Call to Preserve Seminole Heights Baptist Church

Call to Preserve Seminole Heights Baptist Church

By John Cinchett/ author Historic Tampa Churches

This is my letter to the historic preservation commission:

Dear Members of the City of Tampa Historic Preservation Commission,

I was shocked to discover that a request was made to demolish the structures that sit on the Seminole Heights Baptist Church property located at 801 E. Hillsborough Avenue.

I am a local history writer and author of the book ‘Historic Tampa Churches’. This church has a very significant and rich history in Tampa. Established in 1921, this church has been home to many Seminole Heights pioneer families.

Here is some detail on their history: In 1927, the first mission sponsored was Spencer Memorial Baptist Church followed by Idlewild Baptist Church in 1934; North Rome Baptist Church in 1944; Hubert Avenue Baptist Church in 1952, and Salem Baptist Church in 1970. In 1958, the congregation established one of the first church day-care centers in Tampa called Babyland. This church was a pioneer in Christian television broadcasting and the first in Tampa to produce a weekly show. In 1962, the church produced one of the first Christian television shows called “Good News” which broadcasted on weekday mornings. In 1974, the church established another television show called “Steeple Time” airing on Sunday mornings. In 1985, the church established a new television program called “Bringing Tampa to Life”.

The structure is also architecturally significant, only one of a handful of churches in the city that represent the Colonial Revival Style of church architecture. The steeple is the tallest of any church in the city.

There are several examples of other churches in Tampa that have been saved from demolition and modified for other uses. Among these is the former Tampa Heights Presbyterian Church on Palm Avenue which is now the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association; and the former St Paul AME Church on Harrison Street, which is now a Community Center for the nearby apartment building. In both cases, the churches were preserved, but modified for other uses.

I believe the church structure serves as an iconic symbol of the greater Seminole Heights neighborhood and should be listed as a local historic landmark to be maintained rather than bulldozed. This church is also significant to the history of Seminole Heights and to Tampa. The church has distinctive character, architectural value, and historical and cultural significance to the city and thus, should qualify for preservation rather than demolition.

Thank you,
John Cinchett

3 Replies to “Call to Preserve Seminole Heights Baptist Church”

  1. As a 66 year old Tampa native this church is a landmark that was a beacon for Tampa travelers on I275. Please save this Tampa landmark as it is also part of Tampa church history. Please save this church.

  2. I agree this is a historic landmark for sure and it is part of tampa and seminole heights please let us restore it not tear it down .

  3. I was a member of Seminole Heights Baptist. I was married there 49 years ago by A.W. Mathis in 1971, great memories. I was there when we were televised.