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Fire destroys century-old, two-story structure in Hyde Park section of Tampa

TAMPA — Barry and Brandi Andrews had high hopes for the century-old house on South Willow Avenue.

The couple bought the two-story, wood-framed home in the Hyde Park area earlier this month as an investment property to fix up, perhaps to sell or maybe to live in, Brandi Andrews said.

"We were going to redo everything it needed," she said. "It was just a nice old house that could be restored to its former glory."

Soon, the house will be gone. Fire tore through the 1,700-square foot structure early Monday, gutting the house and extinguishing its potential.

Tampa Fire Rescue crews, responding to a call at 111 S Willow Ave. about 1:15 a.m., found the house engulfed in flames, according to an incident report.

Officials shut down traffic on Kennedy Boulevard from South Boulevard to South Oregon Avenue while crews battled the blaze, fire officials said. No injuries were reported.

Investigators were working Monday to determine the cause of the fire. They had not ruled out arson, Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Jason Penny said.

Built in 1917, the four-bedroom home sits on less than a tenth of an acre between Kennedy and W Cleveland St. In a sign of how Tampa has grown, the home is flanked by modern office buildings. The flames damaged the back of a Buick Encore parked in the lot of the office building next door, at 107 S Willow.

County records show the Andrews, who live in Tampa, purchased the home on March 9 for $190,000 and had begun the restoration. They planned to redo the floors, replace fixtures and paint throughout the house. A contractor had already started work on the flooring, Brandi Andrews said in a telephone interview Monday as she hung "no trespassing" signs around the property.

"It just had character like an old house does," she said. "It's sad."

The house has the typical architectural characteristics of the Victorian period, including a columned porch, multi-gabled roof and asymmetrical design, said Del Acosta, a board member of the Historic Hyde Park Association and author of Tampa's Hyde Park.

The house is just north of the association's boundaries but is part of the original Hyde Park neighborhood, Acosta said. He didn't know anything about the home's history, but the fact that it no longer has a future is a blow, he said.

"Every time a Victorian house is lost, it diminishes the inventory of Hyde Park by one," he said. "You can't replace a historic building. Once it's gone, it's gone."

Senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

Fire destroys century-old, two-story structure in Hyde Park section of Tampa 03/20/17 [Last modified: Monday, March 20, 2017 3:11pm]
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