Make us your home page
Instagram

Plant Museum minaret pieces part of pickers' paradise at Tampa auction, says owner

For decades, sixth generation Tampa resident Clyde Darville traveled with his father to swap meets, flea markets and car shows, collecting and collecting.

The automotive machine shop he and his father Walter Darville opened in 1973 at S Howard Avenue and W Cypress Street in Tampa became like a museum of old gas station pumps, porcelain signs for defunct cigarette brands and motor oil, soda machines and antique machinery. Anything that seemed cool to guys who spent their time rebuilding engine parts.

Most of it came to them for a few dollars, or for free. A TV reporter came by in the mid-'90s and shot six news segments there, telling viewers they just had to see it.

Lightning sparked a fire at 3-D Service in 2000, destroying the shop and much of the collection. They reopened in Ybor City, about a mile east on Seventh Avenue from the Columbia restaurant, and stuffed what was left into storage containers out back where it has remained for nearly 17 years.

On Saturday, it will all see daylight again and go up for auction — absolute auction — which means they'll accept whatever price is offered, no matter how low it is, said John Harris of Harris Auctions.

"We started collecting way before American Pickers was on TV, which is when everybody got into this stuff," Clyde Darville, now 70, said. "I lost the bug for collecting years ago, but I went to a flea market the other day. I realized, there's really nothing left to find. All the signs you see for sale now are replicas."

Not the ones up for auction on Saturday. There will be authentic, vintage porcelain signs for Shell, Gulf, Phillips and Conoco, as well as less recognizable gasoline such as Crown and Lion. There will be coin operated scales, huge anvils, parking meters and a sign advertising a $500 fine for spitting on the New York Subway platform, Clyde Darville said.

There are a pair of stoplights that came from Madison, Florida, that are so old, they only feature two lights: red and green.

"This stuff really needs to be out where people can see it," Clyde Darville said.

The most intriguing items up for auction, however, might be what Clyde Darville claims are the remaining pieces of one of the iconic minarets from the Henry B. Plant Museum at the University of Tampa.

"When they replaced the minarets that were up there with stainless steel ones in 1991, they used the old ones as templates," Clyde Darville said. "Someone I knew had some of them, and they were just going to throw them out. They ended up giving them to me."

Photo via Clyde Darville

Clyde Darville restored this piece of a minaret from the University of Tampa and installed it on his boat dock on the Hillsborough River. He has another one that needs some work, and will be auctioned off on Saturday.

He restored one of those minarets and recently installed it atop the boat dock behind his new house on the west bank of the Hillsborough River, just south of the W Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard bridge.

The pieces of the other one, which he says can be restored by the right sheet metal worker, will be among the items up for auction.

There will be more than 100 items there, although Clyde Darville said he's not sure how many total because the number keeps growing. His father, who died in 2015 at age 91, started as a machinist in Tampa in 1946 after returning home from World War II, but he'd been collecting since even before then.

"I was just in my dad's garage the other day and I found four more boxes of stuff I didn't even know he'd stashed away," Clyde Darville said.

IF YOU GO

When: March 18, 10 a.m.

Where: 4002 E. 7th Ave., Tampa

Plant Museum minaret pieces part of pickers' paradise at Tampa auction, says owner 03/16/17 [Last modified: Thursday, March 16, 2017 9:47am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The real estate pros in charge of Tampa's $3 billion makeover are younger than you think

    Working Life

    TAMPA — Brooke May, a 36-year-old senior construction project manager, knew she wanted to work for Strategic Property Partners the minute she met some team members involved with the group's massive downtown Tampa makeover.

    Matt Davis, Vice President of Development posed for a portrait in the Strategic Property Partners office in Channelside on July 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  2. St. Pete Beach may loosen beach drinking rules for hotel guests

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Drinking a beer, a cocktail or a glass of wine may soon be legal on this city's beaches, but only for hotel guests in and around their hotel's beachfront cabanas.

    Registered hotel guests would be able to drink alcoholic beverages at their cabanas on the beach under a new rule the St. Pete Beach City Commission is considering.  

  3. PunditFact: George Will's comparison of tax preparers, firefighters based on outdated data

    Business

    The statement

    "America has more people employed as tax preparers (1.2 million) than as police and firefighters."

    George Will, July 12 in a column

    The ruling

    WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: Conservative newspaper columnist George Will poses on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. Hume was honored for his 35 years in journalism. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
  4. Appointments at Shutts & Bowen and Tech Data highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Legal

    Retired U.S. Navy Commander Scott G. Johnson has joined Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office as a senior attorney in the firm's Government Contracts and Corporate Law Practice Groups. Johnson brings 15 years of legal experience and 24 years of naval service to his position. At Shutts, Scott will …

    United States Navy Commander (Retired) Scott G. Johnson joins Shutts & Bowen LLP in its Tampa office. [Company handout]
  5. Macy's chairman replaces ex-HSN head Grossman on National Retail Federation board

    Retail

    Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy's Inc., will replace Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman as chair of the National Retail Federation, the organization announced Wednesday. Grossman stepped down from her position following her move from leading St. Petersburg-based HSN to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers CEO and former HSN chief Mindy Grossman is being replaced as chair of the National Retail Federation. [HSN Inc.]