In 1954, architect William B. Harvard Sr. built a house for his family, designing it with features influenced by Florida’s climate and terrain. It had wide overhangs to keep out the direct sun, vents, jalousies and louvered transoms to allow the free flow of air. And, in what can now be seen as a prescient move, it sat at one of the highest points in St. Petersburg.
Members of the Harvard family have lived in the house ever since. After nearly 70 years, it is on the market, currently priced at $1.799 million.
Situated on a third of an acre in Allendale Terrace, the 3,288-square-foot house overlooks leafy Allendale Park from the front and is surrounded on the other three sides by mature trees and foliage. It was built on a split level because of its unusually hilly site, more than 30 feet above sea level.
“This is where we used to come for hurricanes,” recalls Billy Harvard, a Southern Roots Realty agent and the architect’s grandson, who grew up in low-lying Snell Isle.
The senior Harvard was a renowned architect who designed St. Petersburg’s inverted Pier, the city’s main public library, the Williams Park Bandshell and the Pasadena Community Church, the latter with a folding roof hailed as one of the nation’s most striking examples of midcentury religious architecture. He also designed private homes, more than 20 of which are still standing in Snell Isle, Bahama Shores, Allendale, Pinellas Point and on the beaches.
For his own residence, Harvard eschewed the Mediterranean Revival style so popular at the time and designed the four-bedroom, four-bath house with clean lines and many unusual features.
The front door is covered in copper aged to a rich patina, and the adjacent window is made of rare, cross-reeded pattern glass. The living room has a soaring, angled ceiling and a pass-through to a bar in the kitchen, a convenience when the Harvards hosted their many cocktail parties and piano recitals. A guest book that still sits on the baby grand piano includes the signatures of St. Petersburg mayors and other prominent locals. Adding to the time capsule feel are an original George Nelson starburst clock and a 1954 map of the world in remarkably good condition for its age.
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Most of the walls in the home are paneled in the original cypress and mahogany, giving the house a warm, cozy feel. Original built-ins abound — a loft bed, a bathroom vanity, a buffet in the dining room, shelving in the den. The main bedroom has his and her dressing rooms and a hidden door to the attic. Much of the flooring is the original black vinyl tile.
Some aspects of the house have been updated. It has central air conditioning, new kitchen appliances and a redesigned pool and patio area. For the most part, though, it looks much as it did when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, “I Love Lucy” was the big hit on TV and gas cost 21 cents a gallon.
It’s the type of house loved by “that niche group of people,” Billy Harvard said. “We know there is a buyer out there.”