Cranford Avenue Homes

1512 Cranford Avenue – Home of Dr. William F. Grace & Annie L. Grace – 1959

This ranch home includes the many popular features of the houses being constructed throughout Fort Myers during the 1950’s:  a horizontal profile under a low-slung roof, large jalousie windows, and an unimposing front door capped with a modest overhang supported by slim metal columns.  This home was popularly known as a “CBS” home – concrete block stucco.

After a succession of owners, Lot 1 was sold in 1951, to Dr. William F. Grace & Annie Lee Grace, who had lived since 1931 at the large craftsman-style home at 2706 First Street, on the opposite corner of Cranford Avenue.  In 1959, the Graces, now in their 70’s, built two ranch-style dwellings on this property.

Dr. Grace was born in 1881 in Graceville, Florida.  He graduated from Tulane Medical School in 1906 and married Annie Lee Brownell of Westville, Florida, the next year.  He practiced medicine in Chipley, Florida, until 1924, when he, his wife and their three children moved to Fort Myers.  He continued his medical practice from his office on McGregor Boulevard until his death on March 23, 1961 at age 79.  His obituary said Dr. Grace “was highly esteemed by his patients for his willingness to answer calls in all weather and at all hours of the day and night.”

After Dr. Grace’s death, Mrs. Grace sold both homes, together with all their furnishings, to Abe Shrem of New York in October 1961.  The two homes continued to occupy one lot until 1983, when parcel was split and the ranch home located on the southern half of the lot was sold to a separate owner.

Dean’s Subdivision, Block E, Lot 1 (southern half).

 

1569 Cranford Avenue – Home of Roy S. Frizzell & Sarah T. Frizzell  – 1947

This stucco-sided cottage at the corner of Providence and Cranford represents a transitional period before the construction of ranch-style homes became the predominant style for new home construction.  The front-facing gable and window shutters look backwards to more traditional architectural styles, but the more horizontal profile and large window panels look forward to the ranch era.

On March 30, 1920, Dean Development Corporation sold this parcel to Charles W. Turner of St. Paul, Minnesota, for $1,615, subject to a restriction that any home built there cost at least $3,500.  The legal description of the property was in metes and bounds, since the Dean’s Subdivision map had not yet been recorded.  The parcel was sold and re-sold a number of times, but remained a vacant lot until it was sold to Roy Stanley Frizzell and Sarah Thompson Frizzell on Sept. 9, 1946.

Mr. Frizzell, born in 1907, to an Alabama farming family, came to Charlotte County in 1923, joining his older brother by 17 years, Arthur C. Frizzell, who was already a success in the lumber and real estate business.  By 1930, he and Sarah, born in 1907 near Blountstown on the Florida panhandle, were married and had a young son, William Frizzell.  Sarah held various jobs in Arthur’s business while Roy took positions as manager of a grocery store, a service station and a hotel in Punta Gorda.  He also worked in the family lumber business, which took him to all parts of Lee, Collier, Hendry and Charlotte Counties.

In 1945, Roy announced in the News-Press that he was retiring from the lumber business and was opening Frizzell Hardware & Supply Company at the corner of Second and Hendry Streets.  Both he and Sarah worked at the hardware store, while Roy also had an active real estate business.

In 1947, the family moved into this cottage, which faced Cranford Avenue but had an official address of 39 Providence Street.  By then, their only child, William, had enrolled in Georgia Tech and would obtain a degree in architecture, then go on to design many of the public school buildings in Lee County, the News-Press building and other projects.

The Frizzells sold this cottage in 1950 for $13,000 to an Ohio couple, Robert and Mabel Karch, and moved to a newly constructed ranch home on El Prado Avenue.  In 1956, Mr. Frizzell decided to sell his hardware business and become the local Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealer, a career brought short by his untimely death in 1958.  Mrs. Frizzell remarried and died in 1993 at age 85.

Earlier address:  39 Providence Street; Dean’s Subdivision, Block I, Lot 11.

 

1585 Cranford Avenue – Home of Caitlyn Eck & Erik Schaum – 2017

This home is currently under construction and replaces a ranch constructed on the in 1957.  The ground floor of the original structure was prone to flooding and was demolished in 2016 to make way for a new two-story home.  FEMA requires that the ground floor of any new structure be located above the 100-year flood level, so a substantial amount of fill was needed to raise the level of the site.

The design of the new home was approved by the Fort Myers Historic Preservation Commission and includes many features of the “Prairie Style” popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright, including strong horizontal lines.

The lot at 1585 Cranford consists of the northerly halves of Lots 12 and 13 on Block I of the 1920 Dean’s Subdivision map.  The southerly halves of Lots 12 and 13 became 2705 Michigan Avenue.  Lot 12 was one of several vacant lots remaining in Dean Park when John Dean died in 1938, and it was conveyed by his widow, Annie P. Dean, as the sole surviving director of Dean Development Corporation.  Lot 13 had been purchased, but never developed, by H.C. Case, an early Fort Myers developer who purchased about a dozen lots from Dean Development Corporation.

Dean’s Subdivision, Block I, northerly half of Lots 12 and 13

 

1610-12 Cranford Avenue – Duplex of Derick S. Hartshorn – 1957

This ranch-style duplex and the identical “mirror image” duplex constructed at 2668 Michigan Avenue were both constructed in 1957.  The owner, Derick S. Hartshorn, had purchased two adjacent lots, Lots 21 and 23 of Block 2 in Evans’ Addition.  But instead of building one house on each lot, he decided to split both lots down the middle and constructed this home on the southerly half of Lots 21 and 23 and the Michigan home on the northerly half.

The four front doors of both duplexes face each other on a little-noticed courtyard and the carports serving this home face the rear alley.  Both duplexes were built as investment properties and were first occupied by a series of tenants, often seasonal.  This short 1963 announcement from the News-Press is typical: “Mr. and Mrs. Arlo Shook of Uniontown, Ohio, are spending the season at 1610 Cranford Ave.”

These two lots, like all the lots in Dean Park on the southerly side of Michigan Avenue, are part of Evans Addition, one of the earliest Fort Myers subdivisions.  Major James Evans developed Evans Addition from a 275-acre land grant parcel he purchased in 1880 from the federal government.  Each of the 366 lots in Evans Addition was 50 feet wide and 150 feet deed, as shown on a map recorded in 1905 with the Lee County Clerk.

In 1913, The Carl F. Roberts Company, a prominent Fort Myers developer, purchased 46 of the lots in Evans Addition for a total purchase price of $6,000. In 1925, The Carl F. Roberts Company sold this property to C.R. Wade of Fort Myers.  It had many subsequent owners, but remained vacant until this duplex was constructed in 1957.  On November 25, 1956, Mr. Hartshorn was granted a $17,000 building permit for the duplex at 2668 Michigan Avenue, and on December 16, 1956, he was granted another $17,000 building permit for this duplex.

Derick S. Hartshorn was a mechanical engineer, born in 1883 in Worchester, MA.  He and his wife, Mary, married in 1909 in Boston.  The couple had three children and Mr. Hartshorn’s career took the family to New Jersey, North Carolina, Maine, Massachusetts and New York.  Mrs. Hartshorn was a church organist for many years in Springfield, Massachusetts.

In 1950, the Hartshorns decided to move to Fort Myers, while still maintaining a winter home in Johnsonville, New York.  Mr. Hartshorn began a second career as a real estate developer and undertook a series of residential construction projects.  After Mrs. Hartshorn’s death in December 1966 at age 82, Mr. Hartshorn remarried in July 1967 and died the following September at age 84.

Evans’ Addition, Block 2, southerly half of Lots 21 and 23.

           

1615 Cranford Avenue – Home of Bertha May Stulpter Lauth & William C. Lauth – 1939

This “garage apartment,” as these types of dwellings were called in the News-Press, was built in 1939 for Bertha May Lauth, a Fort Myers school teacher.  Although built after most of the bungalows were constructed in Dean Park, this two-story house still contains many of the popular bungalow features, such as the front-facing dormer and exposed roof rafters supporting a wide eaves, with these elements echoed in the roof over the second-floor entry. It has 768 square feet of living space on the second floor and storage space on the first floor.

Bertha May Stulpter was the only daughter of Ewald Stulpter, a German immigrant who came to Fort Myers on December 10, 1884, and first found work in nearby coconut and citrus groves.  He then replied to a help-wanted ad placed by Thomas Edison and became his gardener for 17 years.  Mr. Stulpter also remembers helping the workmen string up the first electric lights in Fort Myers.  By 1915, Mr. Stulpter was on the City Council, then went on to serve as Vice President of The Carl F. Roberts Company and the Seminole Lumber and Manufacturing Company.

Bertha’s mother died in 1921, when Bertha was only 10.  She went on to graduate from Fort Myers High School and the Florida State College for Women, before beginning her teaching career.  In 1936, she was Florida’s representative at the National Education Association convention in Portland, Oregon.  On June 20, 1938, she married William C. Lauth, a Denver native whose family relocated to Fort Myers and began the Florida Sea Shell Company.

After their marriage, Bertha and William lived with her father, now 76, in his home on Evans Avenue.  But shortly after his death on July 22, 1940, the couple moved into this garage apartment, then moved in 1942 to a larger home on Virginia Avenue.  Mrs. Lauth continued her career as a teacher in the Lee County schools and retired in 1968.  She and her husband eventually moved to be near their daughter in Pensacola, where William died in 1980 and Bertha died in 2002 at age 92.

This property – like all the lots in Dean Park on the southerly side of Michigan Avenue – is part of Evans Addition, one of the earliest Fort Myers subdivisions.  In 1913, these Michigan lots were purchased for $6,000 by The Carl F. Roberts Company.  On December 28, 1939, Mrs. Lauth purchased this parcel as a vacant lot from the company for $375.00.  When she sold the garage apartment in 1944, the sales price was $3,500.

Earlier address:  2114 Cranford Avenue; Evan’s Addition, Block 1, Lots 25 & 27.