Old Northeast Banner Debuts for Neighborhood’s Oldest Homes
This summer, you may see a new flag flying in the Old Northeast. In addition to the familiar designs of the neighborhood association’s popular honeycomb/hexblock designs, the area’s oldest homes now have a flag all their own. When you see the new Centennial Home Banner outside, you know the house is at least 100 years old.
With several hundred century-old homes in the neighborhood, the new flag should add another pop of color amongst the current array of banners – and historical distinction for residents and visitors. At least, that’s the goal of the Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association (HONNA).
“The Old Northeast has a lot of pride as a neighborhood, and we felt this flag was another way to instill pride,” said HONNA President Nick Bell.
Bell and Sharon Kantner, a prominent local Realtor and longtime organizer of the neighborhood’s annual Candlelight Tour of Homes, hatched the idea for a Centennial Home Banner last fall. And with so many local artists and creatives in St. Pete, it made sense to turn the banner design into a contest.
Earlier this year, HONNA received submissions and about 10 of the submitted designs made a short list. At last, the winner was Lana Suarez, an Old Northeast resident and a visual design professional.
“We didn’t require the artists to be residents, but she is!” Bell said. “I think that’s great. We have such a great diversity of talent in the neighborhood. And she was psyched.”
Suarez spent weeks chipping away at her flag design in rare free moments. Between a full-time corporate career and a new baby at home, she somehow managed to find time to create. “I would get in bed and work for a few hours, maybe two or three times a week,” Suarez said. “I’m a very picky person. I must have gone through ten versions.”
For inspiration, Suarez looked at branding for similar neighborhoods in places like Savannah, Georgia, and took mental inventory from her neighbors’ homes while on afternoon walks. “I wanted to really match the vibe of the neighborhood, which is a mix of history and eclecticness. Some of my neighbors have been here a really long time, and we just moved here in 2020,” Suarez said. “So, I wanted to bring in the idea of transitioning from old to new.”
Suarez’s own family home won’t fly the flag – yet. Her house has more than a decade to go before it’s a century old. Until the Suarez house hits that milestone, however, the artist says she’ll be happy knowing other homes in the neighborhood feature her distinctive banner. “I am so excited to spot it in the wild,” Suarez said. “I have a huge sense of pride and commitment tied to the design, and I put a lot of thought and time to it.”
HONNA says that the Centennial Home Banner should be available by mid-July. Verifying a home’s age will be more of an honor system, however.
“We can check our records to make sure a home is 100 years old, but we’ll just trust that they are buying this because their home really is that old,” Bell said. Funds from the Centennial Home Banner, like that of other HONNA banners, will benefit the neighborhood association. Bell said the flags are not typically big moneymakers, but the sense of pride they bring to the community may be priceless. “I think this is going to be great,” Bell said. “I wish every house in the neighborhood had an Old Northeast flag.”
Find your flag and all other Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association info at honna.org