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721 College Avenue

This two-story frame vernacular style house has a long history of ownership by one family. The exact date of its debut is somewhat shadowy because the house numbers and street names have changed several times since it was built.


Mary E. Wilson, a widow, and her three children were the first occupants in the home that is described in the 1915 directory as being on Phillips Avenue (the first name of College Avenue). The new designation of “College” did not appear in Lakeland directories until 1922 and with it the house numbers were also changed. 


In the 1920 Census, Mary E. Wilson was listed with her daughter Lulu, a clerk in a jewelry store, another daughter Verdie, a cigar maker in a cigar factory, and Mary’s son Elmer, who works in a pottery store. The home that she owned also had a boarder, Alva Carver who was a lawyer. 


Mary Wilson is listed in Lakeland directories and subsequent census records until 1945 and then her grandson is listed living at the home and finally as the seller of her property in 1972. Three generations of Wilsons lived in this home over a span of over 50 years.


For next 20 years, Hans & Agnes Baumgartner owned it after retiring here from Erie, Pennsylvania where he was a veterinary surgeon. Originally from Switzerland and Germany, respectively, they lived here until Hans’ death in 1991. After that there were five different owners until the David and Karen Grisham* bought the house in 2005.


Incredibly, this 100-year-old home still has three claw foot tubs in place, a large wrap-around porch, and three fireplaces, with one in the master bedroom, which also has its own covered porch. The kitchen retains the chimney that was built for the now missing pot-bellied stove. 


Restoration and renovation is ongoing with major porch structure and floor replacement completed, new air-conditioning and ductwork installed, and a freshly updated upstairs bathroom checked off the list. 


Future plans include renovating the downstairs bathroom and laundry room, installing French doors from the kitchen to the back deck, and building a pizza oven to connect to the old kitchen chimney. The Grishams love living in the neighborhood because of its close proximity to David’s work, the history of the homes, and the close access to downtown amenities.

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* This description was published in the 2015 Lake Morton Historic Home tour brochure, and as it turns out, the Grishams already owned a "Century Home" at 838 Mississippi Avenue which they have maintained as a residence and as an Air B&B. 

The College Avenue home is now owned by Patrick Kent and Franco D'Angelo.

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