The 5,232 square foot Prairie School residence is one of Downtown Fort Myers’ most outstanding houses. It features two large entrance porticoes with a balcony above each. The finely detailed eaves, porch brackets, and contrasting stucco ornaments on the dark brick add to the liveley facade, tied together with a wrap-around veranda.
It exhibits common traits of Prairie School houses in Florida, including the use of different construction materials for the first and second stories, separated by a string course. The original red tile roof, another common feature, has been replaced with a shingle roof. Broad eaves and overhangs allowed the windows to remain open for ventilation in Florida’s tropical climate in the decades before air-conditioning became prevalent.
The Langford-Kingston home is an architectural enigma, since its exterior is nearly a duplicate of another house built 6 years earlier and over 300 miles away in Jacksonvillethe Lucius Smith residence. The architect of both houses is unknown.
The residence was originally constructed in 1919 by Mr. Walter Langford, a prominent figure in Fort Myers’ banking and railroad industries. Mr. Langford died one year later. The house was then sold in 1925 to the inventor of the Kingston carburetor, George Kingston. It remained with the Kingston family until it was sold to the First United Methodist Church in 1953. The church stopped using it for services in 1991, but continued to operate a day care there until 1996. In 2001 the church donated the home to the City of Fort Myers. The house was moved in May of 2003 to a lot across the street, where it is now awaiting restoration.
Photos by Wayne W. Wood.
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