An 1886 home that was once sat neglected behind a jungle of overgrown bushes and trees is now preparing for its public debut after more than a year of renovation.
Once a forgotten relic located in the corner of a Rite-Aid parking lot, the Dr. Smith residence – formerly known as the “Jungle House” when it was hidden by greenery – now stands out on the corner of Avenue 63 and Garvanza Avenue with a pristine coat of white paint and a vintage landscape, featuring old palms and citrus trees, that has been cleaned up and brought under control. The property was purchased last year by Brad Chambers, who has restored several old homes in the area.
Built in 1886, the Victorian-style house was the home of Dr. John Lawrence Smith, a physician, horticulturist and leading community elder, reports Charles Fisher, local historian. The main house underwent a second story addition in 1925 and a second two-story home was built in the 1910 on the large property.
With the end of the renovation finally in sight, Chambers has invited the public to view the home and grounds during an open house on Saturday, Nov. 23, according to a posting on the Garvanza Improvement Association Facebook page. “The property had been in the family since it was built in 1886 and GIA guided the transfer of the property from the family to the current owner,” according to the improvement association.
“Dr. Smith was a community activist and the original founder of the Garvanza Improvement Association (GIA) in 1903,” said Fisher in a 2012 Eastsider story. “GIA was responsible for getting the City to pave the streets and replace the street trees that were removed when the curbs and gutters were installed.