USF Libraries | Special & Digital Collections | Exhibits

Browse Items (42 total)

  • Tags: Sponge Industry

1546010.jpg
Greek men gather in the courtyard at an early version of the Sponge Exchange. The Sponge Exchange was founded around 1907 or 1908 as a nonprofit corporation with shares owned by 50 buyers. At this cooperative space across the street from the Sponge…

1546081[1].jpg
Men with gather around a 6-foot high pile of sponges near the Anclote River probably during the 1920s. Among the Greek boats in the background is the Ellpis [sic], or Hope.

1546094[1].jpg
This is the identification card for sponge fisherman Paul Stavropoulos. During World War II, sponge fishermen needed identification cards issued by the captain of the port in order to journey out to the sponge beds.

1546102[1].jpg
With the spongers came many other Greeks working in related maritime businesses: ship chandlers, machine shops, boat builders, a sail loft, and sponge packing houses. Antonios Avgerinos (1860-1930) was a successful diving helmet maker from Symi who…

1546107[1].jpg
Costas Tsourakis loading strings of sponges into the back of a truck during the 1940s. Tsourakis arrived from Greece in 1905. In addition to working with sponges, he made charcoal for the sponge boats at a lot on Athens and Cedar Streets.

1546108[1].jpg
Back in port, the crew finishes cleaning and sorting sponges for auction on October 10, 1969. Cleaning the animals entails allowing their skins to decompose, rinsing them with water and squeezing them to eliminate internal matter and bits of skin,…

1546109[1].jpg
Niki Samarkos hangs finger sponges to dry on October 28, 1966. Most sponges harvested by the fishermen have some kind of personal or industrial use, but finger sponges are purely decorative.

1546110[1].jpg
Gus Tsourakis and a crew member unload strings of cleaned sponges on June 27, 1969. Tsourakis owned a hooking boat, which was smaller than the larger diving boats. On this trip they harvested more than 5000 sponges, primarily wool.

1546111[1].jpg
The crew of the St. Michael crew clean the sponges harvested during a recent trip on October 4, 1973. After returning to port with sponges, the crew members count them, put them into net bags, and the captain keeps an account of the number, type, and…

1546112[1].jpg
A crew member finishes the grueling job of cleaning sponges on February 11, 1975. Sponges, which are simple animal organisms, must be cleaned of their skin, internal matter, and any stones or sand that have adhered to them. Crew members repeatedly…

1546114[1].jpg
James Piccolo sizes sponges at Acme Sponge & Chamois Company, one of the largest sponge distribution businesses in Tarpon Springs. The company was established in 1938 by Michael Cantonis, who came from a family of Symian sponge merchants. Acme…

1546116[1].jpg
The Sponge Exchange bustles with activity with activity. The Sponge Exchange was an organized cooperative warehouse and distribution system established around 1908. At the time of this image, iron-grilled klouves (storage cells) separated the catches…

1546118[1].jpg
Piles of all types of sponges fill the courtyard of the Sponge Exchange on an auction day in 1921. Most of the men in the courtyard appear to be Greek, except for the African American man walking towards the camera. He was one of many who worked in…

1546120[1].jpg
The elevated view reveals the sponge fleet at the Sponge Docks and the Sponge Exchange and view of bridge and surrounding area in 1932. Note the boat yard to the right of the Docks, where boats were built, repaired, and their hulls cleaned.

1546122[1].jpg
Men view sponges to be auctioned in the Sponge Exchange on July 24, 1937. By 1940, there were over 1,000 men actively engaged in the sponge industry. These men and their families constituted roughly 2,500 Greeks in a town of 3,402. With the onset of…

1546126[1].jpg
Aerial view of the demolition of the Sponge Exchange in 1981. The Sponge Exchange was sold to new private owners who wanted to create a shopping complex. Although many members of the Greek community and preservationists from the Florida Department of…

1546127[1].jpg
On the site of the old Sponge Exchange, a complex of boutique shops in a faux Cyclades Island architectural style opened on March 16, 1983. Several klouves on the north side of the Sponge Exchange were retained, originally intended for use by sponge…

1546128[1].jpg
This early image of a sponge packing house is associated with the name Trefon Constantinou. Sponge merchants are central to domestic and international distribution. Many belong to families that have worked in every aspect of the business for…

1546130[1].jpg
Sponge warehouses of the Greek-American Sponge Company of Chicago and the American Sponge & Chamois Company of New York, October 1932. In the past, there were many independent local sponge buyers, as well as agents of larger international merchant…

1546134[1].jpg
The Samarkos Sponge Warehouse on Pinellas Avenue was owned and operated by the Samarkos family, many of whose members were active as captains, divers, and merchants in the sponge industry. Signs in this image from November 26, 1972 indicate that it…

1546150[1].jpg
A merchant surveys the street from the doorway of his tourist shop stocked with shells and sponges in 1936. In decades past, tourist shops near the Sponge Docks marketed items such as sponges, shells, curios, and Greek vases.

1546151[1].jpg
A Greek saleswoman explains the properties of a vase sponge inside a tourist store near the Sponge Docks, 1936. Shops very similar to this one remain today, together with specialized and general tourist shops.

1546152[1].jpg
Outside their gift store on Pinellas Avenue in 1948 are children Costas Pappas, Fanitsa and Theodosios Frantzis, and adults Katherine Esfakis Pappas, her father-in-law Costas George Pappas, and sister-in-law Zula Pappas Frantzis. Katherine was raised…

1546153[1].jpg
Anna Smolios Kouskoutis Ioanidis (right) worked in Sylvia Billiris’ (left) gift shop during the 1950s. With the decline of the sponge business in the late 1940s and early 1950s, tourism based on Greek culture and the sponge industry became Tarpon…
Output Formats

atom, dcmes-xml, json, omeka-json, omeka-xml, rss2