Born in Abbeville, Georgia, Charles was the son of William
and Laura Brown nee Roberts. In 1870, his family migrated to Hamilton County,
Florida where Charles attended the East Florida Seminary in Gainesville. After
he completed his education, Charles Brown became a successful merchant and
married Margaret Gardner in Suwannee County with whom he had five children:
Isla, Karl, Nellie, Margaret and Brownie. In 1907, Brown moved to Tampa where he
established the Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad and served as its first President.
Brown extended the railroad to Tarpon Springs (1910) and St. Petersburg (1914).
He was also one of the founders of the Tampa Bank of Commerce and the Florida
Mortgage, Title and Bonding Company. Brown also had vast real estate holdings in
Pasco and Hernando Counties, and in Tampa. He also served on the Board of Public
Works for a number of years before becoming involved in local politics.
Charles Brown has the distinction of being the first mayor of
Tampa to serve under the commission form of government. In 1920, proponents for
the Commission-Manager system believed that this structure of government would
enable the City to conduct municipal affairs in a more direct and business-like
manner. The City of Tampa's Charter was revised to adopt this form of
government, which elected a mayor, and four commissioners who, in turn,
appointed a City Manager. The mayor essentially became a figurehead with no more
administrative power than the commissioners did. The City Manager served as the
administrative head of the municipal government.
After serving three years as mayor, Charles Brown returned to his
business activities. He passed away in
Tampa on January 17, 1928.
Sources for this Biographical Sketch:
Covington, Dr. James W. and Wavering, Debbie Lee, "The Mayors of Tampa:
A Brief Administrative History," Tampa, FL: University of Tampa, 1987.
Grismer, Karl H., Tampa: A History of the City and the Tampa Bay Region of
Florida, St. Petersburg Printing Company, FL, 1950.
Robinson, Ernest L., History of Hillsborough County, Florida: Narrative and
Biographical, The Record Company, St. Augustine, FL, 1928.
Tampa Council Minutes, City of Tampa Archives, Tampa, FL
June 15, 1920 - May 29, 1923 Roll # 8
June 1, 1923 - May 26, 1926 Roll # 9