Hillsborough County Public Schools
tampa heights

Three years after devastating fire, rebuilt elementary school opens in Tampa

Jan. 4, 2021
The school, now named Tampa Heights Elementary, was destroyed by fire in 2017 in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

More than three years after a fire destroyed an elementary school in Tampa, Fla., a rebuilt facility with a new name has opened.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that Tampa Heights Elementary School welcomed more than 300 students for the first time Monday.

The school, previously known as Lee Elementary, sustained extensive damage from an electrical fire in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

[FROM 2017: Fire destroys Tampa elementary school]

The rebuilt campus preserved some of the design elements of the old school, including the brick facade, pitched roof and cupola. Inside are areas that incorporate the original floor boards and colorful tiles.

There also are modernistic features, designed to support the school’s work as a magnet for world studies. These include a learning corridor — with display areas, seating and writable surfaces — and a three-story connector at the heart of the school.

“It is really beautiful, and we are truly blessed,” principal Wendy Harrison says. “We are very excited.”

Originally called the Michigan Avenue Grammar School, the school was renamed for Civil War Gen. Robert E. Lee in 1943.

As the Hillsborough County School Board pursued rebuilding plans after the fire, it decided to rename the school Tampa Heights.

[FROM 2018: Hillsborough County board gives new name to Lee Elementary]

While the school was being rebuilt, students and teachers were relocated to Lockhart Elementary, another magnet school in nearby East Tampa.

Video from Hillsborough County Public Schools:

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