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Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Tampa's history featured on V.M. Ybor Home Tour

V.M. YBOR — On a brief visit to Tampa, Louisiana natives Ryan Duplantis and Shelby Begnaud took in the vistas along Bayshore Boulevard and sampled the boutiques and nightspots on the European-style streets of Ybor City.

They always had been attracted to Florida. Ybor's worldly charm, especially, stayed with them.

“I felt like we didn't leave home,” said Begnaud who grew up in Lafayette, La.

In July, Begnaud, 25, and Duplantis, 26, became first-time home buyers and closed on an early 1900s, two-story, wood-frame house that itself is a transplant from one neighborhood to another.

The house was listed in the 1910 city directory at 1020 E. 14th Ave. in Ybor City. Last year state highway authorities moved the home from the path of proposed roadway to 2609 N. 17th St. in V.M. Ybor.

On Oct. 27 the house will be among eight historic homes featured on the Fifth Annual V.M. Ybor Home Tour. The tour also includes stops at a design studio in a rehabilitated Ybor grocery store, a 1925 fire station and the former V.M. Ybor Grammar School, now operating as Academy Prep Center of Tampa.

Halfway through the tour, Cigar City Brewing Co. will host a beer tasting.

The house owned by Duplantis and Begnaud is an example of the style built at the turn of the last century when cigar magnates Vicente Martinez Ybor and Ignacio Haya founded Ybor City, which in turn led to Tampa becoming known as “the cigar capital of the world.” The bungalows and mom-and-pop shops that sprang up in V.M. Ybor, northeast of Ybor City, were populated largely by cigar workers and factory owners.

Through the decades the house on 14th Avenue changed hands many times. Rev. Philip H. Hensley Jr., and his wife, Hattie, lived there from 1910 to 1914. Cigar maker Maximo Pereda and his wife, Felicia, possibly lived in the house the longest — from 1921 to 1927.

When they came to Tampa, Duplantis and Begnaud initially lived in South Tampa and Channelside. But, Duplantis said, “He (Begnaud) had a whim. He wanted to buy a house.”

They went house hunting with expectations of buying an ultra-modern home, not a 103-year-old house in V.M. Ybor. But from the moment they opened the solid wood front door and saw the hardwood floors, they knew they had found a home and the right neighborhood.

“It's very humbling to come to a place where you feel welcome,” said Duplantis. “The first day we were looking all the neighbors came by.”

The house already was rehabilitated and move-in ready.

Its relocation was part of an ongoing preservation program begun nearly 17 years ago with city, state and federal highway officials and historic preservationists. Historical structures in the pathway of interstate construction projects are moved, restored and sold. Money from the sales go into Tampa's Interstate Historic Preservation Trust Fund to support more preservation efforts.

Duplantis, who is an interior designer, and Begnaud, who is an architect, barely have had time to settle in with their two German shepherds, Lola and Lilo, and a calico cat, Lexi.

But they expect to put their personal stamp on the house soon in new color palettes and decorative touches. “We want it to feel very regal and rich because the house has its own history,” Duplantis said.

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