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Ask the Times: Weedon Island, Christian Mingle

Weedon "Island"?

Is Weedon Island really an island? And if not, why is it called one?

For help answering this, we turned to noted historian Ray Arsenault, who is the John Hope Franklin professor of Southern history and program adviser of the Florida Studies Program at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Weedon Island is not an island, Arsenault said, though there have been times in the early 1900s, especially during high tide, when it might have been one. But today it's a peninsula, firmly attached to land just south of Derby Lane in northeast St. Petersburg.

It got its name from its owner, Dr. Leslie Weedon, in the late 1890s. Arsenault said it was not uncommon in the real estate development heyday of Florida to label peninsulas as islands if it increased the land's saleability. That was certainly what developer Eugene Elliott was hoping for when he bought the property in 1923 from Weedon.

Elliott had dreams of turning the island into the "Florida Riviera," Arsenault said. When things weren't happening quickly enough, Elliott tried to drum up interest by burying "artifacts" in some mounds on the property, and then calling the Smithsonian Institution to investigate. J. Walter Fewkes arrived and found the planted items, but also discovered other mounds that contained authentic artifacts dating back several thousand years. Fewkes wrote about his findings, calling it the "Weeden Island culture," though he misspelled the name.

When the real estate boom went bust, Elliott lost the land to foreclosure, and Weedon became home to, at various times, a speakeasy, an airport and a movie studio, where several movies were filmed.

In the mid 1950s, Florida Power bought most of Weedon Island and built a power plant. In 1972 Weedon Island was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1974 the state bought what land Florida Power didn't own, and eventually the Weedon Island Preserve was created. Most of this information and more can be found on pages 197 and 198 of Arsenault's book, St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream, 1888-1950.

ChristianMingle.com

Who started and owns www. ChristianMingle.com? I see their TV ads all the time.

ChristianMingle.com, which advertises heavily on TV with the tagline "Find God's match for you," is owned by Spark Networks, founded in 1997 and headquartered in Los Angeles. The company operates about 30 "religious, ethnic, special interest and geographically targeted online communities," among them BlackSingles.com, SilverSingles.com, CatholicMingle.com, LDSSingles.com (for Mormons) and JDate.com (for Jews).

According to an Aug. 8 press release, Spark Networks reported $17.6 million in revenues in the second quarter of this year, up 17.1 percent from the same quarter in 2012. Its shares are sold on the New York Stock Exchange.

Compiled from Times and wire reports. To submit a question, email answers@tampabay.com.

Ask the Times: Weedon Island, Christian Mingle 08/29/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 30, 2013 5:17pm]
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