Then and Now — 1925 & 2022 — 665 14th Ave NE
From 1925: “There is nothing in North Shore to compare with this Spanish home of rare charm and beauty. Solidly constructed of hollow tile and stucco with tile roof, hardwood floors, cross ventilated rooms, furnace heat, many surprising conveniences, and innovations from the ordinary conventional type of house. Complete furnishings, expensive and in good taste. Draperies from New York City, abd hardware of wrought iron in keeping with Spanish Architecture. Large living room with fireplace, dining room, kitchen, butler’s pantry, servants’ room with bath, additional toilet and lavatory off living room; second floor has master bedroom with tile bath and private sun porch, 3 other well ventilated bedrooms and tile bath; unusual, screened porch with tile floor open on three sides; another tile porch suitable for breakfast or tea. Large garage with laundry trays and toilet. The outstanding feature of this home are the two private patios – one a formal garden with lighted fountain and benches – the other for the children with playhouse, etc. The grounds are most carefully landscaped and have a south frontage on the avenue of 90 feet. The whole property is correct in every detail.”
This house was owned originally by J. Kennedy and Jimmye Block. Jefferson Kennedy Block was born on January 31, 1892, in Wynne Arkansas and raised by his grandparents, although his parents were still living. After graduating High School Jefferson started using ‘J. Kennedy Block’ as his name, perhaps a nod to his grandparents whose last name was Kennedy.
J. Kennedy moved to Chicago in 1912 where he began selling bonds. It was here that he met Ms. Jimmye Delashmet and were wed on October 25, 1915. The couple had one child in 1917, a son, Jefferson Kennedy Jr. Being the sole provider for his family exempted J. Kennedy from having to serve in WWI.
In 1922 the couple decided to leave the harsh north and make their way to the sunny south, landing in St. Pete. J. Kennedy immediately went into the real estate and development business. In 1925 he and his wife purchased this featured home.
The 1925 Tourist News said of J. Kennedy Block…”he is a picture of ceaseless activity and energy, a man who is a developer by nature, it seems, and a born merchant.”
J. Kennedy was best remembered for developing Rio Vista in 1924 but is also remembered for opening the Remo Club on Weedon Island in 1925. Walter P. Fuller once said about the Remo Club “that it took three guides and an interpreter to find your way there, even when sober.”
By the late 1920’s the boom went bust and Rio Vista along with the Remo Club, lost financing and were sold at auction.
J. Kennedy Blocker and his family left St. Pete and were not heard from again. Research did not find anything of his life after leaving town.
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