TAMPA — Until last month, Miami-based Related Group planned on trashing an old crumbling concrete planter when, in the coming years, they redevelop Bay Oaks Apartments into five acres of condominiums.
But leaders of the Centro Español de Tampa social club for Spanish immigrants informed them that the planter was actually a fountain and the last remnant of their historic hospital located on that property from 1906 through the 1970s.
Related promised to restore the fountain and incorporate it into the future development’s landscape on the corner of Bayshore and Bay to Bay boulevards.
A design has since been rendered and the social club is happy with the outcome.
“We’re especially excited because they want to make it fully functional again," John Rañon, president of the Centro Español, said.
The fountain is currently overgrown with weeds and hidden between buildings 1 and 2 at Bay Oaks Apartments. It will be moved near Bayshore Boulevard for “everyone to see,” Related’s senior vice president Mike Hammon said.
A historic marker will be placed next to the fountain that tells the story of the hospital.
“I hope everyone walking by stops to read it," Hammon said.
The Tampa Tribune hailed the three-story redbrick Centro Español Hospital as an “architectural wonder” with an “imposing presence" when it opened.
Inside, it boasted 72 patient rooms, an operating room, laundry facilities, a chapel and cold storage.
Outside the entrance were three fountains.
The middle fountain, around 12 feet high with a 10 foot pool surrounding it, was the largest and was located in front of the entryway staircase facing Bayshore Blvd. The other two, around 8 feet high with smaller pools, were located on either side of the building. The fountain still on the property is one of the smaller two.
Each had a planter at the top from under which water flowed onto a concrete disk and then a second larger disk before spilling into a pool.
The hospital property was sold in the 1970s and razed to make way for Bay Oaks Apartments.
No one knows why one fountain was spared, but it has not operated since the hospital shuttered.
“We are looking forward to seeing the water running again,” Rañon said. “We are happy that the developers respect our history."