This week when a construction crew demolished an old building in Ybor City, they uncovered a long, hidden tunnel.
The tunnel was also connected to a basement under the building that was once part of the Florida Brewing Company property.
Basements and tunnels in Florida are rare because of high ground water.
Until recently, Casey Corwin owned the building that sat on top of the basement and the tunnels, and she would go into the basement looking for clues about why it was there.
“It could be anything, prohibition, I mean, any time you want to hide things from people you go underground,” said Corwin.
Gerry Curts is an architect that owns another building that was once part of the Florida Brewing Company.
“This was one of the most historic sights in Hillsborough County we believe,” said Curts.
He and his business partner have researched the history of their building.
“The brewery, right behind us now, was the first brewery in the South East. It was the tallest building south of Atlanta, because of Government Spring being here, this is where Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders camped out on their quest to the Spanish American War. This property that we are on right now was the site of the first hanging in Hillsborough County,” said Curts.
He has long known of a basement under his building and has even seen other sections of the tunnel exposed.
The last time a tunnel was exposed was when the street car line was put in next to his building.
He has his own theories about why the tunnels exist.
“So this is where they did the bottling and all of the offices and all of that sort of thing, so if you want to get beer during prohibition an easy way to do that is with tunnels and several of the tunnels came to our basement,” said Curts.
Corwin has long been curious about the basement and tunnels in this end of Ybor City.
“I would just stare at it thinking, ‘something is going to pop out or what ever’ and there was just never anything to just tell me more except broken glass and that’s about it, so to know there is a tunnel under there right now, it’s crazy,” said Corwin, who would like to see some of the tunnels and the history preserved.