A familiar West Tampa landmark will soon be getting a makeover to commemorate that area’s rich heritage.
The 126-foot water tower on North Himes Avenue just south of West Cherry Street, will be painted and include a “Welcome to West Tampa” mural to welcome residents and visitors, Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced Friday.
The mural will feature an oversized cigar wrapper, in honor of the area’s cigar-making history, and the “Welcome” sign will be visible to commuters along I-275 and other nearby streets.
“When I think of West Tampa, I think about the social clubs and cigar factories, Little League games, and community leaders like Charlie Miranda and E.J. Salcines,” Buckhorn said in a statement. “This is an opportunity to tell West Tampa’s story, which is so ingrained in the fabric of Tampa.
The plain, white tower was built by the city in 1954.
“It is just one way to honor the heritage and culture of the West Tampa community that continues to shape our city,” Buckhorn said.
West Tampa was founded by local attorney Hugh Macfarlane in 1892 with hopes of luring cigar factories and workers from Ybor City, according to the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce. It was incorporated in 1895, and an influx of Cuban immigrants made West Tampa the fifth largest city in Florida by 1905.
West Tampa was annexed by Tampa in 1925.
“The men and women who made West Tampa a part of Tampa and Tampa what it is today, this is the way to say thank you to them for all the times that were really, really hard,” said City Councilman Charlie Miranda, who represents the West Tampa area.
City officials chose brothers Peter and Rolf Goetzinger, known as the Artistbrothers, to paint the image at a cost of $33,800.
The city also will pay about $350,000 to repair and re-coat the tank prior to the mural being painted, according to the release.
Repair work is slated to begin in January and will take about four months to complete, officials said.