TAMPA, FL (WFLA)- Thousands of people drive by it everyday but have no idea what sits inside the Henry B Plant Museum at the University of Tampa. This hidden gem is today’s Gr8 Getaway. All summer we’re taking you inside area attractions that will cost your family $108 or less. In the 1890s when Henry B Plant was busy building the railroad in Tampa, he wanted to make the quiet area a destination. He realized it needed a luxury hotel to attract the rich and famous. Part of the old hotel is now a museum on 401 W Kennedy Blvd on the UT campus.
“This was the Tampa Bay Hotel,l one of the first hotels in Tampa,” Lindsay Huban, the Museum Relations Coordinator, said. “This was a winter resort with 511 rooms.” Walking through the museum you’ll find the Reading and Writing room, the most authentic preserved area in the museum, sample hotel rooms, art, letters, and amazing historical fixtures.”It was $5 a night which back then was a lot,” Huban said. “In addition to Teddy Roosevelt, John Philip Sousa, Babe Ruth, Nellie Melba, Anna Pavlova, anybody who was anybody stayed here.”
Mixed in with all the decor, old letters from a soldier to his family, putting what life was really like back then in perspective. The hotel closed in 1930s and became a museum. As for the famous minarets that most people confuse for a religious symbol, really they’re just a sign of opulence.”They don’t really have a deep meaning,” Huban said. “The crescent moon was exotic at the time and Plant was reading books like ‘Arabian Nights’ and he wanted something that would attract people to the hotel.”
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. A ticket comes with an audio guides. You can check out the museum for free the first Friday of every month from 5-7 p.m. Guests can also enjoy snacks, wine, and live music.