Open Gate Motel ,
Before the interstates were built, Florida Avenue was one of the main thoroughfares leading into Tampa. The Open Gate Motel, along with many other motels once located along Florida Avenue, welcomed visitors from the north heading towards downtown Tampa.
You can see read more about Tampa’s neon signs in the book Vintage Tampa Signs and Scenes.
Historic photograph Courtesy of the Cinchett family
Modern photograph by Bryan Weinstein
From December 1959 until the Fall of 1979, my parents Pete and Betty Brazeal owned this motel. We an excellent rating from AAA and had returning clients for all of those years. My parents treated people like family and my sister and I grew up there changing beds, answering the switchboard, cleaning rooms, even renting rooms!! It was a place to be proud of and it was a great place to hold pajama parties when I was in high school (Hillsborough High School). We had one huge room with two beds in the main room and a double bed in a second room within the unit — many a pizza was eaten, many a coca-cola drunk and much girl chatter was had. I am sorry that it has apparently deteriorated — my parents would have never let that happen. Good memories for me.
Although I never stopped at this motel, I’ve no doubt that your parents owned and managed a superior establishment. I have a soft spot for motels such as this one. We were a military family who traveled quite a bit and often stopped in at motels for one or perhaps two nights on our journey. I only ever remember them being wonderful, clean places with beds that would vibrate for a quarter! It was heaven ; )
Going off subject a bit but, what happened to the food? It was always delicious – even at Woolworths! These days, most food is bland or just plain bad.
I moved to Tampa in 1971 and drove by this place almost everyday. It is sad that all the ma and pa places are becoming extinct. Unfortunately the neighborhood dictated some of its demise while others thrive and keep upgrading (Hyde Park example)