A neighborhood building on creativity.
Not everyone is into an urban scene but sometimes, if you’re an artist or like to be around creative people and regular events, it seems going downtown is your only choice.
Luckily, that’s not true in St Petersburg. St. Pete’s culture of creative living is flourishing and not just downtown.
Historic Kenwood offers a real neighborhood and an art scene.
Kenwood started from the creative idea of its first builder and flourishes today on the creative and progressive ideas of its residents.
Good timing and creative ideas are at the root of Kenwood.
In 1913 Charles R. Hall built 10 homes on Central Avenue.
The year St Petersburg’s Municipal Pier was built – 1913 - Charles R. Hall bought an avocado grove just two miles away from that downtown hotspot. Thinking “creatively,” he decided it was the perfect place to construct 10 homes.
I’ll guess he saw two things perfect for building a great neighborhood around:
The proximity to downtown St Petersburg and it’s up and coming activities.
Central Avenue as a means to access St. Pete from bay to beaches quickly and easily.
Amazingly those two features are extremely good reasons to love Historic Kenwood’s location today.
Kenwood neighborhood’s timing was just perfect. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_St._Petersburg,_Florida)
In 1913 the first train full of tourists came to St Petersburg – all the way from Indiana and Ohio - in addition to the Pullmans that had been arriving from New York since 1909. St. Pete was branching out as a destination City.
And homes, many the bungalow style that was the rage, were being built by early real estate investors. They knew these homes would be popular with people who came to visit St. Petersburg and then looked to buy a house nearby the social events and St. Pete beaches they enjoyed so much.
In the next few years great things happened in St Pete - much like they are now. People came. There was a new City Pier built and places of interest grew.
Then like now, people liked what they experienced in the Sunshine City with many choosing Kenwood as the perfect location for fun and family life.
Creative thinking created the creative Kenwood Neighborhood.
Kenwood’s architectural history has roots that allow for variety.
Have you ever been in a neighborhood where once you've seen 3 houses you can guess exactly where the pantry will be?
Kenwood's homes don't suffer from predictability. Inside and outside the houses you'll find layouts and details that are features unique to themselves.
Most of the homes in the neighborhood were built from 1913 through to the 1930’s. This was a time when having your own little Bungalow style house to live or vacation in was part of the American dream.
Life in the new century was changing how people wanted to live.
Like so many people today, the formal homes of their parents’ generation, for example, just didn’t ring true to the lifestyles they wanted to enjoy with their family, friends and neighbors.
House styles like the Victorian - with its heavy architectural ornamentation - and the northern Federal styles - with their rooms that suited one purpose only - were too confining no matter what the size of the home. In fact, many people believed that a smaller - even a tiny home - could be better if designed right.
The point behind Bungalow style homes was to move away from the formalities of earlier architectural styles.
People wanted a more comfortable life than could be had in homes before.
They wanted a home to that would be able to allow them to:
enjoy their families,
socialize around central rooms
relax on porches that let them breathe in some fresh air and connect with neighbors and nature.
Historic Kenwood was built with diversity in mind.
While Kenwood has the has one of the highest collections of Craftsman style bungalows in Florida, it’s important to remember that within that style there is a variety of “looks.”
You can walk down any block in Kenwood and see lovely homes and cheerful yards. And every home - like the population of neighbors living in Kenwood - will be unique.
Remarkably, quite a few of the homes in the neighborhood were also influenced by another creative trend that took place in the 1930’s.
Restoration and Repurposing in St. Petersburg has a long history.
During the depression, approximately 170 homes were moved intact to the neighborhood (some sources say from downtown – other simply state “from other Saint Petersburg neighborhoods”)
In the 1930’s this was a creative way to save homes considered interesting enough to move to Kenwood. This was almost 100 years before buying and moving homes to new sites became trendy for today’s investors.
This gives Kenwood a quaint unified feeling of community – but without a doubt – still giving us a visible relief from today’s cookie cutter planned neighborhoods.
Historic Kenwood is having a renaissance of personal expression.
Kenwood’s neighborhood renaissance started in the 1990’s. New generations started looking for unique quality homes, a place to put down roots and enjoy making new family and neighborly connections.
Today the people who live in Kenwood are diverse – yet united in their love of the neighborhood.
There’s a rich mix of family types and cultural backgrounds.
It seems like a common point for many Historic Kenwood residents is enjoying a certain quality of life.
It’s a life that includes:
monthly neighborhood porch parties,
gatherings like Pinot in the Park,
twice monthly events for children in Seminole Park
The annual open house event called BungalowFest isn’t just a way great to show off the variety of homes in Historic Kenwood – it’s a nice way to meet neighbors.
The Kenwood section of Central Ave has a lot to offer as well. In June the Gay Pride Festival has 100s of vendors lining the Avenue as it’s closed to traffic.
Artists regularly open their homes to exhibit and sell their work.
Art has become a focus for St Petersburg – and in very specifically in Historic Kenwood.
For decades now artists have been a part of this naturally creative neighborhood culture.
The influx of artists and their perseverance has forged an impressive designation for Kenwood within the city of St Petersburg. Through their diligence and ability to think outside the box – the citizens of Kenwood got the neighborhood demarcated as an “Artist Enclave.”
Built with quality community life in mind.
Charles R. Hall wanted to make sure that he was creating a neighborhood that would have a special family atmosphere. Seminole Park today exists as the location of many community events because Hall donated an entire city block to the city of St. Petersburg to make it happen.
History is repeating itself and Kenwood remains a great place to invest in real estate or settle down in a culturally rich environment.
And the ideas behind how to really enjoy nearby downtown St Petersburg while living in a setting of front porches and yards is flourishing over a hundred years since the first homes were built in Kenwood.
Want to know more?
Let me know in the comments below if you would like me to write an article about St. Petersburg's Artist Districts or Kenwood's Art Enclave.
You can learn more about growing an avocado in your own yard in honor of the original grove along Central Ave in St Petersburg. Maybe even serve it to your neighbors at your own porch party! http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg213
I know a recipe for Avocado Spice Cake that would probably be a hit with your neighbors in Historic Kenwood. The link to it also shares a family’s story about growing the fruit tree in there yard – something that is easy to aspire to in St. Petersburg. http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/avocado-tree-bears-hearty-fruit-after-all-these-years/1247022
I'll also be writing about more about St. Petersburg's historic neighborhoods -
Old North East
Old South East
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