The History Of The Port Tampa City Library

December 6, 2013 | South Tampa Magazine | Categories: City, Editorial, History | Tags: Commerce Bank, J.G. Yeats, Port Tampa, Port Tampa City Women's Club, Port Tampa Library, Toffaletti Brothers Grocery

Port Tampa City Library

Built 1926

Then: The First Bank of Port Tampa

Now: Port Tampa City Library


Located on south Westshore Boulevard, the original incarnation of the Port Tampa City Library opened in 1926 and was called the First Bank of Port Tampa. J.G. Yeats spent $125,000 to import the Georgian white Italian marble used to construct the façade of this Neo-classical structure commonly referred to as the “Commerce Bank.” The bank lasted for only seven years before closing its doors for good.

The Toffaletti Brothers Grocery and General Merchandise Store occupied the building starting in 1935. They’re said to have held onto it until about 1960, when a fire badly damaged the building.

The building sat vacant until February 1993, when the Port Tampa City Woman’s Club began raising funds to save the building and turn it into the new Port Tampa City Library. From 1951-1961, volunteers from the Woman’s Club staffed and operated the original Port Tampa City Library, which was then located at the corner of Interbay and Westshore Boulevards. The City of Tampa absorbed Port Tampa City in the early 60s and the Tampa Library System took over the library in 1962.

By July 1993, the ladies of the Woman’s Club had raised the first $1,000 for the restoration of the bank building. Four years later, the building was restored, renovated and ready for operation. The building was officially dedicated in 1998. Nearly 18,000 books where transferred to the new library, the last being the “History of Port Tampa City.”


In the Details

The floor is terrazzo and marble. During its days as a bank, the tellers occupied the terrazzo floor and the marble floor was the public area.

The library is the only building in Tampa that features the extensive exterior use of terra-cotta tile, which is primarily glazed clay.

When the Toffaletti Brothers used the bank as a grocery and merchandise store, they’re said to have used the bank’s vault as a freezer.

-information provided by architect Jan Abell, FAIA