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TAMPA – The campus of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ybor City used to be loud and busy.
During the week in the from the late-1800s through 1960s, hundreds of students attended the church’s kindergarten through 12th grade school, helmed by nuns who lived in a campus convent. The church bell rung at noon to let neighboring cigar factories know it was lunch break.
On weekends, weddings were a norm.
“My grandmother used to walk over to see the wedding dresses,” said Clarisse Castro, 78, who grew up across the street from the church. During regular Sunday service, the church that could fit up to 600 was always full.