HistoryThe firm’s offices are located on the second and third floor of a three-story brick building constructed at the beginning of the twentieth century. The building sits on the corner of Tampa Street and Madison Street. At the time of its construction, it lay in close proximity to the Seaboard Coastline Railroad railhead and wharves near the mouth of the Hillsborough River, and we believe it was initially used as a warehouse and marine supply store. It was constructed using massive wooden support columns and cross-beams, with high ceilings and Long Leaf Yellow Pine wooden floors with 2.5 inch thick tongue in groove planks. Originally, the main building entrance was on Tampa Street, and the builders used darker red brick to face that side of the building, as contrasted with lighter brick on the Madison Street side.
The building housed the offices of Guaranty Title on the ground floor in the 1970s and then remained vacant until renovations commenced in the late 1980s. As part of the renovation, the original columns, floors, and ceilings have been restored. The main entrance is now on Madison Street, with several restaurants and a hair salon on the ground floor. The building is located on the fringe of the “Arts District” of downtown Tampa, across Ashley Blvd. from the Tampa Museum of Art and Tampa Children’s Museum.Some facts about the building and one of its owners are set forth below:
Mr. Greene began his business career in Chicago, where he owned three drug stores. After eloping with Carrie Price, a young nurse whose uncle was a friend of his, he moved to Tampa, where he opened a marine hardware store in partnership with the Tampa Steam Ways Company. The C.W. Greene Company manufactured and sold a wide variety of marine hardware, automotive supplies, and sporting goods all across Florida in the 1910s and 1920s. Among other items, the company made awnings, tents, and sleeping porch curtains. On the 2nd and 3rd levels of the building, the building’s engraved yardage numbers are still visible on the wood floors, which we speculate were used to measure off rope or anchor chain for customers.
In 1921, Mr. Greene’s bride found her way into Tampa’s history books. As an October hurricane approached, Carrie helped her husband secure their boats along the Bayshore. Her small skiff broke away from Charles’ boat, and she began floating off to sea, her husband watching helplessly as the motor on his boat refused to start. Dressed only in a bathing suit, armed with a single oar until it too was lost, Carrie was tossed by waves for hours during one of the worst storms ever to hit the Tampa area. Eventually, she washed ashore on the eastern side of the bay, where she waded two miles through flooded woods to find a house. The building withstood the hurricane.
After the Florida Boom of the 1920s came the Great Depression of the 1930s, and many businesses suffered. Knight & Wall took over their former competitors, Tampa Hardware and the C. W. Greene Company. Subsequent occupants of the 110 Madison Street building included Bryn-Alan Studios, Sherwin-Williams Paints, and the Guaranty Title Company.