The sleek, two-story yellow building on the corner of 10th Avenue N and 2nd Street N is the Pan American, a mid-twentieth century design from 1955 that contains sixteen residences.
According to St Petersburg records, the area was known then as Colonial Heights. Owner John W. Barger was granted a building permit and a state hotel permit. The building initially functioned as individual apartments with housekeeping services until 1958. At that time, an elected Board of Directors established the property as “Pan American Apartments Inc.” Resident “stockholders“ owned their individual units.
In 1983, Pan Am Apartments became a co-op. Co-ops allow each owner to assist in the maintenance and upkeep of the building, thus mitigating external contractor expenses. This status lasted for 23 years.
In 2006, a request was submitted to the Commission on Human Relations to establish the property as a “55+” adult-only community, but this change was never realized. Finally, in 2007 its co-op status was converted to its current condominium ownership.
The building’s architect cannot be confirmed, but the design is typical of the sleek mid-century style. Over the years, several architectural features have been updated. For example, the jalousie style windows were replaced with aluminum frame double-hung windows. Unfortunately, the original exterior doors have been replaced with out-of-character colonial/prairie style doors.
Each individual unit, approximately 510 square feet, has a character of its own. While some have the original bathroom tile and fixtures others have been updated to reflect modern taste. Similarly, many of the kitchens have the original galley style arrangement with peninsula open to the living area, but others have been opened completely.
While not designated a St. Petersburg local historic landmark, the building has casually assumed neighborhood landmark stature. Passersby often take photos of the front of the building or on the curved second floor landing. Contrary to neighborhood lore, Pan American Airlines did not construct the building as residences for its pilots and flight attendants. Regardless, the mid-century beauty holds a special place in the hearts of its owners and Old Northeast residents.
A special “thank you” to Pan Am residents Maria L. Abadesco and Doug Gillespie for their research and content contributions.