Then and Now — 1938 & 2023 — 438 Villa Grande Ave So
From a 1940 Sales Ad: “One of the best designed and constructed new houses in St. Petersburg. Beautiful surroundings, spacious lawn with sprinkler and a house that will appeal to the most exacting. The owner spared no expense in the construction. We cannot adequately describe the many unusual features built in for your convenience. It consists of 1 bedroom and a complete tile bathroom downstairs, an extra lavatory wand wash bowl. Also, a reception room, living room, dining room, kitchen, electrically equipped and air-conditioned with rubber tile floor. Oil furnace in basement. Every room is heated. A circular stairway takes you upstairs to 2 large, well-ventilated bedrooms with cedar closets and a complete tile bathroom (beautiful tile work). In addition, there is a 2-car garage with laundry tubs. A nice patio. Steel casement windows. Tile roof. If you appreciate beauty, symmetry, and fine workmanship you should see this house. Contractor, E.N. Staples, will be there to explain construction and various features.”
This house was built by E.N. Staples, local contractor/designer, and builder. Edward Nelson Staples was born on June 30, 1893, in Taunton, Massachusetts, the eldest of six children, his father worked in a silver shop. Edward received his schooling in Taunton and at age 16 dropped out of school to become an apprentice at the silver shop where his father worked.
While working at the silver shop, young Edward met Ms. Ethel Irene MacInnes (also from Taunton) and the couple struck up a relationship and began dating. On January 10, 1915, the couple were married and set up housekeeping in Taunton.
When the US entered WWI, Edward signed up for the US Army and was stationed in Springfield Ma., where the Army took advantage of his training in the metallurgic field and assigned him as a drop forger and die sinker. After the war, Edward took a job in the Detroit auto industry working as a die caster but wasn’t very excited about the harsh winters. In 1921, he and Ethel escaped the winter in Detroit and spent the time here in the Sunshine City. This winter trip to our town was all it took for them to decide that they were going to make this their permanent home. They packed their northern belongings and moved to St. Pete permanently in 1922.
In 1926, Edward and Ethel had their only child, Lois.
The boom was just beginning, and Edward saw the need for new home construction and began a building firm, the E.N. Staples Building Co. located at 3700 1st Ave No. Edward’s company survived the market crash and he continued to build homes until his death from a heart attack on February 24, 1958, at age 64. Edward is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in St. Pete. Funeral services were rendered by Nitram Masonic Lodge where Edward was an active member. At his passing, Edward was serving as Vice-President of Home Federal Savings and Loan and was a life member of the Pinellas County Contractors and Builders Association. Other local organizations he belonged to included the Yacht Club, Quarterback Club, Shriners and Grotto.
Ethel passed away on December 14, 1983, in Myrtle Beach. She was buried next to Edward at Memorial Park.
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