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E.M. Scott has been building Tampa since 1927. Now it’s closing.

The general contracting company was among those charged with developing Davis Islands.
Michelle Scott Begue, left, president of E. M. Scott General Contractor, Amelia Scott, project coordinator, and Mark Scott, vice president, pore over memories of the family business at the company’s office at 1614 S 50th St in Tampa. The family business, established in 1927, is closing permanently.
Michelle Scott Begue, left, president of E. M. Scott General Contractor, Amelia Scott, project coordinator, and Mark Scott, vice president, pore over memories of the family business at the company’s office at 1614 S 50th St in Tampa. The family business, established in 1927, is closing permanently. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Apr. 7|Updated Apr. 8

TAMPA — E.M. Scott General Contractor helped turn Davis Islands into a residential community and downtown Tampa into a bustling epicenter of commerce.

Currently, the Tampa company is overseeing the renovation of the headquarters for the Florida Department of Health in Marion County.

And, when that project is done in about two months, so is E.M. Scott General Contractor, which was founded in 1927.

The Scott family that has run the business for 95 years is hanging up their tool belts. They donated to the Tampa Bay History Center a collection of old photographs of buildings erected by the company.

And on Saturday at 10 a.m. at their office at 1614 S 50th St., they will auction all remaining equipment, office furniture, trucks, power tools and supplies.

“I’m tired,” said Mark Scott, 70, who was the third-generation president of the company until 2020. He has since served as vice president. “I’m going to retire.”

A vintage picture showing a horse race at Sunshine Park in Tampa, with work on the clubhouse in background completed by E. M. Scott General Contractor, is displayed in the office at the business.
A vintage picture showing a horse race at Sunshine Park in Tampa, with work on the clubhouse in background completed by E. M. Scott General Contractor, is displayed in the office at the business. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

His niece Michelle Scott Begue is the currentpresident. She is not retiring but is ready for something new.

“I don’t know what yet,” she said. “I’m going to take some time to decide and spend time with my family. I haven’t taken a summer vacation in years.”

Still, Scott and Begue admit that they will miss the business.

“I’ll miss working with family,” Begue said, “and seeing everyone on a regular basis.”

Scott added he will also miss the clients.

“I enjoy that personal relationship,” he said. “I like to know everything about every client’s fishing trips.”

A picture of E. M. Scott General Contractor’s founder Edward Michael Scott is displayed in the office at the business.
A picture of E. M. Scott General Contractor’s founder Edward Michael Scott is displayed in the office at the business. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

According to family lore, boats helped establish the family in the construction business.

Scott said his great-grandfather Julius Scott immigrated from Germany and then moved to Pasco County, where he served as a superintendent on the construction of the Saint Leo monastery. He lived on the other side of the neighboring lake and “rowed to work every morning,” Scott said.

Scott’s grandfather, Edward M. Scott, would later work as a patternmaker in the Tampa shipyards while building fishing boats and kayaks on the side.

He then started a cabinetmaking company that, in 1927, evolved into E.M. Scott General Contractor, just as Davis Islands was being developed into a resort community.

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“We have old pictures of Davis Islands where it is completely empty,” said Amelia Scott, the family company’s project coordinator. “And that was the beginning for us.”

E.M. Scott General Contractor was among those tasked with building some of the islands’ first homes.

A vintage picture documenting cornice work being completed by E. M. Scott General Contractor at the former GTE Building in Tampa is displayed in the office at the business.
A vintage picture documenting cornice work being completed by E. M. Scott General Contractor at the former GTE Building in Tampa is displayed in the office at the business. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

By the 1950s, they were constructing sports facilities, such as the original Plant City Stadium and stables and a clubhouse at Tampa Downs, which was then known as Sunshine Park.

They were at work in downtown Tampa in the 1960s, erecting a 12-story annex for the General Telephone Company of Florida on the corner of Twiggs and Morgan streets and the Ashley Building on Ashley Drive, both since razed.

They built additions on West Tampa’s St. Joseph’s Hospital in the 1970s.

In recent years, they were the general contractor for downtown’s Trinity Cafe.

An advertisement run in the Tampa Tribune in 1989 proclaimed that the company had been “building Tampa since the twenties.”

That was not hyperbole, Begue said.

“We helped build this city,” she said. “We’re proud of that legacy. It’s sad to close, but it’s time to move on.”

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