865 21st Ave N 33704

Then and Now — 1935 & 2022 — 865 21st Ave N

From 1935: “Truly a real Southern home. Faces South. High Elevation. Three bedrooms and sleeping porch upstairs. Large living room with fireplace. Fruit trees (all kinds). Beautiful shrubbery. All city conveniences.”

Jennie Alexander

This house was owned from 1936 until at least 1969 (33+ years) by Mrs. Jean McMahon and her mother Mrs. Jennie Alexander. Jennie, born Jennie Stuart Wilson, on August 29, 1865, in Monongahela, PA. married William Herron Alexander, a very successful banker in Monongahela, on June 21, 1888. They had one daughter, born on June 6, 1891, who they named Jean. The McMahon family was well respected in Monongahela and Jean grew up in an idyllic surrounding.

Jean McMahon

Jean received her early schooling in Philadelphia at Baldwin School, a girls school started in 1888, by Florence Baldwin. After graduating from Baldwin, Jean attended Smith College where she graduated with a Bachelors Degree, and then received her Master’s Degree at University of Chicago.

Jean returned to Monongahela and in 1920 (at age 28) met a young 19 year old teller at her father’s bank named John Hamilton McMahon, who was a very enterprising employee. The couple fell in love and on October 6, 1920, were married. They had two sons, John Alexander McMahon (1921) and William Wallace McMahon (1924).

The stock market crash of 1929 was the ruin of many a family, and few escaped its pressures unscathed. The Alexander family wasn’t spared. William Herron Alexander, who had been so respected in his community as the local banker, could not cope with the financial loss and the loss of self-esteem. He ended his life at home on October 4, 1931, from a single gunshot to the head. Jean’s marriage was also on rocky ground, and the couple decided to separate, but remained married for several years, most likely for the benefit of their two young sons. After the boys reached their 18th birthdays, the couple divorced, Jean never married again.

Once the estate was settled following William’s untimely death, Jennie, along with Jean and her two young sons, packed their bags and caught the train for St. Pete. Once established here, they purchased this featured home (1936). The boys were both St. Pete High graduates. Both attended Duke University after graduating High School and both were affected by WWII.

John Alex McMahon

Alex attended OCS at Harvard and received his commission as a Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.

William ‘Wally’ McMahon

Wally, as he was called, went into the paratroopers, and was wounded on January 7, 1944. Both survived the war, finished their educations, were married, and raised families.

Jennie Alexander died on September 23, 1948, at the age of 82. Jean stayed in the house until at least 1969. She ultimately moved to Pittsburgh to be near her youngest son, Wallace. Jean died on October 5, 1991, she was 100 years old.

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