I founded LkldNow in 2015 with a vision to create a local news organization that serves the public and fosters community connections. What started as a one-man volunteer operation has slowly grown into a small but mighty newsroom and a primary source for local news. But LkldNow can continue only if you find value in our work and help support it. Every gift helps — especially right now! Thanks to our matching funds from local partners as well as the national NewsMatch program, every donation made between now and the end of the year will be doubled!
If you can, please help us sustain independent local journalism in Lakeland. Thank you!
Sincerely, Barry Friedman
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An urban pioneer uncovered a big surprise when she started converting a commercial building on Munn Park into her residence: The white plaster in her spacious living room had been hiding a well-preserved Coca-Cola sign that was painted on a brick wall more than 100 years ago. There was a Bull Durham tobacco sign, too.
Pat Landreth got another surprise last month: Her work to preserve the past at 115 N. Kentucky Ave., a building constructed in 1905, was recognized by Historic Lakeland Inc. with a preservation award.
“I’m surprised because I didn’t build it for the city. Ijust built it for me,” Landreth told the audience gathered at the Polk Theatre for the awards ceremony May 22. “When people asked why I wanted to live downtown, they asked me (whispering conspiratorially), ‘Why? There … are … homeless … people.’ “
But Landreth loves having a balcony over Munn Park (“This is my mini-Manhattan and that’s my Central Park”) and living in a place where she can walk pretty much everywhere she goes. A psychiatrist, she uses her car mostly to get to work at Lakeland Regional Health.
“I have loved that building. I saved everything I could for its history,” she said at the awards ceremony. “It’s great living downtown and it’s great to be recognized for investing in downtown, because not a lot of people have done it yet, but I think they will.”
The large Coca-Cola and Bull Durham signs required no restoration, just sealing. The commercial signs have become the focal centerpiece of an open living space that blends early 20th Century and ultra-modern.
Landreth says she laughs when people ask her for the name of the style or who she used as a decorator. She just uses things she likes and arranges them according to her minimalist sensibility, she said.
She bought the building in 2013 after seeing an article in The Ledger saying Arts on the Park was trying to sell it because upkeep costs had become too great.
Landreth renovated the second floor into her home and built a three-story addition in the rear that includes a garage and roof-level garden and patio. After renovations, the 20-foot-wide home reached 187 feet in depth.
The records are hazy as to when the signs that dominate the second story were painted and why they were covered, but Lakeland history professionals Jim Edwards and Emily Foster offer the same theory:
After a 1904 fire destroyed the wooden buildings just east of Munn Park, they were replaced with sturdier brick structures. Most likely the building just north of Landreth’s house was built first. When rail agent and real estate mogul Salvedo Raymondo built Landreth’s building in 1905, he apparently attached directly onto his neighbor’s building and plastered over the then-new signs.
Raymondo’s building originally included four storefronts opening onto Kentucky Avenue, but three of them were torn down in the 1920s to make room for the S.H. Kress building, which now houses Explorations V Children’s Museum.
Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.