Davis Islands, Then and Now – Tampa General Hospital and Peter O. Knight
by Rodney Kite-Powell
Another in an occasional series…
Of all the businesses and institutions that make up the Davis Islands community, two
stand out due to their large size and larger contributions to the economy of the Islands in
particular and the city in general – Tampa General Hospital and Peter O. Knight Airport.
No other Davis Islands institution has changed as much over the past eighty years as
Tampa General Hospital. The facility opened in 1927 as Tampa Municipal Hospital and
was considered a state of the art solution to Tampa’s long standing critical care woes.
The hospital replaced the outmoded and outdated Gordon Keller Memorial Hospital,
which was located on the grounds of the Tampa Bay Hotel (now the University of
To say the hospital has grown over the past eight decades is an understatement. Indeed,
the original 1927 building is almost unrecognizable under the various expansions that
have taken place over the past fifty years. The original hospital building stands literally
in the heart of today’s Tampa General, representing the hopes and pride of a previous
Peter O. Knight Airport is a fixture on the southern end of Davis Islands. Constructed
over seventy years ago, Peter O. Knight has hosted private air service and commercial
airlines, sending and receiving people to and from a wide variety of cities, states and
Originally configured with a seaplane basin for international air travel, the small airport
has since evolved into a municipal airport serving the greater Tampa Bay area. The
terminal has changed over the years, too, going from the original coquina block structure
of the 1930s to the current modern design. Though its look has changed, the airport’s
mission has remained the same.
Rodney Kite-Powell is the Saunders Foundation Curator of History at the Tampa Bay