Neighbors hope to save Seminole Heights Baptist Church steeple

An effort is underway to save the 40-foot tower familiar to anyone who drives on Interstate 275 through downtown Tampa. 

The steeple sitting atop the Seminole Heights Baptist Church, which has been sold, is at risk of being destroyed, but a group of residents and businesses is determined to save it.

"I personally sit and look at it every day while I am sitting in my office," said Melissa Deming, the owner of Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe, on N. Nebraska Avenue.

The cafe is just two blocks from the property, which is being taken over by Memorial Hospital, which has plans to build a standalone emergency room.

"It has been around so long, people know where it is at, people identify the neighborhood with its location," said Demings.

Memorial Hospital sent FOX 13 a statement saying they, "have been researching options to preserve the church steeple and donate it to an individual or organization that will take responsibility to ensure it is safely maintained. At this time we are still working through details, and are hopeful it will be relocated."

"It would be a wonderful thing to the neighborhood to hold on to it and just keep those memories alive," said Demings.

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Though it's a feature of anyone's drive on I-275, it means the most to Seminole Heights neighbors, who love that their neighborhood has maintained its authenticity, even as the entire region has grown exponentially.

"We want to be able to retain as much character for the neighborhood as we possibly can," said Demings. "Losing it would erase a little bit of the history we hold onto tight around here."

She is not sure how to incorporate it into her restaurant property, but is absolutely sure it will remain one of a kind.

Memorial Hospital says they, "continue to work with local residents and organizations to bring access to compassionate emergency care and services to the community."

They have not yet said when they hope the new ER will be open.