1. Archive

Snell-Bishop mansion changes hands

Published Feb. 15, 2006

The historic Snell-Bishop house, the landmark three-story white mansion with a terra cotta roof and yellow awnings that overlooks Coffee Pot Boulevard NE, was sold on Tuesday.

C. Perry Snell had the house built in the 1920s. Artist Wally Bishop, who drew the syndicated cartoon Muggs and Skeeter, and his wife, Louise, bought the place in 1939.

Wally Bishop died in 1982; Louise Bishop died last August. Their family put the house on the market late last year, asking $7.9-million, more than any other house has ever brought in Pinellas County.

Alona Dishy, one of the real estate agents involved in the transaction, would not identify the buyer, saying the property was purchased through a trust.

Mary Joan Mann, the Bishops' daughter, said the purchasers are David and Michelle Rau, who have four children. Mrs. Mann declined to give the closing figure paid for the house, but she said it was somewhat short of the asking price.

Another closing date originally was set, but David Rau asked to reschedule it for Valentine's Day, Mrs. Mann said.

"I'm so thrilled to have a family in there," Mrs. Mann said this week. "If I looked the city over, I couldn't find a family I'm happier with to have it."

The couple were looking for a place with a more spacious yard than they now have, Mrs. Mann said.

"I was dedicated to selling it to a family," she said. With the current construction trend in St. Petersburg leaning to high-rise waterfront condominiums, she said, the price was set "to let all the developers know that I was not interested in that."

At nearly 8,200 square feet, the house sits on roughly 1.5 acres on southern Snell Isle. It has a basement, unusual in St. Petersburg, which contains its heating system.

"We've had it for 67 years," Mrs. Mann said of the house, where her wedding reception took place in 1948. Selling to people who hope to renovate it and rear their family there, she said, "makes it bittersweet."