The story of WK Kellogg in Dunedin and his ‘mansion’

Guys who grew up in ‘Kellogg Mansion’ have thought about it often since the 96-year-old house at 129 Buena Vista Drive S in Dunedin Isles will likely be demolished.

Tim Matthew, 69, remembers the place had salt water taps in all bathrooms and no air conditioning when his father, Bill Matthew, bought it in 1964. Bill Matthew, who made his money making deals to buy and sell newspapers across the country, spent the next two years installing central air and the next four decades repairing, maintaining and updating the rest of the old house.

“He was constantly doing something, said Tim Matthew. “The only regular maintenance of this house allowed him to spend $ 100,000 a year. … But the older he got, the richer he got and the more eccentric the house got.

The entrance and staircase of the Kellogg Mansion at 129 Buena Vista Dr. S in Dunedin. [ Courtesy of Karl Moeller and Kevin King ]

It was Bill Matthew who added the mosaic tile work and commissioned painter Don Ringelspaugh – whose work helped make the Kapok Tree restaurant so over the top – to paint murals throughout the house.

The nightclub, he added, had a remote control that opened the ceiling, said another of his sons, Sidney Matthew, 70, of Tallahassee. This allowed the guests to party under the stars.

The house is under contract to sell it to a Pinellas County doctor who plans to demolish it and build a new home for his family, although the guesthouse, which contains a full bar decorated in dark wood, a room of games and a room, can be saved and transported to a new property if a transaction is closed.

Part of the history of the house had been confused. Many of the more eccentric flourishes seen in photos in recent years were added decades after Kellogg’s time, starting in the ’60s, though the house’s imprint has remained the same.

The room remodeled by Bill Matthew, who allegedly used wood harvested from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate, actually used wood from the land known as Pantops, owned by Jefferson’s father. Sidney Matthew had a friendship with Sean Connery, he said, but James Bond’s overnight stay at the Dunedin guesthouse never happened.

the "Kellogg Manor" was built in 1925.
The “Kellogg Mansion” was built in 1925. [ DAMASKE, JIM | Times (2003) ]

When the Kellogg mansion was new

The Kellogg Mansion was built over several years, starting in 1925, as the personal home of Edward Frischkorn, the Detroit businessman who originally developed the Dunedin Islands and dreamed of turning it into a town in the city.

Kellogg grain company founder WK Kellogg bought it from Austin Selz, an executive in Chicago shoe manufacturing, in 1934.

Kellogg, who was already 70, spent only two winters at the Dunedin house, in 1934 and 1935. His other winter in Florida was in 1933, when he rented accommodation in St. Petersburg.

Kellogg’s biography, The original has this signature, states that “the palm-fringed shores of Florida attracted” the wealthy philanthropist, but in the rare self-printed memoir An intimate glimpse of a shy grandparent, Kellogg’s grandson said Kellogg came to Florida in those years in part out of spite.

A master bedroom as it was when WK Kellogg owned the house at 129 Buena Vista Drive S in Dunedin.
A master bedroom as it was when WK Kellogg owned the house at 129 Buena Vista Drive S in Dunedin. [ Special Collections and Archives, University Library, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. ]

Kellogg was angry with the way the University of California was running a large Arabian horse ranch he had donated to campus. The Pomona, Calif., Ranch included the Kellogg mansion where he had wintered every year since 1926, but he refused to stay there for several years, his grandson wrote, “lest it be interpreted by a moose. distant from anyone’s imagination as an endorsement of the college stewardship. “

The book says Kellogg enjoyed Tarpon Springs, where he observed sponge divers through a glass bottom boat, and was a frequent guest at the Sarasota home of John Ringling, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. .

The brief Florida chapter contains another story from Kellogg’s time at the Dunedin house, when Kellogg decided to hold a conference call with Kellogg’s vast grain empire to share his Christmas greetings.

“Although it’s a matter of routine today,” the book says, “it was a pioneering effort then.”

The house at 129 Buena Vista Drive S as it appeared when WK Kellogg owned it.
The house at 129 Buena Vista Drive S as it appeared when WK Kellogg owned it. [ Special Collections and Archives, University Library, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. ]

The telephone company installed special equipment, including a black box mounted in a telephone booth next to the fireplace. Dunedin’s home was connected to Battle Creek, Michigan, London, Ontario, Australia and Mexico City, but the grandson became “so carried away by the global reach” that he stepped on the box. black and ripped it off the wall, disconnecting everyone on the call.

WHAT HAPPENED thundered WK from upstairs, ”he wrote.

A dining room as it was when the house was owned by WK Kellogg.
A dining room as it was when the house was owned by WK Kellogg. [ Special Collections and Archives, University Library, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. ]

Kellogg donated the house to his foundation in 1935, according to records shared by the Kellogg Foundation.

On December 31, 1942, the foundation leased the property to the United States Marine Corps, and it became part of a base for the testing and training of Marines on Roebling amphibious vehicles.

The house, after a 1943 Dunedin Times history, served as quarters of unmarried Navy officers.

Roebling tank-type vehicles, made in Dunedin, were sometimes referred to as “Alligators”. Before they were used in combat in the Pacific and Europe, the Marines flew them from the Dunedin Islands for training landings on Honeymoon Island.

The foundation sold the house in August 1946 for $ 63,500 to William I. and Caroline Nolan. Bill Matthew bought the house from Ethel King, a Hernando County real estate broker.

“She couldn’t run the place on her own, nor the costs of it,” said Tim Matthew. “It sounds a lot like what’s going on right now.”

The landing vehicle colloquially called a "alligator" is displayed outside the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Dunedin.
The landing vehicle colloquially referred to as an “alligator” is displayed outside the Foreign Wars Veterans Post in Dunedin.

James Nielsen, an ophthalmologist in Clearwater, purchased the house from Bill Matthew’s estate in 2003. Nielsen passed away in January. His widow written to the City of Dunedin Commission asking him not to vote to designate the house as historic.

“My husband and I have taken full advantage of this property, but it is time for another family to have it and enjoy it,” the letter said. “If this house receives a historic designation, the current sale (and probably any foreseeable future sale) will not take place. This will negatively affect the value of my house. “

The likely buyer of the house, David Wenk, previously told the Tampa Bay Times that to his knowledge the current owner had a financial need to sell.


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