Today's paper | eEdition | Subscribe
The Truth-O-Meter
Latest print edition
St. Petersburg Times
Special report
  • The surrogate
    It begins with a woman who yearns for a baby and another who is willing and able to give her one. You can imagine the motives of the prospective parents. But what about the woman willing to carry a baby, give birth and then walk away?
  • More special reports
Video report
  • Friday Night Rewind
    It doesn't matter which team you cheer for. We've got video previews of every high school football program in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando County.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Recipient email
You may enter up to 20 multiple email addresses, separated by commas.
Your message
Validation Code
  Enter validation code

Old Northeast to chronicle charms in book

By Matt Albucher, Times Staff Writer
In print: Sunday, October 26, 2008

Local historian Robin Gonzalez found these treasures on eBay: an original menu from the first dinner at the Vinoy, on Dec. 31, 1925; a 1941 postcard featuring the hotel’s veranda; and an old room key.
Local historian Robin Gonzalez found these treasures on eBay: an original menu from the first dinner at the Vinoy, on Dec. 31, 1925; a 1941 postcard featuring the hotel?s veranda; and an old room key.
Social Bookmarking
Digg Facebook Stumbleupon
Reddit Newsvine

Local historian Robin Gonzalez possesses the very first menu of the very first dinner ever served at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort — on New Year's Eve of 1925.

Those first guests had a fairly mundane dinner: Olives, salted nuts, gumbo passe and "stringless beans" were among the selections.

The artifact is the only one remaining, Gonzalez says, and you'll never guess where she found it.

"I bought it on eBay," she said, adding that it cost less than $100. "You'd be surprised that you can find local history in some of the most unexpected places, even on auction Web sites."

The former middle school social studies teacher has conducted historical research in the Tampa Bay area for 23 years. Now she's compiling the history of St. Petersburg's Old Northeast neighborhood for a children's book scheduled for a December release. She was hired by the Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association to produce the 80-page color picture book.

"We are going to be giving copies of the books to the public elementary schools in the area," said Robin Reed, a neighborhood association volunteer coordinating the effort. "Everybody really loves the history of this neighborhood, and it's the children who are going to have to preserve it in the future."

Neither Reed nor Gonzalez would disclose the historian's fee.

In researching the Old Northeast, Gonzalez uncovered a number of artifacts thought to have been lost, including large hotel room keys from the Vinoy that date back to the 1920s, original postcards and commemorative china from several area landmarks. Gonzalez found almost all of them on eBay.

"It's so amazing how such a small area in the city offers so many fascinating historical sites," she said.

The book will include scavenger hunts at area landmarks and quotes that date back to the founding of St. Petersburg.

The book is going to be unveiled at the Vinoy during the first week of December. It will be available for purchase at the Vinoy, the Sunken Gardens Shop and Interior Motives art gallery for $14.95, Reed said.

>>fast facts

About the neighborhood

The Old Northeast is bordered by Fifth Avenue N to the south, 30th Avenue N to the north, Fourth Street N to the west and Tampa Bay to the east. According to the Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association, the area contains roughly 3,000 buildings and has a population of about 9,000.

[Last modified: Oct 26, 2008 01:20 PM]

Share your thoughts on this story

Comments on this article
by tim Oct 26, 2008 1:20 PM
Perhaps her historical research will reveal that it was called The Vinoy Hotel, not The Renaissance Vinoy Resort.
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters