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Safford House tours not far off
By KATHERINE GAZELLA
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 30, 2000
TARPON SPRINGS -- Renovations at the city's oldest house will be completed early next year -- thanks, in part, to a recently approved grant from the state.
The $111,250 grant will pay for landscaping and second-floor renovations at the Safford House, said Kathy Monahan, the city's community affairs administrator. The grant will pay for architectural work, floor finishes, wall-plastering, installation of a wood stove and historic wood fencing.
"This is the single most important restoration project the city has ever undertaken," Monahan said. "It's a part of our history that's not well-known."
The money will be available sometime after Saturday, when the state's new fiscal year will begin. Monahan anticipates that the city will hold a grand opening in February. People will be able to tour the house, and there will be hands-on activities for children.
The house was built about 1883 and was home to Anson P.K. Safford, Tarpon Springs' founder. Safford was a former territorial governor of Arizona and a one-time owner of 20,000 acres in Pinellas, Hillsborough and southern Pasco counties. Another resident was Safford's sister, Mary Jane Safford, who was the first female physician in Florida.
In 1891, Anson and Mary Jane Safford died, and Soledad Safford, Anson Safford's widow, had the house moved a block to its current location, 23 Parkin Court. She made money by operating it as a boarding house.
Through the years, the house changed hands and became dilapidated. In 1995, owner Aldo Pelligrini donated it to the city.
Monahan wrote grant proposals to the state and federal governments, and in the past few years, more than $800,000 has gone toward the renovation of the house. The state has given the city most of that money, more than $600,000 in all. The city has given about $150,000, and the federal government pitched in $80,000.
Renovations of the exterior of the house and the first floor already are completed. Structural work also is finished, and a replica of the original roof has been added.
Architects scraped through several layers of paint outside the house to find the original color, beige with dark green trim. The inside walls were stripped and revarnished, stained glass windows in the eight bay windows were repaired, and porcelain doorknobs were installed.
Once the work is completed, the house will be open to the public, although not all day every day, and by appointment, Monahan said.
Katherine Gazella can be reached at (727) 445-4205 or at email@example.com.
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