783 24th Ave N 33704

Then and Now — 1936 & 2023 783 24th Ave N

One of the earliest owners of this 5 room bungalow was Jacob and Maggie Niffenegger who purchased the house in the early 1930’s.

Jacob J. Niffenegger was born in Burgdorf Switzerland on June 7, 1865, the eldest of 8 children. Jake, as he was called, immigrated to the US with his family in 1880, when he was 15. His family settled in South Haven Michigan, where Jake would spend his entire life (except for his wintering years in St. Pete).

Jake received his schooling in South Haven and after graduating High School took up entrepreneurial endeavors. He started buying and selling property and buildings and was soon making a sizable income, and purchased the local ‘Coal and Ice Co.”

In 1906, Jake married Ms. Margarethe F. Lavan, a Canadian who went by the name ‘Maggie’. Jake and Maggie were married at Maggie’s home in Ontario, then made their residence back in South Haven. They had four children, Jacob Jr (1906), Mary (1908), Leslie (1912 – who died at age 1 from cholera), and Henry (1915).

Jake’s business ventures were growing as was his desire to become a US citizen. In 1917, Jake and Maggie both became naturalized US citizens.

In 1926, Jake’s younger brother Fred, and his family, had begun spending their winters in St. Pete to escape the harsh weather back in Michigan, and it wasn’t long until Fred convinced Jake to follow his example. So, in 1928, Jake and Maggie started wintering in the Sunshine City. In 1930, Jake purchased a retail lumber company in South Haven adding to the businesses he already owned and operated. It was at this time that he and Maggie decided to purchase this featured home in St. Pete for their annual trek south.

Jake was active in South Haven politics and served on the City Council several years. He was an active member of the Freemasons in South Haven and helped build their ‘new’ Masonic Lodge in 1913 (Star of the Lake No. 158).

It is unclear what changed Jake and Maggie’s mind about our fair city, but in 1936 they sold the house to Mr. and Mrs. Michael Madsen. There is no record of Jake and Maggie coming back to St. Pete again.

Maggie died on December 27, 1952 at age 78 and was buried in Lakeview Cemetery in South Haven. Jake died on February 1, 1954, age 88 and is buried next to Maggie.

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