Saturday, November 3, marked the 20th year of the annual Historic Kenwood BungalowFest. The home tour has been a yearly fundraiser for the Kenwood Neighborhood Association since 1998, opening up homes and other local buildings, including St. Pete High School, to curious ticket holders. The event has grown since its start, now selling more than 800 tickets.
Historic Kenwood, one of the largest concentration of bungalow-style homes in Florida, is boarded roughly by 1st and 9th Avenues North between 34th and 20th Streets in St. Petersburg.
This year’s BungalowFest opened up nine homes in multiple styles, including a Sears, Roebuck & Company kit home from 1928.
“The neighborhood has 17 styles of homes,” said Brenda Gordon, volunteer. “We’re not cookie cutter.”
Gordon rode one of the tour’s three trolleys on Saturday, offering information on the neighborhood to guests and they traveled across busy 5th Avenue North.
Homes on the tour ranged from 642 to 2,000 square feet.
“I think this tour really goes to show that you can live big in a tiny little space,” said Gordon.
A group of Kenwood homeowners traveled on one of the trolley buses, cheerful and excited about the tour.
“I just love the way the neighborhood buzzes every year when the tour happens,” said Tony Loeffler. Loeffler and his crew moved to the area from Portland, Oregon. “Oh, we love it here,” said Loeffler.
Other tourgoers were equally enthusiastic about the event.
“I love getting ideas to decorate or remodel,” said Kristin Burnett, coming out of a 1925 craftsman bungalow Saturday morning. “I love the brick streets,” said friend Judy Splendore, admiring one of Kenwood key features, its original brick-paved streets.
In addition to the open homes on the tour, each house featured work from a local artist. Historic Kenwood is a “Neighborhood of the Arts,” with a special zoning ordinance from 2014 permitting small-scale art-focused businesses to be run from homes.
Keeping it in the family, homeowner Holly Minch moved in across the street from her aunt and uncle. Both Minch and her relatives opened their homes up for the tour this year. Minch has owned her 1928 Sears, Roebuck & Co. kit home for a year and a half. After moving in, Minch renovated her home, keeping the historic charm and character, but says she had a lot of help. Her aunt and uncle, Peter Burke and Wendy Byrnes, helped Minch with the renovations, which included a new kitchen.
“They were great in helping me remodel,” said Minch.
Minch also credited her renovation success to the Kenwood neighborhood salvage garage, where she picked up a few floorboards for her home and was invited to participate in the home tour.
“The tour actually is a benefit,” she said. “I wanted to give back.”
Proceeds from the tour go to fund kids activities in the neighborhood’s historic Seminole Park as well as a newsletter that every home in Kenwood receives monthly. Each year the tour welcomes newbie home owners to the tour to keep it fresh.
“I’m pretty sure they don’t repeat homes more than every six or seven years,” said Barbara Gordon, volunteer.
Tickets were $25 and the event ran from 10 am to 4 pm.