The History of Ballast Point

August 20, 2014 | South Tampa Magazine | Categories: City, Editorial, History | Tags: Ballast Point, Ballast Point Pier, Chester Chapin, Hillsborough Bay, Jules Verne Park, Lykes Brothers, Tampa Yacht Club, the history of ballast point

The History of Ballast Point: 33611

Boundaries: The boundaries of the neighborhood are south of Gandy Boulevard, east of MacDill Avenue (including both sides of MacDill Ave), north of MacDill Air Force Base and west of Hillsborough Bay.

History: Known for having the southern terminus on the city’s first electric trolley cars in the late 1800s, Ballast Point is a far cry from what it was in the 1920s when it was a filled with small farms that raised, among other things, cattle, horses, chickens and hogs. Few homes were located between Old Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Bay then and it was too far from the city limits for its residents to get amenities such as water and electricity. The electric trolley linked Ballast Point to Ybor City and West Tampa and was located in Jules Verne Park, which was renamed to Ballast Point Park in 1920. The city annexed Ballast Point in 1953, right around the time it started construction of MacDill Air Field. The community saw tremendous economic and industrial growth from the Gandy Bridge and Air Force base, but the area still has old homes that are reminiscent of Florida back when.


What’s In A Name: Schooners loaded or dumped their ballast material along the shoreline

Predominant Architectural Styles: Craftsman-style Bungalows, two-story Queen Annes and Victorian

Historic Landmarks: Jules Verne Park (Ballast Point Park)

Home Value: A 1,513 SQ FT Ballast Point home that sold for $670,100 in 1998 sold for $210,000 in August 2010.


•    Chester Chapin, the owner of the company which operated the trolley car, purchased the land at Jules Verne Park in 1894 for his wife to transform into a tropical park.
•    Chapin’s wife Emelia named Jules Verne Park after the Franch writer who wrote “From the Earth to the Moon,” and staged his fictional launch site at Bell Shoals along the Alafia River.
•    On Oct. 18, 1863, Tampa made Civil War history with the Battle of Ballast Point, where a minor skirmish took place and cost the lives of six Confederate soldiers.

•    The first clubhouse of the Tampa Yacht and Country Club was built in 1905 for $7,000 and was located at Ballast Point.
•    During the 1880s, Lykes Brothers, Inc. shipped cattle to Cuba from the front yard of Dr. Howell T. Lykes’ Ballast Point home.
•    A seaplane port was supposed to be constructed atop a manmade island between Davis Islands and Ballast Point but in 1929, wealthy residents across Hillsborough Bay were able to stop it from happening.

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