TARPON SPRINGS — The city of Tarpon Springs can now add another special designation to its resume that’s unique to the state of Florida.
City representatives earlier this month announced that the National Park Service added the Tarpon Springs Greektown Historic District to the Register of Historic Places. It’s the state’s first Traditional Cultural Property listing.
The TCP designation was made official on June 2, after being deemed eligible on February 21, according to the city’s curator of arts and historical resources, Tina Bucuvalas.
“Tarpon Springs will serve as an excellent model for future TCP nominations, particularly for larger ethnic-based communities,” National Register Historian-Reviewer Paul Lusignan was quoted as saying in the city’s press release.
The Tarpon Springs Greektown Historic District, roughly 140 acres, includes hundreds of buildings and about a dozen sponge boats. The district’s boundaries are the Anclote River to the north, Tarpon Avenue and Spring Bayou to the south, Hibiscus and Pinellas streets to the east and Roosevelt and Grand boulevards to the west.
Traditional Greek culture and infrastructure factored into the district’s designation, Bucuvalas wrote, in addition to it being the only Greek American community based on the sponge industry.
“Greek identity is expressed and reinforced through the built environment, boats, occupations, music and dance, social or regional organizations, rites of passage, beliefs, family values, foodways, sacred and secular events, and religious practices,” Bucuvalas wrote.
A folklorist, Bucuvalas was instrumental in Greektown’s consideration and listing as a Traditional Cultural Property. She has been promoting Greektown’s inclusion since 2012.
Bucuvalas, in turn credits the assistance of former Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation Bureau Chief and State Historic Preservation Officer Barbara Mattick, Bureau Historic Preservationist Carl Shiver and Historic Preservationist Supervisor Desiree Estabrook.
The Traditional Cultural Property initiative was created in 1990, then amended in 1992. It operates under the auspices of the National Park Service. Constructed or natural locations deemed to carry cultural, religious or sacred significance can be considered for designation.