917 38th Ave N 33704

Then and Now —  1932 & 2022 — 917 38th Ave No. (Allendale)

From 1932: “Distinctive – Luxurious – Complete: High elevation, gorgeous surrounding properties, a truly aristocratic home in every sense of the word. Mediterranean architecture, hollow tile and stucco construction with not the slightest blemish or mark of wear, inside or out, to mar its beauty. Large living room, cozy den, dining room, breakfast room, tiled kitchen, pantry and service porch, tiled sun porch facing south and east and a tiled bath complete the ground floor; master’s bedroom with private tile bath and three other bedrooms and bath complete the second floor; oak floors throughout; delicately tinted, oil painted walls; Arcola hot water heat. FURNISHINGS, complete in every detail, from draperies and rugs to beautiful suites of furniture, specially constructed for this particular home and are the acme of good taste. Unusually large grounds; 2-car garage with laundry trays. An ideal Florida home priced at a figure that will make you reach for your checkbook.”

This home was owned from 1942 – 1996 (54 years) by John and Letha Rhodes. John Serena Rhodes was born on July 24, 1896 in McKeesport, PA., the eldest of four children. After attending local schools in his hometown, John attended, and graduated from, Eccles (Eckels) College of Embalming in Philadelphia. Upon graduating mortuary school, John went to work as an undertaker and he opened his first establishment in Pittsburgh. In the early 1920’s John married Ms. Anna Beckman, also of McKeesport, and the couple had two children, John Jr (1926) and Betty Ann (1930). John sold his Pittsburgh business in 1922 and he and Anna moved to St. Pete. In 1925 they opened the John S. Rhodes funeral business in St. Pete, which was in business until 2005, when it finally closed its doors. It was reported in a Times article that John rented his first building from the Brother-in-law of Al Capone.

In 1935 John and Anna were divorced (she remained in St. Pete for the rest of her life, passing away on Jan. 26, 1994, at the age of 95). John met Ms. Letha Fender and the couple were married on September 9, 1936. They had two children, Robert (c. 1940) and William (c. 1944). Letha became very involved in the funeral business and served as Vice-President.

John and Letha purchased this featured house in 1942 and raised their children there. John was very active professionally, civically, and socially, he was a member of Rotary (he was President in 1943), and the St. Pete Motor Club (he was President from 1941 – 1945).  John was state president of the Florida Funeral Directors Association in 1930, he was instrumental in introducing legislation designed to correct the evils of burial insurance, and in 1936 he became president of the National Funeral Directors Association. John had served as a director of the St. Pete Chamber of Commerce and the Cripple Children’s Hospital. He was on the Board of Trustees at First Congregational Church and a member of St. Pete Masonic Lodge No. 139, a 32-degree Mason and a Shriner. He was also a member of the St. Pete Elks Lodge No 1224, the Knights of Pythias, and the Lakewood Country Club. He was a member of the St. Pete Yacht Club, Committee of 100 and the St. Pete Quarterback Club.

John died on October 27, 1973, at the age of 77. He is buried in Royal Palm South Cemetery in St. Pete. Letha lived in this house until 1994 when she moved to Hendersonville, NC where she passed away on September 28, 2001, at the age of 95. She is buried next to John in Royal Palm Cemetery. The house was sold by the family trust in 1996.

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