Jackson House Foundation ready to move forward with restoration plans

The walls of the Jackson House hold an important part of Tampa’s history and as the building starts to crumble, community leaders say now is the time to act.

The two-story home was the only place African American travelers could stay during segregation. Many celebrities were among those that rented a room, including well-known entertainers like Ella Fitzgerald.

Over time, the building deteriorated. Carolyn Collins of The Jackson House Foundation says it's hard to see.

"It’s a hurt feeling because you can see it falling down. I say this and I think people really think I'm joking, I'm very serious. I have no idea with the weather that we've been having over the past couple of years why that house is still standing," Collins stated.

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The Community Redevelopment Agency received an update from the Jackson House foundation on plans for the future. The building needs easements on both sides to meet the fire code and maintain its historical preservation. Collins said negotiations for the additional land have come to a halt.

Tampa's famed Jackson House is in desperate need of repair.

Tampa's famed Jackson House is in desperate need of repair. 

"It's been more than a year and a half of, I feel, not a good faith discussion. We were on the good faith side. The recipients weren't. We need that easement on both sides of the house in order to move forward, maintain its historical status, keep the price down," Collins shared.

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Representatives from the Tampa Bay History Center gave a presentation of the renovation plans.

Stairs lead up to a second story in the now-crumbling Jackson House.

Stairs lead up to a second story in the now-crumbling Jackson House. 

Preliminary costs estimate the project at being more than $4 million but that would substantially increase if they have to move forward without the easements. 

"If we cannot get the easement, we got to make the adjustment that code requires, the adjustment that the historical preservation organizations and trust and entities require," Collin said.

Collins says she’s committed to moving forward no matter what it takes. She hopes to start the next phase within 30 days.