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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Tampa in Hillsborough County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Benjamin Field/George N. Benjamin b 1859 d 1926

 
 
Benjamin Field side of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tim Fillmon, April 17, 2019
1. Benjamin Field side of Marker
Inscription.  
Benjamin Field

In 1896, this land was gifted to the City of West Tampa as a public park by George N. Benjamin, a prominent entrepreneur & early West Tampa leader. The park was built & 2 year later it was used by Theodore Roosevelt & the Rough Riders as a camp during the Spanish-American War.

In 1911, the property was developed as an airfield & small planes took customers on sight seeing rides. One of the 1st night flights in aviation history occurred here. In 1921, the City of Tampa leased the land to the Armory Board for use as a National Guard Drill Facility. During the 1920s, a large wooden boxing arena was constructed & matches were held for several years. In 1941, the wooden oval was replaced by a large concrete facility & named Fort Homer Hesterly for the commanding officer of the 116th Field Artillery. For 5 decades, the Armory served as a central community venue hosting dances, concerts, wrestling matches, & political events.

In 1961, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke here. Pres. John F. Kennedy spoke here 4 days before his assassination. For over three decades, legendary acts such as
George N. Benjamin b 1859 d 1926 side of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tim Fillmon, April 17, 2019
2. George N. Benjamin b 1859 d 1926 side of Marker
Elvis Presley, James Brown, Johnny Cash, The Doors, Pink Floyd, The Ramones & many more performed here.
(Continued on other side)
George N. Benjamin
b 1859 d 1929
(Continued from other side)
George N. Benjamin settled in Tampa in 1875 & shortly after opened what would become the largest pharmacy in the city. The success of this business allowed him to purchase land west of the Hillsborough River from the State to plant orange groves. Following the freeze of 1895 which destroyed most of the orange crop, he began to develop land in what would become West Tampa & was instrumental in getting the Florida Legislature to incorporate the booming cigar town. Benjamin served on the West Tampa City Council for 17 years & 4 years as Mayor. His civic leadership was key on the growth of West Tampa as a vital cigar manufacturing hub. Along with his father in law Dr. Phillip Collins, Benjamin underwrote the construction of the Fortune St. bridge providing the first crucial link between West Tampa & Tampa. Benjamin also served as Director of the Bank of West Tampa & Supervisor of West Tampa Schools (his efforts produced a number of public schools in the city). He also co-founded the Tampa Board of Trade & the South Florida Fair Association. His civic engagement & business acumen helped define the early West Tampa experience. Many of his descendants
Benjamin Field/George N. Benjamin b 1859 d 1926 Marker looking north. image. Click for full size.
By Tim Fillmon, April 17, 2019
3. Benjamin Field/George N. Benjamin b 1859 d 1926 Marker looking north.
Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory in background
still reside in Tampa today.
 
Erected by The Benjamin Family.
 
Location. 27° 56.913′ N, 82° 28.983′ W. Marker is in Tampa, Florida, in Hillsborough County. Marker is at the intersection of North Howard Avenue and West Gray Street, on the left when traveling north on North Howard Avenue. Located on the grounds of the former Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 522 North Howard Avenue, Tampa FL 33606, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Rough Rider Encampment (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Beginning of the Cigar Industry in West Tampa (approx. 0.6 miles away); The West Tampa Boys Club (approx. 0.7 miles away); Academy of The Holy Names (approx. mile away); Dobyville (approx. 0.8 miles away); William Benton Henderson (approx. 0.9 miles away); Plant Field (approx. 0.9 miles away); Hyde Park's Bungalow Terrace (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tampa.
 
Categories. Air & SpaceIndustry & CommerceSettlements & SettlersWar, World II
 

More. Search the internet for Benjamin Field/George N. Benjamin b 1859 d 1926.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 8, 2019. This page originally submitted on June 30, 2019, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. This page has been viewed 30 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 30, 2019, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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