Dave Tennant and Maggie Walker fell in love with the Jungle area of St. Petersburg more than 50 years ago. • They were students at St. Petersburg Junior College (now St. Petersburg College) when the Jungle area was the trendy hangout for students. They would flock to the shores of Boca Ciega Bay on weekends to listen to music and dance or just socialize with friends.
So naturally it was the area they gravitated to in 1967, after they had gotten married and finished their studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
They chose a lot facing the bay on which to build a house they designed themselves — mostly by looking at magazines, Maggie Tennant said. They hired Ernie Reese, who had built other homes in the area, to create the house of their dreams.
"Willamsburg Spanish," Maggie Tennant said, smiling at her husband. "It means nothing, but it's what we call it, because we were going to stick with just a couple of colors, white walls and dark wood … "
Well, there's lots of wood — beams and railings and furniture — but there also are lots of warm colors like the red brick floors and the two brick fireplaces at each end of the house.
The house, cozy enough to be a mountain retreat in Maine or Colorado, never really looked like a new house, they said.
Everyone told them it looked as if it had always been there. It winds and meanders for more than 3,500 square feet — through the original house and two later additions, a sunroom across the front, and an added room with a fireplace that turned the kitchen into a great room.
The master bedroom is downstairs, and two other bedrooms and a family room are upstairs, not unlike floor plans of new houses today. It had a garage, but Dave Tennant turned it into a woodworking shop.
While they aren't on the bay side of the street, they said they had a beautiful view of the water for about 15 years until the old house across the street was sold and torn down to make room for two large houses that block their view.
For the uninitiated, the "Jungle" is broken into two major areas: Jungle Terrace, which runs from 22nd to 38th avenues N and from the bay to 66th Street N, and Jungle Prada, just south of that.
Jungle Terrace has a wide range of home prices. There are big, expensive homes west of Park Street, in a subsection called Jungle Shores, and small, inexpensive block homes east of Park, many of which can be purchased for less than $100,000.
Jungle Prada is the more upscale area just south of Jungle Terrace. It's the location of the shopping center/nightclub of the same name, allegedly once owned in part by gangster Al Capone; and also the swanky St. Petersburg Golf Club (later, Jungle Golf Club), whose main clubhouse is now Admiral Farragut Academy.
Patti Ewald can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8746.