Planning & PreservationPLANNING AND PRESERVATION COMMITTEE
The Historic Old Northeast neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. The concentration and diversity of early 20th century homes built on a grid of narrow brick streets with granite curbing and hexblock sidewalks, all shaded by a mature tree canopy, are hallmarks of the neighborhood. Maintaining these characteristics is a key objective of the neighborhood association, as the economic benefits of preservation are well known. The Granada Terrace neighborhood, a Local Historic District designated in 1988, is located within the boundaries of Historic Old Northeast, in addition to eleven local Landmarks.
HONNA’s Planning and Preservation Committee works with City staff, City Boards, and City Council members to advance the goals and objectives identified in the Neighborhood Plan. Members review variance applications, often attending Community Planning and Preservation Commission(CPPC) meetings, City Council meetings, and Development Review Commission (DRC)meetings to advocate for or against proposals that affect the neighborhood.
The Committee also developed and oversees the Tree Canopy program.
Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Plan
The Neighborhood Plan (2009) is the continued effort of The Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association (HONNA) aimed at improving the neighborhood. HONNA is a long established association that has been highly involved throughout the years in improving the quality of life, comfort and safety of its residents. Many volunteers have tirelessly worked to advance the goals of the Plan, beautifying and enhancing the neighborhood, and have strived to educate residents about its unique character.
Old Northeast’s Historic Landmarks
The City of St. Petersburg’s Local Register of Historic Places is an official listing of neighborhoods, properties, sites and buildings throughout the City that are architecturally and historically important to the community. Any home that is 50 years or older may qualify as a historic landmark; to determine eligibility, an owner may contact the city’s Historic Preservation Office to see if his or her property qualifies, and if so, make application to the City for designation.
In addition to ‘pride of place’, there are other benefits and also some obligations to the homeowner. Exterior alterations (other than routine maintenance) require review and approval by the City though the Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) process. (It may be of interest to note that since the historic preservation program began in 1987, 97% of all COA applications have been approved.) Interior changes are NOT reviewed unless they are part of an application for the City’s ad valorem tax relief program. This program entitles owners of eligible properties to a freeze on City and County taxes incurred from rehabilitating a historic property for a period of 10 years. Designated properties are also exempt from meeting the literal application of certain parts of the Florida Building Code.
The following Historic Old Northeast properties are listed on the City’s Register of Historic Places:
1. The Vinoy Park Hotel, 501 5th Avenue NE - An excellent example of Mediterranean Revival architecture, the hotel opened on New Year’s Eve, 1925. Designed by architect Henry Taylor, it was the centerpiece of St. Petersburg’s skyline for many years. In the 1970s, it fell into disrepair and closed. Vacant for almost twenty years, its restoration and re-opening in 1992 were cause for celebration, particularly in the Old Northeast where the hotel is considered the cornerstone of the neighborhood.
2. The Jones-Laughner Residence, 556 Beach Drive NE - Built ca. 1909, this Craftsman style bungalow was home to Dr. Louis Jones, St. Petersburg’s first City Physician and Health Officer. Virginia Burnside, significant for her contributions to the Red Cross and the leadership of women, occupied the house during WWI. Other prominent residents included Dr. Roy Ridgley, and Aymer Vinoy Laughner and Paul Laughner, both associated with the Vinoy Park Hotel.
3. First Church of Christ, Scientist, 235 5th Avenue N, currently known as the Palladium Theater - The building is a fine example of Italian Renaissance style architecture. Designed by Howard Cheney and constructed by the George A. Fuller Construction Company in 1926, the floor plan is typical of early 20thcentury First Church of Christ, Scientist designs. For almost 70 years, the congregation worshipped at this location. In the 1990s, it was repurposed as the Palladium Theater.
4. The Ridgely House, 600 Beach Drive NE - Dentist Roy Ridgely, builder of this home, was an “ardent booster of the Sunshine City.” He established the Eureka Stone and Paving Company, a pioneer in the concrete business in St. Petersburg. His Craftsman style home is an excellent example of the rusticated concrete block manufactured by his company.
5. The Boyce Guest House, 635 Bay Street NE - Built in the mid to late teens, this vernacular style residence provided tourists with comfortable accommodations for twenty years following World War II. Almost thirty years later, the daughter of the earlier hosts and her husband purchased the home and established the Sunset Bay Inn, once again welcoming visitors to St. Petersburg.
6. The Robert West House (Pineapple House), 101 6th Avenue NE - This is the 1912 home of Robert West who designed the first concrete bridge and sea wall in St. Petersburg. He was responsible for the design of the first city-owned gas plant, and laid out plans for the building and financing of the City’s road system.
7. The Thomas Whitted House, 656 1st Street N - Thomas Whitted, the builder of this vernacular style house in 1911, owned the largest lumber supply business in St. Petersburg. He and his wife Julia, opened the Whitted Real Estate Company during the City’s land boom. They raised 11 children, one of whom was Albert who became an aviator and operated the first commercial charter air flights out of St. Petersburg’s airport, later named for him.
8. The Monticello Apartments, 730 3rd Street N - This ca. 1909 Neoclassical Revival home is a rare example of rusticated concrete block construction. In the 1920s it was converted to apartments catering to seasonal guests, and after WWI became home to group of artists. Later returned to single-family use, it was moved from 3rd Avenue North to its current location in 2005.
9. The Pace Residence, 705 16th Avenue NE - With its barrel roof, stucco exterior, and asymmetrical design this house is an excellent example of the Mediterranean Revival style. Additional details include an enhanced use of pecky cypress, spiral columns, and wrought iron. Helen Pace Lawler and her husband built the house in 1932. One of the City’s earliest professional business women, Mrs. Pace Lawler’s shop, Sherman’s, offered the latest in fashion to the women of St. Petersburg for over 50 years.
10. The Sargent House, 806 18th Avenue NE - This distinctive 1923 Airplane Bungalow features whimsical clinker brick masonry, shingle exterior walls, and striking exposed rafters and trusses. LeRoy Sargent, a high-flying New York City financier, and his wife Marjorie, lived in the home only a few years, their lives in many ways typifying Florida’s boom and bust cycles.
11. Turner’s Sunken Gardens, 1825 4th Street N - Plumber George Turner began gardening as a hobby, but eventually gave up the business to devote himself full-time to developing Turner’s Sunken Gardens, one of Florida’s famed “roadside attractions.” Originally specializing in fruit and tropical plants, over the years he added birds and other small animals to the attraction.
PARTNERING FOR EDUCATION
To further the Old Northeast’s education mission, the Planning and Preservation Committee has partnered with Sunken Gardens, the Renaissance Vinoy, the Museum of History, and the Pinellas County School system on a number of projects. All, with the exception of Pinellas County Schools, are venues for the sale of our neighborhood publication, Souvenir of St. Petersburg, Views from the Vinoy.
Fifty copies of ‘Souvenir’ have been donated to every elementary school in St. Petersburg, Gulfport, and Pinellas Park. Working with Sunken Gardens, Old Northeast has sponsored workshops for teachers and encourages field trips for students to both the Gardens and the Vinoy.
Joining with the Museum of History, Old Northeast participated in Box City, a project for high school geography students. Students in the program learn about city planning, preservation, and history by planning and building a miniature city from boxes.
HONNA is also participating with St. Petersburg Preservation, Pinellas County schools, and the Museum of History to sponsor the Museum's "City Builders Summer Camp". The curriculum emphasizes artistic expression and hands-on design to teach children about the "ingredients" for a healthy and desirable city. Walking tours, field trips and the construction of their own city entertain and educate students during the week-long camp.
Sunken Gardens, the Vinoy and the neighborhood offer Package Tours to groups of 15 or more individuals. Included are guided tours of Sunken Gardens, the Vinoy, and Historic Old Northeast (self-guided) and lunch at the Vinoy. Cost is $45 per person.
Souvenir of Saint Petersburg Florida – Views from the Vinoy
Souvenir of St. Petersburg - Views from the Vinoy is an 80-page, full color book featuring a highly visual and interactive approach to history, architecture, preservation, culture and community development.
Inside the Book
Published and produced by the Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association, the book was designed to be both educational and entertaining. It traces the history of one of St. Petersburg's oldest neighborhoods in the context of the growth of St. Petersburg. The Old Northeast started as farm land and sandy scrub pine forest, and became today's approximately 425 acres of homes, waterfront parks, businesses, and restaurants.
Views from the Vinoy includes images and stories of the city's first railroad, the 1924 Gandy Bridge opening, the rise, fall and rebirth of The Vinoy hotel, and other milestones in the history of St. Petersburg. Some of the city's gems, such as Sunken Gardens, the Palladium Theater, and landmarks in the Old Northeast neighborhood are explored through stories, photographs, illustrations, thought-provoking activities and scavenger hunts.
In May 2009, the book was recognized with a 2009 Preservation Award for outstanding achievement in the education/media category by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. The state award recognizes significant contributions in historic preservation including restoration/rehabilitation, design, craftsmanship, education and advocacy.
The book received the Neighborhood Partnership Award for “Innovation and Production” of Souvenir in October 2009.
It received a City of St. Petersburg Sunshine Ambassador Award in June 2009.
Where to Buy a Copy
Books are $14.95 plus sales tax, and are available on this website and at the following locations:
• Haslam’s, 2025 Central Ave, 33713, 727-822-8616, www.haslams.com
• Interior Motives, Central Ave, 33705, 727-898-6061, interiormotivesstpete.com
• Marion's, 1301 4th St N, 33701, www.marionsonline.com
• Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive NE, 33701, 727-896-2667, www.fine-arts.org
• Renaissance Vinoy Resort Shop, 501 5th Ave NE, 33701, 727-894-1000, Vinoy Hotel website
• St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 2nd Ave NE, 33701, 727-894-1052, www.spmoh.org
• Sunken Gardens, 1825 4th St N, 33701, 727-551-3102, www.stpete.org/sunken
RESEARCHING YOUR HOME’S HISTORY
Ever wondered about who built your home or what it might have looked like 50 or 100 years ago? There are several locally available sources of information about the homes in our neighborhood, and the people who built them and lived in them. Many of them can be accessed from this or other sites on the internet.
The City of St. Petersburg produced a very helpful brochure several years ago about researching the history of your house. https://www.stpete.org/history_and.../docs/Home_History.pdf
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are available for St. Petersburg, dating back to 1899. These maps were originally created to help fire insurance companies assess the potential risks involved in underwriting policies. These maps are also fascinating for showing the original Tampa Bay shoreline before it was expanded with dredged fill. http://ufdc.ufl.edu/?c=sanborn&m=hrdb&t=st.%20petersburg%20sanborn