Master Plan

Henry B Plant Park Master PlanPlant Park Master Plan
Plant Park Master Plan Site Plan

The vision of the restored historic Plant Park was born within the volunteered hearts of the public working and contributing as Friends of Plant Park.

The Friends of Plant Park was formed as an educational entity of The University of Tampa in 1993 by a group of volunteers interested in preserving and nurturing Plant Park.

As an official University of Tampa support group, Friends of Plant Park started out with “garden work days” in coordination with The University of Tampa’s grounds manager. This included a massive tree trimming endeavor as well as a thorough clean out of the exotic nuisance foliage surrounding Biology Creek.

Over the course of the next few years, the need for a committee to specifically address issues and its raison d’etre to restore and protect the park became apparent. The Long Range Planning Committee was formed in 1996 and in 1997 the committee commissioned Gulf Archeological Research Institute (GARI) to start the Research Design Phase of a Comprehensive, Multi-Phased Cultural Landscape Study of Plant Park. This was completed in 1998.

That year also launched the first Friends of Plant Park-sponsored “GreenFest”, a spring garden festival that was to quickly become their signature fund raiser.

Henry B Plant Park Master PlanIn 2001, Plant Park’s 4.5 acres was designated as a local historic landmark. In 2002, the Friend’s Board of Directors voted to commission the combined efforts of Rigall/Design and Christopher Ross, ASLA, to design a comprehensive master plan for the renovation/ rehabilitation of the park.

Plant Park was developed at the turn of the 19th Century, following the trauma of the Civil War and just as the United States was adopting a new international stance toward the rest of the world. If preserved and properly interpreted, The Tampa Bay Hotel Grounds’ remaining artifacts, the surrounding pleasure grounds being a principal aspect, can offer a better understanding of that time, its people, and the context in which they made their history.

Plant Park is Tampa’s oldest public park. Its history is entwined with both the local high society and the local working class, each in their turn using the park for strolling, socializing and courtship customs. The park was continually developing over the early decades of the 20th century while generally maintaining its original feeling and level of design intensity.

Given that the park has only slightly evolved from its original form, (though with the occasional addition of a significant feature), we have looked for ways of developing a list of critical features that should be preserved, restored or recreated, while keeping in mind that it is also a university campus. In this process, we have identified features which should be removed or screened from the park. This selective process was weighted in favor of preserving the original Victorian strolling garden that the hotel guests enjoyed. Since so much of it is intact and easily recovered, this goal became dominant. Using the rich store of data for the Tampa Bay Hotel the original garden design was determined and included in the Master Plan report. The result is a multi-phase garden treatment plan that recovers much of the original hotel garden and recreates features that still remain vivid in local memory.

The mission statement of the organization is “to cultivate community interest in education, restoration, preservation, and maintenance of the Henry B. Plant Park as a botanical garden, and to use its rich Victorian history and identity with the Old Tampa Bay Hotel to bring Henry B. Plant Park to national prominence.”

Board of Directors

Completed Projects