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Old Union Depot Hotel

Location Class:
Built: 1912 | Abandoned: N/A
Historic Designation: National Register of Historic Places (December 11, 2000)
Status: Demolished
Photojournalist: David Bulit

Photo Credit: Bill Rogers, 2008 - The Depot Union Hotel was for sale for years, but never attracted any buyers to try and restore it.
The Depot Union Hotel was for sale for years but never attracted any buyers to try and restore it, 2008. Photo by Bill Rogers

The Union Hotel and Cafe, better known as the Old Union Depot Hotel, was built in 1912 directly across the street from the Tampa Union Station. The building was what remained of twelve continuous, two-story, brick storefronts around the intersection of Nebraska Avenue and East Zack Street. The design of the building is also unique as it had six sides, an odd but necessary design for the irregular lot it was built on.

The hotel and its neighboring businesses generally catered to train passengers arriving at Union Station, which like the hotel, first opened in 1912. Opening in the era of racial segregation, the hotel functioned for “whites only”, and African-American travelers were directed to the Jackson Rooming House, one of the only places in Tampa where black travelers could find lodging. Of those dozen commercial buildings, the Union Hotel structure was the last to remain standing. Its standing as a hotel, however, could not last indefinitely, and after a period of time, the Union Hotel and Cafe closed. 

The Old Union Depot Hotel closed in 1921. On December 11, 2000, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, with hopes that its historical status and accompanying tax incentives would help push for preservation and restoration. The aging structure attracted no buyers, though it was used in The Punisher(2004). After years of neglect, the roof collapsed and was deemed hazardous, forcing the city of Tampa to order its demolition which occurred on May 23, 2010.

1915 sanborn tampa
1915 Sanborn Insurance Map for Tampa, Florida. Library of Congress

David Bulit is a photographer, author, and historian from Miami, Florida. He has published a number of books on abandoned and forgotten locales throughout the United States and continues to advocate for preserving these historic landmarks. His work has been featured throughout the world in news outlets such as the Miami New Times, the Florida Times-Union, the Orlando Sentinel, NPR, Yahoo News, MSN, the Daily Mail, UK Sun, and many others. You can find more of his work at davidbulit.com as well as amazon.com/author/davidbulit.

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