In 1891, Henry B. Plant founded the Tampa Bay Hotel. Nowadays, the National Historic Landmark in central Tampa is no longer serving as an accommodation. However, a part of the majestic building is still reminding of the visionary founder and his life as well as the history of the hotel.
Henry B. Plant Museum – Location & Admission
The Henry B. Plant Museum is located on the campus of the University of Tampa – and major parts of the former hotel building are in fact used for campus life. You can use a parking garage nearby (for a charge). There is also the possibility to reach the museum by bus (line #30 stops nearby), but I would overall not recommend it. The campus also features services like restaurants.
Adult admission is 10 USD. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 to 17:00 hrs and noon to 17:00 hrs on Sundays.
Henry B. Plant Museum – Building and Park
If you just enter the building, visit the museum and leave again, you definitely do something wrong. Take your time to explore the lovely former Tampa Bay Hotel grounds. Right opposite the hotel main entrance, the Plant Park is another memorial for the entrepreneur. From there, you also have a nice view of Tampa Downtown.
Henry B. Plant Museum – Museum Visit
Already before you enter the museum, the large main hall of the building leads to an impressive feeling. You visit the museum as a self guided tour. There is a suggested order of the rooms on two floors and you can use an audio guide – which is very helpful,as the rooms are packed. There are also some videos and interactive screens to make your visit more interactive. You learn a lot about the hotel and how it looked like over the years. The hotel opened in 1891 and was a resort with over 500 rooms. It closed in 1930 as a consequence of the Great Depression.
The museum is also a lot about the visionary Plant, who had a huge impact on the (touristic) development of Florida. The Tampa Bay Hotel was located closely to the terminus of the Plant System rail line. Plant has majorly been in transportation business – and the Tampa Bay should also attract people to use his rail and ship lines. You also learn about Plants business visions, like installing equal treatment for all employees.
Henry B. Plant Museum – Services
The staff at the museum was very helpful. Of course, there was also a souvenir store for some touristic takeaways.
Henry B. Plant Museum – My View
The Henry B. Plant Museum feels a bit like a hidden gem. But this place is just amazing. For me as a German, it felt strange to pass the campus security measures, but people were really helpful – and the building as well as the museum is an absolute beauty. Yes, Tampa is also about Bush Gardens and the Lowry Zoo – but you should not miss this place as well, for sure.