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Effort to save Dunedin’s Kellogg mansion shifts to guest house

The focus now, said preservationists, is on moving the guest house to a new property.
The exterior of the Kellogg Mansion at 129 Bay Vista Dr. in Dunedin.
The exterior of the Kellogg Mansion at 129 Bay Vista Dr. in Dunedin. [ Courtesy of Karl Moeller and Kevin King ]
Published May 21
Updated May 21

There’s a new focus among those hoping to preserve the history of the nearly century-old “Kellogg mansion” in Dunedin, and it looks like a compromise.

The city’s Historical Preservation Committee held an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss what might be done concerning the home once owned by W.K. Kellogg, founder of Kellogg’s cereal, at 129 Buena Vista Drive S.

The home, which was on the market for years and was listed at $4.59 million, remains under a sales contract with a Pinellas County physician who plans to demolish it to make room for a new family home.

There had been talk among the committee of raising funds to move the home to a new property, at an estimated cost of $400,000 to $900,000.

Gary Barbosa, owner of Pinellas-based Champion advertising companies, had gone as far as putting up billboards on Interstate-4 to try to raise $5 million for an attempt to buy the home and entice the prospective buyer to walk away. It didn’t work.

After the emergency meeting of the preservation committee, Vinnie Luisi said the focus is now on raising funds to move only the guest house. Luisi, chairman of the committee and director of the Dunedin History Museum, said they also want to salvage certain artifacts from the main house, and get access to take photographs and scans for 3-D digital preservation.

The guest house shares age and style with the main and would be easier to relocate.

The prospective buyer has expressed willingness to go along with those requests, said city manager Jennifer Bramley, but only under the condition that the city guarantees in writing it will not later designate the home as historic.

“What they don’t want is that their demolition permit gets approved, but then the house is made historic and they can’t move forward with their plans,” Bramley said.

The main house would still be demolished, assuming the current sale goes through.

“We’re doing our best to save as much of the Kellogg mansion as possible,” Luisi said, noting that such a compromise would be better than losing the entire structure.

Nothing is agreed upon yet. Bramley is currently negotiating with the buyer to get something in writing.

There is a little more time to work it out. Records show the closing date on the home was pushed from May 15 to mid-June. An application filed in April for a permit to demolish the home was still under review by the city this week.

In March, Dunedin’s Historical Preservation Committee recommended the city designate the home as historic to prevent its destruction. That recommendation was withdrawn before the city commission voted, possibly over legal concerns about doing so while the house was under contract.

Because that previous recommendation was withdrawn, the city would have to wait a full year, until April 2022, to vote to protect the home as historic.

Moving just the guest house “will take money,” Luisi said. “We are looking for the community to step up.” He said those interested in donating could contact the museum at (727) 736-1176.

Several properties are being considered as possible sites for the guest house. Some are owned privately, and some are owned by the city.