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Photo: Octavio Jones for Axios

Axios Tampa Bay has a look inside the newly rebuilt Tampa Heights Elementary School, one of the oldest and most historic buildings in Tampa.

What happened: The century-old building was gutted by an electrical fire on Sept. 12, 2017, shortly after Hurricane Irma passed through Tampa Bay. Inspectors determined that the fire was not suspicious and started when electricity was restored to the neighborhood after the storm.

An electrical fire gutted the school in 2017. Photo: Ben Montgomery

Why it matters: The magnet school at 305 E Columbus Ave., in the heart of the historic Tampa Heights neighborhood, welcomed back more than 300 students last month.

  • Parents, teachers and alumni urged the district to salvage the historic structure rather than destroying it and building an all-new school on the site.
  • The school district, architects and construction company came up with a design that integrated the school’s historic facade with elements of a modern school inside.
Tampa Tribune, June 1, 1905

Flashback: Originally called the Michigan Avenue Grammar School, the school was renamed for Civil War Gen. Robert E. Lee in 1943, an era when Southern cities and towns frequently honored Confederate leaders in their buildings and monuments.

  • The rebuild gave the district a convenient opportunity to shed the controversial name.
The new courtyard in the rear of the Tampa Heights Elementary School. Photo: Octavio Jones for Axios

The school district negotiated full payment from the district’s insurance companies for the rebuild, using the preserved historic exterior of the school. Hillsborough County Public Schools bore none of the rebuilding costs.

  • Designers salvaged some of the original wood flooring and incorporated it into a wall panel.

By the numbers:

  • Total square footage: 51,941
  • Student stations: 398
  • Floors: 3
  • Estimated cost: $16 million
Photo: Octavio Jones for Axios
Photo: Octavio Jones for Axios
Photo: Octavio Jones for Axios
Photo: Octavio Jones for Axios
Photo: Octavio Jones for Axios
Photo: Octavio Jones for Axios
Photo: Octavio Jones for Axios

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Go deeper

Feb 12, 2021 - Health

CDC releases guidelines on safely reopening schools

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

School reopenings should be contingent on community transmission rates and should be a priority over restaurants and other nonessential businesses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Friday.

Why it matters: America's educators have been calling on the health agency to issue clear and useful guidance for schools, following mixed signals sent by the Trump administration last year.

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The Fed could be firing up economic stimulus in disguise

Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard at a "Fed Listens" event. Photo: Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images.

Even as global growth expectations increase and governments pile on fiscal spending measures central bankers are quietly restarting recession-era bond-buying programs.

Driving the news: Comments Tuesday from Fed governor Lael Brainard suggest the Fed may be jumping onboard the global monetary policy rethink and restarting a program used following the 2008 global financial crisis.

Democrats' hypocrisy moment

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be facing explicit calls to resign from President Biden on down, if you apply the standard that Democrats set for similar allegations against Republicans. And it's not a close call.

Why it matters: The #MeToo moment saw men in power run out of town for exploiting young women. Democrats led the charge. So the silence of so many of them seems more strange — and unacceptable by their own standards — by the hour.