345 21st Ave NE 33704

Then and Now — 1929 & 2021 —  345 21st Ave NE

From 1929: “Much time and thought has been given to the building and furnishing of this home as you will see when inspecting it. The grounds are all beautifully shrubbed with various kinds of palms, also bamboo, Italian cypress, and banana plants. At the entrance there is a rose bush patio. The building is magnesite stucco with tile roof. While the outside is attractive, you must see the interior to fully appreciate all of the appointments. The moment you enter the hall you feel as if you were stepping into a foreign home because everything has been built, furnished, and draped to look the part all through. The living room has hand carved furniture, beautiful Oriental rugs, Knabe grand piano, Radiola; draperies are of Russian bleached linens, and the lighting effects are unusual as are the lighting fixtures. The dining room with dome ceiling, wrought iron lighting fixtures, full French doors and adjoining the sunroom adds a charm to the setting. Ascending the winding stairway to the second floor, we have three large bedrooms with two baths. The master bedroom has built in French dresser with specially arranged lighting effects. The sunroom on the second floor overlooks the water and it is of generous size. Selected oak floors throughout and woodwork all hand rubbed. There are many things we must leave out that are just as important, such as steam heating, large fully equipped kitchen, Frigidaire, two-car garage, separate servant’s building. This property cost as it stands $38,500 and we can sell for but $26,000. Sold by Smith & Holbert 476 1st Ave No.”

This house was owned by Dr. and Mrs. Linnaeus Lafreta from 1929 – 1959. Linnaeus Ledford Lafreta was born October 12, 1868, in the District of Columbia to George and Sarah Lafreta, Linnaeus was the eldest of three boys, the youngest died before his first birthday. Linnaeus graduated from Washington High School in 1886. The graduation was held in the Albaugh Opera House on Pennsylvania Avenue and diplomas were handed out by President Grover Cleveland with music being played by the US Marine Band, led by John Philip Sousa. Upon graduating Linnaeus attended medical school and became a medical doctor with his specialty being pediatrics. Linnaeus moved to New York and took up practice with the eminent Dr. Emmet Holt. Dr. Holt and Lafreta collaborated in writing a widely read book on pediatrics.

While in New York Linnaeus met Ann Edith Parsons, who was born in Toronto in 1869, daughter of the well-known Judge, J. Parsons. The couple were married on June 8, 1899, and had one daughter, Helen (Helen died in 1998)

After a stellar career in pediatrics, Dr. & Mrs. Lafreta retired to St. Pete in 1928 where they settled on the purchase of this beautiful house – most likely seeing the picture and reading the above description in the Times.

The Lefretas were members of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, life members and founders of the Bath Club, members of the St. Pete Yacht Club and supported the St. Petersburg Little Theater.

Ann died on October 30, 1959, at the age of 90. Linnaeus died on December 27, 1965, at age 96.

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