Public Art Dedication this Saturday will Honor West Tampa Icon E.J. Salcines
Hillsborough County, Fla. (Jan. 16, 2020) - Longtime county solicitor, state attorney, and state judge Emiliano Jose "E.J." Salcines may have retired from public service, but the West Tampa icon continues to make his mark on public facilities in the community.
On Saturday, Jan. 18 at 2 p.m., family, friends, and fans of Salcines will gather at the West Tampa Branch Library, 2312 W. Union St. in Tampa, for the dedication of a new public art bench commissioned in his honor. Salcines also will be on hand for the ceremony, which will be held in the community room that once served as the original 1914 library.
The stylized bench is installed in a newly-landscaped space on the south side of the building. Library staff commissioned the work from a local artistic welding design company with funds donated by the City of Tampa Mayor's Hispanic Advisory Council. The fanciful wrought-iron bench resembles a palm tree and incorporates whimsical found objects, including a portion of a gate from the basement of the original wing of the library.
The $10,000 gift from the advisory council also funded other enhancements for the library, including a display of vintage books in tribute to cigar factory lectors, and the purchase of several dozen new books for the library's collection.
The son of immigrants from Spain, Salcines grew up in the Hispanic neighborhood of West Tampa just a few blocks from the library, where he spent childhood days doing homework and reading. His long and distinguished legal career included such posts as Hillsborough County solicitor and state attorney from 1968 to 1985, and as a judge on the Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal from 1998 to 2008. His contributions to the justice system and to the community in various professional and civic capacities have been lauded by numerous organizations. A champion of literacy and oratory, as well as a local historian who enjoys sharing his knowledge and personal experiences, Salcines has been a frequent lecturer to audiences interested in Tampa history.
Christened the West Tampa Free Library when it opened in 1914, the West Tampa Branch Library is Hillsborough County's first public library. The neo-classical, revivalist-style brick structure was constructed with a grant from industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. A project in the early 2000s expanded the facility by 5,000 square feet.