For the past few years, Paige Wagner, founder and owner of Paige Wagner Homes Realty, has held the Annual Historic Home Tour, introducing many to the luxury of historic homes. While this year’s tour was held on March 17, you can still view these beautiful homes in the pages that follow. Take the tour as Wagner and The Lakelander offer a glimpse into the founding neighborhoods first developed throughout our city, unveiling the type of cultivated home life that buyers of all ages are flocking to.

photography by Naomi Lynn Vacaro

The appeal of living in a historic home may seem to be only a recent fascination, but, for years, both young and old have gravitated to this unique option for its endless possibilities and charm. With the many styles of homes featured in past issues of The Lakelander, it goes without saying that historic homes have captured the attention of Lakeland, regardless of what the current trends may be.

As houses that were built decades prior, the innate cozy, homey, and nostalgic features create an inviting ambiance for new homeowners to settle into and easily make their own. Alongside the long-favored Historic District, a number of other districts increasingly replicate this beloved way of living, offering many historically preserved home options throughout the city.

Covering the East Lake Morton District, the Lake Hollingsworth Neighborhood, the South Lake Morton District, and the Cleveland Heights District, you may soon discover your ideal historic home doesn’t need to limit your search to only the “Historic District.”

While most homes change throughout the decades due to trends and style, no two historic homes in Lakeland are alike. And no two homes on this tour are alike. With the many facets offered by each residence, these owners have come to find their ideal historic homes through Wagner and graciously offer us all a peek into their beloved spaces. And each homeowner on the tour has settled into their still-fairly-new finished home and managed to seamlessly transition to make it their very own.

So, yes, we’re sorry to inform you that none of these homes are currently for sale. But they may just open your eyes to the many hidden gems still available throughout the city.

Several districts outside of the Historic District throughout the tour not only offer potential historic homes, but characteristics quickly matching that of the Historic District. From a 1925 historic bungalow to a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired midcentury modern marvel, these homes are sure to catch your eye and inspire you no matter what style of home you live in. For anyone in the market ready to buy, you may be eager to find your own historic haven after giving these homes a look.

If after the tour you’re still not ready to make the historic home transition yourself, you’ll no doubt be inspired to replicate one or more of the looks you come across over the next few pages.

HOUSE .01 / 1963 | South Lakeland

Home of: Hillary and Jason DeMeo |  Specifics: 4 bed / 2.5 bath

“The home’s architectural uniqueness is only matched by the stories of the people who have lived in it. Every aspect, from light to the layout, has been designed with intention, and we feel like we are caretaking a true Lakeland gem.” — Jason and Hillary DeMeo

Built in 1963, the architect pulled inspiration from design legend Frank Lloyd Wright. Nearly half the home consists of glass doors and windows to let natural light flood the space. The owners rarely turn their lights on during the day because the house practically illuminates itself. The 1960s’ terrazzo stone flooring throughout is just another stunning feature of this home, not to mention the nearly one-acre lot on which the home resides.

HOUSE .02 / 1920 | Lake Hollingsworth

Home of: Troy & Tara Johnson | Specifics: 3 bed/2 bath

“In one year of living here, we’ve made so many amazing memories, but to think this house holds almost 100 years of memories is pretty inspiring.” — Tara Johnson

This 1920 bungalow has one of the most picturesque views of Lake Hollingsworth right from the living room sofa. The spaces are permeated with character, with original 1920s’ pinewood floors, a darling butler’s pantry, and five-panel interior doors throughout. Not to mention the original home-phone ledge. With its prominent location, striking exterior, features, and prestige character, this home is truly a Lake Hollingsworth neighborhood staple.

HOUSE .03 / 2004 | South Lake Morton Historic District

Home of: Dan & Bre Rivera | Specifics: 2 bed/ 2 bath

“The history, people, and local businesses that make up the Dixieland and South Lake Morton area are constantly inspiring us. The most enjoyable part of this remodel was learning how to incorporate some of the characteristics of this area into our home.” — Dan and Bre Rivera

New construction meets neighborhood historic. Who wouldn’t want a new home that’s been built to look like it’s always been a part of the Historic District? This duplex is 980 square feet and recently went through a beautiful remodel. The owners updated the kitchen with two-tone-colored cabinetry, hardwood floors reminiscent of 1920s’ pine floors, and bright white paint. With windows across the whole north wall, the natural light brings a tranquil feeling of the outside in. This home is located in the South Lake Morton Historic District.

HOUSE .04 / 1952 | Camphor Heights

Home of: Michael & Erica Steiner | Specifics: 4 bed/ 2 bath

“We love to sit and gaze at the view of our street from our front window. The large camphor trees, historic lamp posts, and friendly neighbors make for the best walks around the neighborhood.” — Erica Steiner

This 1950s’ neighborhood sits beneath a canopy of camphor trees over 100 years old, creating an enchanted atmosphere. And this home, although built in 1952, truly functions as a new house. It was gutted and restored in 2017, with brand-new plumbing, electrical, roof, walls, and even a new layout. Despite all the changes, the 1950s’ retro character of the exterior with its starburst columns and modern angle construction remain intact.

HOUSE .05 / 1925 | East Lake Morton Historic District

Home of: Daniel & Amanda Martin | Specifics: 2 bed/ 1 bath

“We love our home’s proximity to Lake Morton and downtown Lakeland. We love the lifestyle of being able to walk to local restaurants. It’s amazing.” — Daniel and Amanda Martin

All 932 square feet of this charming wood-frame bungalow was built in 1925. With a wall originally separating the living room from the dining room, you’ll now walk into an open space with the original wood-burning fire as the focal point. The owners have been very creative on adding storage in their small space, with built-ins and even a hidden space for their dog in the cabinetry. With all the character of old but functionality of new, this home is a perfect example of “less is more.” The bungalow is located in the East Lake Morton Historic District which is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.

HOUSE .06 / 1950 | Cleveland Heights District

Home to: Joe & Hollie Jo Hepler | Specifics: 3 Bed/ 1.5 Bath

“What I love most about our midcentury modern home is our cozy in-home library. We gutted an old storage closet off our living room and converted it into a walk-in library to showcase all of my husband’s collections of books, periodicals, and keepsakes.” — Hollie Jo Hepler

This ranch was built in 1950 at the height of the midcentury-modern craze. You can see the couple’s personal style communicated beautifully through the home’s furniture and decor. A total kitchen remodel with popular subway tile, open shelving, and an attached dining room bench was completed in 2014. The beautiful white wood beams in the converted Florida room add character and an open feel to the home. This Cleveland Heights neighborhood home is tucked away on a historic brick road.