By Robert A. Fisk, Official Historian
Church Fire, Paving, Store Closing, Fellsmere, Bonding and Mail Delivery
This column has already told about the fire in the roof of the Presbyterian Church on September 24, 1924 and that they met temporarily in the St. Cloud Community House on 8th Street. Well, they were able to move back into the fire-damaged building and the November 11, 1924 issue of the St. Cloud Tribune had an architect’s rendering of the remodeling. In the April 23, 1925 Tribune we find: “PLANS READY FOR NEW PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH”
“Mr. S. W. Porter, chairman of the building committee of the Presbyterian Church, announced this week that plans for the remodeling of the church will be ready next Monday for contractors bids, and that it is expected that the work will be rushed to completion as soon as the contract is signed.
The members of the church have been contemplating improvements for some time, and after fire damaged the roof and interior of the building some months ago, the plans have taken actual shape and are ready for the contractors.
The new structure will be modern in every respect, special attention being given to provisions for social activities, adequate Sunday School accommodations, and caring for all branches of the church work. The membership has grown since the arrival of J. A. Callan, the pastor, and the new changes have been made necessary to care for the congregation.”
It was interesting to find out that the architects were the firm of Misses Ryan and Roberts of Orlando. Miss Roberts held the first woman licensed architect and worked under Frank Lloyd Wright for a while. She did the plans for the new chapel of the Eiselstein Funeral Home, later Fisk, in 1925; the plans for the Veterans Memorial Library on Massachusetts Ave.; the St. Cloud Community House on Ohio and Eighth Street, and the Bank of St. Cloud. The remodeled Presbyterian Church served well until 1966 when it had to be demolished because of termites and rot, and the present church was built.
Paving of streets seemed to be on everyone’s mind as can be seen in the April 30, 1925 issue of the Tribune: “ASKING HARD SURFACE FOR MICHIGAN AVENUE TO LAKE”
“A petition is being circulated among the residents of Michigan Avenue this week asking the City Commissioners for paving from 17th Street to the lakefront. It has been stated that the petition is meeting with the approval of the property owners in general and no doubt will soon be in shape to be presented to the City Commissioners.
Two other petitions for hard surfacing avenues to the lakefront are in circulation and meeting the approval of the property owners abutting on said streets. These movements for improved streets show that the property owners are in favor of all activities that look toward a bigger and better St. Cloud and that they are willing to [unreadable] anything for the benefit of the city…”
Another item in that April 30, 1925 issue of the Tribune was: “STORES HALF-HOLIDAY STARTS THURSDAY NEXT WEEK”
This was a practice that continued into the 1950s, as my wife said, “The town was dead on Thursday afternoon.” One reason for it was that the stores stayed open on Saturdays until about 10 P.M. People tended to drive to town on Saturday afternoon and park on New York Avenue and walk home and then that evening they would walk back to town and sit in their cars to meet their friends until about 9 or 9:30 P.M. and then do their shopping until 10 P.M.
“It has been announced, by the businessmen of the city, May 7th, all stores will begin the custom of closing at noon for half-holiday every Thursday for the next four months. This means tha thte house wife must do her shopping in the morning hours on Thursday in the future, or go without some needed articles, if she forgets.
During the summer months, it is fitting that those who keep such long hours in the store should be given a holiday in the middle of the week. It gives the employer and employee a chance to get out into the open spaces and enjoy the beauties of nature, and they come back on the job better prepared for the duties of business life the next day.”
There are a couple of items, while on the subject of “down town” that is of interest. Number one is that in those days everything that a person might need was available on New York and Pennsylvania Avenues – 2 hardware stores, 3 grocery stores, and a 5 & dime store, 2 drug stores, a “department store”, 2 or 3 ladies dress shops, 2 feed and fertilizer stores, 1 dry cleaners (and he would deliver, and in my case, he would come on in and hang up the clothes as I worked), 1 news stand, 1 bank and a Savings & Loan, 2 hotels, 1 jewelry store, 1 dentist, 2 physicians, 1 Osteopath, several restaurants, 2 meat stores, 2 electric shops, city hall, the police department and a volunteer fire department, plus others.
The other item about the business section: when one of the businesses had a death, the entire business section closed for the time of the funeral in respect to that business. In those days, the funeral home had outlets outside for loud speakers for the overflow crowds at a lot of the funerals – because most of the community knew the person that had died.
In one of the May issues of the Tribune was an article about Fellsmere, just south of Malabar, which had been founded by the same Mr. E. Nelson Fell, who founded Narcoossee, asking for a road west, across the St. Johns marsh to Kenansville. However, it never happened, but there was a dirt road east from Kenansville for several miles. I remember it well as my uncle, Mr. Eiselstein and I went on it, at night, during a hurricane with the ambulance to pick up a man who had broken a leg during the storm – what a wild ride!
Back to April 30, 1925 in the Tribune: “BILL GIVING COMMISSION POWER TO ISSUE BONDS FOR PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT PASSES”
“Tallahassee, Fla., April 29, 1925 – Passed the House Monday evening and will pass the Senate to night (Thursday), an act authorizing the City of St. Cloud to issue bonds for public improvements and to assess and collect taxes on the taxable property within the corporate limits of said City of St. Cloud, Fla. For the purpose of retirement of such bonds…
…Whenever the City Commissioners of the City of St. Cloud deem it advisable to issue bonds for raising money to be used in purchasing construction, maintaining, operating, buildings, repairing, reconstructing, remodeling, installing or improving public works, public electric lights and power plants, public street railways, public telephone systems, public sewage or garbage disposal systems, docks, wharves, channels, or other water front improvements, hospitals, schools, public works, public parks and promenades, fire departments or fire equipment or in purchasing land for any of the above purposes, or for the purposes of raising money to be used in widening, grading, drainage, paving, filling in, improving, hard surfacing, extending, altering, closing and beautifying streets, avenues, alley ways; lanes for public highways in said city or for white ways, or for the purpose of funding or refunding indebtedness due by said city or for any other municipal purpose, said commission shall have the power to issue bonds to a par value of 30 percent of the assessed value of the real and personal property within the corporate limits of the City of St. Cloud.
…Section 4. That before any such bonds shall be issued for any for the purposes herein authorized, the question of their issue, as well as the amount to be issued, shall be submitted to the registered voters of said City, then residing therein who own real estate and have had their taxes sue to such city for the years last due thereon, at an election called for such purpose. Such election shall be conducted in such a manner and after such public notice as may be deemed necessary by the City Commission, and such a majority of the qualified voters, actually voting at any such election so held, be in favor of issuing such bonds for the purpose and in the amount proposed to be issues, in the event it shall be lawful for them to be issued, otherwise not…”
The May 7, 1925 issue of the Tribune carried an article that showed the growth of St. Cloud: “VILLAGE DELIVERY FOR ST. CLOUD FAVORED BY LOCAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE”
“At the regular meeting of the Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, the matter of better mail facilities for St. Cloud was brought up. It was the consensus of opinion that every effort should be made by the people to meet the requirements in order that the Post Office Department might establish the village delivery service, which has been asked for some time ago.
This service is very badly needed in order to give the people better mail service, and help relieve the congestion at the local post office during the tourist season especially. If this delivery service were established it would be of great benefit to the winter tourists, as during the winter months the post office has been so congested to be served at the general delivery, which has been very unsatisfactory in the past, and by establishing this new service it is hoped to relieve this condition before the coming winter season.
Assurance has been given by the City Commissioners that proper street signs would be erected in order to assist in this delivery service and that the residents would be urged to cooperate to the extent of having houses correctly and legibly numbered.”
Evidently the city must not have had the street signs up at that time and idd not have any regulations about the street house numbers prominently displayed.
Once again we see advancement in the city.
# # # #