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Tour gives rare peek in historic buildings

Published February 11, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - A tour of historic homes and other buildings scheduled Saturday will allow participants to step inside several structures rarely open to the public.

Eight destinations are among the offerings, including a private home on Coffee Pot Riviera that was developer C. Perry Snell's last residence in St. Petersburg.

He also supervised the building of the Snell Arcade on Central Avenue, a lavishly ornamented Mediterranean Revival building. It is being converted to residential and business condominiums. Visitors will tour the model apartment.

Robert Ely once operated Bob's Roof Garden on the third floor of the Snell Arcade. In 1930, he opened Bob's Cafeteria on Fourth Street S, then fell on financial hard times. Its buyers, brothers Enar and Lander Haige, renamed it after the Traymore Hotel in Atlantic City. It closed in 1981. The Times Publishing Co., which owns the St. Petersburg Times, restored the building and reopened the Tramor as a company cafeteria in 1985.

Gen. John Constantine Williams, co-founder of St. Petersburg with Peter Demens, had a Queen Anne-style house built in 1891 at 444 Fifth Ave. S. The elaborate Victorian structure was moved to the campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg in 1995.

Roser Park is home to the cast-stone mansion built in 1916 for Mayor James G. Bradshaw.

Dickens House, a bed and breakfast created from the structure built for Henry and Sadie Speer Dickens in 1912, was a reclamation project. The Renaissance Vinoy Resort, at 501 Fifth Ave. NE, will offer a historic tour of the hotel at 1 p.m. Saturday.

A bit farther away, but no less interesting, are the Great Hall and Mann Lounge at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport.

If you go

Saturday's tour benefits the St. Petersburg Museum of History. It is self-guided, save for the 1 p.m. tour of the Vinoy. Refreshments are available throughout the day at the Tramor Cafeteria. Tour hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets, $15 for museum members, $20 for nonmembers, are available at the museum, 335 Second Ave. NE, or at any tour site on Saturday. Information: 894-1052.

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