1400 Poplar St NE 33704

Then and Now — 1935 & 20231400 Poplar St NE (was 555 14th Ave NE in 1935)

From 1935: “North Shore’s Finest – Living room 15X24, tile kitchen, terrace and sunroom, 2 large bedrooms, 2 tile baths, enclosed needle showers, venetian blinds, excellent hardwood floors, Curtiss millwork throughout, copper and brass pipe throughout. Crane plumbing and heating, aluminum screens, two-way electric wiring. Latest beautiful fixtures. Double garage. 100-foot well for lawn. This home will please the most exacting.”

Dr. Rennie

This house was first owned by Dr. Wesley Hartman Rennie. Wesley was born on December 13, 1876 in Chester Pa., the 4th of 8 children, his father was a machinist. Wesley attended local schools in Chester and graduated in 1892 from South Chester High School. Wesley then entered medical school at Hahnemann Medical School in Philadelphia where he graduated in 1896. Wesley did his internship at several hospitals in New York city. After his internship was completed, he returned to Chester Pa. where he set up a private practice.

In 1903, Wesley decided to join the US Navy as a surgeon and in 1907 was a part of Teddy Roosevelts Goodwill World Tour (as a part of the Great White Fleet). On the warm, cloudy morning of December 16, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet,” a force of sixteen battleships bristling with guns and painted sparkling white, steam out of Hampton Roads, Virginia to begin its 43,000-mile, 14-month circumnavigation of the globe “to demonstrate to the world America’s naval prowess.” The four-mile-long armada’s world tour included 20 port calls on six continents, and is widely considered one of the greatest peacetime achievements of the U.S. Navy.

Wesley spent 2 years in the Philippines before returning to stateside duty in New York. It was after this return to the states that Wesley met Ms. Lita Jaques from Chicago Illinois. The couple became engaged on July 8, 1912 and set a date of November 7, 1912 to be married. Lita’s little sister Marguerite was also engaged, so they decided on a double wedding. Their mother Abbie, was thrilled and began immediately planning what was expected to be “one of the highlight events of the season”. Then on October 30th this article was printed in the local paper. “Mrs. Abbie Jaques died suddenly yesterday evening in the family residence on the eve of the double wedding of her daughters. Invitations to a double service at the residence are to be recalled. It has not yet been determined whether the wedding dates will be postponed or a quiet family service held instead of the large celebration planned by Mrs. Jaques. Apparently, Mrs. Jaques had been in the best of health. She had completed all details for the double wedding. She was in unusually high spirits at dinner. Immediately after dinner her daughters went to the south side to attend another wedding. About 7:30 PM Mrs. Jaques complained of a headache, which grew more severe as the evening wore on. Mr. Jaques called for a physician, but by the time he had reached the residence, Mrs. Jaques was unable to speak and signs of paralysisof the left side had developed. When her daughters returned, they found her unconscious and at 11:30 PM she died. Death was due to a bursting of a blood vessel in the brain. Mrs. Jaques was 65 years old.” The double wedding did go on as planned a week later, but just for immediate family. The family felt it would have been what Mrs. Jaques would have wanted.

On June 13, 1914, Wesley and Lita had their only child, a son who they named John Wesley.

In 1916 Wesley resigned his commission and left the military with the rank of Lt. Commander. He went back to private practice, but the world was on the brink of a world war, and his quiet practice was to again take a back burner. In 1918, Wesley joined the American Red Cross and went to France to serve in the medical corps throughout the war.

After the war ended, Wesley was approached by the Greek government to oversee the organization of an Infant Welfare Board, which position he accepted. In appreciation for his service, he was decorated by the King of Greece. Wesley was then approached by Queen Marie of Rumania to establish a child welfare board in Bucharest, and again he obliged.

Upon his return to the states Wesley opened his practice again, but this time in Philadelphia where he was on staff at Hahnemann Hospital.

Wesley had settled into his medical practice and his life was moving along nicely with his wife, Lita and son, John. Then in late February 1927, Lita came down with pneumonia and her condition progressively worsened. Penicillin wasn’t yet discovered, and Lita died from pneumonia on March 3, 1927.

Lita left a will for her $12,000 estate (worth $207,000 in today’s dollars) which was very clear that the estate would go to Wesley as long as he doesn’t remarry. It stated further that if he does remarry, the estate will go into a trust for their son John. Wesley never did remarry.

John, now 13, was left to be raised in his teen years by his father. Wesley scaled back on his work and spent more time with John. The two began traveling the world when John was on vacation from school. This holiday traveling gave Wesley the travel bug which he never quite got over. Here is a quote from the St. Pete Times about Wesley’s travels.

“Dr. W.H. Rennie, of this city, has the enviable distinction of making two complete circles around the globe. Here’s a summary: He climbed Fujiyama, 12,600 ft. and over the Andes, 16,600 feet, visited five continents, dined in all walks of life, from the small tea house of Japan to princes of the royal family; crossed the equator and went through the Straits of Magellan; has performed major surgery in storms at sea; took care of four ships of Russian wounded in the Japanese-Russo War; took the battleship cruise around the world.”

As a diversion Wesley liked tennis, golf, baseball, hiking and enjoyed music. He was active in social, civic and fraternal organizations and was a member of the Masonic Order.

Dr. Wesley H. Rennie died on March 4, 1961 at age 84 and was buried in Resurrection Episcopal Cemetery in Rockdale, Pa.

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