Habitat for Humanity moves historic home to refurbish it for new family

Habitat for Humanity moves it to a new site, where it will be renovated for a family in need.
The Henry-Bryan house, built in 1903, was moved from Fourth Avenue NE to another property in St. Petersburg late Thursday. Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County.
The Henry-Bryan house, built in 1903, was moved from Fourth Avenue NE to another property in St. Petersburg late Thursday.Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County.
Published October 25 2013
Updated October 25 2013

ST. PETERSBURG — They're in the business of starting from scratch.

Sometimes, when it doesn't suit their needs, Habitat for Humanity will even tear a house down.

But the blue, boarded-up, century-old structure they hauled from Fourth Avenue on Thursday night was a first for the nonprofit's Pinellas County branch: an old home they'll make new for a family in need.

The house needs major renovations. New floors, roofing, wind defenses and updated wiring will need to be installed before the home meets Habitat standards.

But for the family that will move there, it's a chance to be part of something truly special.

"To get a house with so much history — it's really just a blessing, " potential homeowner Stephania Everett, 32, said.

Late Thursday night, workers started moving the Henry-Bryan House from 146 Fourth Ave. NE to its new location at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and 13th Avenue S. The hours-long journey was scheduled for when traffic would be thin.

Built in 1903, the house was a construction office in the 2000s and a dental practice before that.

About nine months ago, St. Petersburg condominium developer JMC Communities bought land for a new development. Instead of tearing down the Queen Anne-style home, they reached out to Habitat.

"When we purchased the property, we knew that there was this historic home there," JMC Communities CEO Michael Cheezem said. "We certainly wanted to preserve it, and the city also wanted it preserved."

The Henry-Bryan home will need months of renovations before the Everett family can move in.

Habitat for Humanity's homes must meet standards to ensure its low-income homeowners pay the lowest possible insurance rates. That means making sure homes are sustainable, energy efficient and made to mitigate wind damage, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County's chief operating officer Ron Spoor said.

In a new home, those features might come standard, so renovations aren't necessarily cheaper than building new. That's why in some cases, Habitat even demolishes houses that stand on donated land.

"Moving a historic home, and for Habitat to partner with a sponsor in its renovation, is fairly unique," Spoor said.

But in this case, Spoor said, everything came together —an owner willing to donate, a piece of land the home could be trucked to and a family eager to stay in their neighborhood while moving to a home of their own.

The Everetts moved from Tampa to St. Petersburg several months ago when Bradford Everett, 30, a missionary with the campus ministry Intervarsity, took a post at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Stephania, a student, still commutes to Tampa for night classes and takes care of their 3-year-old son, Timothy, during the day.

Without Habitat for Humanity, Stephania said, they wouldn't be able to afford a home. They also wanted to stay in the neighborhood.

"We feel called to that city, that neighborhood, to be a positive influence and a positive light to the community," Stephania said.

That's why they were a perfect fit for the Henry-Bryan home. Habitat for Humanity liked the idea of refurbishing a home to help revitalize the community.

"We just feel like there's so much that we can do in the community with a house like that," Stephania said. "It's so nice for our doors to be open."

Claire Wiseman can be reached at (727)-893-8804 or cwiseman@tampabay.com. On Twitter: @clairelwiseman