Florida’s history is brief compared to other areas but does have its hidden history often only dating from the 1920s and 1930s. Many of these in the Mediterranean revival style that I’ve mentioned in previous posts. I found a great example of this architecture down in South St. Pete at the Bay Pines VA Hospital (now part of the C.W. Young VA Medical Center). While I was hunting through my photos I found these photos that I took three years ago, with my brand new Olympus OMD EM-5 in tow. I spent a morning photographing this great architecture. As I write this, I realize that I made a typical rookie mistake of not researching my subject. I saw stuff I liked and snapped away. But this really is a great place to spend a winter morning camera in hand. Now that I know more about the history I plan to go back and take a more systematic approach.. Enjoy my rookie photos.
Construction began in the 1930s with Building 1, 2 and 13 with completion in 1933 . Fortunately these buildings still exist, though most have been repurposed over the years as more modern buildings replaced older buildings. Newer buildings intermix with the old. This makes for a bit of a challenge sometimes if you are trying for iconic views of the facades.
Building 1 itself is a work of art. Now housing offices, it is most noted for its three level entrance
Nearby Building 24, though newer, is more accessible for photographic detail
I searched for some historical photos of the buildings. A few exist in the Florida Photo collection but many of these are old post cards. In 2011 the National Park Service published an extensive history and background discussion of the buildings.
It isn’t necessary to obtain permission to enter the grounds to photograph the old buildings. When I took these photos, I only had one lens, my Olympus M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3, but on my return visit I will go back with a better selection. These photos are exterior, taken early in the day. In the future I hope to do some of the interior (after getting permission) of the tile work.
This map will help you find the buildings. Of interest are Buildings 1, 2, 13, 20 and 24. Parking can sometimes be challenging here…but visitor parking is well-marked.