Historic Markers Across Florida

West Tampa Free Public Library

Marker ID:  
Location: On N Howard Ave, north of Main St, Tampa, FL
County: Hillsborough
Coordinates: N 27° 57.460    W 082° 28.980
  27.95766666    -82.483
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMT283


West Tampa Free Public Library

Built with a $17,500 grant from industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the West Tampa Free Library opened its doors on January 1, 1914, becoming the first public library in Hillsborough County. Designed by architect John W. Biggar, the red brick, Neo-Classical Revival building was built at 1718 N. Howard Avenue by local contractor G.A. Miller. The library was the result of a community effort highlighted by West Tampa founder Hugh C. Macfarlane's appeal to fellow Scottish immigrant Carnegie, as well as local citizens' approval of a tax to fund operating costs and cigar factory owner Angel Cuesta's donation of the land. The library was widely supported by a community of mostly immigrant families from Cuba, Spain, and Italy. Many of the men worked in nearby cigar factories, where they enjoyed hearing the lector read newspapers, novels, and poetry. Today, the library is a Local Historic Landmark, a part of the West Tampa National Historic District, and a branch of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries. It serves an ethnically diverse community and stands as a legacy of the independent City of West Tampa, the cigar industry, and Carnegie's dream free libraries for all.