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Seminole Heights steeple is gone, other Tampa landmarks remain

To be included in this list, a tower-like structure must hover above and predate I-275.
The Sulphur Springs water tower near the I-275 Sligh Avenue exit
The Sulphur Springs water tower near the I-275 Sligh Avenue exit [ Times (2006) ]
Published Aug. 25

TAMPA — Seminole Heights Baptist Church is gone.

A demolition crew finished turning the 72-year-old structure into rubble.

The church’s fate was sealed last year when the city’s Historic Preservation Commission ruled that it could be razed because it was not a historic structure.

Still, residents say it was a commuting landmark due to its steeple, which hovered above I-275 near the northbound Hillsborough Avenue exit.

Related: Top of iconic Seminole Heights Baptist Church steeple has been saved

But there are remaining commuting landmarks along I-275 in Hillsborough County that can be celebrated.

The Tampa Bay Times drove the highway in search of those still standing.

The Times chose the Westshore Boulevard and Bearss Avenue exits as Hillsborough’s I-275 boundaries.

To be included in this list, it must have or be a tower-like structure, hover above and predate I-275.

Here are those the Times spotted driving northbound. A brief history of each was pulled from Times archives:

West Tampa Water Tank

The West Tampa water tank has stood since 1954.
The West Tampa water tank has stood since 1954. [ Paul Guzzo ]

Located on the southbound side of the interstate near the Dale Mabry exit, the 126-foot water tank was built in 1954 by Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. to maintain water pressure for homes and businesses in West Tampa.

In 2014, “Welcome to West Tampa” was painted onto it.

Saint Leo University Water Tank

Saint Leo University has opened a satellite campus in West Tampa's Berriman-Morgan Cigar Factory.
Saint Leo University has opened a satellite campus in West Tampa's Berriman-Morgan Cigar Factory. [ Courtesy of Renee Gerstein ]

Installed by Berriman-Morgan Cigar Company for its West Tampa factory that opened more than 130 years ago, the 25,000-gallon water tower rises above the interstate near Howard Avenue’s northbound exit.

When engineer Nicholas Jammal purchased the factory in 2004, the water tank was rusted out. Jammal restored it as part of his $6 million renovation of the factory.

Today, the water tank is emblazoned with the logo of Saint Leo University, which uses the factory as a satellite campus.

Downtown Tampa Skyline

Palm trees blow in the wind in front of an overcast Tampa skyline.
Palm trees blow in the wind in front of an overcast Tampa skyline. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Tampa’s downtown skyline was born in 1910 with the opening of the 10-story Citizen’s Bank Building that has since been razed.

The still-standing Floridan Palace Hotel and the since-razed First National Bank building were among those that created downtown’s first multiple-building skyline in the 1920s.

Today, the skyline boasts around two dozen buildings on the northbound side of the interstate.

Hillsborough High School’s Clock Tower

Completed in 1928, Hillsborough High School features walls, buttresses, spires, and window tracery decorated in cast stone.
Completed in 1928, Hillsborough High School features walls, buttresses, spires, and window tracery decorated in cast stone. [ DENNIS JOYCE | Times ]

The red brick Gothic Revival-style building opened in September 1928 and was built for $757,000.

The clock tower was dedicated in 1949 to the memories of alumni and students who died in World War II. It is near Hillsborough Avenue exit on the southbound side of the interstate, but can only be seen when driving on the northbound side.

Sulphur Springs Water Tower

The 214-foot-tall structure rising above the southbound Sligh Avenue exit was built in 1927 to pump water to a neighboring hotel and the Sulphur Springs Arcade when that area was a tourist destination. The city took it over in 1971.