Contractors, which is doing the Capitol renovation.

Meanwhile, as they waited for the front of the building to come down, the two historians passed the time looking at photos of Cleveland Street from nearly a century ago. The land along Clearwater Harbor attracted early settlers and was the core of Clearwater when it became a city in 1915.

Sanders and Wallace noted that the Evening Sun building was one of a series of brick structures that rose up after a 1910 fire wiped out a block of wooden buildings downtown. Others include the Coachman Building at 503 Cleveland, built in 1917, and the old Telephone building at 534 Cleveland, built in 1914.

That fire prompted Clearwater to create its first fire department, which was housed just off Cleveland on N Fort Harrison Avenue.

In the end, as the front of Evening Sun building came down Wednesday afternoon, there was no masthead to be found.

"All they found were bricks," Sanders said. "We gave it a good shot."

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

99-year-old Clearwater building falls to make way for theater expansion 01/30/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Irma's death toll in Florida rises to 42, but will grow

    News

    TALLAHASSEE —Deadly carbon monoxide fumes have killed 11 people in Florida as Hurricane Irma's death toll rose to 42 on Tuesday, state officials reported.

    A resident walks by a pile of debris caused by a storm surge during Hurricane Irma in Everglades City. The isolated Everglades City community of about 400 people suffered some of Florida's worst storm surges, up to 9 feet (2.7 meters), when Hurricane Irma slammed the region eight days ago, leaving the insides of homes a sodden mess and caking the streets with mud. The storm affected nearly every part of the state, and, so far, the death toll stands at 42. [AP Photo | Alan Diaz]
  2. After Irma, Tampa Bay synagogues get ready for Rosh Hashana

    Religion

    As the holiest days of the Jewish calendar approached, so did Hurricane Irma.

    Congregants open the ark which holds several torah scrolls during Selichot services at Congregation B'nai Israel of St. Petersburg on Saturday, September 16, 2017. The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana begins at sundown on Wednesday night.
  3. For ex-Rays/now Cubs manager Joe Maddon, the legacy is in the jeans

    Blogs

    Joe Maddon has plenty of memories of his time at the Trop during nine years of managing the Rays. "Too many to count,'' he said.

  4. 'Stronger' a sobering, sap-free survivor tale from the Boston Marathon bombing

    Features

    What didn't kill Jeff Bauman made him Stronger, surviving not only the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings but a crush of well-meaning yet corrosive attention for doing it.

    Jake Gyllenhaal in “Stronger.” The inspiring real life story of Jeff Bauman, an ordinary man who became a symbol of hope following the infamous 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
  5. Tolls suspended because of Irma to return to most Florida roadways on Thursday

    Transportation

    Toll costs will return to most of Florida's roadways on Thursday after Gov. Rick Scott suspended them in wake of Hurricane Irma two weeks ago.

    A view of the I-275 northbound Sunpass lane at the Skyway Bridge. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]