515 13th Ave NE 33701

Then and Now – 1923 & 2021 515 13th Ave NE

From 1923: “This hollow tile, stucco home in exclusive section. Southern exposure and homes of equally fine character on each side make this a splendid investment. Three bedrooms and tiled bath up-stairs, one bedroom and bath down stairs. Nice front porch and a beautiful all glass enclosed sunroom. Two car garage is also most substantial hollow tile construction, and the grounds are beautifully shrubbed. 60 X 110 Lot. $13, 500.”

This home was originally purchased in 1923 by Arthur L. Johnson and his wife Jessie. They had purchased it as an investment and after about 10 years they sold it.

Arthur L. Johnson was born in Camden New Jersey on April 29, 1875, a son of a Baptist minister. Besides ministering, Arthur’s father ran a family farm where Arthur worked long hours as a young boy. The family moved to Norwich, New York where Arthur’s great-grandfather owned nearly all the land the city of Norwich was then located on. Arthur was educated in the schools of Norwich and later attended Colgate University. After graduating Arthur met Ms. Jessie Nash and the two were married in 1901. They had one son, Arthur Nash Johnson. Arthur went into the clothing business with Jessie’s brother.

In 1906 Arthur and Jessie moved to St. Pete where he opened a small clothing business on Central Avenue near 4th Street. Business was good, and his service was better, and as a result his business was a phenomenal success, making it necessary for him to expand and change locations on several occasions. From his first location he moved to Central Ave just below 3rd Street, where for 14 years he had the largest floor space of any men’s store in Florida. In 1922 he moved to 428 Central.

Arthur was very active in civic affairs in the city, being one of the first members of the Library and Advertising Commission and was active in getting the Carnegie Library located here. In 1912 he put on a contest to increase Chamber of Commerce membership which took the numbers from 127 to 850 members in 2 weeks’ time. Arthur was vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce for three terms. In 1917 Arthur originated and put on the first Festival of States in St. Pete which he designed, as he claimed, to be a cross between Mardi Gras, Gasparilla and the Tournament of Roses. Arthur was one of the organizers of the YMCA here in St. Pete and was the first president of the Board of Trustees. He was a charter member of the St. Pete Yacht Club and held office there as Vice Commander and later as Commander. During his term as Commander the membership rose from 350 to 650.

Arthur was a Trustee at the Congregational Church.

Arthur retired on June 1, 1941, and his 35-year store was dissolved. At the time of his retirement, he was credited with having been active in business longer than any other person in St. Pete.

Arthur died October 21, 1944, at the age of 69 and was laid to rest in Memorial Park Cemetery in St. Pete. Jessie lived on until June 30, 1961, when she passed away at age 81. She is interred next to Arthur at Memorial Park.

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