A young man is buying the Veillard House as the lovely home for a high-end cabinet business.
By SHARON L. BOND, Times Staff Writer
Published December 18, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - The historic Veillard House downtown soon will become national headquarters for an Italian cabinet company that hopes to expand its sales in the United States.
Developer Blake Thompson of Blake Whitney Thompson Co. LLC of St. Petersburg has a contract to buy the house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Thompson also recently bought an interest in Cubica USA, the American counterpart of a longtime Italian cabinetmaker.
Thompson would not disclose the purchase prices but said he is supposed to close the deal on the house, at 262 Fourth Ave. N, on Feb. 1.
"I would like to live in it," said Thompson, 24. First, however, Cubica will have offices in the house, built in 1901 by Henry Dupont, who built the Don CeSar resort hotel in St. Pete Beach. In the beginning the company will have four workers there, including vice president Stephen Racine.
"It's in pristine shape," Thompson said of the house that is built of rusticated block of a rose color and has a trademark tower shape at one side of both the first and second floors. The house has wood floors, some stained glass windows and a full basement.
It has been described as a bungalow in the Queen Anne style. The large living room will be used as a meeting center, and offices will be in the upstairs bedrooms and below in several rooms in the basement. The kitchen has been moved from the main floor to the basement.
Thompson is involved in several condominium projects downtown, including W Plaza and W Flats.
Cubica USA was founded in 1999, but the Italian counterpart started in 1940, Thompson said.
Racine, who is with REMA and JBay Group of Tampa, said St. Petersburg will become the American company's national headquarters because of the large amount of residential construction either going on or planned for the area.
"We are trying to establish a strong presence in this market. We like being centrally located in St. Petersburg rather than down in Sarasota," said Racine, 25.
Cubica USA has a showroom in Sarasota. It should be in its St. Petersburg offices in February, Thompson said.
Cubica cabinets are difficult to find outside large cities like New York and Miami, Thompson said.
The company describes its products as "smart, sleek, high-quality kitchen cabinets." It hopes to sell to developers, builders, architects and homeowners. Racine has set a goal of building 1,800 kitchens in 2006.
The Veillard House nearly was torn down in the late 1970s. Instead it was purchased by Francis and J. Crayton Pruitt and moved two blocks. For a number of years it was home to the Junior League of St. Petersburg.
Pinellas County property records list a Francis Pruitt Trust as the current owner. The house's name came from Ralph and Minnie Veillard, who lived in it when Veillard had a farm supply business. He also held positions in local government. Veillard, who came to St. Petersburg at the turn of the last century, was French. His widow lived in the house until 1954, after which it was rented.
Information from Times files was used in this report.[Last modified December 18, 2005, 01:01:21]