Garvanza prepares to celebrate a Victorian-era revival

Dr. Smith Residence after renovation

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.

The Dr. Smith Residence – aka Jungle House – when it was obscured by overgrown landscape/Nicole Possert


  1. I would tear down many of those ugly apartment building that have been built in the Garvanza area I can’t believe some people could tare down old Victorian and Craftsmen Bungalow to erect apartments buildings.

  2. Thank you, Brad Chambers!!!! You are very appreciated in our community.

  3. Yes!! We are so there! We live only a couple blocks away and have been watching this amazing transformation take place. Like @Katrina said above, You are SO appreciated in our community!!

  4. I’ve been eagerly waiting for the last months to see what the color scheme would be. Have I been wrongly assuming all the white paint is just the primer?

    • Garvanza Improvement Assoc.

      I believe the final color will be white. The owner usually prefers an understated approach when it comes to exterior paint. He had tried a chocolate brown on the body of the house and white trim but didn’t like how that was working. I think he is just concentrating on getting the interior and infrastructure completed has been tenacious. He has painted the turret tower toward the back of the larger house a deep grey with white trim to offset it from the original part of the home. Although when you see the home’s many architectural features one can marvel at the many unique aspects of this property. The interior will be very traditional as well. I saw 4 different tones of grey for the dining room which was very common for this period.

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *