Feb. 14, 1967 Enhanced and colorized Tampa Tribune half-page ad.
Place your cursor on the image to see it as it originally appeared.
 

 

 


Visitors cross Rainbow Bridge to reach Fairyland - Tampa, circa 1959. Color postcard,
 State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.


Photo provided by Johnny V. Cinchett

The Rainbow Bridge adorned the main entrance to Fairyland at Lowry Park. To us as kids, it meant we were finally at the park and a fun time was not long in coming. The staircase extending backward from the top of the rainbow led to the entrance of Fairyland.  Once inside, in addition to the recreated nursery rhymes and fairy tales, a miniature railroad wound through Fairyland and its fascinating game reserve.  From the open cars, you could see wild animals moving about freely over the park area.  The trip also featured a mock African village complete with thatched houses and tree huts. Fairyland also included an amusement park with games and rides, and a playground.

Fairyland was drawn from the dreams and hopes of childhood.  Peter Pan lived again, as life-sized pixies drifted through trees over a landscaped path winding through the 15 acres of the park.  Live mice helped complete the restoration of the familiar "Hickory Dickory Dock."   One could see the Old Lady living in a shoe that was 20 feet high.  Humpty Dumpty was perched on the castle wall and all the King's men were standing by as he teetered on the edge.  Across the lane was the home of the Little Red Hen and nearby, the Three Men in a Tub--the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker--floating in a sea filled with goldfish. 

Live woolly lambs frolicked in the yard in front of Mary's Little Red Schoolhouse.  Peter Rabbit lived with his family in a stump under toadstools four feet high while Little Miss Muffet watched from her tuffet as a big spider tried to frighten her away.  On the drawbridge to the Castle, Goosey Gander stood guard while Rapunzel leaned out, hoping to be rescued.  Enchanted youngsters could even stand in the mouth of Willie the Whale as they watched the antics of tropical fish.  The efforts of the Three Little Pigs and their huff-puffing nemesis were there.  Melodies of the nursery rhymes and other children's music were heard in all parts of the park through hidden speakers.  Fairyland was widely acclaimed as one of the nation's finest free fantasyland amusement areas. 

Story from May 16, 1962 newspaper article

Conclusion of article

This rare 1961 photo, courtesy of John V. Cinchett, author of "Vintage Tampa Signs & Scenes," captured the dedication ceremony for the Lowry Park marquee and zoo expansion on the corner of Sligh Avenue and North Blvd.  Pictured L to R are John F. Cinchett--President Cinchett Neon Sign Co.; Frank Neff--City of Tampa Parks Dept. Director; the Hon. Julian Lane--Mayor of Tampa, and General Sumter L. Lowry.

The Lowry Park sign was the largest neon sign of its type ever constructed in the city of Tampa.  Designed by the Cinchett Neon Sign Co., the sign stood 42 feet tall and was constructed of turquoise porcelain-on-steel panels with white neon letters and stars featuring Art-deco style neon cascades extending down both sides of the marquee.  The sign was actually designed in the form of a memorial cross to honor deceased members of the Lowry family. 

Cinchett Neon Signs, Inc. was awarded this national recognition by General Electric in honor of the completed sign.

Contrary to what all of Tampa probably believed by 1959, Dr. Sumter Lowry (father of Gen. Sumter Lowry) did NOT donate the land that became Lowry Park, nor did any Lowry family member.  It was purchased by the City in 1918 and dedicated with his Lowry's name in 1925. 

Proof is in this feature.

Photo provided by Johnny V. Cinchett             

John F. Cinchett, doing what he did best; design, create, build, and install his latest masterpiece. John put his signature art (in the form of neon signs) on many of the streets of Tampa in the 50s and 60s, especially downtown. If you had a sign by Cinchett Neon Signs, you had the best. He was to neon signs what the Burgert Brothers were to photography.

The original Lowry Park sign, made by John F. Cinchett of Cinchett Neon Signs, Inc. was the tallest neon sign ever constructed in the city of Tampa, standing 42 feet tall. The Lowry Park sign was actually a memorial cross to honor the deceased members of the Lowry family.

Special thanks to Johnny V. Cinchett for the background info of this sign, as well as the color photo seen  above of his award.

Images of circa 1959-60** brochure.
Click each page to see larger, then click again in new window to see full size.
**This date is estimated based on the following:  The miniature railroad is mentioned, the installation of which was begun in April 1959.  Sheena is not mentioned, yet the zoo and other animals, including Suzy the chimp, are mentioned.  Sheena was a very important addition to the zoo when she was donated in 1960 and would have been a main attraction in a brochure.  Mayor Nuccio was in some of the photos, something special for an early brochure.

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3

Page 3 - Climb a real rainbow into the wondrous make-believe land of childhood dreams!  This is Fairyland...a world set apart, a special world set apart...a storybook park where children's dreams come true...a fantasy woodland of elves and fairies, of nursery rhymes and fables of long ago.

Soft shafts of sunlight filter through moss-draped oaks to brighten cool shadows.  At each turn along flower-bordered walkways, a new page of Mother Goose opens before you.  In this fabulous setting of mammoth, pastel-tinted toadstools, of life size pixies swinging from tree limbs, the happy never-never land of little children springs to life.
 

Page 4
From a window high in a 30-foot castle, the Fairy Princess looks for her prince as a live Goosey Gander greets you with a friendly "honk"...Humpty Dumpty sits on the wall, the king's men in full armor stride their horses await his fall...A real live sheep follows Little Bo-Peep as she searches for her lost flock.

Escaping from their houses of straw and sticks, the Three Little Pigs find safety from the Big Bad Wolf in their brick home...The Old Woman lives in a big shoe--it's 20 feet high--but it still won't hold all her children!

A frightened Little Miss Muffet gets ready to run as the big spider spins his web above her...From the top of the beanstalk, a worried giant watches as Jack starts to cut it down.

There are many, many more--realistically reproduced, with very lifelike characters indeed...And as the continuing panorama of myth and imagination unfolds, you are faintly conscious of musical nursery rhymes, wafted gently from hidden speakers in the tall treetops.

Page 5
Fairyland brings to life the storied tales of childhood for young and old alike.

What a world of fantasy it opens up for you!
You walk the deck of Noah's Ark with its aviary of gaily plumaged birds...the mouth of Willie the Whale opens wide to let children walk in, and there--right in his tummy--is a tank of tropical fish!

Pacific sea lions leap from a pool to take a morsel of fish from your hand...Hickory Dickory Dock?  A real mouse runs up the clock!...Peter Rabbit peeks at you from his tree trunk home (and he's alive too!)...and Henny Penny, Three Men in a Tub, the Little Red Schoolhouse...and of course, a Wishing Well...and don't be surprised if a gander waddles along beside you--.or a pheasant or brightly-hued peacock.  A Sugar Plum Park is available for children's parties by reservation.

Flowers in variety bloom everywhere.  And so well has the landscaping been done, the plants, shrubbery and trees blend naturally into the original woodland.

At night, the park becomes a glorious illuminated Fairyland, with tinted bulbs spotlighting all of the fascinating features in the world of make believe.
 

Page 6
Fairyland, America's outstanding free fantasy-land for all ages!

Only a short distance from downtown, Tampa's fairyland spreads over more than ten acres of wooded area in beautiful Lowry Park on the scenic Hillsborough River.  It is a unique playground-park for the enjoyment of youngsters and grownups who live in Tampa or visit the city.  Since Fairyland is community owned, there is never any admission charge.

In addition to faithful portrayals in life-size of 20 fairy tales and fables, there is a playground with swings, slides, seesaws--all free!  A small charge is made for pony rides, trips on the two merry-go-rounds and miniature railroad.

And there is a zoo with more than a score of different animals and birds--from Suzy the Chimp to Nubian lions; Florida deer and black bears, flamingos, strutting peacocks, fan-tailed pigeons, and many more--all at home in artistically designed and gaily colored cages and houses.

When you come to Tampa be sure to visit Fairyland.  It is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; and from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

 

 


 
Close ups of images in the above brochure.
   

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe (Page 2)

Feeding Florida deer (Page 3)

   


Enchanted children and parents alike watch Mayor Nuccio feeding the seals (Page 4)


One of two Merry-go-Rounds, from the brochure. (Page 4)


Mayor Nuccio posing with "his children" on Noah's Ark, Jr.  (Page 5)
 

 


Lowry Park Early History - City Commissioner Sumter de Leon Lowry, Sr.

Sumter L. Lowry (Sr.) was born in 1861 in York, South Carolina, the son of a Confederate Army surgeon. He studied pharmacology at South Carolina Medical School College and worked as a druggist before moving to Palatka, Fla. in 1888. There he had a pharmacy and general store before moving to Tampa in 1894.

Long before the park, zoo and the neighborhoods were named for him, Dr. Sumter L. Lowry built his house in 1895 in South Tampa. It was a clapboard house with Queen Anne elements, and a short distance from Hillsborough Bay in Hyde Park North.

In Tampa, Dr. Lowry had great success in the insurance business, becoming the Manager of Reliance Life Insurance Company and the Director of Gulf Life Insurance Company. He developed a keen interest in public service when the city adopted the commission form of government.  Lowry served three consecutive terms as a Commissioner starting in 1922. (Jan. 3, 1922-Jan. 24, 1928.)

 

The Lowry house at 333 S. Plant Ave.
Photo courtesy of LoopNet.com
 

 

Dr. Lowry was instrumental in many public improvements during his six years on the commission,  He played a key role in the purchase and installation of the city waterworks and port improvements, he helped build Municipal Hospital on Davis Islands (now Tampa General), he had roles in the rehabilitation of the Tampa Bay Hotel (now University of Tampa) and the construction of five bridges.  Lowry also raised funds to build downtown's St. Andrew's Episcopal Church and was a founder of St. John's Episcopal Church in Old Hyde Park.  When the Gandy Bridge was completed in the fall of 1924, Lowry represented the City of Tampa with Mayor-Commissioner Perry G. Wall at the opening ceremony.

Today, two neighborhoods carry his name and the Lowry House is home to law offices at 333 S Plant Ave.

But WHY was Lowry Park named for him?

 

 
LOWRY PARK BEGINNINGS

This is what you've heard about how Lowry Park came to be and why it was so named.  The story is found almost everywhere the park's beginnings are described...

In 1918, City Commissioner Dr. Sumter Lowry urged the city of Tampa to buy land north of Sligh Avenue at North Blvd and dedicate it for use as a public park.   In 1925, after years of hard work, it became a reality, and the park was later named in Lowry's honor.

But Lowry wasn't a City Commissioner in 1918.  In fact, that form of city government didn't start until 1921 and he wasn't a commissioner until Jan. 3, 1922.

Some variations of this story say he donated the land for the purpose of building a city park. This one below confuses Dr. Lowry (Sr.) with his son, Gen. Lowry (Jr.) and credits him with donating the land.  This was said in a public speech by a direct descendant of Lowry:

Lt. Gen. Sumter Lowry, a city official in the 1920s...got parcels of land together and donated it to the city to create a park.

None of the above really happened.


HOW IT REALLY HAPPENED - A CEMETERY SITE

In early 1918, the Tampa City Council put aside rules and pushed an ordinance through to purchase 105 acres of land from Eben E. Cone for $30,000.  The proposition wasn't discussed at this meeting which was the third reading of the proposition, nor any suggestion made that the ordinance be handled under the current rules of procedure.  The only Councilman who opposed the purchase was Ramon Sierra who voted "No" on each motion.

At this time (Jun. 6, 1916 – Jun. 10, 1920), the City Council consisted of President Fred W. Ball, James B. Anderson, James E. Etzler, John R. Fielding, G. T. Henderson, Henry P. Kennedy, Henry R. Lightfoot, Erwin R. Murray, Pedro G. Ramos, Dr. David E. Saxton, and Ramon Sierra, Jr. Note: An election was held on 6/4/1918 and all members were reelected with no changes. 

The members of the Cemetery Committee consisted of Councilmen J. E. Etzler, P. G. Ramos, and Henry P. Lightfoot.

The land purchased was located south of Sulphur Springs, on the west bank of the river almost directly across from Dr. Goldstein's pool and was to be used as a new City cemetery site.  It was offered for sale to the city a week before the above described meeting.

But there were no decent roads from Tampa to this "remote" area. The last paragraph describes just how difficult it was to reach the property.

OPPOSITION

The choice of property didn't sit well with a lot of people. Rumors that Cone had upped the price when the City expressed interest were abundant. On Jan. 25, the Tribune published a letter from G. Goldstein who wrote them to say that the cemetery committee was trying to put something over on the people of Tampa, stating that a price of less than what the City paid had already been turned down by a previous prospective buyer. Not only was the site inaccessible, it was considered not suited for a cemetery, being mostly low land and wet, more suitable for truck farming.   He ends by hoping the mayor will veto this proposition, comparing it to former foolish propositions.

 

CONE ON HIS OWN DEFENSE

On the same day, E. E. Cone, seller of the property, wrote the Times to respond to the critics of the purchase. The Tribune was a morning paper, the Times was an evening paper, which worked out well for Cone. He said after he read Goldstein's letter, he had a talk with him, and said Goldstein was mistaken about the description of the land, and that land was only a small strip near the river.

More talk about the inaccessibility of the site was published on Jan. 26 in the Times, with suggestions on various routes that could be improved. Notice "Armina Ave." the correct original name of "Armenia." The article ends with a hope that this purchase will speed up progress on a nice new river boulevard.

 

BEDINGFIELD:  KEEP ME OUT OF THIS MESS

Feb. 1, 1918 - J.A. Bedingfield wrote the Tribune to set the record straight because the mayor was told he had previously offered the City land at $100 per acre. Bedingfield says that offer was for 160 acres NORTH of the Cone property, and that property in the immediate area was selling for a much higher figure. He basically closes with what politely means "keep me out of this mess."



NEW CITY CHARTER FOR COMMISSION GOVERNMENT ON THE BALLOT

Back during his 1916 mayoral campaign for his third term, D . B . McKay had emphasized his opposition to the commission form of government. He argued that the existing system provided better representation for all sectors of the population and that the commission form would result in limited focus of powers.  McKay was elected to a 4-year mayoral term; his 3rd consecutive term as mayor. 

With the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920, giving women the right to vote, Tampa women including Kate Jackson, Julia Norris, and Frances Macfarlane, who had long been involved in civic affairs, mobilized in support of a pro-commission charter. Proponents for the Commission-Manager system believed that this structure of government would enable the City to conduct municipal affairs in a more direct and business-like manner.

It took a board of 15 businessmen selected to draft a new charter a month to carefully come up with one they thought would be approved by the voters.

The voters approved adoption of the commission-manager system with their vote for the new City Charter on Oct. 19 , 1920. This new form of government, which elected a mayor/commissioner, and four commissioners who, in turn, appointed a City Manager. The mayor essentially became a figurehead with no more administrative power than the commissioners had. The City Manager served as the administrative head of the municipal government.   

The Tribune, which was a huge supporter of the new charter, even used their special red ink for the headline.
However, on the day previous to the election, they boldly predicted a 2 to 1 margin of victory.

UNOPPOSED ELECTION

On Dec. 7, 1920, Tampa voters went to the polls for the SEVENTH time, this time to vote for the Mayor/Commissioner and how long the other four candidates for commissioner would serve.  These five were elected in a Nov. 15 primary and ran unopposed in the Dec. 7 election.

In Jan. 1921, Charles H. Brown, the 40th mayor of Tampa, had the distinction of being the first mayor of Tampa to serve under the commission form of government.  He served from Jan. 4, 1921 to Jan. 8, 1924.  (City of Tampa Past Mayors - Charles H. Brown)

Mayor Charles H. Brown
Portrait from "Men of the South."


Perry G. Wall, having won the next election, became the next mayor to serve under this system of government in Jan. 1924.

Dr. Sumter Lowry, a rigorous proponent of the commissioner form of government, was elected to a seat on the Commission in 1922.


   CITY COMMISSIONERS BEGIN CEMETERY SITE USAGE PLAN IN 1924

 

 

COMMISSIONERS VISIT CEMETERY SITE

In late Feb. 1924, the city commissioners, which included Dr. Lowry, took a trek out to see the cemetery site for the first time.  SIX YEARS had passed since the land's purchase by the previous administration, and still nothing had been done with the land known as the "Cemetery Site."   

After viewing the site, Lowry considered it to be "excellently adapted for use as a cemetery" and that it had been  "...a good purchase for the City.  As a matter of fact the property could now be sold for a handsome profit above its cost to the city.

This article incorrectly states the land was purchased in 1919

 

FUNDS BUDGETED TO BEGIN DEVELOPMENT OF CEMETERY SITE

In the summer of 1924, the "City fathers" budgeted $10k to develop the "Riverside cemetery."  Two thousand dollars was set aside to build a combination garage/office building.  Lowry was ready to hire a competent landscape artist so lots could go on sale soon.

 

PRELIMINARY REPORT SAYS LAND BETTER SUITED FOR FISHING

The City Engineer, R. D. Martin, made a preliminary investigation of the property and said it was better suited for fishing. Ten acres of land was already submerged, and much of the surrounding area suffered from water just 2 to 4 feet below ground level. So the City Commission decided to have a soil survey done before proceeding to beautify the landscape.


THE SURVEY SAYS...UNFIT FOR BURIALS

The next mention of the cemetery site or soil survey thereof was printed in the Nov. 4, 1924 Times and Nov. 5 Tribune.  These covered the discussions that took place on the previous day's City Commissioners' meeting. The property is "so poorly drained that in some portions water is found four feet under the surface...the cemetery is unfit for burial purposes in many places."

The matter was to be discussed at the next meeting of the commissioners but no such article describing that meeting has been found where this was discussed.
 

FORMER PROPERTY OF TAMPA PIONEER JOE ROBLES CONVERTED TO PUBLIC PARK

 

Seventeen acres of land north of Floribraska Ave, between Nebraska Ave & Florida Ave, was purchased for conversion to a public park in early 1925 at a purchase price of $41,099. 

Improvements began in late March of that year with plans to convert Robles Pond into a lake by building a retaining wall.  The park was named Adams Park in honor of City Commissioner W. A. Adams.


 

Tampa Mayor Perry G. Wall succeeded Charles Brown in Jan. 1924 as Tampa's 2nd mayor under city commissioner government.

CEMETERY LAND TO BE USED AS PUBLIC PARK

On Apr. 1, 1925, the Tribune announced that on Mar. 31, the former cemetery site was named Lowry Park in honor of City Commissioner Sumter L. Lowry Sr., due to his efforts in "consummation of arrangements for acquiring the land for park purposes.

The term "acquiring" is misleading, because the land had already been purchased seven years earlier.  Perhaps Lowry had some active role in the process of repurposing its use from cemetery to public park use.  Maybe he came up with the idea and suggested a preliminary plan for park use.  But none of these efforts could be found in news articles concerning City Commissioner meetings from early Nov. 1924 to this point. Perhaps City Commissioner meeting minutes contain the details.

At the dedication announcement, Lowry was quoted as saying, "This is the greatest honor ever conferred on me, I have done nothing to earn it..." 

Lowry may have been telling the literal truth.

 

 

THE LOWRY MYTH DEVELOPS

In the years since 1925, the Lowry myth developed.  By 1959, in the midst of racial discrimination and ensuing push for integration at Tampa's city parks, the press already thought the Lowry family had donated the land for the park.  The "ardent champion of segregation and states rights" was describing Gen. Sumter Lowry, JR.

 

In 1986, when Lowry Park Zoo was undergoing its $20 million renovation, Tampa Bay magazine printed a large article, a portion of which consisted of these comments by Sally Lowry Baldwin, granddaughter of Sumter L. Lowry Jr. (the National Guard Lt. General.)

"My grandfather, Lt. Gen. Sumter Lowry, a city official in the 1920s, developed the idea of having green space in Tampa.  He got parcels of land together to create the green space and donated it to the city."  Tampa Bay Magazine, Oct/Nov. 1986 at Google Books

Ms. Baldwin is evidently is confusing her grandfather, Lt. Gen. Sumter Lowry Jr., with her great-grandfather, City Commissioner Dr. Sumter L. Lowry (Sr.),

Lowry Jr. was born in 1893, graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1914, pursued a military career with the National Guard, saw active duty in  WW1,  became a Lt. General in the 1930s and served in WW2. 

He wasn't a city official in the 1920s, he was the president of the Victory Life Insurance Company.  And as you have just learned so far, it was his father, Dr. Lowry (Sr.) who was the city official, and he didn't get "parcels of land together," nor did he own or donate parcels of land that became Lowry Park.  It already belonged to the City in 1918 as one big 105 acre tract.

(Gen. Lowry's bio, as well as the author V. Almeida's concept of Sheena's history, is discussed on the breakout page "Sheena, the Baby Elephant.")

 

 

E. E. Cone, seller of the property that became Lowry Park, died in 1927 in Ft. Myers from an accidental shooting.

 

 

SUMTER LOWRY RUNS FOR RE-ELECTION

In August 1925, Dr. Lowry made his bid for re-election to the Board of City Commissioners, entering the race for two available seats for five candidates.  Lowry laid out his platform...

  • Finish all the incomplete public works currently in progress in the city.

  • Provide electric light, water, sewerage, sanitation, fire and police protection to all the areas that had just been annexed by the city.  (Ft. Brooke, West Tampa & Ybor to name a few.)

  • More bridges across the river, starting with one at Michigan Ave. into West Tampa  (Now called Columbus Drive) and opening closed streets.

  • He claims that the city spent "some ten millions of dollars" in the past four years while he was city commissioner, and every dollar was well-spent.

  • He favored a "white way" to Ballast Point, which is what streets brightly-lit with electric lights were then called.

  • And finally, he was in favor of improving Tampa's parks "in a big way, to include golf courses and a municipal zoo.

 

The next day, Lowry ran an ad which included his above comments as the narrative on the left, with the list seen below positioned in one long column on the right.  It has been rearranged into three columns to make better use of space here.  He first presents the fourteen points of his previous campaign platform, then proceeds to show how every one of them, except for the last one, have been accomplished are are in progress.

Sumter Lowry and James McCants both ran for re-election unopposed for City Commissioner in the Nov. 3, 1925 election.

 

WORK STARTS ON CLEARING LOWRY PARK LAND

The City of Tampa advertised for bids on clearing the first 33 acres of Lowry Park, marking the beginning of "actual work" on the park system.

City commissioners made appropriation to improve Lowry, Barritt, and Adams parks, with Lowry being the largest by far.

Barritt Park was located on the Hillsborough River where the city waterworks was being built.  Adams Park was the former land of Joe Robles, where a lake was being dredged and a playground laid out.

 

 

 

WILLIAM JAMES BARRITT

Click the ad to see it larger.

Regarded as the "father of the municipal waterworks," W. J. Barritt was born in London, England in 1879 and immigrated to the United States at a young age. His family settled in Florida in the 1880s and cultivated an orange grove near Sanford. They lost the grove due to a harsh freeze during the winter of 1895 and they came to Tampa soon afterward. Barritt then started a dairy business at age 19.  His success in the dairy business led to his establishment of the Poinsettia Dairy just west of the Tampa Bay Hotel. In 1903, it became the first distributor of bottled milk in Tampa. Barritt began producing ice cream in 1910, and Poinsettia Dairy went on to become one of the largest dairy companies in the state of Florida. After it was bought out by Borden, Barritt served as Chairman of the Board of Directors until his death. On Tampa’s City Council Barritt was on the Appeals and Grievances Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Police Department Committee. In 1921, when Tampa switched to a Commission-Manager form of government, he served three consecutive terms as Mayor-Commissioner Pro Tempore. Because of his great efforts to establish Tampa's waterworks on the Hillsborough River, a park was created around the facility and named for him.  He died on March 9, 1944.   Read his Mar. 10, 1944 obituary in the Tampa Times.


 

MONKEY CAGE BEING BUILT AT LOWRY PARK

Plans for a zoo at Lowry Park were announced in mid-October 1927 with Commissioner Lowry supervising.  A house for eight monkeys was under construction and negotiations for the monkeys were being made with companies dealing in wild animals and owners of private zoos.  The monkeys were expected to be purchased within the next two weeks.

Plans were in place to purchase tropical birds and deer.  Supt. of Parks Ralph B. True was supervising the development.
 

 

 

The Tribune had the same basic story but included the status of the bird cage.

 

The Tribune took the opportunity to take shots at the commissioners.

     

 

 

 

WE INTERRUPT THIS LOWRY PARK ZOO PROGRAM TO BRING YOU A POLITICAL STORM BULLETIN

Hurricane McKay is headed towards Lowry Park and may make parkfall within the next 30 days.  Please read this bulletin carefully, your zoo will depend on it.

 


DECISION TIME: KEEP COMMISSION GOVERNMENT CHARTER OR ADOPT MAYOR/CITY COUNCIL CHARTER

Nothing else was published about progress of the Lowry Park zoo effort for the rest of the year 1927 as the subject in the news turned to politics when a new city charter was to be put to a vote on Dec. 6, 1927.    

In the current system of mayor/commissioner city government, the board of city commissioners from Jan. 8, 1924 to Jan. 3, 1928 consisted of: Mayor/Commissioner Perry G. Wall,  Mayor pro tempore/Commissioner William James Barritt, Commissioners William A. Adams, Dr. Sumter Lowry, and James McCants.

In December 1927 there was a major push to continue with this commission form of government, under which Tampa was governed during this current administration of Perry Wall, and his predecessor, Charles Brown.  A huge full-page ad was published in the Tribune showing all the accomplishments of the commission form of government, and the pitfalls of returning to a mayor/city council form of government, urging voters to vote "NO" on the new charter.

CLICK THE AD TO SEE IT LARGER

The Tampa Times was quick to take a shot at the Tribune ad.  The Times was owned by D. B. McKay.

 

THE VOTE
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE - Dec. 7, 1927

THE TAMPA TIMES - Dec. 7, 1927

The new charter was approved by Tampa voters by a more than 3 to 1 margin, and the mayor/city council system of government that was in effect during D. B. McKay's three terms from 1910 to 1920 would return when the new charter took effect on Jan. 25, 1928.  But there was still a mayoral election to be held on Dec. 27.

This article gives a good description of the changes the new charter would make.  It also shows the vote counts for each district.
Click the article to read it all.

With the new charter being voted for on the 6th, but the election for government offices on the 27th, just who ran for what office depended on the outcome of the charter election.  *Once again, "nominated" is used to mean "elected."

   

MCKAY INFURIATES COMMISSIONERS

With the passing of the new charter, the city commissioners would be abolished on Jan. 25, 1928, and several of them were furious about statements McKay had made during the charter campaign, and his current campaign for mayor.


CLICK THE ARTICLE TO READ THE REST OF IT


It seems McKay made some allegations that the city commissioners had failed to perform and publish an annual audit of the city's finances for this year as was required by the current city charter, and that Tampa was on the verge of bankruptcy, stating that the next mayor would virtually serve as receiver for Tampa's bankruptcy. 

Commissioner Lowry was especially incensed, stating "This man has lambasted us for four years, but his latest outburst is more than I can bear.  He should be made to put up or shut up.  Even if he believes Tampa is bankrupt, he has no right to broadcast his views at a time when we are in the midst of economic adjustment."  He went on to compare McKay to Moses--"We are assailed by a Moses--Mr. Moses McKay--who promises to lead us out of the wilderness.  All right, let's have 'Moses' come before the commission and tell us how he proposes to do it.."  He went on and on to the Tribune about it.  The commissioners even passed a resolution declaring their opinions (as facts) about McKay's actions.

MCCANTS RECANTS

Current city commissioner James McCants, who had announced his intention to run for mayor in the Dec. 27 election, announced on Dec. 15 he did not wish to qualify.  His assessment of the public opinion was that it would have been hopeless for him to run.  And so the deadline of the 15th came and went, with McCants intentionally failing to qualify, along with 36 other men who had  announced their intention to run.  And so McKay ran unopposed.

 

THE FINAL WEEKS OF PERRY WALL'S ADMINISTRATION - Dec. 1927
A Cemetery Site--Again.

With the end of commissioner city government looming in the coming month, the topic of a new city cemetery once again came to the forefront during last month of Mayor Wall's administration.  At the upcoming city commissioner meeting, Lowry would urge Mayor Wall to purchase a municipal cemetery, because the two present ones, Woodlawn and Oaklawn, were completely filled, and the only burial plots available in Tampa were privately owned and expensive.  Lowry told the Tribune, "The city should purchase a new cemetery to lower the high cost of dying."  He spoke of a mother whose son was killed in an auto accident, saying "she paid $250* for a piece of ground large enough to bury her boy." 

Lowry stated that funds were available to buy a cemetery not costing more than $30,000**.  Lowry approached the commissioners back when the new charter was passed in early December, and at that time the others were against the purchase.  Lowry now was acting on reports that the incoming administration might try to convert Lowry park into a municipal cemetery, even though drill tests showed the ground was saturated and unsuitable for burial.

*Two hundred and fifty dollars in 1927 would be like $3,806 to us today.
**Thirty thousand dollars in 1927 would be like $456,684 to us today.
    (U.S. Inflation Calculator.)


RUMORS OF PARKS TO BE RENAMED BY MCKAY ADMINISTRATION

There were also "reliable reports current in city hall for more than a week that the new administration, headed by Mayor McKay, will undoubtedly rename Barritt and Adams parks in honor of Confederate generals" and that one would be named Forrest park, as a tribute to General Forrest, and the other will be either Lee or Jackson park.

Mayor Perry Wall's response to Lowry's suggestion was printed on Dec. 17 in the Tampa Times.  Wall's stance was that the city would not buy a cemetery site before the end of his administration .  "I have no disposition to go into the purchase of a cemetery at the end of my administration, unless it can be proven to my satisfaction that the necessity for purchasing it at this time is absolutely imperative and that the price for which it is offered is particularly attractive."  The article ends with the Tribune saying "Dr. Lowry has agitated the purchase of a piece of land ever since it was learned that Lowry park, originally bought for that purpose, was unsuited as a burial ground...the land was too low and seepage of water was too close to the surface."

 

 

 

SHORT TERM COMMISSIONERS

Of the "lame-duck" city commissioners,  two of the five stayed on to the bitter end--Jan. 24, 1928, as the new charter would take effect the next day when twelve elected city councilmen (or representatives as they were called) would take their seats.   So on Jan. 3, 1928,  the city still under commissioner form of government, commissioners McCants and Lowry stayed on, and were joined by the new administration of D. B. McKay as Mayor/Commissioner, T. N Henderson (Mayor Commissioner pro tempore,), and Dr. C. W. Bartlett.

 

ON JANUARY 25, 1928, THIS BOARD OF REPRESENTATIVES WOULD TAKE OVER, WITH MCKAY AS MAYOR

THE TAMPA TRIBUNE CALLS FOR END TO HOSTILITIES

The Tribune printed a fair and honest account of what had transpired, stating "The Tribune bespeaks for the new regime the fullest opportunity to justify itself, without captious criticism or factional ill-feeling or resentment....If it does not prove satisfactory, the people will have the same right to abolish it that they had to abolish the commission form.  After months of agitation, unrest and hostility, "let's have an end of disturbance , and all get together for a year of constructive work for the advancement and prosperity of Tampa."

Rumors persisted that Lowry Park, Barritt Park, and Adams Park would be renamed for Confederate generals, or one of them for McKay.

 

                HURRICANE MCKAY HITS LOWRY PARK
 

The temporary City Commissioners (in effect Jan. 3 through Jan. 24) consisting of holdovers Lowry and McCants, with the three new ones T.N. Henderson, C. W. Bartlett, and D. B. McKay as Mayor/Commissioner,  met on Jan. 10 to review bills that Lowry had submitted for zoo-related purchases on December 31, 1927.  He had turned them in to the city manager for payment who in turn questioned the legality of his purchases so turned them over to the commissioners for review. 

One issue at hand was whether Lowry had the authority to make these purchases without any knowledge or involvement by the Board of Parks, which is supposed to recommend and make the purchases according to lowest bid.

Another issue was that any purchase over $300 must be put up for bids to determine the vendor.  Lowry had separate individual invoices for animals and materials for the zoo, each invoice $300 or less.  Some were multiple invoices from the same seller.  They were clearly broken up in separate invoices to avoid having to go through a bidding process for the animals.  Commissioner Bartlett snapped back at Lowry with "If we followed such a precedent as that we could have financed the city hospital in $300 batches!"

Another issue was that the purchases showed the approval of then City Manager Lesley Brown on his last day in office.  Was the City legally bound to pay the bills, to keep what had already been delivered, and forced to accept what had not yet been delivered?  All this was a matter that would be left to City Attorney Karl Whitaker.

No doubt McKay had in mind the resolution passed by the previous board of commissioners rebuking McKay's actions during the campaign, as well as Lowry's bold statements about him such as calling him "Moses McKay" and "This man has lambasted us for four years" and "time for him to put up or shut up."


 
 

 

In 1928, $628 was like $9,727 to us today.

Purchases were made from a pet shop on the same day totaling $478 but they were divided into two invoices, one for $287.50 and the other for $190.

   

COMMISSIONER LOWRY RAKED OVER THE COALS FOR PURCHASES

Upon the recommendation of city attorney Karl Whitaker, the city commission decided to not pay the bills Lowry had turned in for payment. Whitaker's opinion was that the purchases had not been authorized properly by the old commission, the park board or the purchasing department. 

Commissioner Bartlett was the most aggressive of those at the meeting, with him and Lowry clashing a time or two.  McKay ran a close 2nd.  Lowry said he thought that the park board approved of the buying of the animals, "....and if you go ahead and tear up this zoo just to discredit the old commission, than I'll have nothing to say.  I was just carrying out one of the policies of the commission.  We always did that."  But later he says the park board has never met.  He said Mr. Adams and Mr. Barritt both had charge of beautifying their parks.  "What I did was done in good faith.  I didn't think I had exceeded my authority.  I knew I could not purchase more than $300 without bids, but it has always been a policy for each commissioner to look after his own park."  At this point, McKay asked "Is this a matter of record.  Is it in the minutes?"  Lowry said "I don't know." 

Bartlett began his attack by asking if they had a park board, which he already knew the answer was yes, but clearly wanted to catch Lowry in a trap. He then asked Lowry, "What is it for?"  Lowry answered "To beautify the parks, I suppose.  But I don't think it has ever had a meeting."  Bartlett said he wasn't against having a zoo, but questioned if the city had a right to get one this way.  He told Lowry "Well, you exceeded your authority, it was the  park board that should have decided to buy the animals."  Bartlett claimed that if he followed the same logic of buying in under $300 purchases, he could have bought the police chief a Cadillac, one part at a time.

LOWRY IN GREEN, MCKAY IN PINK, ALL OTHERS IN YELLOW.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE (When it opens, click it again to zoom in.)

In the continuation of this article, among other statements, Lowry says "Well it's too small a matter for me to argue, it is simply what this commission has been doing for the past seven years.  The city manager has made many purchases of this sort.  Whitaker answered "But the city manager had no such authority."  Lowry then said "Anyway, that's the way we did it and that's what you will do, too."

This last statement by Lowry seemed to anger Mayor McKay, who jumped in stating "If I can prevent it, this commission will do NO SUCH THING.  I'm not opposed to having a zoo, but I believe this is an irregular proposition.  No authority is shown in the minutes, and this letter you have from the committee of the whole says nothing about this proposition.  What we're trying to do is determine the proper thing to do...I am going to insist that every transaction of this commission be regular."

DR. CHARLES W. BARTLETT

Dr. Charles William Bartlett died of a second heart attack on May 28, 1929 at his home in Tampa; he was 59. Bartlett was born in1870 on his grandfather’s plantation in Sagua la Grande, Cuba.  His father had gone there to manage the plantation. Charles studied medicine at the University of Maryland and received his M.D. in 1893. In 1895, he moved to Tampa and opened a medical practice. He served on the Florida State Board of Health representing Hillsborough County and also became the Assistant Health Officer of South Florida. His son, Dr. Charles William Bartlett, Jr., followed in his footsteps and became Tampa’s City Physician.

Read his May 30, 1929 obituary in the Tampa Tribune.   Some info from "Tampa's City Council and Centennial Celebration of Old City Hall"   (Don't believe everything you read in it about old City Hall, especially about the clock, "Hortense."  Get the truth here at Tampapix.)

Commissioners McCants and Henderson were more sympathetic, with McCants stating that Dr. Lowry had been punished enough by what the other commissioners had said, in view of the policy of the old commission.  Henderson said, "I don't want to put myself in the position of trying to embarrass the men who were on the commission.  If the commissioners and the city manager knew about it, I believe it was done in good faith." 

McKay got in one more punch, "Did you ever ask your attorney for an opinion?" Lowry said "No, I guess not."

Henderson asked the others to accept Dr. Lowry's explanation, and said "Let's not do any spite work.  If the thing was wrong, let's take Dr. Lowry's word that he acted in good faith."

With that, a motion was made to approve Whitaker's opinion and not pay the bills, to accept Lowry's explanation, and to convey the matter to City Manager Davis to take up the matter with the park board.

"And that ended the "fight" for the monkeys."

ADAMS PARK RENAMED JOSEPH ROBLES PARK - Feb. 14,* 1928

With a 10 to 2 vote, the city board of representatives changed the name of Adams Park to Joseph Robles Park, "in honor of one of the city's pioneers and father of Circuit Judge Francis Marion Robles." (The land was originally the homestead of Joseph Robles.)  The park was originally named for City Commissioner W. A. Adams who was a member of the board during the previous administration (of Mayor Perry Wall.)  The Tribune took this action to mean that the two other parks would be renamed, but they never were. 

Strongly against the renaming was Rep. Campbell, not that he had anything against Robles, but because he was vehemently against naming ANYTHING for men.  He claimed it would be more fitting to build a monument to Robles, stating "I am sick and tired and fed up in naming anything for citizens."  Rep. Frazier said the move was no reflection on Adams' character or reputation, but rather the announcement of a policy opposed to naming public improvements after living citizens.  He further stated that the Federal and State governments use the same policy.  Campbell closed with "What assurance do we have that the park will not be renamed in four years when another administration comes into power?"  But the question was not answered and the resolution was adopted.

*Feb. 14, 1847 was the birthday of Joe Robles' son, Joseph Paul Robles.  Joseph P. Robles was NOT a "Jr." because his father had no middle name.

Read about the life of Joseph Robles and his family, along with information about his land patents, here at TampaPix.

 

WILLIAM ANDREW ADAMS

Born in Georgia on February 13, 1871, William A. Adams worked on his family’s farm before coming to Tampa in the 1890s. He became a bookkeeper for the Tampa Lumber Company and later purchased the Tampa Grocery Company. Adams would go on to establish his own wholesale grocery and he enjoyed much success in this venture. He served three consecutive terms as a Commissioner during the seven years that the City of Tampa had a Commission-Manager form of government and many public improvements were made during this time. Adams served as a steward in the First Methodist Church for more than fifty years. He died in Tampa on December 22, 1950.  Read his Dec. 23, 1950 obituary in the Tampa Tribune.

Info from "Tampa's City Council and Centennial Celebration of Old City Hall"

   

 

WE WOULD RETURN YOU TO OUR REGULAR LOWRY PARK ZOO PROGRAM, BUT IT'S OVER.  FINISHED.

By Mar. 6, 1928, the animals had all been returned.

 

 

 

 

LOWRY PARK BEFORE FAIRYLAND - THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY RELIEF ADMINISTRATION TRANSIENT CAMP

In the beginning, Lowry Park was little more than 105 or so acres of picnic grounds. 

Well, there was actually more to it than that.

In Jan. 1934, work began on on building a Federal Emergency Relief camp on the grounds. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) was the new name given by the Roosevelt Administration to the Emergency Relief Administration (ERA) which President Roosevelt had created in 1933.  Under Roosevelt, the agency gave loans to the states to operate relief programs during the Great Depression.

FERA's main goal was to alleviate household unemployment by creating new unskilled jobs in local and state government. Jobs were more expensive than direct cash payments (called "the dole"), but were psychologically more beneficial to the unemployed, who wanted any sort of job, for self-esteem, to play the role of male breadwinner. From May 1933 until closings began in December, 1935, FERA gave states and localities $3.1 billion (59.9 billion in 2021 dollars).  FERA provided work for over 20 million people and developed facilities on public lands across the country.

Initially, Barritt park had been chosen for the camp, but due to a firestorm of criticism it was changed to an undeveloped area of Lowry Park.  The camp would care for about 400 single men who would work on park beautification and recreational jobs.  The camp was expected to cost about $12,000 to build, with the cost of equipment for the camp at $10,000 and $10,000 a month to operate.  This would all be federally funded.

Group of FERA cabanas on the grounds of Lowry Park, north of Sligh Avenue in April, 1935.

Photos from Florida Memory at Florida State Archives.
The cabanas were part of  FERA project 29-B4-255, a part of the Lowry Park Transient Camp.

 

Group of FERA cabanas on the grounds of Lowry Park, north of Sligh Avenue in April, 1935.
Photo from Florida Memory at Florida State Archives
 


Read more about FERA at the University of Washington Library
See more FERA-related photos of Tampa at the State Archives Memory Project website.

 

The camp turned out to be a very well-operated facility, with the residents becoming another responsible Tampa community.  There were eating facilities, a staff doctor, and plenty of room for sports.  They participated in area sports, with their own baseball team, boxing team, track team, and entertainment events put on by the residents at the camp and around town, and given for the residents by the Tampa community as well.  In fact, the news about the camp in 1934 and 1935 was heavily dominated by articles and scores for the results of their baseball team league games and boxing matches.

 

By summer of 1936 Federal funding was cut and the camp residents began to diminish.  It was closed in August 1936 with a possible plan by the Federal government to fund development of Lowry Park, which fell through due to limited funds.  But Tampa had a "Plan B" and the facility was developed into something else for those in need.

 

READ MORE ABOUT THE CAMP AT LOWRY PARK WHICH LASTED ALMOST TWO YEARS
This breakout page also features the construction of Middleton High School, another FERA project in Tampa.

 

 


TAMPA'S CITY ZOO AT PLANT PARK

 

SO THE STORY GOES...

Tampa's zoo began around 1937 as an animal shelter in Plant Park, on the banks of the Hillsborough River near downtown.   It was started by city employees and originally consisted of a small collection of indigenous animals such as raccoons, alligators and an aviary with a variety of exotic birds.

Three women looking at alligator from a foot bridge in Plant Park, Sept. 11, 1936.  Burgert Bros. photo from the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library digital collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entrance to Plant Park with the University of Tampa in the background, Sept. 5, 1936.

Burgert Bros. photo from the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library digital collection.

 

 

 

 

 

HOW AND WHEN THE "TAMPA CITY ZOO" AT PLANT PARK STARTED AND ENDED

The nucleus of what would become referred to as the "Tampa City Zoo" or "Plant Park Zoo" was started by ONE city employee, Parks Dept. Superintendent Marco Penn.   The collection at Plant Park started off with alligators captured in the area, and some which had outgrown their pool in the middle of downtown--the Hillsborough County courthouse square, where a fountain and basin was built there in 1912. 

Throughout Plant Park's approximately fifteen to twenty year history, gators and bears would be the main attraction, as various ones came and went, escaped, or died.  Three bears total were confined at Plant Park over the years, but not simultaneously. The most bears at the same time was two.   In the early years, some "exotic" or non-indigenous animals were exhibited there, such as a Mexican tiger*, Mexican ant bears*, a giant sea turtle, a rhesus monkey, and a few otters.

(*The "Mexican" animals were incorrectly identified.  It wasn't a tiger, and they weren't bears or even anteaters/aardvarks.)

As for this often repeated story...

"As the zoo collection at Plant Park had grown, the animals were moved during the term of Mayor Nick Nuccio to the more centrally located Lowry park in 1957 where it was maintained by Tampa's Parks Department."

... it's not quite what really happened. 

Because any place with a caged animal for viewing was called a zoo, there were private zoos as early as the 1910s at Sulphur Springs, Rocky Point, and one zoo that was a popular hangout had a much larger and more exotic collection of animals than Plant Park's, and it was located at an auto service station.

See the proof at:

TAMPA'S FIRST ZOOS

 

 

 

Lowry Park before Fairyland. Dec. 1, 1952

"Miss Caston with Children at Lowry Park" from the Tampa Photo Supply Collection online at the Tampa-Hillsborough Co. Public Library System. The Tampa Photo Supply collection features a wide range of photographs taken by professional photographers Rose Rutigliano Weekley and Joseph Scolaro primarily in Tampa and Hillsborough County from approximately 1947 to 1990. Many are weddings, birthdays, parties, banquets, special events, etc, with people named.

 

 
From: Zoo story : French, Thomas : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

The city’s zoo had started in the 1930s as a tiny menagerie—a handful of raccoons and alligators, a few exotic birds—and then had slowly grown into a larger collection of lions and tigers and bears and even one elephant, a female Asian named Sheena who had been transported from India on a jet in 1961, making her the zoo’s original flying elephant. The undisputed star in those early years, Sheena performed twice a day in a circus ring and then gave rides to children. Admission was free. The place was sometimes called “the Zoo,” because the animal attractions were merged with a panorama of storybook houses and scenes re-created from Mother Goose and other children’s tales. Kids skipped across the Rainbow Bridge and darted among replicas of the Seven Dwarves, Humpty-Dumpty, and the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs. They clambered onto a small train that chugged and curved across the grounds, and spun on the Tilt-a-Wheel, and threw food over a fence within reach of Sheena’s trunk. Just north of the zoo stood Safety Village, a miniature replica of Tampa, with a shopping mall and a fire station and a tiny City Hall, where police officers tutored young citizens in how to recognize traffic signs and use crosswalks and repel the advances of molesters. Second-graders even got to ride small electric vehicles as they practiced braking at stoplights on Happy Drive and Polite Boulevard.

 
 

Tampa Mayor Nick Nuccio, 1960s
Photo is a crop from USF Digital Collection

MAYOR NUCCIO'S GIFT TO THE CHILDREN OF TAMPA
Lowry Park Developed With Fairyland and Joined by Tampa's Zoo

Lowry Park remained relatively unchanged from its beginning as a picnic area in the 1930s until the late 1950s when it was decided to build a children's storybook section consisting of characters from well-known fairytales with excerpts from the story to be used as markers for each scene.

The building of Lowry Park as an amusement park and tourist attraction was an amazing story because it was built so inexpensively, even for its day -- it cost $60,000 for everything -- about the cost of four average middle class homes in the suburbs at the time. Mayor Nuccio said it could easily have cost the city double that amount had a private company been contracted for the job.  He engineered the project himself.  The park became his baby, and he made certain it would succeed.

He told the St. Pete Evening Independent in 1965, "I got the idea after visiting New Orleans. that city had something along those lines and it really impressed me."
June 1, 1965 Evening Independent - Donors Share Their Spots With Lion's Share of Free Animals

When he returned to Tampa, he started the wheels turning.

 

 

  

The park in New Orleans is still in operation today as Storyland.  See it here.

Storyland in City Park, New Orleans.  Photo from New Orleans Official Guide 

See 17 more photos of Storyland.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRADLEY SENT TO NEW ORLEANS TO GET IDEAS

In April 1957, City Parks Superintendent B. B. Bradley was sent to New Orleans in order to "get first-hand ideas on the dramatic display.." from Storyland.  Nuccio viewed the color slides that Bradley took when he got back to Tampa.

The $15k to $20k expected cost to build would be financed from an expected city land sale, with city employees to do the construction work other than the making of the fairytale figures.  A "local citizen" agreed to build a large fountain as a central piece, and a "novel entranceway" had already been chosen--anyone who wanted to enter Fairyland would do so by "sliding down a rainbow slide into the park."

It was expected to take about four months to complete the work, once it started.

No city funds were ever budgeted for the project, per se, Nuccio said.  Every effort was made to keep expenses down.  But city funds were used, they came out of a surplus fund.

 

 

Parks Department labor did most of the construction work.  During the summer, college students helped.  The park superintendent, B. B. Bradley, did the landscaping.  It saved an architect's fee.  Nuccio hired ONE carpenter.  Scrap metal was bought from the West Coast Salvage Company for 8 cents per 50 pounds according to Jack Ryan, the construction supervisor for the project.  Eighty percent of the cages were built with the scrap metal.  Salvage bricks were obtained from public works projects.

Work began on Fairyland in 1957, with its landmark entrance, the Rainbow Bridge.  That alone would have cost the city $5,500, but Cone Brothers contractors did it for nothing.  Fairyland was completed by November.

As the zoo collection at Plant Park had grown, the animals were moved during the term of Mayor Nick Nuccio to the more centrally located Lowry park in 1957 where it was maintained by Tampa's Parks Department.   (This is doubtful.)

 

ZOO CONSTRUCTION

Around the same time that Fairyland construction was started, work began on a small but quality zoo (for its day) which was completed by the following summer.  The cages were built, Jungle Land was completed, now all they needed was animals for the cages and to roam loose in Jungle Land.

Nearly all the animals were contributed.  Two wholesalers gave a couple of chimpanzees.  August Busch presented the zoo with two buffalo and some mountain goats.  Nuccio decided the zoo needed some monkeys, so he put an ad in the paper which in effect said, "The Fairyland Zoo needs some monkeys."  Nuccio said they got so many monkeys they didn't know what to do with them all. 

Lowry Park zoo supervisor and trainer Bill O'Harris said 95 percent of the animals were donated.  Four lions -- Peggy, Herman, Leo and Penny --were all gifts.  Seven-year-old Leo was part of an act in one of Clyde Beatty's circuses.  O'Harris said he was too tough to work with at the circus, so they gave him to the zoo.  Tiny, the Bengal tiger, was loaned by Sarasota's C.R. Montgomery who supplied food to both the zoo and the Sarasota Kennel Club.  The Russian bear was donated by SuperTest Oil Company, when that firm closed down its amusement park at Dale Mabry and Columbus Drive. 

The day the finished park opened, 32,000 people came.  In the mid-1960s, operating expenses cost the city around $65,000 a year for the park, including salaries of five people, food for the animals, maintenance, repair and capital outlay.

A former parks superintendent, the director of sanitation and several others pitched in to get Susie, the chimpanzee, and in 1960, Dr. Lowry's son, General Sumter L. Lowry, Jr. gave the zoo its most prominent exotic animal, Sheena, an 18-month-old Asian elephant.

August, 1965
Feeding time for the lions, tigers and bears, oh no!

TBT archives photo

 

One day in 1960, a man approached Gen. Sumter Lowry (Jr.) and asked him to buy an elephant. Lowry asked "Why should I?" The man said "because the children of Tampa have never seen one." Sumter agreed to buy it, but only on the condition it could be here by Christmas. He asked, "Where is this elephant?" "Well, India." was the reply.  Sheena was the first elephant to fly in a jet. She was flown to Tampa from Burma.

[The source of the above story is unknown yet repeated everywhere Sheena is discussed.  But there is evidence that it didn't happen exactly that way.]

 

READ MORE ABOUT SHEENA here at TampaPix.  How she got from Thailand to Tampa, and the ceremony planned for her arrival at the airport.   See more photos and articles about her youthful years and her trainer, Jim Godfrey. 

Don't miss exclusive photos of Sheena and Mr. Godfrey,  furnished to TampaPix by his daughter, Linda Godfrey Napier.

Find out what Sheena's temporary name was and see the winner of the contest who named her "Shena" and find out what special event the winner was allowed to participate in.

(Eventually, her spelling was changed to a phonetic spelling "SHEENA" so it would be pronounced correctly.)

The acquisition of Sheena provided the impetus for expanding and diversifying the animal collection. By 1987 the zoo was the home of eight different species of animals, including two Florida black bears, two Bengal tigers, a Himalayan black bear, a chimpanzee, two spider monkeys and two otters. As the collection continued to grow, the need to upgrade the habitats and present the animals in natural settings became an issue fully embraced by the Tampa bay area community, which resulted in the formation of an organization dedicated to building a first-class zoological garden.    Zoo History continued

Fairyland token provided by Kimi Lau-Costanzo.
Place your cursor on the coin to flip it over.

What's in a Name, Michael Canning, May 30, 2003 City Times  (Ultimate source: Tampa Bay History Center)

City of Tampa Archives

June 1, 1965 Evening Independent - Donors Share Their Spots With Lion's Share of Free Animals

Sept. 4, 1987 - Lakeland Ledger - Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo Closes   Conclusion

Lowry Park at Wikipedia   Read about the history of Lowry Park Zoo


 

 

 

Circa 1960-1961** brochure images below from eBay
**
This date is estimated based on the following:  Sheena appears and is the smallest she ever will appear in other brochures.  She was donated in 1960 as a "baby elephant."

Mouse-over brochure to see other side.


America's Outstanding FREE Fantasy-Land for all ages!
Only a short drive from downtown, Tampa's Fairyland was conceived some years ago by the Honorable Nick C. Nuccio, Mayor of Tampa.

Through Mayor Nuccio's effort, this 15-acres of beautifully wooded area at Lowry Park on the Hillsborough River was transformed into a unique fantasy-land, appealing to all ages.  Admission is free.

In addition to life-size portrayals of fables and fairy tales, there is a free playground with slides, swings and see-saws, a real Navy plane, a fire engine and a zoo with regularly scheduled animal performances.

Plan now to visit Fairyland when you come to Tampa--and bring your camera.

Baby Sheena and her handler greeting children in front of the old lady who lived in a shoe storybook setting.
From the brochure above.

Only a short distance from downtown, Tampa's Fairyland, conceived by Mayor Nick C. Nuccio, spreads over 15 acres of beautifully wooded area in Lowry Park on the Hillsborough River.  Admission is free.  In addition to life-size portrayals of fables and fairy tales, there is a free playground with slides, swings and see-saws, a real Navy plane, a fire engine and a zoo!  A small charge is made for some of the rides.

Lowry Park, one of the outstanding recreational areas in the county, offers picnic areas with tables, shelters and cookout areas under giant shade trees, plus a softball diamond and many other public facilities.

Plan now to visit Fairyland and Lowry Park, when you come to Tampa -- and bring your camera!  Open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Reverse side:

This is Fairyland...a world set apart, alive with childhood dreams...an enchanted woodland of elves and fables, of nursery rhymes and fairy tales.  Soft shafts of sunlight filtered by moss-draped oaks strike bright colors from flower bordered walkways.  At each turning, a long remembered page of Mother Goose swings open.  The Three Pigs sit secure in their strong brick home...Little Bo Peep searches for her lost sheep...a spider spins his web above a frightened Miss Muffet...Humpty Dumpty sits on a wall...and the Three Men in a Tub sit just beyond a real Wishing Well!  There are many, many more---realistically reproduced in a continuing panorama of myth and imagination.  Captivating!

Sheena, a harmonica playing baby elephant greets some Fairyland visitors.  Behind is the Old Woman who lives in a shoe--it's 20-feet high--but still won't hold all her children!

The mouth of Willie the Whale opens wide.  You walk right in, and there--right in his tummy--is a tank of tropical fish!

The Little Red School House may be the very one to which Mary's little lamb followed her!

A real Mississippi stern-wheeler--The Fairy Queen--chugs its way up and down the scenic Hillsborough River.  Regularly scheduled trips.

A dinosaur towers over golfers while a brooding Buddha watches--in Fantasia, a unique 36-hole putting course adjacent to Fairyland.  Small admission.

 

Original Fairyland at Lowry Park Brochure circa 1962 to 1965**
Click each page to enlarge, then click the larger image to see full size.
Brochure made possible by Kimi Lau-Costanzo
**This date is estimated based on the following:  The diamond pattern on the retaining wall of the rainbow bridge pool and the cloud pattern on the underside of the bridge can be dated from a 1962 high school yearbook photo.  Sheena appears larger. Safety Village, which opened in Dec. 1965, is not mentioned.

                  

A giant dinosaur towers over golfers while a brooding Buddha watches--in Fantasia, a unique 36-hole putting course adjacent to Fairyland.  Small admission.

Sheena, the elephant and other trained animals, go through their paces to capacity crowds twice a day.  No admission.
A real train, loaded with youthful passengers, threads its way through acres of the Park.  Small admission.

(NEXT PAGE)
Tampa's storybook park where fairy tales are in little-boy-and-little-girl-sizes.  This is Fairyland, a world set apart, alive with childhood dreams, an enchanted woodland of fables and fairy tales, of elves and nursery rhymes.  Soft shafts of sunlight filtered by moss-draped oaks strike bright colors from flower-bordered walkways.

At each turning of its magic paths to make-believe, a long-remembered page of Mother Goose swings open.  The three pigs sit secure in their snug brick home...Little Bo Peep searches for her sheep...a spider spins his silver web above a frightened Miss Muffet.
Humpty Dumpty sits on a wall...the little Red School House may be the very one to which Mary's little lamb followed her...and the Fairy Princess awaits in her tower window for the coming of her Prince Charming.

And there are many, many more--all realistically reproduced in a continuing panorama of myth and imagination.  Captivating!
The Old Woman who lives in a shoe--it's 20 feet high--thrills young visitors.

Trained seals reach for food tossed them by the "little fry."  Tidbits for feeding are available.

    

Close ups from this brochure

Left page:
Rainbow Bridge sparkles myriad colors in the sun and leads you over to Fairyland's entrance to the magic paths of make-believe.
Swings, a miniature carousel and other rides provide entertainment.
 

Right page:
AMERICA'S OUTSTANDING FREE FANTASY-LAND FOR ALL AGES - Follow this easy map to community-owned Tampa's Fairyland - the unique playground park for youngsters and grown-ups.

Only a short distance from downtown, Tampa's Fairyland was conceived some years ago by the Honorable Nick C. Nuccio, Mayor of Tampa.

(Continued at right)
 

(continued from left side)
Through Mayor Nuccio's effort, this 15-acres of beautifully wooded area at Lowry Park on the Hillsborough River was transformed into a unique fantasy-land, appealing to all ages. Admission is free.

In addition to life-size portrayals of fables and fairy tales, there is a free playground with slides, swings and see-saws, a real Navy plane, a fire engine and a zoo with regularly scheduled animal performances.

Plan now to visit Fairyland when you come to Tampa--and bring your camera.

Open Daily
9 AM to 9 PM
Sunday
12:30 PM - 6:30 PM
 

 

Original Fairyland & Safety Village at Lowry Park Brochure circa 1966**
Click each page to enlarge, then click the larger image to see full size.
Brochure made possible by Kimi Lau-Costanzo
**This date is estimated based on the following: Safety Village opened in December, 1965)
 

     

This brochure features Safety Village on the reverse side.  See it on a separate page here at TampaPix.

Close up from the above brochure


Notice the windmill at center of photo and King Arthur's Castle (Fairyland Gift Shop) to the right of it.

 

Postcard and brochure made from the same photo session

 


Postcard image from Delcampe.net


 

Left: A rare, early view of the painted stairs on the bridge.

Mrs. Colado and son on the
Rainbow Bridge to Fairyland, circa 1958.
.
Photo courtesy of Yvonne Colado Garren, taken by her father, Hector Colado.

Rick Ringer and his sister at the Rainbow Bridge, circa 1963.
Photo courtesy of Rick Ringer

   


The Rainbow Bridge from the 1962 Jefferson High School yearbook Monticello


Rainbow Bridge postcard from circa 1962-63, the pastel period of the bridge.
Image courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo

Photo below was provided by Elizabeth Moore.
Grandma and her friend on the Rainbow Bridge, circa early 1960s.

Photo below was provided by Elizabeth Moore.
After taking grandma and her friend's picture, grandpa gets his picture made.

 

Sometime from 1962 to 1967, the Rainbow Bridge was repainted, as well as the railings, as can be seen below.


 Keith Hawks at the Rainbow Bridge, 1967.
Though the railings had been painted "white," by the time of this photo, they were already peeling.
Photo courtesy of Keith Hawks


The Rainbow Bridge was painted again sometime from 1967 to 1971

Feb. 1971 - David Fox descending the stairs of the Rainbow Bridge, with his mom.  The railings are black once again.
Photo courtesy of David Fox

Cindy Summerfield and her daughter, circa 1972.
 Photo by Karen Brown

 

  

Grant Martin, 2nd from left, circa late 60s-early 70s in front of the Rainbow Bridge that led to Fairyland at Lowry Park. His twin brother Gary, his sister Lisa and brother (far right) Ray are also pictured.

Photo courtesy of Grant Martin & Tampa Bay History Museum exhibit.

 

 

 

About 40 years later, Grant posed with the photo he contributed to the "Finding Fairyland" Exhibit which opened at the Tampa Bay History Center in March 2017.  See photos from this exhibit here at TampaPix.

 

 

 

Jeff Wynne and his daughter Jessica, circa 1975.
Photo of her dad and sister courtesy of Chrissy Keck.

The bridge was again repainted by the mid 1970s, and by 1980, fairytale and nursery rhyme characters were added to it along with repainting the stripes.  The railing from around the fountain was also removed, as well as the statues of the boy and girl.


Above and below:  The Rainbow Bridge circa 1976, and a rare view from inside Fairyland towards the back side
of the bridge.  Photos courtesy of Cecilia M. Pope at the "Save Fairyland" group Facebook page
.

 

Cheryl Jones and her sister Beverly Jones, circa 1980.  The railings are gone.
Photo courtesy of Steve Tamargo, Cheryl's husband
Photo taken by Mr. Jones

 


King High School students on the Rainbow Bridge, from the 1980 school yearbook Clarion.
Photo courtesy of Chris Mygrant from his Susan Houx Estate yearbook collection.
 

The Rainbow Bridge to Fairyland, circa 1980.
The girl and boy statues are gone, but a new plaque has been placed in front of the original one.
Photo courtesy of Rachel Nelson, Public Relations Director, Lowry Park Zoo

 
 

The following photos of the Tampa Catholic High School Majorettes and Dancerettes at Lowry Park's Fairyland were taken by Ralph Owen Dennis and published in the TC 1982 yearbook "Crusader."  Ralph shared them in a Facebook group named "You know your [sic] from Tampa when..." some time ago and were recently brought to the attention of TampaPix by Kimi Lau-Costanzo. 

At the time Ralph posted them, he wrote "Seeing pictures of Lowry Park, I remembered that I had saved these shots of the Tampa Catholic Dance team and twirlers from 1982. I scanned them and thought I would add them here.....maybe one of the ladies is watching this group..........ENJOY!"

Kimi also provided the information about the students in the photos.  Thank you Kimi and Ralph for sharing these great photos!

 

The Tampa Catholic High School Dancerettes on the Rainbow Bridge to Fairyland, 1982.
Photo by Ralph Owen Dennis.

 

The Tampa Catholic High School Dancerettes at the Rainbow Bridge to Fairyland, 1982. 
Photo by Ralph Owen Dennis.

 

 
 

 

 

 

Fairyland was a popular attraction for both young and old, where scenes from Grimm's and Mother Goose fairytales and nursery rhymes were re-created in the form of statues in the shade of massive oak trees.

 

 

 

Children at storybook setting, Rupunzel's castle, with Willie the Whale in background, Fairyland at Lowry Park, Nov 21, 1957. 

Photo courtesy of the Burgert Brothers collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

 


Child at Rapunzel's castle, Fairyland at Lowry Park, Nov 21, 1957. 
From the Tampa Bay History Center exhibit, "Finding Fairyland."

 

 


Children and mother looking at a storybook setting of the Three LIttle Pigs (featuring live pigs), Fairyland attraction at Lowry Park
Nov. 21, 1957.   Photo courtesy of the Burgert Brothers collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.

 

Little Miss Muffet nursery rhyme scene at Fairyland, circa 1957.
Photo courtesy of Yvonne Colado Garren, taken by her father Hector Colado.

The original Fairyland character figures were made of papier-mâché and did not last very long.

 

 
 

The slide at Fairyland, circa 1957
Place your cursor on the photo to see lower left portion enlarged, Humpty Dumpty exhibit.
Photo courtesy of Yvonne Colado Garren.
 

The children's carousel at Fairyland, circa 1957
Photo courtesy of Yvonne Colado Garren, taken by her father Hector Colado.
 
 
 

Sister and brother Cindy and David Bacon enjoying a run through the toadstools.
There's magic for every young heart at Fairyland. It may be in the rides, like the merry-go-round or the Ferris wheel or the push-pedal surreys. Or in the eye-filling spectacle of a dragonfly-borne gnome aloft in the oaks. 
July 13, 1958 - TBT archives
 

Sister and brother Cindy and David Bacon
with the Big Bad Wolf, July 13, 1958.
TBT Archives

David Bacon competes with the Big Bad Wolf at Fairyland,  July 13, 1958.
TBT Archives

     
From this article by Paul Guzzo "Figurines from Fairyland in Tampa may return to public."
 
 
July 13, 1958
An elf serenades a curious young Cindy Bacon.
TBT archives photo
July 13, 1958
"Look! Mommy read to us about them," exclaims Cindy Bacon. Nursery rhymes are aired as visitors view reproductions.
TBT archives photo
   
July 13, 1958
Cindy & David Bacon at the Mary had a Little Lamb scene.
TBT archives photo
July 13, 1958
David Bacon looking up at an airborne elf as his parents and sister Cindy stand in the background.
TBT archives photo
 
 

July 13, 1958
David Bacon swiftly being placed on or lifted from his mount by a park attendant at the pony rides.
TBT archives photo

 

July 13, 1958
Cindy Bacon riding the carousel.
TBT archives photo

July 13, 1958
Cindy Bacon and brother David enjoying a spinning ride at Lowry Park.
TBT archives photo

 

 

The Merry Miller's Mill
Photo postcard courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.
Mouse over the image to see reverse side.

 

Three Men in a Tub - the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker.
Photo postcard courtesy of Delcampe.net


The Old Lady who lived in a shoe. Photo courtesy of Delcampe.net.

 

 

1957-58 Tampa News Bureau Photo and caption when it was used in the Times:
Three Little Pigs are one of many live animal exhibits in Tampa's new Fairyland, a municipally-owned attraction featuring ten acres of fairy tales and playground equipment.  Open without charge from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Fairyland is already attracting thousands of people each week. 

The photo appeared again on Jun.21, 1987 in the St. Pete Times with the following caption: "Fairyland at the Lowery [sic] Park Zoo attracted its share of visitors in the early 60s.  The three little pigs were just one of many live animal exhibits featured.  Fairyland is still in operation today at the zoo on Sligh Avenue.


 
 
Peter Rabbit peeks at you from his tree trunk home (and he's alive too!)
Place your cursor on the photo to see it colorized.
Photo from "Real Tampa" courtesy of Bud Clark.
 

This circa 1959-60 photo is courtesy of Marcia Gordon. (L-R) Marcia's cousin Allen Driggers, Marcia's  sister Melody (Gordon) Gruber, sister Gail (Gordon) Haag, Marcia, and her cousin, Debra Driggers. This picture was taken in 1959 or 1960.

 Dec, 2016 - "My sisters and I loved Fairyland so much. My sister Melody wanted to make a mother-daughter trip to see Fairyland but I told her that Fairyland had long since been done away with. We are Tampa natives and as children loved Fairyland and have fond memories. Our mother now age 90 took us to Fairyland!  -- Marcia Gordon

 

Ofelia Gordon and her daughter Karen at Fairyland's "Old Lady Who Lived In A Shoe." May 1963 photo provided by Ofelia's son, Rex Gordon, Hillsborough High School historian.

 

Lowry Park nursery rhyme scene from Jack and Jill with Mary Hall** and Sharon Conrad at Fairyland in the Tri-city Suncoast Festival, Feb. 1961.   From Florida Memory State Library & Archives https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/78656

 

The lower portion of Rapunzel's castle and the moat, 1962.  Notice at upper left the house that was on the park grounds, and just above it, a turret of King Arthur's Castle Gift Shoppe. 
Photo provided by the Estrada family
.

 

 

 

 

 

Willie the Whale - A proud young lady pushing her baby cousin in his stroller. This 1962 photo gives a glimpse into the whale's mouth, revealing an aquarium with plants and fish. 
Photo provided by the Estrada family.

 

 

Early 1960s - Willie the Whale with the Fueyo family at Willie the Whale.
Patti, John , Mike , & Betty and Eddie Cuenca. Photo provided by Patti Fueyo Tamayo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children having their picture taken in front of Rapunzel's castle, Feb. 1966 from Florida Memory State Library & Archives

https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/82763

 

People walking through Fairyland storybook setting, Humpty Dumpty, Feb. 1966 from
Florida Memory State Library & Archives  https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/82764
 Humpty Dumpty sitting on his wall while the king, a king's horse & a king's man wait for his fall.  In the background - the old lady who lived in a shoe.

This beautiful and extremely rare 1966 photo provided by Kimberly Jones Dodson to the "Save Fairyland" Facebook group shows Kim and her late brother Zack at Noah's Ark which was situated near the area leading to the animals at the zoo. It appears that it was there for a number of years at this point.  Special thanks to Kimberly for sharing this priceless memory of herself and her brother.

Mary Hall** and  Sharon Conrad on the Lowry Park train at Fairyland, Feb. 1961
From Florida Memory State Library & Archives
https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/78657

From Chamberlain High School yearbook "Totem"

**Mary Hall is model/actress Lauren Hutton.  Hutton was born Mary Laurence Hutton in Charleston, South Carolina. Her parents divorced when she was young, and after her mother remarried, her last name was changed to her stepfather's name, "Hall", although he never formally adopted her. She graduated from Chamberlain High School in Tampa in 1961, and was among the first students to attend the University of South Florida in 1961. Hutton later relocated with former Tampa disc jockey Pat Chambers, 19 years her senior, to New York City, where she worked at the Playboy Club. The pair later moved to New Orleans, where she attended Newcomb College, then a coordinate college within Tulane University, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1964.
See Tedd Webb's "Tampa Bay Legends."

 

 

  
Ticket on right courtesy of Tampa Bay History Center "Finding Fairyland" exhibit.


The miniature train ride at Lowry Park, circa 1960s.  Color postcard photo from Delcampe.net.

Read about the Allan Herschell Company

Click the areas on the catalog to see them larger.

Allan Herschell ads from Billboard magazine, Mar. 21, 1960

 


The Tampa Fairyland Railroad departing for Jungle-Land, May 31, 1965.
Tampa Bay Times archive photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

 


The Fairyland Railroad train station.
May 19, 1965.  TBT Archives

 


Photo courtesy of Joette Giovinco; her sister's birthday party at Lowry Park

 

 


The "FAIRYLAND SPECIAL" and Sheena, 1971.
From Tampa, a town on its way, by the Junior League of Tampa, 1971.

Photo by R. Randolph Stevens provided by Hillsborough High School historian, Rex Gordon.

 

 



Local band "The Rovin' Flames--Ready for Action" on the Lowry Park fire truck.
Sept. 1, 1966 photo from  newspaper clipping at Garage Hangover.
Click to see the whole article.

Another article, from the Oct. 7, 1966 Chamberlain High School newspaper "Chieftain."
(In new window, click the article to see full size.)
 


Read more about the Lowry Park fire trucks (yes, TRUCKS) and see more photos here at TampaPix.

 

 

May 19, 1965
Notice the P2V-3 Navy bomber at far left.

TBT archives photo

 

May 25, 1965
Jim Godfrey making sure this happy young lady remains safe.  Jim was also the trainer of many of the park
animals, including Sheena, chimps Suzie and Joey, and spider monkey Bobo.  Jim also worked park security, and even had a hand in making the original Fairyland storybook & nursery rhyme figures.

TBT archives photo

 

 

May 24, 1965
TBT archives photo

 

 

Circa 1976 roller coaster photo courtesy of Cecilia M. Pope in the Save Fairyland group, Facebook.

 

 

 

          

Students riding the roller coaster at Lowry Park's Fairyland.
From 1976 Tampa Bay Tech yearbook Titan.

Tony Sanders was the Magic Dragon roller coaster operator in 1980.  Photo courtesy of Tony Sanders.

 

 

 Magic Dragon roller coaster, circa 1980s. Photos by Michael S. Horwood See more photos

    

 

King Arthur's Castle, Fairyland Gift Shoppe.  The only place in the park with air conditioning for guests.
Postcard image from eBay

 

 

The basketball-playing chicken coin-operated show, with Robinson High School students voted "Most Athletic" Barbara Shakula and former University of Tampa Spartan football running back Morris La Grande. When University of Tampa quarterback Freddie Solomon wasn't scrambling for yardage, it was usually because he had handed the ball off to the thundering running back "The LaGrand Express".  Photo from 1971 Robinson High School yearbook Excalibur.

 


RACIAL DISCRIMINATION AT LOWRY PARK

It's not surprising that in the early years of Lowry Park, African Americans were not allowed. In fact, many places also barred Cubans from entering. It was an ugly part of Tampa's past, but not unique to Tampa; it was rampant all over the south.  It wasn't until 1962 that the city's parks were desegregated, thanks to Henry Cabot Lodge Bohler.
 

 

 

 

 

 

HENRY CABOT LODGE BOHLER

Born in Augusta, Georgia in 1925, Henry Cabot Lodge Bohler spent  much of his life being told what he couldn't do. He dreamed of flying one day, but was told he couldn't become a pilot because he was black. Instead of accepting that decision, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces at the age of 17. At enlistment, he weighed 109 pounds, which was one pound under the minimum weight for airmen; through persuasion, he was able to join anyway.

 

 

 

Mr. Bohler trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama, the home base of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American air corps in the United States. He learned to fly the P-51 Mustang fighter, and earned his wings in 1944.

    
Photo from "Find A Grave."
 

Mr. Bohler's persistence during the civil-rights era would be challenged again after he and his family moved to Tampa in 1950.  This time, he was told that he could not own his own business. His persistence again paid off as he became Tampa's first African-American licensed electrician and operated his own business enterprise.

In 1959, Mr. Bohler, his wife and their three children went to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. The family was denied entry to the zoo because of their race. Mr. Bohler sued the city for discrimination.

During the two years it took to hear the case, Mr. Bohler was routinely harassed by city police who would pull his car over and demand to check his driver's license. On the day he was ordered to appear in federal court, he was pulled over five times.

As before, Mr. Bohler ultimately prevailed, with the result being a 1962 federal order requiring Tampa to integrate its public recreation facilities.

In later years, Mr. Bohler and other area Tuskegee Airmen spoke at area schools, and he was an inspiration to local pilots.   Jackie Beiro, a pilot and friend of the family, runs a nonprofit, Nobal Aviation. 

 

BOHLER, et al v. LANE, et al
Civ. No. 3809.
204 F.Supp. 168 (1962)

The evidence presented in support of the complaint reveals that on June 21, 1959, one of the plaintiffs, Henry Cabot Lodge Bohler, accompanied by his family and several other companions, visited Lowry Park, one of the parks involved in this litigation. Approximately twenty-five (25) minutes after their arrival, a police officer and a park attendant in charge of Lowry Park came up to them and requested them to leave. The Negroes demanded an explanation as to why they were not permitted to remain on the premises, but they were informed without any further explanation that they had to leave or they would be arrested. The Negroes complied and left said park immediately.

On the following day, the plaintiff, Henry Cabot Lodge Bohler, accompanied by a local Negro citizen named Banfield, went to see the Chief of Police** for the purpose of finding out under what authority they had been requested to leave the park by the police officer in question. The Police Chief informed them that the policeman was within his rights and that they could have been arrested had they not complied with his request. When pressed for specific authority or statute or ordinance upon which the exclusion of Negroes might have been based, the Chief of Police said, "Well, we would arrest you first and then we could find charges later."

Banfield, in the month of September, 1959, again visited Lowry Park with his family, and shortly after his arrival was again asked to leave, which he did.

**Tampa's Chief of Police at the time was John D. Latture.

Read more at:  Bohler, et al vs. Lane, et al

 
In early August of 2007, the group held an event at Hillsborough Community College to honor three bay area Tuskegee Airmen, particularly Bohler, who was the only living member of the group in Tampa. “We had no idea we were running out of time,” Beiro said. “Six days later, he’s gone. He’s had an impact on a lot of people. You just mention his name in the community, and people remember him.”

Until he became ill, Mr. Bohler never missed the annual reunions of the Tuskegee Airmen. He’d fly his own Piper Archer to the events, held in various cities throughout the country. His flying stopped when he was 80, when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, his wife said. Shortly thereafter, he fell while working in his garage at his east Tampa home and hit his head. But the family did not realize the injury had caused bleeding on the brain.

Soon afterward, acquaintances noticed Mr. Bohler stumbling during his daily five-mile walk at the Middleton High School track. They brought him home to Clifford Marie Bohler. “I was so scared,” she said. “He never said another word. It was terrible.”

Mr. Bohler went to the hospital and never came home. He stayed in a couple of medical facilities before moving to one in Wesley Chapel. 

In work and in life, Henry Cabot Lodge Bohler never settled for less than equality. He believed no one should. Mr. Bohler, a father and grandfather, died Aug. 10, 2007 as a result of brain injuries from a fall nearly two years earlier. He was 82.

See the source article of this info with more detail, Tuskegee Airman fought for equality in Tampa in 1960s
 

Jay Wisler, who worked in the brewery at Busch Gardens, said "I had the pleasure of working with him at Anheuser Busch here in Tampa. He was quite a gentleman and I enjoyed listening to his stories about his Tuskegee days and the racial discrimination that occurred." Roy Pulliam recalled, "He was a really great, nice guy. Great sense of humor. I knew him from hanging around at Peter O. Knight airport where he kept his Piper Archer. He flew P-40s, P-47s and P-51s during WW 2."


See also Henry Cabot Lodge Bohler at Wikipedia
 

 

 

The Big Plane at Lowry Park

 


The big plane at Lowry Park was a US Navy P2V-3 Neptune; a patrol bomber used by the Navy.  The Neptune was the primary U.S. land-based anti-submarine patrol aircraft developed near the end of World War 2 and was intended to be operated as the hunter of a '"Hunter-Killer" group, with destroyers employed as killers during the Korean and early Cold War years.  It was eventually replaced by the P3 Orion in the mid-1960s. 

 

 

 

Read about the life of this plane, from the time it was brought to the park to its demise, here at TampaPix.

 

 

 

 

In mid-May of 1967, the addition of Bambi Land was announced.  This was a freely roaming deer, sheep and goats section where visitors could pet and feed the animals.  There was also to be a pond with a porpoise, a seal, and Florida fresh-water fish,  in the area of about 5 acres.

The main feature was Billy Goat Mountain, a mound created by dumping some 400 truckloads of fill dirt on the site.  The goats were enclosed by rustic fencing and a concrete stairway that led to the feeding patio at the top.

The design was suggested by a concessionaire in the park, Howard Jones.  Jones donated all the materials, funds, and even the animals for the attraction, which was built by city park crews.

When it opened, there were 25 tame deer roaming the area, 7 nanny goats and 3 billy goats which occupied the "mountain," 4 white peacocks, lambs, calves, baby pigs, Cornish hens, guinea pigs,

   

  

   

 

 

 

  
David Fox riding the big chicken in Bambi Land, late 1960s, with his dad, great-uncle, great-aunt and sister.
Photo courtesy of David Fox

 

Keith Hawks, 1967, courtesy of Keith Hawks

 David Fox (middle) and mom, Feb. 1971





The big rooster at Lowry Park, with Mary Van den Ancker and her siblings, circa 1970s.
Photo courtesy of Mary Van den Ancker.

 

Below:  More photos from David Fox, late 1960s
David's Goat and Peacock Experience at Lowry Park

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

May 25, 1965
Possibly the seal pool or alligator pool.  Notice Jack & Jill's hill to the right.
TBT archives photo

 

 


Alligators & turtles at Fairyland's Lowry Park Zoo, Nov. 21, 1965.
Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

 


The seal pool, 1965. St. Pete Times photo by M. Awtrey.

 

The seal pool, circa 1972. 
Photo by Karen Brown

Lowry Park clown, circa 1972
Photo by Karen Brown

 

 

 

 


THE LITTLE FAIRY QUEEN RIVERBOAT RIDE

Chamberlain High School senior picnic at Lowry Park, 1960
Shared by Kimi Lau Costanzo at "Save Fairlyand" Facebook group, photo courtesy of Denise Payne Franklin,
 Originally posted in Tampa Born and Raised Facebook group.

A year after Fairyland opened, the city considered a river boat ride that paddled around on a man-made river within the park. It appears that the deal was almost as good as done, but 7 months later a real riverboat attraction on the Hillsborough River was announced.  By summer of 1959, it had been decided to use a Mississippi-style packet boat with churn wheel to give rides on the Hillsborough River.  Large enough to hold 30 passengers, the maiden voyage from Davis Islands to Lowry Park took place on Jun. 20th at 10 a.m. with Mayor Nick Nuccio and a party of officials on board.  A police boat escorted the boat to Fairyland where the mayor officially opened the new attraction.

Little Fairy Queen riverboat ride at Lowry Park, Hillsborough River, circa 1960s postcard.
From Etsy.com Pecan Hill Postcards

 


The Little Fairy Queen's first day on the job and she was late.  But not by her fault, the Tribune notes that there was a stiff river current and that the boat "was weighted down almost to the sinking point by plump city dignitaries, including Mayor Nuccio who made the initial trip."  Traffic slowed on many bridges as motorists were surprised to see such a strange-looking sight.  "Pretty girls attired in bright dresses that would have been in style in a pre-Civil War plantation dance were at the dock to greet Mayor Nuccio and other members of his party."  The article gives times of operation for the ride but doesn't say what the cost was for a ticket.

 

 

 

 

 

 


THE BANDSHELL

In the fall of 1959 the bandshell was completed at a cost of $20,000, half of which was paid by the Lowry family and the rest by the City.  The performance center was dedicated on Sep. 6, 1959 in memory of the late Dr. Sumter Lowry by by his son, Ret. Gen Sumter Lowry, speaking on behalf of his two brothers, Dr. Blackburn Lowry and Loper Lowry.  The structure had what was thought to be a unique and advanced architectural feature--the ability to automatically force open the back doors before wind pressure was high enough to rip the roof off the building.  After the dedication, a musical program was presented by the Guido Accordian Band.   Mayor Nuccio was presented with the original score to "The Fairyland March," a composition written especially for the occasion by Francis W. Thompkins, director of the Moose Band.

Unfortunately, its unique design did not include toilet facilities.

 

 

 

The Ferris Wheel Caper was filmed at Lowry Park in 1962 and starred local (WFLA TV channel 8) kid's TV show host Uncle Bruce (Bruce Rodrick), along with Little Mike (his ventriloquist dummy) and sidekick Barney Bungelupper (Jerry Martin).  It has been split up into 6 videos on the Barneytheclown YouTube site and embedded here for your convenience.  All videos feature the Ferris wheel.

 

 

Chapter 1 gives a good view of the original Lowry Park sign and surrounding neighborhood, including the intersection of Sligh Avenue and North Blvd.

Also featured are the rainbow bridge to Fairyland, Humpty Dumpty, the seal pools, the Ferris wheel, a brief glimpse of the old navy bomber plane, a park structure and phone booth.

 

 

 

Chapter 2 shows the seals in the seal pool enclosure, the trained animal show by Bill O'Harris with baby elephant Sheena and chimpanzee Suzie, and occasional views of the audience.  Various parts of Fairyland can be seen in the background, and children are shown posing on Sheena with Suzie behind them.

 

 

  Chapter 3 & 4 features the old P2V-2 Navy bomber "Fairyland Song Bird", the miniature train ride that circled Fairyland, Peter Rabbit's home in Fairyland, Mr. O'Harris training a pony, and Suzie the chimp trying to open a padlock and playing in a bucket.

  Chapter 5 shows Ferris wheel owner Mr. Jones, a refreshment stand with kid's level service window, the roller coaster entrance ramp, and a view of 2 amusement rides including the carousel.

  Chapter 6 mainly features the Ferris wheel, with a short segment that shows the playground monkey bars.

   

Chapter 7 shows the playground and possibly an animal shelter, the sprint car go karts, Suzie the chimp and trainer Bill O'harris,

 

 

FAMILY PICNICS & REUNIONS

Cannella family Italian dinner reunion at the shelters at Lowry Park, mid-1960s. The shelters were located on the east side of Lowry Park's zoo and Fairyland, east of North Blvd.  Families included, but not limited to, Cannella, Cutro, Gullo, and Palori.  Photos provided by Steve Cannella, who said: "My father arrived early in the morning and 'claimed' the cabana. Back then, just sitting on the cabana waiting for the family to arrive pretty much gave one 'legal' right to it.
 

 


Cannella family Italian dinner reunion at the shelters at Lowry Park, mid-1960s. The shelters were located on the east side
of Lowry Park's zoo and Fairyland, east of North Blvd.  Families included, but not limited to, Cannella, Cutro, Gullo, and Palori. 
Photos provided by Steve Cannella. 


Cannella family Italian dinner reunion at the shelters at Lowry Park, mid-1960s. The shelters were located on the east side
of Lowry Park's zoo and Fairyland, east of North Blvd.  Families included, but not limited to, Cannella, Cutro, Gullo, and Palori. 
Photos provided by Steve Cannella. 

 

 


Cannella family Italian dinner reunion at the shelters at Lowry Park, mid-1960s. The shelters were located on the east side
of Lowry Park's zoo and Fairyland, east of North Blvd.  Families included, but not limited to, Cannella, Cutro, Gullo, and Palori.  Photos provided by Steve Cannella, seen here in front row, just right of center. 

 


Time to eat!  Cannella family Italian dinner reunion at the shelters at Lowry Park, mid-1960s. The shelters were located on the east side of Lowry Park's zoo and Fairyland, east of North Blvd.  Families included, but not limited to, Cannella, Cutro, Gullo, and Palori.  Photos provided by Steve Cannella. Stay tuned for future identification of each person.
 

 

HERMAN

 

 

 

 

In 1971, Lowry Park's zoo received a donation of two, 5-year-old chimpanzees.  One would become the zoo's longest-lived resident.  For 35 years, Herman would be the subject of much attention by zoo guests, and keepers alike. 

 

Read about the life of Herman, from his birth in Liberia in 1966, how he came to the U.S. and to Lowry Park, his donor's only two requirements, the terrible zoo conditions for his first 16 years at the old zoo, his antics, and the tragic end to his life in 2006.  Here on this separate page: 

 

Herman - the King of Lowry Park Zoo

 

   

 


Presidential rally for Jimmy Carter at Lowry Park
Oct. 18, 1976

 


An estimated 10,000 residents showed up for Jimmy Carter's rally at Lowry Park, Oct. 18, 1976.
Photo taken from behind the podium.  Notice the "Rowdies love Jimmy!" sign.

Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo


Entertaining the crowd at Jimmy Carter's rally at Lowry Park, Oct. 18, 1976.
Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

   

Senator Lawton Chiles speaking to the crowd and being upstaged by a very bizarre looking peanut man figure at the Carter Rally, Lowry Park, Oct. 18, 1976.  After his term as U.S. Senator, "Walkin' Lawton" became Florida Governor from 1991 to 1998. Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter at his rally, Lowry Park, Oct. 18, 1976. Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

An elderly man sits to get comfortable at the rally for Carter in Lowry Park, Oct. 18, 1976. Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

A man sits in a tree in order to view the rally for Carter at Lowry Park. Tampa Bay Times archives photo courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

 

These beautiful photos below were taken in October of 1979 by Linda Perdue, now of  VP Shoots Photography.  Linda, along with Jim Vargas, specialize in pet and family photography, and have over 30 years of experience in the corporate world with all types of photography.  Linda took these when she was just 17, about a year after getting her first "real camera," and did a fantastic job.  These particular photos are displayed on their blog here at "Remember Fairy Land at Lowry Park?" where you can read Linda's comments and thoughts on these photos. 

Thank you Linda for allowing TampaPix to display your memorable photographs!

The pristine condition of the Rainbow Bridge indicates that it had been recently repainted.
Photo courtesy of Linda Perdue, Oct. 1979.

 

"Cinderella in Rags" - Oct. 1979.  Photo by and courtesy of Linda Perdue.
Notice the gleaming gold crown of the fairy godmother.

 

"Cinderella in her coach" - Oct. 1979.  Photo by and courtesy of Linda Perdue.

 

The third little pig of "The Three Little Pigs" and his mighty fine house!
Oct. 1979.  Photo by and courtesy of Linda Perdue.

 


The really big shoe of "The Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe."
Oct. 1979.  Photo by and courtesy of Linda Perdue.

 

Humpty Dumpty, all dressed up and nowhere to go--except down!
(The castle wall appears to be a bit worn and moldy.  Compare to later photos with different color scheme.)
Oct. 1979.  Photo by and courtesy of Linda Perdue.

 

Visit the VP Shoots website

 

 

Joette Giovinco around 1980 with her daughter Ranielle at the Fairyland Railroad station.
Photo provided by Joette Giovinco.

 

 

 

 

The following photos of the Tampa Catholic High School Majorettes and Dancerettes at Lowry Park's Fairyland were taken by Ralph Owen Dennis and published in the TC 1982 yearbook "Crusader."  Ralph shared them in a Facebook group named "You know your [sic] from Tampa when..." some time ago and were recently brought to the attention of TampaPix by Kimi Lau-Costanzo. 

At the time Ralph posted them, he wrote "Seeing pictures of Lowry Park, I remembered that I had saved these shots of the Tampa Catholic Dance team and twirlers from 1982. I scanned them and thought I would add them here.....maybe one of the ladies is watching this group..........ENJOY!"

Kimi also provided the information about the students in the photos.  Thank you Kimi and Ralph for sharing these great photos!

 

The Tampa Catholic High School Dancerettes and Majorettes at Lowry Park's Fairyland, 1982.
TC Dancerettes with Majorettes Left, Sabrina Posey Right, Linda Rossiter.
Photo by Ralph Owen Dennis.

 


The Tampa Catholic High School Majorettes (L) Sabrina Posey, (R) Linda Rossiter, at the "really big shoe" Fairyland, 1982.
Photo by Ralph Owen Dennis.

 


The Tampa Catholic High School Dancerettes and Majorettes at Humpty Dumpty,  Fairyland, 1982.
Photo by Ralph Owen Dennis.
 


The Tampa Catholic High School Dancerettes and Majorettes with Cinderella in her coach,  Fairyland, 1982.
Photo by Ralph Owen Dennis.
 

 

   

Cindee Haze (wearing boots) with her mom and sisters, 1987
Photo courtesy of Cindee Haze

Cindee Haze (standing, center) with her sisters, 1987
Photo courtesy of Cindee Haze

Cindee Haze (at left) with her sisters, 1987
Photo courtesy of Cindee Haze

Cindee Haze's sister, 1987
Photo courtesy of Cindee Haze

   

      

Cinderella's fairy godmother and the kiddie train, 1987, courtesy of Cindee Haze,

 


Lowry Park Zoo Undergoes $20 Million Renovation, Transitions from City Management to Private Organization
 

From "Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives, by Thomas French (at Internet Archive)

Nick Nuccio, the Tampa mayor who had started it all, called the zoo "a children's paradise."  As the years passed, though, Lowry Park aged poorly. What was once quaint became dreadful.  The train rusted, and two toddlers were injured when a kiddie ride roller coaster derailed, and Sheena the elephant was shipped off to Canada, where she died of a heart attack.  Worst of all was the soul-killing collection of dilapidated cages where the animals kept dying from abuse.  Years later, adults who had visited the zoo as children still shuddered when they recalled the grimness of the place..."It was a rat hole" one city councilman remembered.
 

As the zoo collection continued to grow through the 1970s, the need to upgrade the habitats and present the animals in natural settings became an issue, the zoo facilities were in need of repair and renovation, with the animals cramped concrete quarters were so poor that the Humane Society called it “one of the worst zoos in America.”  The need was fully embraced by the Tampa bay area community, which resulted in the formation of an organization dedicated to building a first-class zoological garden.

In 1981 the Tampa Parks Department and Citizens Advisory Board called for zoo improvements. The Lowry Park Zoo Association formed at the suggestion of the Tampa Parks Department, Mayor Bob Martinez, and private citizens who shared a common vision. Its mission was to raise awareness of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo and promote a public-private partnership to fund the renaissance of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. Soon after, the Zoo Association embarked on a $20 million capital campaign, and the City of Tampa committed $8 million.

.

In 1984 the Zoo Board of Directors developed a comprehensive, 24-acre zoo master plan. In 1988 the Zoo Association became the Lowry Park Zoological Society, a private, independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the management and ongoing development of a superior zoological garden, and was no longer owned by the City of Tampa Parks Dept.

After several years of fundraising and the help and support of mayor Bob Martinez and the city of Tampa, the original Lowry Park Zoo closed with a ceremony on Monday, September 7, 1987 at 6pm for its $20 million reconstruction.  There were no admission fees for the last days of the old Lowry Park Zoo, with the new zoo expected to charge $3 for adult admission and $1.50 for students.  The amusement rides, which were not affiliated with the zoo, were closed on the final weekend.

Also on the final weekend, Reynolds Aluminum Recycling, in cooperation with radio station Q105 and Pepsi-Cola, celebrated the closing/remodeling with a "Cans for Critters" fund-raiser.  Reynolds gave free memberships to the first 7 recyclers to donate 25 lbs. or more to the campaign.  The family memberships, which were expected to go on sale in October of 1987 for $25, would admit a family to the new zoo for a year.

Over the next 3 to 4 months, animals were shifted from the old zoo to new homes, to be joined by other animals throughout the country.  A large, screened-in aviary was planned to be open the following January, featuring  100 species of birds in a walk-through exhibit.

A second portion, the Primate World, was built to display eight species of primates from chimpanzees to red-ruffed lemurs.  The third segment, the Asian Domain, was to give visitors a look at animals such as elephants, camels and leopards.

 

 


April 12, 1985
Moving day at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa went pretty smoothly Friday.
The cougars were prodded from above their cages into a truck waiting nearby.

TBT archives photo

 


A Ride to Remember - April 19, 2014
A Zoo Man's Musings
J. D. (Doug) Porter is a zoologist, an educator, and a writer who takes the unorthodox and controversial view that zoos can be good for animals – if they are done right.


I have been doing some reminiscing (and some writing) about the early days at the Lowry Park Zoo. I love this photo of my son Jason and the story it tells, as he sits atop Buke – a massive male Asian elephant.

 

1985 - Jason Porter atop Buke, the male elephant brought in to share Sheena's enclosure at Lowry Park to accompany Sheena to Canada and make her transportation less traumatic.


A Ride to Remember
- April 19, 2014

The Lowry Park Zoo, at that time, had one 24 year old Asian elephant named Sheena, who had been donated to the zoo in 1961 by the Park’s namesake** General Sumter L. Lowry, Jr.  The new master plan had been designed around her and the building she inhabited, but in order to build her new facilities, she would need to be moved to another zoo for a few years. After searching far and wide, we found a good facility at African Lion Safari near Toronto Canada that would take her. They had proper facilities, other elephants, and a highly competent staff. All we had to do was figure out how to get her there. I described the process in my article for the Zoo’s newsletter in the fall of 1985. 

 **The park was named for Gen. Lowry's father, city commissioner Dr. Lowry, not Gen. Lowry.

The Death of Sheena

This bronze elephant is located at the entrance to the Asian domain within the Lowry Park Zoo, and is intended to serve as a memorial to Baby Sheena, who was donated to the zoo by Sumter L. Lowry, Jr. in December, 1960. Lowry intended Sheena to be a gift to the children of Tampa, who, in 1960, had not been exposed to elephants in a local setting.

Read the rest of the article by Doug Porter and the circumstances of Sheena's death here at the breakout feature about Sheena, here at TampaPix.

Sheena,
1986, Bronze  4’ x 5’
Lowry Park Zoo
by Joyce Parkerson

 

Don't miss J. D. (Doug) Porter's interesting blog about zoos and other related topics.
He is an excellent author and has written quite a few books.
"From animal keeper to zoo director, my career spanned over forty years. It included positions with a half dozen of America’s great zoos during the most transformational era in zookeeping in more than a century—a time when zoos went from 19th century menageries to modern day arks."


Five articles are specifically about his years at Lowry Park:

A Ride to Remember - Memories of Sheena's preparation to relocate her in Canada
Apr. 19, 2014

Good Sized Zoo for the City of Tampa - A brief history of Tampa's zoos.
Nov. 7, 2019

Bringing Down the Bars - Doug Porter and his time in Tampa during Lowry Park Zoo's transition of 1984.
Nov. 18, 2019

An Elephant Moves to Canada - Sheena, from beginning to end.
Nov. 27, 2019

Tampa's Lowry Park Chimps Walk on Grass - The story of Herman and Gitta from Liberia to Lowry Park.
Dec. 5, 2019


 


 

 


May 19, 1965
Old #1147 steam locomotive at the Fairyland Railroad station.
Read about the history of this engine, and see more photos, here.
TBT archives photo
 

Read about how the Lowry Park choo-choo train got from here....

Green Bay, Florida, 1907 - The Florida Phosphate Mining Corp.
1907 photo c
ourtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory project. https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/4404

To here...


The Tampa Catholic High School Dancerettes on the choo choo train,  Fairyland, 1982.
(L-R) Michelle Barreiro, Aileen DeArmas, Jama Coley, Anna Vito, Jenny Sincell, Candyce Forrester,
Lori Giglio, Myra Pita, Nga Nguyen, Christina Vasquez, Celeste Liccio.
Thanks to Kimi Lau-Costanzo for providing the names from her TC yearbook.
Photo by Ralph Owen Dennis.

To here...

The Zephyrhills Express is located about 27 miles northwest of Tampa on US Hwy 301, just south of Zephyrhills.

Here at TampaPix
The Lowry Park Choo-Choo Train

 

 

THE NEW ZOO AND FAIRYLAND WALK AT FUN FOREST

The rejuvenated first phase of the revamped zoo opened on March 5, 1988 with a Free-Flight Aviary, Asian Domain, Primate World and a Children's Village/Petting Zoo. 

Fairyland returned, along with the original rainbow bridge entrance (without the large pool), as the Fairyland walk at the "Fun Forest," with many of the original storybook character statues having been cleaned up, or repaired and repainted, and possibly even replaced or removed. 

Riding a camel at the newly opened zoo, Mar. 6, 1988.

TBT archives photo courtesy
of Kimi Lau-Costanzo

 

 

More than 614,000 people visited the Zoo during its first 12 months after reopening.

 

Ralph Alday of Tampa's City Parks Dept. puts finishing touches on the newly refurbished Fairyland walk at Lowry Park, Sept. 1989. 
Photo from Historic Images.

By February of 1992 the newly renovated park consisted of the zoo, amusement park, Fun Forest with Fairyland walk, and new Children's Museum (formerly Safety Village) adjacent to it. Admission to the Lowry Park Zoo was $5.50 for adults, $3.50 for children 4 to 12 and $4.50 for the elderly (children 3 and younger free). The newly built zoo had 1,600 animals in enclosures designed to resemble native habitats, and attractions included a 175-bird aviary and an underwater view of a manatee. There was also a children's petting zoo and the fountain at the entrance where they could wade.

Fun Forest at Lowry Park had 19 rides as well as a playground and the "Fairyland" walk.  Admission to the amusement park was free, but it took three tickets to board each of the rides; individual tickets cost was 40 cents, a 20-ticket book was $6.95 and an all-day wristband was $9.95.

(1992 NY Times article:  What's Doing In Tampa, by Tampa resident Sara Kennedy; Published: February 2, 1992.  Recent zoo history from Lowry Park Zoo website.  Sept 4, 1987 Visit the Zoo Before the Gates Close  Conclusion) 

 

 

 


Fun Forest banner from seller Amusement Park Man at
Fun Forest Memorabilia on EBAY

Reggie Bonner Jr. in 1987 and 1989 with two of the three little pigs.
Photo courtesy of Melissa Bonner.


LEFT

July 21, 1988

A small picnic and concession stand area at Lowry Park looking like it was overlooked with the zoo improvements.  This may have been an area of Fairyland destined for removal.

Tampa Bay Times Archives photo  courtesy of Kimi Lau-Costanzo.

RIGHT
May 10, 1989
Donna Sollecito and her 5-year-old son Michael Little ride one of the elephants at Lowry Park Zoo. Walking along side is zoo attendant Tom Clifton

 

Jaime Kile at the Little Red Schoolhouse, "Fairyland Walk at Fun Forest" circa 1990-91.
Photo courtesy of Jaime.

Jaime Kile at the 3 Little Pigs "Fairyland Walk at Fun Forest" circa 1990-91. Photo courtesy of Jaime.

   

  

Staci Randall with the little pig who made his house from brick, 1992.
Photo courtesy of her aunt, Jeannette Tamborello

   

Mary Salario's daughter, Katie, 1995.
Photo courtesy of Mary Lang Salario.

Mary Salario's daughter, Katie, 1995.
Photo courtesy of Mary Lang Salario.

   

Tina Follick at Fairyland Walk, 1995, courtesy of Tina.

Tina Follick at Fairyland Walk, 1995, courtesy of Tina.

   

Tina Follick at Fairyland Walk, 1995, courtesy of Tina.

 

Tina Follick at Fairyland Walk, 1995, courtesy of Tina.

 


Tina Follick at Fairyland Walk, 1995, courtesy of Tina.


Fun Forest banner from seller Amusement Park Man at
Fun Forest Memorabilia on EBAY

 

Fun Forest with Fairyland Walk

  
Fun Forest cut-outs from seller Amusement Park Man at
Fun Forest Memorabilia on EBAY


Images below are screen shots from this You Tube video (starting a little after 6 minute mark) taken in 1996.
Here you can see the repainted rainbow bridge and some of the Fairyland characters still in use.

 

The large fountain was reduced considerably.

Wheelchair ramp access to the Fun Forest  
     

Same structure as the original bridge The foot of the Rainbow bridge Cinderella's pumpkin coach and horses
     

Hickory dickory dock Toadstools and little red schoolhouse Three Little Pigs homes
     

House made of brick Toadstools and partial view of Old Lady's shoe New Magic Dragon roller coaster/cars.
 


Trudy Burney Reis's son and his two daughters at the Rainbow Bridge, 1999.
Photo courtesy of Trudy Burney Reis.


Put your cursor on the image.
Fun Forest "face-in-hole" display measures 8 ft. x 12 ft.
From seller Amusement Park Man at
Fun Forest Memorabilia on EBAY

 

Fairyland (at the Fun Forest) and the Rainbow Bridge were removed by the Zoo sometime after 1996 and probably by early 1997 due to space needs for creation of the "Zoo School" and safety concerns, respectively. The city deemed the Rainbow Bridge to be a "safety hazard" and so it was demolished.  The storybook character figures were, for the most part, sent to a City of Tampa storage lot where they sat deteriorating for about 20 years, forgotten, or so it seemed. The amusement park rides were auctioned off, as seen in this 1997 brochure from eBay.

   

 

          

 

The land formerly utilized by Fairyland/Fun Forest became the Florida Environmental Education Center (or Zoo School), which serves children, teachers and parents with innovative environmental education programs year-round. Tampa resident and Lowry Park Zoological Society of Tampa board member Patricia C. Sullivan, a former school teacher, provided a $1 million leadership gift for the construction of Zoo School. Additionally, the Frank E. Duckwall Foundation provided a $500,000 grant and is the namesake for the Lecture Hall.

This present-day aerial map shows the most likely site that was occupied by the Rainbow Bridge given that there was an adjacent flamingo pond.  It appears that the Guest Services kiosk, not the Zoo School, was built where the bridge once stood.

In 2008, construction was completed on an annex that provides additional classrooms for expanding youth/teen programs and office space. The new annex was made possible by Patricia C. Sullivan, the Thomas Family, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and U.S. Senator Mel Martinez.

BUT FAIRYLAND WAS NOT FORGOTTEN BY TAMPA'S YOUNG AT HEART

 

Read about Saving Fairyland

 



Yours truly at Lowry Park; sitting on the benches at the band shell, Easter Sunday, April 18, 1965.


Lowry Park & Fairyland

Herman - King of the Zoo

 

Safety Village / Children's Museum / Kids City

 

Dr. Bragg's Fantasia Golf

 

Saving Fairyland!

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