725 18th Ave NE 33704

Then and Now – 1934 & 2022 725 18th Ave NE (North Shore)

From 1934: “This is a beautiful hollow tile construction home with cross ventilation. It is not merely another house, but a home which without sparing expense, every detail has been worked out to make it one of St. Petersburg’s most complete and superb homes in the Northeast section. This is true of the architecture and landscaping as well as the furniture, decorating and arrangement of the interior. It offers every appointment for gracious living. It has southern exposure with large glassed in sun porch, across the front; spacious living room and dining room, breakfast nook, large well arranged kitchen, large bedroom with bath, servants’ quarters with bath; chauffeur’s room; extra lavatory, shower and toilet, large tile patio where one can bask in the sunshine; 2-car garage with stationary sinks. Upstairs the master suite has 13 windows and extends across the entire front of the house, with private bath, two other bedrooms with baths, one has a large sitting room with 10 windows; ½ block from water.”

One of the early owners of this house were Robert and Harriet Mefford. Robert Joshua Mefford was born on June 15, 1856, in Georgetown, Ohio. He was the youngest of 6 children, when he was born his father was 51 and his mother 39.  Robert received his education in the local schools in Georgetown and after graduating at age 16, began working as a farm hand. Realizing that farming wasn’t for him, Robert enrolled at Ohio Wesleyan University, where he graduated with a degree in Law in 1879. While attending college Robert met Ms. Harriet Lamb Platt and on November 23, 1881, the couple were married. Harriet came from a large family, she had 7 brothers and 7 sisters and was the last surviving child when she passed away at the age of 96. It is perhaps surprising that she and Robert had no children of their own.

Robert and Harriet moved to Topeka Kansas where he opened a law practice. Robert became a well-known attorney and was elected land commissioner from 1890 to 1905. When his term was completed, he and Harriet moved to Toledo Ohio where he became a railroad attorney for the next 10 years. In 1915, Robert turned 59, and decided that he was ready to retire from the cold weather in Toledo and move to the sunny south. He and Harriet set their sights on St. Pete, loaded their belongings on the train, and headed south. When Robert and Harriet disembarked the train at the ACL station downtown, they found a small city that was a mere 12 years old, but a city ready to expand and grow at an unprecedented rate.

Robert began to invest his money here in land speculation, a venture that was very profitable for him during the boom years ahead. Both he and Harriet were huge supporters of theater and stage productions in St. Pete and Harriet was the first patron and life member of the St. Pete Little Theatre. She was also a charter member of the St. Pete Woman’s Club and the St. Pete Garden Club. Both were charter members of the St. Pete Yacht Club.

On February 24, 1935, Robert and Harriet were hosting dinner guests at their home, when Robert complained of not feeling well and stood to leave the table. He took a few steps and collapsed dead on the floor. He died at age 79 from an apparent heart attack. Robert’s funeral was handled by Rhodes Funeral Home and services were performed by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. His body was sent to Delaware Ohio where he was laid to rest at the Oak Grove Cemetery. Harriet lived to be 96 years old and passed away on June 21, 1953. Her obituary sang her praises for being one of the biggest supporters of drama, theater and stage in this city. She is buried next to Robert at Oak Grove Cemetery.

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