ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Sept. 16, 2016) – Long before St. Petersburg was known for its beaches, it was known as the only city in the world to have its main street lined with green benches. That tradition began 100 years ago.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the famous green benches, The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay – an independent living, assisted living and memory care community at 1255 Pasadena Ave. South in St. Petersburg – will host a celebration on Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. Rick Baker, former mayor of St. Petersburg, will speak at the event and share the history of the green benches.
The Fountains agreed to host the 100th anniversary of the green benches at the request of resident Dick Holmes, former mayor of South Pasadena, who also helped coordinate the event. Holmes has been a staunch advocate of St. Petersburg’s green benches for more than 25 years. After the benches had been removed from St. Petersburg in the 1960s, Holmes successfully brought them back in 1991, with the help of “Flash” Gordon C. Williamson, a young enterprising entrepreneur in the woodworking business.
“My passionate goal and desire was to bring back the green benches,” said Holmes. “My wife and I moved into The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay because they had six green benches on campus.”
Holmes will donate a green bench he owns to The Fountains at the anniversary event. The bench will be placed by the pond in front of the community.
The first benches appeared in St. Petersburg as far back as 1908 but differed in style and color. In 1916, Former Mayor Al Lang held a town hall meeting to establish continuity. A hunter green was chosen for the color and a curved contour shape for the style. More than 7,000 benches were placed around St. Petersburg, which became known as the “City of Green Benches.” For years to follow, the green benches became a symbol of the city’s hospitality.
“The green benches have become part of our history at The Fountains,” said Suzanne Burtzlaff, executive director at The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay. “Many of our residents grew up with the green benches and we want to keep that memory alive.”
In addition to Baker’s speech, guests at the anniversary party will also enjoy live entertainment by Big City Music and refreshments. For more information and to RSVP for the Sept. 30 event, which is open to the media and public, visit The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay’s website: http://ow.ly/8NO9303ZNKD.
About The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay
The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay is a retirement community situated on 14 acres of waterfront property in St. Petersburg, Fla. Since opening in 1973 the community has offered independent living, assisted living and memory care to area seniors. Short and long-term skilled nursing and rehabilitation is available at The Springs, an on-site health center operated by Summit Care. Managed by Watermark Retirement Communities, The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay is committed to creating an extraordinary community where people thrive.