Originally built in 1891 as a stable for the Tampa Bay Hotel, 420 West Kennedy Boulevard has gone through several
transformations in its long history. In the 1920s, an arcade of shops ran through the center of the building from
Kennedy to Grand Central, a feature that is echoed in the current design. More recently, an insurance company,
photo studio and dentist’s office were housed within the brick walls. If you have lived in Tampa long enough, you
may have visited Oxford Exchange in a few of its previous forms.
Oxford Exchange is really two buildings: the original four walls of Number 420, and a new structure that took the
place of an older building next door. Painstaking restoration of the older elements, most notably the brickwork, was
done alongside the creation of new features, such as the many skylights and the glass-roofed conservatory. It is hard
to tell the new from the old, which underscores Oxford Exchange’s mission to showcase the best of the contemporary
and the classic.
- The Wolseley on Piccadilly, London
- The Shaw Library at the London School of Economics
- Andrew Martin, UK
- Sir John Soane’s Museum
- The Dining Halls at Oxford University
- Napoleon House
- Athenaeum Club
- The Garrick Club
While on a visit to London, Tampa businessman Blake Casper found himself drawn to the architecture, feel, and use of
English shops and clubs. Sensing the potential for these kinds of multi-use spaces in his hometown, Casper began to
conceive a place where people could meet, mingle, work in solitude, or simply pass a few moments outside of their hectic
For the adventure of launching this novel concept, Casper assembled a team of architects, engineers, designers, and
craftsmen to transform the old building into a state-of-the-art complex: Smith-Dalia Architects in Atlanta; EWI
Construction in Tampa; Project Manager James Brearley; and Interior Designer Mary Beth Courier. Then came the team that
would bring the building to life: Dave and Susan Ward of Buddy Brew Coffee and Abigail St. Clair of TeBella Tea Company
came on board; Executive Chef Erin Guggino began to develop the menu for the Restaurant; Allison Casper Adams created
the Shop; and Alison Powell devised the Bookstore.
And so, in 2011, Oxford Exchange began to take shape, writing a story that begins at the front door and continues
throughout the building every day. Depending on how you look at it, Oxford Exchange is either a large house, or a
small town. Each area offers its own feel and personality, and yet each contributes to the whole, which is designed
to fulfill a diverse range of needs, from coffee to conversation. Oxford Exchange was hand-built, using materials
from over a dozen countries: Italian marble, reclaimed white oak, leather panels on walls and ceilings, and brass
fittings are just a few of the details that enrich the experience.
Oxford Exchange opened its doors at 6:30AM on September 24, 2012. In addition to the careful planning of the physical
structure of Oxford Exchange, a great deal of thought went into the activities and products offered here—the spirit of
the place. Curation is a key concept behind the food, goods, and events at the OE. With choices overwhelming us all
these days, there is a great relief in having the field narrowed by those with the passion and expertise to help us
find our way to wonderful new discoveries.