Why do they call it that? Marjorie Park, Davis Islands, and D.P. Davis: Tragic lost love remembered

8:36 AM, Aug 8, 2013   |    comments
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Tragic lost love, a Hollywood starlet, and a millionaire lost at sea! The story of this famous Bay Area neighborhood, Davis Islands, has it all.

Why do they call it Marjorie Park?

David P. Davis -- the richest man in Tampa -- was turning two dinky, tree-covered sandbars into the famous, flashy neighborhood he named for himself: Davis Islands.

But something was missing.

Four years before, living in Miami, Davis and his wife Marjorie had proudly welcomed their second son into the world.

Then, "she developed complications from that birth and died," said Rodney Kite-Powell, curator of history at the Tampa Bay History Center and also the world's leading expert on D. P. Davis and Davis Islands.

"Her death greatly affected Davis. There's no doubt about that."

Kite-Powell says the despondent developer moved from Miami to Tampa and turned his attention to building his incredible Davis Islands neighborhood.

But without Marjorie in his life, that attention wandered.

"She definitely was that calming influence. And it's pretty clear that after her death, he kind of went off the rails a little bit, which is sad," Kite-Powell said.

"You can definitely tell it was something that was a void in his life he was trying to fill. And so he was trying to fill it with drinking and with women."

Could it get any worse? Oh yes. The Florida Land Boom -- the real estate bubble that had made D. P. Davis millions -- started collapsing. Fortunes were evaporating.

Davis, who had it all just four years before, faced a future with nothing.

"He started dating a Hollywood starlet shortly thereafter. They had a real on-again, off-again relationship," Kite-Powell said.

"He started dating a woman here in Tampa, who he eventually married, then divorced, and then remarried. So there were all kinds of problems in his personal life affecting him. His business life was falling apart.

"And so he sold Davis Islands, got on a boat on the way to England, and he never made it to England." 

We'll never know whether Davis fell overboard from that ship, was pushed, or jumped.

But a peaceful place on Davis Islands named for his wife, called Marjorie Park, remains a monument of the bond of love -- and the tragedy of love lost.

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

Our friend Rodney Kite-Powell has written a book about D.P. Davis and Davis Islands.

You can buy History of Davis Islands starting next week at the Tampa Bay History Center and other book stores around Tampa Bay or online.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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