Written by Mike Slatton, Marketing Director for BTGH
In 2000, my wife and I bought an old home in St. Cloud, Florida – a little town outside of Orlando. We were told it was about 100 years old and the price was $75k. We took a look around and liked it.
“We’ll take it.”
On the day of the closing, all we knew is that we were buying an approximately 100 year old house with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a tin roof and hardwood floors for $75,000. No one seemed to know anything more, but there seemed to be so much more to know about the house. After all, there had been 100 years of occupants in this house. Certainly, there was SOME historic value to it.
I investigated, and what I learned was truly exciting.
The first place I started was the county records department. I learned that the house and garage straddled 3 long, narrow lots, with the house built on lots 1 & 2, and the garage straddling lots 2 & 3. I also learned that all 3 of those lots came together under the same ownership in 1916, purchased from The Seminole Land and Investment Company.
“In 1909, The Seminole Land and Investment Company took over title to 35,000 acres of land (St. Cloud Plantation), a portion of which became the City of St. Cloud and its suburbs.
“On April 16, 1909, the Kissimmee Valley Gazette announced the “New Town of St. Cloud,” a “Soldiers Colony” that was to be located near Kissimmee. The newspaper called the purchase by the Seminole Land and Investment Company “one of the most important real estate deals ever made in the State of Florida.” It was reported that the officers of the company had searched all over Florida for the perfect site for a veterans’ colony, particularly one especially suited for “health, climate, and productiveness of the soil.” William G. King, an estate manager in Alachua Co. before becoming the first permanent resident of St. Cloud, was chosen by the National Tribune to “plan, locate and develop a town site for a colony of Veterans of the Civil War. He consulted with the Hon. William Makinson of Kissimmee, then local manager for SLICO, who placed the entire management of the new colony of St. Cloud in the hands of Mr. King” in April 1909.”
So my home was once owned by an old soldier from the Civil War. Wow!
More investigating revealed that the house was a Natoma model Craftsman house that you could buy already cut and fitted in 1915 for just $266.
In the 1940’s, a local cement contractor, who was also a city councilman of St. Cloud, poured the driveway (probably just before the garage was built). I learned this from the etching of his name and date into the concrete itself. That little marking turned out to be a great conversation pieceover the years.
With all of this information, I was then able to apply for and receive a plaque from the St. Cloud Main Street Historical Preservation program, verifying the historical relevance of the house.
So why would ANYONE go through all of this trouble? Personally, I like finding the value where other’s see little. On the other hand, intrinsic value can turn into dollar value very quickly. It’s the same as adding a little polo player to a knit shirt.
Also, knowing the history of a house and it’s relevance to the community it’s in makes for great conversation while you’re selling it.
After all, a house is more than just a place to store your stuff and lay your head. It’s a monumentto the community; It’s a shrine to it’s inhabitants; It’s a piece of history that’s important to those who built it, were born in it, grew up in it, and died in it.