The Shell Dash Cottage, near Mirror Lake, has a storied past that represents an often overlooked part of St. Petersburg’s cultural and architectural history. Built in 1909 or 1910 by legendary developer Perry Snell and his partner JC Hamlett, it was likely the model-home for the new subdivision of Lake View being developed on the site of a large orange grove on Mirror Lake. As the model home for the new neighborhood, it featured details not typically found on such modest dwellings, in particular a unique exterior finish called shell dash stucco.
The cottage is one of the only known surviving examples in St. Petersburg of the unusual building material that was quite popular for a short time before virtually disappearing in the city. For the first forty years of its existence, the Shell Dash Cottage was home to a revolving door of hard working St. Pete citizens. Its first resident was a police sergeant, followed by a series of shopkeepers, undertakers, concrete workers, grocers, and realtors. Leon and Olga Manket, who lived in St. Petersburg for more than 40 years, started their married life together in the Cottage in 1914. The Cottage was located just next door to her parents and sister, and they worked together as a family at the New York Supply Company, a dry goods store located just around the corner on Ninth Street North (today’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Street.)
The front porch of the Shell Dash Cottage was removed in the 1960s, and the chimney sometime later. The house on the left was probably located near 2nd Avenue South and was likely demolished to make way for the Webb's City complex. The Shell Dash Cottage is a stone’s throw from the historically African American neighborhood of Methodist Town. Extensive research into census data and city directories shows that during its first few decades, the Cottage housed a number of Jewish families—suggesting that St. Petersburg’s early history of relegating minorities to the outskirts of town may have been a factor in the cottage’s early rental demographic.
In the 1980s, the cottage was converted to office space. It was owned and lovingly taken care of for almost forty years by attorney and former City Council member Jim Kennedy. Late last year Mr. Kennedy sold the property on which the Shell Dash Cottage sits to a developer, with the plan for Preserve the 'Burg to work with with the developer in relocating the Cottage.The technique of shell dash stucco isn't only rare, but also fragile—if not done carefully, relocating the building could damage this important architectural feature.
Preserve the 'Burg is working with a developer to relocate the Shell Dash Cottage to a new location where it can preserved and given a new purpose within the St. Pete community. It will be a centerpiece for an affordable housing development.
We are working closely with local developers and preservationists to ensure the Shell Dash Cottage can arrive safely to its new location. We are also working to raise donations for the Shell Dash Cottage move as it is a difficult and expensive process.