Threatened: One of Tampa's Oldest Houses
By Margaret Foster | Online Only | Sept. 21, 2010
One of the oldest houses in Tampa, Fla., is for sale, and its price is so low that preservationists fear it could be torn down.
Built in 1842 for a local doctor named Stringer, the Stringer-Stalnaker House was disassembled and moved by the Stalnaker family in 1914 to avoid demolition. Long used as a boarding house, it has been vacant for almost a decade, and in July its owner listed it for sale for $70,000. That price was lowered to $25,000 in August and is now $22,000.
The owner, Ronald Mack, has received several offers. "No one wants to tear this house down," he says. "If they're going to tear the house down, I've been saying no because there’s too much history there."
Tampa resident James Singleton spotted the "for sale" sign on the house earlier this month and alerted local preservationists about the threat to the Stringer-Stalnaker House.
"I've had my eye on that house since the mid-‘60s, and I was really shocked to see it was for sale," Singleton says. "My concern has always been that someone who has no concern for its history would buy the house and would think nothing of removing [it] and building duplexes or something."
The building has been significantly altered over the years, says Becky Clarke, president of Tampa Preservation, Inc.
"That's going to be a hard one [to save]," Clarke says. "It's in a not-great neighborhood, which will not really support any huge investment."
At the moment, the house is not listed as a local landmark and therefore has no protection.
"I hope the city moves swiftly to protect this historic house to ensure its future," says Linda Saul-Sena, former city council member and board member of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. "The best thing that could happen would be to find a preservation-minded buyer."
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