The Jewel of Oldsmar is deeply imbedded in the history of upper Tampa Bay. Ransom Eli Olds, of Oldsmobile Motor Vehicle fame, purchased 37,541 acres at the top of Tampa Bay in 1916 to develop the city of Oldsmar. Mr. Olds theorized that Oldsmar would grow into a prosperous city because it was the only land route on the Gulf of Mexico linking together the counties of Hillsborough and Pinellas.
Much has been written about Oldsmar in the nineteen twenties. Mr. Olds did what he could to create a boom town, including a fake oil well along with a prohibition era casino. After a devastating hurricane in 1921, he decided to cut his losses and divested himself of his “city on the bay” in 1923.
The Kathryn M. Andersen Residence was built in 1924 by St. Louis, Missouri promoter Harry A. Prettyman. Prettyman bought up many of the lots that were left by Olds and staged promotional gimmicks such as “gold rushes” where people could dig for pieces of gold buried on a vacant lot. In 1927 Prettyman got caught selling under water lots.
To minimize the scandal, the town was renamed Tampa Shores but eventually was changed back to Oldsmar in 1937. Because bridges were built across Tampa Bay, Oldsmar remained a sleepy little Florida town until the1990’s. Situated at the northeastern corner of Pinellas county (the most populated county in the state) bordering Tampa, the city has some of the most natural undeveloped coastal land in the County.
The Kathryn M. Anderson Residence is a mere block away from Old Tampa Bay with a short walk to R. E. Olds Park, Veterans Park and Bicentennial Park along the pristine waters of Old Tampa Bay. Situated on Park Boulevard, the main artery from Tampa Bay to City Hall and the old library on State Street, you can watch the annual Oldsmar Days parade from the second-floor balcony formed by the porte-cochere.
The current caretakers of the Andersen Residence moved to Oldsmar in 1995 and occupied a home on Shore Drive. They were quickly introduced to local politics. Within a short period of time they were on a first name basis with four mayors and numerous councilmen. The city manager was readily available to listen to the concerns of Oldsmar’s citizens. You could attend a city council meeting and make a difference!
Falling in love with the Anderson Residence was easy, but it was a surprise to be made aware of the profound pride that the towns people had for the house. The Residence had fallen into a state of disrepair. The previous owner had lived there for thirty-five years and raised nine children in the house. The Residence was a grand lady in serious need of saving. In 2008 as the restoration progressed it seemed that everyone in the neighborhood was interested and excited to see the “Jewel of Oldsmar” sparkle again. Prettyman’s architectural treasure wasn’t just a home. It was a gift that the current owners had the privilege of caring for. The Residence was unique and special and it deserved respect. It was important to stay true to its original design. Many of the structures built in 1924 remain.
For all the Andersen Residence’s grandeur it is first and foremost a home for a family. A place befitting of postcard Christmases and friends gathered safe and secure within her substantial walls. The Andersen Residence exudes ambiance especially in the evening when the light streaming through her western facing windows is a golden orange that warms the soul and soothes away the worries of the day. When you take a dip in the pool in the languid days of a Florida summer you are surrounded by a garden and trees that belie the hustle and bustle of Tampa Road and all the conveniences of a modern-day city less than a half a mile away. It is easy forget that two minutes away is a Super Walmart, a dozen diverse restaurants. Tampa International Airport is just fifteen minutes away.
Lovely upper Tampa Bay has boating, fishing, and kayaking. There is bicycling on the county-wide Pinellas Trail and in beautiful, natural Florida parks. For the family there’s Arts in the Park, October Fest, Oldsmar Days and Nights, Winter Fest with manufactured snow, musical concerts, community organic gardening and fireworks, all within walking distance of the Anderson Residence. In addition, there is a local theatre group, dance and painting classes, historical walks (where the Anderson Residence has been featured and written about in the Tampa Bay Times), a horse racing track, a large, under cover flea market, outdoor tennis courts, fitness trails and horseback riding all happening in a progressive town that is very proud of its heritage with a city council that is connected and responsive to its citizens.
The setting is grand and the neighborhood is picturesque. The Jewel of Oldsmar sits waiting for endless possibilities. The area has much to offer and the home’s design would allow it to house an enchanting Bed and Breakfast. The potential is limitless.
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