Maker Profile: Monica Kile

Preserve the ‘Burg – St. Pete Preservation’s Monica Kile on Building Awareness through T-Shirts!

The St. Pete Preservation Society has played a key role in making the St. Pete we know and love today – or, more precisely, preserving it. It was SPP who helped rally support in the 1980s to save the Vinoy Hotel from demolition. They’ve recently notched important wins by earning historical landmark protection for the Detroit Hotel, built in 1888 and located next to Jannus Landing, and the Lang’s Bungalow Court neighborhood.

Much of St. Pete Preservation’s success is based on a program of education that includes Porch Parties highlighting historic buildings or neighborhoods, educational forums and tours, and the much-beloved Movies in the Park series drawing attention to St. Pete’s unique waterfront parks system. According to SPP Executive Director Monica Kile, these programs have helped St. Petersburgers appreciate their city’s unique built environment, even in the face of constant development.

“We have some pretty distinctive architecture,” says Kile, “Particularly our Mediterranean Revival buildings.” The style was developed in Florida, and intended to evoke the feeling of being on the Mediterranean, without having to travel there. St. Pete also has more than its share of Midcentury Modern homes, a now-revered style associated with the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Without the efforts of St. Pete Preservation, we’d have a much different city. “Think about St. Pete without the Vinoy,” says Kile, Or the Open Air Post Office. They’re built for the environment here, to be open.”

Kile credits a lot of the success of St. Pete Preservation, not to a politician or activist, but to an artist – Carrie Jadus. Jadus, who works out of Soft Water Studios in the Warehouse Arts District, is responsible for the impressive art on SPP’s popular and eye-catching Movies in the Park posters. So much so, in fact, that SPP put them on a series of t-shirts. More recently, the group launched its “Preserve the Burg” campaign, which features not only on t-shirts, but on stickers and posters.

All of St. Pete Preservation’s t-shirts have been strong sellers. Strange as it may sound, successful t-shirts have made it easier for the group to get things done – not just by raising money, but by raising their profile.

“You see people wearing them around town,” Monica Kile explains, “And it lends credibility to an organization, when people choose to put your logo on their chest.”

The message and mission of those t-shirts is simple, says Kile. “We’re trying to maintain the incredible sense of place that St. Pete has.”

St. Pete Threads is proud to be part of expanding the visibility of groups like St. Pete Preservation. Monica Kile and her dedicated team provide an important reminder, as development in our big little ‘burg heats up – preserving the past is a huge part of keeping St. Pete a place we love to live.