Located at 179 92nd Street is a prairie style Vintage House built in1955, currently owned by Gail and Ralph Pfeifer.
The philosophy of Prairie style architecture, pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright, reflects and pays homage to the surrounding environment, similar to Arts and Crafts style architecture.
Both styles exhibit key features, such as the use of natural materials like stone, brick, and wood, with transitions of these materials from outside to inside. The exterior of this ranch home’s front facade, for example, is of Tennessee strip stone in a ledge rock pattern with planters of the same stone beneath the windows. Tennessee strip stone also comprises the interior fireplace/barbecue feature.
Life of the House
The original owner of the house was Fred Parquette, a salesman from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who retained ownership from 1955 to 1959, when it was sold to Cleta Fischer. Ms Fischer, a nurse from Somerset, New Jersey, sold it to Ginny and Frank Bourke, Ralph’s maternal aunt and her husband, in 1970. Gail and Ralph purchased the home from Ginny and Frank in 2000.
Ralph has been coming to Stone Harbor since 1952, when he was four years old. Ralph’s parents had learned about the town from Ginny, whose friends had told her that Stone Harbor was “a nice little town. When Ralph’s aunt finally visited Stone Harbor in the late 1940s, it was love at first sight. Then Ginny told her four sisters about the town, and over the years, they and their families fell in love with the town, too. The extended Pfeifer family spent parts of every summer in Stone Harbor throughout the following decades.
Ralph remembers when Springer’s ice cream cones were 15 cents for a single or 25 cents for a double. He and his family, including aunts and uncles, would dine at the Sea Breeze or at Henny’s. Ralph still remembers the Gulf station at 96th and Third, the Esso Station where the Wawa now stands, and going to the movies at the Park and Harbor theaters.
In the late 1950s, the family began to rent on 92nd Street. More houses were built now, and as they walked to the beach one day in the mid-1950s, they passed a ranch house with a beige and pink stonework front and a red farm-style fence, at number 179. It was new, just built in 1955, and Ralph remembers it “had the nicest lawn in town.”
In 1974, Ralph brought Gail on a date to Stone Harbor over the
July 4th weekend to visit with his family. That was the weekend her memories of Stone Harbor began. The ranch with the red farm-style fence was in the family now.
She recalls that the living room had a stone fireplace that matched the front of the house—Tennessee strip stone. It backed up to a stone barbecue on the other side, which led to the knotty pine paneled room that everyone referred to as the “drinking room.” That is where Ginny and Frank would serve their guests cocktails—usually Old-fashioned—and some snacks. The long wall of windows in that room opened out to a flagstone patio that held pots of pink and red geraniums in the summer.
That July 4th when Gail turned 25, would become a nearly 50-year birthday tradition, with a little surprise store-bought cake and champagne to celebrate. After Ralph and Gail got married and started their own family, they would rent each summer a block or two away from Ginny and Frank’s house, at the Colonial Lodge, the Seaward, or on the second floor of the yellow house that still stands next to the Colonial Lodge.
After Gail and Ralph purchased the house from Ginny and Frank, they decided to remodel it keeping its unique prairie style character—a ranch with no second story. They used similar interior paint colors, kept the handmade bookcases, some paneled walls, and the Tennessee strip stone fireplace and barbecue. This would ultimately become their retirement haven.
The Pfeifer’s have lived here full time since 2010. The stone front ranch has a vintage home plaque now. And every year, although the family has diminished with some and grown with others, July 4th is still celebrated with as many as possible on 179 92nd Street in Stone Harbor, watching everyone fireworks over the ocean.
Although now there are a lot more than 25 candles to put on her cake, Gail still gets that “surprise”—but now it’s from a birthday cake from Springer’s.
Photos of the House