Then and Now — 1941 & 2023 — 555 20th Ave NE
From 1941: “This Dutch Colonial mansion at 555 twentieth avenue northeast has eight rooms, occupying a corner lot. It features a large sun porch downstairs as well as a large sleeping porch upstairs, and has three bedrooms and two baths.”
This house, built in 1926, was first owned by Max and Ivy Fitz. Max Augustus Henry Fitz was born on December 12, 1880, in Hamburg Germany the youngest of two children. Max grew up in Hamburg and on April 5, 1902 (age 22) married Ms. Antoinette C. Voss. Two months later the couple had a son, Arthur. It is assumed that this was a marriage of necessity and the reason for Max to leave Germany for America in 1904, without his wife and son.
After arriving at Ellis Island with $100 in his pocket, Max made his way to Chicago where a family friend was prepared to receive Max and give him a place to live while he searched for employment. His search ended upon securing a position as a bank clerk in downtown Chicago.
Max was getting settled in and soon met Ms. Ivy Mae Van Dusen, whom he married on September 18, 1905. Max, who was doing well at the bank, and his new wife, Ivy, made their home in Chicago. In about 1908, Max made a return voyage to Hamburg for the purpose of bringing his son Arthur to the states.
In 1911, Max, Ivy and Arthur left the windy city and headed south via train for St. Pete where Max had secured a position at the 1st National Bank as a cashier. It was also in 1911 that Max became a naturalized US citizen. Max and Ivy had three children of their own after arriving in St. Pete, Margarethe (1911), Dorothy (1913) and Max Jr (1924). All their children, including Arthur were graduates of SPHS.
In 1924 Max became Vice President of 1st National Bank and in 1926, President of Union National Insurance Co while also serving at the bank. In 1928, Max was promoted at the bank to Vice-Chairman of the Board, while continuing as VP.
Max and Ivy were very active in the social scene in St. Pete. Max served as Treasurer of St. Pete Masonic Lodge and was a violinist and vocalist performing at the First Universalist Church and the German Club. Ivy was active in the Eureka Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star both holding state level offices in that organization.
In 1932, Max and Ivy decided to sell the house to widow Josephine Sibley Heathcote – daughter of Senator Joseph C Sibley.
Max retired from 1st National Bank in 1939 and he and Ivy decided to leave St. Pete and relocate to Seattle WA. where he would set up a real estate business. Their daughter Margarethe, who was at the time 28, decided not to join her parents, but to stay in St. Pete where she was born.
Max died in Seattle on May 15, 1941, at age 60, and is buried in Acacia Memorial Park Cemetery in Lake Forest Park WA. Ivy passed away October 17, 1950 and is buried next to Max.
Max and Ivy lived in this house for 6 years. It then went to Josephine Sibley who used it as income property, leasing it from 1933 – 1937 to a local physician, Dr. and Mrs. John A. Herring. It was then leased from 1937 – 1941 to Mr. and Mrs Edwin K. Ilgenfritz, Edwin was VP of Florida Power Corp.
Josephine sold the house in 1941 to William E. Wells, owner of a dairy business, who owned it until 1949. From 1951 – 1968 the house was owned by Mr. and Mrs. A G McEachern. From 1968 – 2016, it was owned by the William J Ford family. The Brewer family purchased it in 2016 and kept it until 2021 when they sold to the current owners.
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