By Victoria Ostrosky
Some say the house was built in 1911, and others say it was built in 1915. Records back then weren’t always kept accurately, but what we do know is that right about that time, and when Lynn Haven was in its infancy, two sisters from Ohio moved down to our fledgling community and built their new home at 1312 Ohio Ave. I’m thinking they picked that street because of where they were from. But then, I’m a storyteller, so who knows for sure?
These two ladies hailed from a very cold climate, where winter snow accumulating on your roof could cause it to collapse, so they instructed the builders to give their new home a steep roof pitch to prevent such an occurrence. Of course, even though it’s been plenty cold here for the last couple of weeks, so far we haven’t had to worry about snow accumulating on our roofs. Hope on, hope ever.
The house was painted white back then and in 1938, when Thomas Delano “Dino” Suggs was just 5 years old, his dad Thomas Oscar Suggs bought the house, along with several adjacent lots, and moved his family in. Dino is the oldest of 3 children, and he has many fond memories of growing up right there on the main drag of town. Dino loved playing marbles with his baby sister Imogene, and he and his brother Bobby would play in the street since it was the only cement around. “About every fifteen minutes we’d have to stop because a car would come by,” Dino told me. Highway 77 back then was a far cry from what the traffic is like today.
They had a cow named Daisy fenced in the back area and a garden plot where they grew mostly peas and corn which their mother put up every fall to feed them throughout the year. Next to the house, there were also Catawba Worm trees gracefully growing tall to provide much-needed shade during the hot summers.
Dino recalls a secret room he had all to himself under the staircase where he would go when he wanted to get away from it all. “That was my hideout,” he said with a smile.
After Dino was grown, with a family of his own, he built a house across the street at 1313 Ohio Ave. His children loved spending time with their grandparents, running up and down the stairs, swinging in the porch swings, and having Easter egg hunts every year. More and more memories were created, filling the house and yard with the laughter and joy of children.
Things are different now, and speaking of traffic, that’s why this venerable and long-standing home is being featured today. Highway 390 is being widened to accommodate Lynn Haven’s growing population with its accompanying cars, trucks, pedestrians and congestion. Several years ago, Dino, who inherited the house and adjoining property after his parents died, was contacted by the State of Florida and was told his property would be seized by eminent domain, so it looked like the house would have to be torn down after standing so strong for so many years.
When you think about it, can you imagine the sights the Suggs house on Ohio Ave has seen and the advancements it has witnessed over the last one hundred years or so? Paved roads, shopping centers and fast food restaurants, just to start. Then cable TV, telephones, computers and something called the internet. I can picture the movie starring a house with a heart that watches over a small town, memorializing all the changes – the good and the bad.
But we’re getting off-topic. When the Suggs family was informed that the house would have to go, they contacted the City of Lynn Haven to see if they could get permission to just move the house over to one of the other lots instead of demolishing a historic landmark, but at first they were told no. The family didn’t give up. They persisted, pleading with the city that it would make Dino feel better to not have the house torn down. They finally got the OK. This stretch of Ohio Ave. with its many businesses is now zoned commercial, but in March of 2017, the City of Lynn Haven agreed to grandfather the house in.
The family is now thinking that they may turn the house into an antique shop in the future, or they may keep it for the grandkids to use.
The Suggs family located a moving company with a good reputation by the name of Ducky Johnson House Movers, a local company that’s been doing a lot of moving in the Panhandle and beyond for a number of years. One of their moves was even featured on HGTV. This move won’t be in a TV episode, but all of Lynn Haven will get to see it front and center, and with Ducky Johnson House Movers’ excellent credentials, we’re confident everything will go well.
Just think, maybe in a couple of years, 1312 Ohio Ave. might boast a beautiful, quirky and fun antique shop filled with wonderful finds from yesteryear!
The older I get, the more I appreciate age. It’s not always outward beauty that catches your eye and grabs your heart, because that kind of beauty fades. But the strength and wisdom garnered from years of storms and dirt and just plain living is what makes you cherish the past with its warped floors and crooked windows. I think laughter still echoes through empty halls long after the occupants are gone.
Here’s to the saving of a special piece of more than just real estate!