556 16th Av NE 33704

Then and Now — 1934 & 2022 556 16th Ave NE

From 1934: “Double corner plot, beautifully landscaped. Construction of stucco on inter-locking hollow tile. Costly furnishings with perfect interior and exterior appointments. Large tile terrace on two sides. First floor: Spacious living room, sun room, large dining room, breakfast room, etc. Two-car garage, laundry, servants’ rooms and bath above. Second floor: Master bedroom with lavatory and basin, two large bedrooms, tile bath and shower. Harmonious wall and furniture colorings. Sold by Mann, the Real Estate Mann.”

Robert Lewis

This home was owned by Robert O. Lewis from 1938 until 1964. Robert Oakland Lewis was born on August 23, 1879, in Portage, New York, the 3rd of 5 children, his father was in the lumber business. Robert attended local schools and upon graduation of High School went into the retail merchant business. At age 19 (1898), Robert enlisted in the US Army and served in the Spanish-American War. When he returned from War he settled back in his Merchant position in New York where he met Ms. Ruby L. Waite, and the couple were married on September 16, 1903. They had two children, Gladys (1905) and Charles (1909).

Robert had felt a calling to become an Evangelist and by 1914 had completed studies at the New York Theological Seminary. By 1915 he was working as a full time Evangelist taking part in traveling Revivals. He became associate preacher with the Dr. E.J. Bulgin Revival troop and while on a Revival in Washington Indiana in 1915, Robert came to know Ms. Ethel Johnson, the new pianist and vocal soloist with the Revival troop. Robert and Ethel fell for each other, leading Robert to divorce Ruby and marry Ethel on April 16, 1916 in Washington Indiana, Ethel’s hometown. Robert and Ethel were on the road much of the time with the Evangelist work, so when they had free time they would stay with her parents in Washington, Indiana. By 1930, Robert had divorced Ethel, and was living with his cousin in Schenectady, NY where he was an Evangelist at a local Baptist Church. In 1935, Robert, then 56 years old,  decided to leave the preaching business and move south where he planned to retire and get back into retail business on the side. He choice for residency was St. Pete. When he arrived in St. Pete he opened the Robert Lewis Art Galleries (which included 3 stores which he called – Treasure-Labd; Wonder-Land and Bargain-Land) located at 332 Central Ave.

By 1945 Robert had married again, this time to Ms. Leila Johnson. Robert and Leila were married until her death at age 78 on March 13, 1962. Robert married one last time, at age 83, to Mary Strow Virgin, on July 31, 1964, she was a local Church organist. They were married until his passing on June 8, 1973, he was 94.

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