138 16th Ave N 33704

Then and Now — 1936 & 2023138 16th Ave N

From 1936: “Two-story Colonial nicely furnished home. Three bedrooms, sleeping porch, bath, up; large front porch, living room, kitchen, breakfast room, sunroom, down. Double garage. Sold by Upham Co. Realtors, $6800.”

This 1925 home was purchased in 1943 by Elbert and Freeda Matthews from Carl Shockley, who was in the Real Estate business locally.

Elbert Hardin Matthews was born on December 20, 1904, in Rock Creek Texas, the 3rd of 10 children, his father a farmer. Elbert was an astute student, receiving his schooling in local schools. After graduating High School Elbert decided that farm life was not his calling, so decided to attend North Texas State Teachers College in Denton. Elbert decided upon a degree in education and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1927. Elbert went on to earn a master’s degree from George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville.

While attending Peabody college, Elbert met Ms. Freeda Byrom, a resident of St. Pete and graduate of SPHS and SPJC. Freeda was working on her bachelor’s degree in Education and struck up a romance with Elbert which culminated in their marriage on December 21, 1931 (during the winter holidays) in St. Pete, at the home of Freeda’s parents (936 15th Ave So.)

Elbert and Freeda had two daughters, Mary Ann (1934) and Linda Jane (1940). Both would later graduate from SPHS.

Mary Ann
Linda Jane

Elbert was hired by the Graham Texas school board to start a new Junior High School (Shawnee Junior High) and serve as its Principal. On May 8, 1937, Elbert was granted a leave of absence from Shawnee Junior High School and made his way with Freeda and their baby, Mary, to St. Pete. No doubt Freeda’s parents were overjoyed with having their granddaughter in the same town.

Elbert did not continue in education in St. Pete, but rather went into real estate sales, at which he succeeded greatly. He immediately joined the local Rotary and served as its President in 1955.

Elbert and Freeda found St. Pete to be a wonderful place to raise their girls and in 1943 purchased this featured house, living in it for 31 years.

The Matthews family was active in civic, religious, and service organizations. They were members of First United Methodist Church, where he was a trustee and treasurer, he was a former board member of the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. He was a charter member of the Committee of 100, member of the St. Pete Yacht Club and Chamber of Commerce. Fraternally, he was a Freemason.

Elbert died on September 26, 1974, at age 69. Freeda lived another 20 years, passing away on September 19, 1994, at age 84. Both are buried in Royal Palm Cemetery In St. Pete.

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