404 Sunset Dr S 33707

Then and Now — 1929 & 2021404 Sunset Drive So. (Pasadena)

This Spanish style house is constructed of hollow tile and stucco. 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, 30X30 Living room, hardwood floors, on Boca Ciega Bay with dock access. It was designed and built by Samuel Nathan Merhige and has been known for years as the ‘Merhige House’.

Samuel Nathan Merhige was born on April 9, 1899 in Manhattan New York and moved in 1909 to St. Petersburg with his family. Sam’s father, Nahoon, a native of Syria, opened the first import shop in St. Pete. His name is listed among the 600 early settlers on the bronze plaque in Pioneer Park. Nahoon’s first shop in St. Pete was inside the Floronton Hotel.

When Sam was 21 a young Lebanese girl, Meta Japour, who was at that time 17 years old, had just moved with her family to St. Pete from Jacksonville. Sam and Meta hit it off and on October 19, 1923, the two were married. The following year they had a son, Samuel Jr., who died before his first birthday. In 1927 another child was born, a daughter, Mary Ann, who died on December 3, 1938, she was 11 and a student at North Ward Elementary. She had been ill for many months prior to passing. In 1939 they had their third child, Gloria Elizabeth, whose life was also cut short when she died on February 2, 1944, at age 4. All three children, Samuel Jr., Mary Ann, and Gloria are buried at Royal Palm South Cemetery in St. Pete. Sam and Meta had two more children, Lynn and Leidia. Lynn Merhige is a local artist who has a gallery at 216 4th St. No. in St. Pete. Leidia lives in Coral Gables.

For many years Sam operated ‘Merhige’s Ready to Wear’ on Central Ave. and Lady Fashion on 4th Street No. He owned and operated the Orange Blossom Cafeteria, which he later sold to cousins, the Shamas family. Sam enjoyed designing and building homes and businesses. He designed this house at 404 Sunset Drive in the Mediterranean Villa style. Meta once stated that “We always had large homes” explaining that many rlatives visited the family and later followed them to St. Pete.

Sam and Meta sold this house on Sunset Drive in the early 1930’s to Mr. & Mrs. Walter L. Felch, from Natick Massachusetts, who lived in it throughout the 30’s.

Samuel Merhige died August 31, 1978, at age 79 and was buried next to his three small children at Royal Palm Cemetery. Meta passed away at age 91 on September 16, 1994. She was laid to rest next to Sam at Royal Palm Cemetery.

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