USF Libraries | Special & Digital Collections | Exhibits

Browse Items (55 total)

  • Tags: sponge industry

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…

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During his later years, Steve Stavrakis (1928-2012) made model sponge boats that he gifted to family members. Stavrakis’ father came from Halki around 1918. He moved first to Tampa, and then to Tarpon Springs where he owned a ship’s chandlery for…

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A Greek diver returns to the surface holding a net bag of sponges that he harvested and the sponge hook that he used, 1936. There are dozens of types of sponges in the Gulf, but only a few are commercially viable. Divers must be able to identify and…

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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…

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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The family of a sponge fisherman poses for a photograph in front of their home on November 16, 1936. Although the talented Burgert Brothers photographers from Tampa found intriguing subjects in Tarpon Springs, they did not always record the names of…

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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…

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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,…

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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.

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Four men aboard George Georgiou's sponge diving exhibition boat at the Tri-city Suncoast Festival in 1961. John Georgiou operated his first sponge boat, the Plastiras, from 1947 to 1952. He then began to charter his second boat, the Aspasia, and gave…

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Usually out with the sponge fleet, this boat remained at the Sponge Docks and was put up for sale in the early 1970s due to a death in the family. A memorial wreath for deceased graces the sponge boat.

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…

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This image shows Antonios Lerios and Nicholas Toth in 1986 alongside a diving helmet in the shop Lerios built in the early 20th century. Growing up in Tarpon Springs, Nicholas Toth visited his grandfather’s machine shop and gradually absorbed his…
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