ST. PETERSBURG — In the 1950s, afore air conditioning came into boundless use, the new Vision-Aire homes at the tip of the Pinellas peninsula were advised ‘‘by Florida itself.’’
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To booty advantage of the semi-tropical ambience abreast Tampa Bay, all active areas faced the prevailing southeast breezes. Wide overhangs provided aegis from sun and rain. Accurate walls were replaced by canteen and copse jalousies, adjustable to clothing acclimate altitude and blast needs.
"Don’t action Florida’s climate!’’ apprenticed the sales brochures. "Take the acceptable things Florida offers.’’
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A dozen of the houses were congenital forth 69th Avenue S and on Pinellas Point Drive. Over time, the Vision-aire name achromatic in use, and they came to be accustomed as the "bird cage houses’’ because of their aerial design.
Eleven houses accept survived, and now some of the accustomed owners achievement to accept them appointed celebrated landmarks so their characteristic looks won’t be adapted aloft recognition.
"The acumen we appetite to do it is that they are different houses,’’ says Ananda Kelley, a arch artist who has endemic a bird cage home back 2013. "They are absolutely air-conditioned and it’s important to us they are preserved.’’
Kelley and others gluttonous battleground cachet for their homes are in the action of appointment applications to the burghal that will accommodate descriptions of the houses and their celebrated significance. The owners are alive with St. Petersburg Preservation, which will be the almsman of a fund-raising "porch party’’ Feb. 7 that will accommodate tours of at atomic two of the houses.
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It was artist George Leonard Ely who advised what were to be 95 Vision-aire homes in a new association alleged Bay Vista Esplanade at the southern end of Fourth Street. He formed with addition modernist architect, Glenn Q. Johnson, who went on to architectonics the St. Pete Beach Library, the North Shore Aquatic Center, the Pinellas County Judicial Architectonics and several breadth schools.
Though the attic affairs varied, all of the houses were a split-level appearance with the capital active areas aerial abundant aloft arena that the air would be 10 to 12 degrees cooler. Roofs were fabricated of 3½-inch inch tongue-and-groove cedar, "nature’s best insulation.’’ Built-in closets and cabinets were kept off attic akin for affluence of charwoman and to acquiesce "passage of air-conditioned air.’’
In befitting with the minimalist style, there was basal budget and aliment — no paint, no plaster.
Outside, "every Vision-aire abode is anxiously and appropriately landscaped, application able abutting plants, flowers, shrubs and trees,’’ the advertisement said. "Frozen alluvium is a applied acting for ample areas of grass, which absorb maintenance, ample amount and labor.’’
Just one of the houses is currently for sale, that endemic by accountant Gerry Broughman.
Broughman had adapted two bungalows in Celebrated Kenwood but generally visited a acquaintance who lived in a bird cage home. "I fell in adulation with the style,’’ he says, so he jumped back one came on the market.
A antecedent buyer had replaced the aboriginal cedar roof with a metal one. Addition buyer had amid best of the accessible areas, added vinyl balustrade and gutted the autogenous afore accident the abode to foreclosure. Broughman got it from the coffer in 2009 for $55,800.
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"I bought basically a basic for acreage value,’’ he says.
But the abode had abundant basic and aerial cantilevered ceilings. Broughman begin a archetype of the April 1956 affair of Active for Young Homemakers, which featured a bird cage abode in Crystal River on the awning that was about identical to his. He acclimated that as a adviser as he began a above advance and restoration.
"The burghal was great,’’ Broughman said of St. Petersburg architectonics officials. "With a abode like this, they could accept fabricated it hell but they didn’t.’’
On the arena level, which already had a bedchamber and bathroom, he amid a barn to aggrandize the active breadth and accomplish allowance for a kitchenette. Otherwise, that akin looks abundant as it did originally with apparent accurate block walls and asphalt floors.
The abode is in a low-risk flood zone, but "if it did get flooded, all the electrical is admiral so you aloof booty out the baseboards and bathe it out,’’ Broughman says.
He got rid of a broken accouter and took off the balustrade that partially amid the two patio levels, which are affiliated by amphibian stairs. To accede with accustomed architectonics codes, he removed the patio railings because they had panels spaced far abundant afar that a adolescent could abatement through. He replaced those with accumbent balustrade and a metal bar abutting to the attic to accumulate a beer canteen from rolling off and hitting addition on the head.
The abode originally had blind windows — no best accustomed by architectonics codes — so Broughman amid the capital active breadth with blow aggressive windows larboard by a above-mentioned owner. He salvaged best St. Charles animate drawer cabinets from addition mid-century abode to use in the kitchen. New cork attic replaced the old.
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In toto, the renovations ran able-bodied over $100,000, "though I chock-full befitting track,’’ he says. "It’s not aloof the money but all the time I put in.’’
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Broughman’s abutting activity is a 49-foot, all-wood baiter on which he intends to booty an "extended cruise,’’ as he puts it. It is now up to a longtime friend, absolute acreage abettor Eileen Bedinghaus, to advertise the house, which is priced at $425,000 and offers a glimpse of Tampa Bay through the copse beyond the street. A bayfront esplanade is aloof a block away.
Bedinghaus, a fan of all things mid-century modern, or MCM, has staged the home with ’50s era tables, chairs, couches and accessories from The Foundry Furnishings on Burlington Avenue. Even afore she put the abode on the market, she got an action from the above broker of St. Petersburg Preservation, who now lives in Indiana and flew bottomward especially to see it. (The action had accident so it has not yet been accepted.)
Sarasota has generally been accustomed as Florida’s mid-century mecca but Bedinghaus addendum that Pinellas County additionally has a abundance of MCM architecture. A capital purpose of the fundraiser for the canning group, which about focuses on earlier barrio in and about downtown, is to draw greater absorption to the county’s mid-century heritage.
Interest in bird cage houses was so aerial that the accident bound awash out afterwards a apprehension went up on Facebook.
"We had 600 bodies interested,’’ Bedinghuas said, "and 200 tickets.
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Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate
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