320 13th Ave N. 33701

Then and Now — 1950 & 2024 — 320 13th Ave No.

From 1950: “The Wirth Guest Home and Apartments: As Good As The Best. Large screened-in living porch. Nice patio with comfortable chairs to relax and sunbathe. Comfortable living room. Clean rooms with excellent twin beds, also double beds. Private and semi-private bath. Steam heated rooms. Private parking spaces, Churches, and Yankee training ground. Bus ½ block away. Arthur and Dorothy Wirth”

This 1925 house with seven bedrooms, six baths and three car garage was purchased in 1950 from Frank and Viola Dombrowski by Arthur and Dorothy Wirth, for the purpose of opening a Guest House. They ran this guest house for at least 10 years.

Arthur Fred Wirth was born on January 27, 1900, in Joliet Illinois, the 3rd of 4 children, his father worked in the local Wire Mill. Fred attended school in Joliet through the 8th grade when he left to begin working on a farm near his home. Not wanting to do farm work, Arthur took a job with the telephone company in 1920, while he was living at a boarding house in Joliet. It was during this time that he met Ms. Ruth A. Foster, and the couple was soon married. On October 15, 1920, they had their first child, Vivian Ruth, and in 1922, their second, a son, John.

Dorothy Batson Wirth

The marriage, however, didn’t last and Arthur and Ruth divorced. Arthur left the telephone company and took a job in a grocery store. The owner, Dorothy Batson Osmus, was herself a recent divorcee and the couple began a romance that led to their wedding in 1940. By 1945, they decided that they had had enough of the harsh winters in Joliet and decided to sell the grocery store and move to the Sunshine City. They packed their belongings and started the drive south.

When they arrived in St. Pete, Arthur found work as a salesman at a Citrus Company while Dorothy started to look around town and see what prospects were available to her. She saw a need in the post war years for apartments and decided to purchase a home and open a ‘guest house’. Their first purchase was a home at 112 10th Ave No, which had six bedrooms and three baths. This home worked well for a start, but they soon found that they needed a larger facility and found this featured house at 320 13th Ave No. which had seven bedrooms and six baths.

The Wirth Guest House was a success, and as can be seen from the postcard at the bottom of the picture, it was often fully booked for the season.  Arthur assisted with the house but in 1956 decided to take a position working for the Pinellas County Commission as a dredge and fill inspector. He held this position until 1960 when he resigned after it was announced that a favorite of one of the commissioners was going to take his place.

In 1962 Arthur made an unsuccessful run for the School Board and soon after was contacted by the Pinellas County Commission and offered his old job back, there being a new vacancy and he being the best qualified and most experienced. He accepted the job and worked for the county for a total of ten years before retiring.

Arthur and Dorothy were both active in the local Republican Party Club, which had over 750 members, and both served as treasurer at different times.

The Guest House was in business until at least 1967.

Arthur died on October 6, 1979, at age 79, and was buried in Maplewood Cemetery in New Lenox, Illinois. Dorothy lived another 16 years, passing away in 1995, at age 97. She is buried next to Arthur.

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