A SHORT HISTORY OF HISTORIC KENWOOD
The Kenwood Historic District is a 375-acre residential area best known for its historic bungalows with architecture typical of St. Petersburg in the 1920s through the 1950s. A housing survey completed in 1995 identified 1104 structures in Historic Kenwood. Of these, 95 percent are considered contributing structures to our official entry in the National Registry of Historic Places. Although almost 100 years have passed since the original development of Historic Kenwood, very few homes have been destroyed and most renovations have kept the architectural integrity of the original structures intact.
DEVELOPMENT THROUGH THE 1930S
The Kenwood neighborhood was initially developed by Charles R. Hall, who in 1913 built 10 houses on Central Avenue for a combined cost of $30,000. At that time, the nearby area was an avocado grove. The housing in Historic Kenwood is typical of early St. Petersburg development. The area has one of the highest concentrations of 1920s Craftsman style bungalows in Florida. Most have two bedrooms, with some larger three or four bedroom houses scattered throughout the neighborhood. Most Kenwood homes were built on site during the early 1920s. But during the mid-1930s, approximately 170 were moved to this area having been displaced from downtown. True to the age of the area, Historic Kenwood features brick streets, large trees, and garages facing alleys. Most of the historic homes in our neighborhood have original hardwood floors, fireplaces and large windows with lots of natural light. The neighborhood contains a variety of residential architectural styles including Frame and Masonry Vernacular, Craftsman Bungalow, Minimal Traditional, Tudor Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Colonial Revival, Ranch, Prairie, American Foursquare, Dutch Colonial Revival, Mission, and International. While many styles are evident, bungalows of some sort (typically Craftsman) constitute over 50 percent of the homes. St. Petersburg High School (1926), listed on the National Register of Historic Places, sits in the heart of Historic Kenwood along 5th Avenue North.
DECLINE DURING THE 1950S TO 1970S
As was the case with many inner city areas, the neighborhood fell into neglect beginning in the 1950s. Interstate 275 was built in the 1970s, forming Historic Kenwood's eastern boundary. U.S. Route 19 (34th Street), which forms the western boundary, became more commercial during this time. The traditional "mom and pop" businesses on the southern boundary along Central Avenue declined.
David McDaniel remembers growing up in the neighborhood, click here.
Barbara Thomas and Roy Adams remember growing up in Historic Kenwood in a video.
REVITALIZATION BEGINNING IN THE 1990S STILL GOING STRONG
In 1990, there was a resurgence in the area with the formation of the current neighborhood association. Urban pioneers initiated a strong neighborhood revival in both Historic Kenwood and the adjoining Grand Central District. The City began to view events in Historic Kenwood as a model for how to successfully restore a friendly neighborhood atmosphere. Since then, the facades of many homes have been restored by removing aluminum and vinyl siding, opening front porches to greet neighbors, refinishing hardwood floors and custom built-in cabinets and restoring hardware and decor to period. These efforts reached a milestone when Historic Kenwood received its historic status from the National Register on August 4, 2003. Then on October 14th, 2014 we recieved our Artist Enclave overlay district status by City Council. The revitalization effort remains strong today, as many historic homes and businesses continue to be beautifylly restored. (See them in the Photo Gallery.)
ST. PETERSBURG NEIGHBOROOD SURVEY, PHASE III
Judith L. Kitchen, Architectural Historian
This project was undertaken to identify, research and prepare all pre—1945 properties in the neighborhood of the City of St. Petersburg known as Kenwood, specifically the area of the city bounded by Interstate I-275 on the east, 1st Avenue N on the south, 34th Street N on the East and 9th Avenue N on the north. This neighborhood is known as one of the historic residential areas of the city, and specific information was needed about its properties prior to making any decisions regarding Kenwood's eligibility for local listing, or listing on the National Register of Historic Places, possibly as a historic district, or as individual buildings or groups of buildings within the boundaries. What is now known as Historic Kenwood was since added to the National Register of Historic places. Please click the following link to read the entire report. One very interesting note: check out how many homes were moved into the area. This survey also shows which homes were moved into the neighborhood from someplace else.