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Kellogg Mansion | Photo © 2021 Bullet, www.abandonedfl.com

Kellogg Mansion

Location Class:
Built: 1925 | Abandoned: 2021
Status: Demolished
Photojournalist: David Bulit

Kellogg Mansion

Edward Frischkorn

Although the Kellogg Mansion is well known to have been owned by W. K. Kellogg, founder of the Kellogg Cereal Company, he was actually not the first owner nor would he be the last. The mansion was built over several years starting in 1925 as the personal home of Edward Frischkorn. Frischkorn was a Detroit businessman and home builder who developed Dunedin Isles between 1925 and 1929. His original plans included building five islands, which never happened.

Many of the homes he built were in the Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial styles and his personal residence was no different. Then known as Villa Marino, it featured soundproof rooms, secret passageways, stained glass windows, mosaic tilework, Moorish arches, and curved Spanish-inspired staircases. One particular feature, a staircase to nowhere, suggests it may have been designed by Addison Mizner, probably the most prominent architect of the 1920s whose works can be found all throughout South Florida. Mizner was known for his love of such theatrical staircases.

Dunedin Isles was to include two 18-hole golf courses, a country club, a hotel, marinas, and homes for 50,000 new residents. By 1928 however, hundreds of properties owned by Dunedin Isles were delinquent. With the start of the Great Depression, the project had failed. Frischkorn sold his mansion to Austin Selz, an executive for Chicago-based shoe manufacturer Selz, Schwab & Company. Although the company was ranked among the leading shoe manufacturers in the Midwest, the company failed as the depression crippled its sales. Shortly after the mansion was purchased, it went into foreclosure. It was in 1934 that the home was purchased by W. K. Kellogg as one of his winter homes.

kellogg mansion
Villa Marino during the days W.K. Kellogg owned it. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Will Keith Kellogg

Will Keith Kellogg, commonly referred to as W. K. Kellogg, is best known for being the founder of the Kellogg Company. Born on April 7, 1860, in Battle Creek, Michigan, Will was a young businessman who had started out as a traveling salesman selling brooms before helping his brother Dr. John Harvey Kellogg run the Battle Creek Sanitarium. The Sanitarium was a world-renowned health resort based on health principles advocated by the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church.

While Dr. Kellogg’s medical treatment included all branches of medicine, there was always an emphasis on fresh air, sunshine, exercise, rest, and diet. The SDA dietary practices eliminated meats, condiments, spices, alcohol, chocolate, coffee, and tea so nutritious substitutes were created to replace them. Dr. Kellogg developed a wide variety of vegetarian foods most of which were made easy to chew and digest. The foods he developed tended to also be bland as the teachings of Seventh Day Adventist co-founder Ellen G. White recommended a diet of bland foods to minimize excitement, sexual arousal, and masturbation.

battle creek sanitarium
Battle Creek Sanitarium, pre-1902

Kellogg Cereal

In 1877, Dr. John H. Kellogg developed a dough made of wheat, oats, and corn which was baked at high temperatures, and then broken down into crumbs. This became the sanitarium’s first cereal known as “Granola”. In 1890, the Sanitas Food Company was formed to develop and market food products. In 1894, Dr. John Kellogg was in the process of cooking a batch of dough when he was called away. When he returned the next morning, the wheat had become stale. Instead of throwing it out, he decided to run it through the rollers anyway which came out in small flakes. “Granose” as it was called was the world’s first flaked cereal. Cornflakes made from toasted maize followed in 1898 and a version with a longer shelf-life in 1902.

At first, the Kelloggs sold their products mainly by mail-order and exclusively to their former patients. While Will saw the commercial potential in the discovery, his brother was not interested in business and allowed anyone in the sanitarium to view the flaking process. Charles William Post was one of these former patients who founded the Post Cereal Company, copying the process to sell his own brand of cornflakes.

By the early-1900s, there were dozens of cereal companies, and the refusal to commercialize their discovery caused a rift between the Kelloggs. An argument between the two ensued after Will suggested adding sugar to their product which went against his brother’s firm belief system. So in 1906, Will founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, producing and marketing the highly successful Kellogg’s Toasted Corn Flakes. The company was renamed the Kellogg Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1909.

W. K. Kellogg was a philanthropist and established the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in 1930, ultimately donating $66 million to it. In 1931, he directed most of the company’s factories to shift towards 30-hour work weeks instead of the usual 40. He stated that he did this to give more people the opportunity to work during the Great Depression.


One of his longtime interests was Arabian horses and in 1925, he established a horse ranch in Pomona, California that included a mansion where he spent his winters. In 1932, he donated the ranch to the University of California but quickly grew upset at how the university managed it. Refusing to spend his winters there, he purchased the Villa Marino in Dunedin in 1934. Although he only spent two winters at the Dunedin home, he enjoyed the glass-bottom boats of Tarpon Springs and was a frequent guest at the Sarasota home of John Ringling of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He donated his Dunedin home to the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in 1935. Will Keith Kellogg spent much of his later years in Battle Creek where he died at the age of 91 on October 6, 1951.

WK Kellogg
W. K. Kellogg

World War II

On Dec. 31, 1942, the foundation leased the property to the U.S. Marine Corps, and it became part of a base for Marines testing and training on Roebling “Alligator” amphibious landing crafts. The house served as the nonmarried Marine officers’ quarters. The Roebling family were mainly civil engineers notable for their design and construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

While living in Florida in the early 1930s, Donald Roebling began work on an amphibious tracked vehicle that could be used to rescue survivors of floods and hurricanes. The United States Marine Corps became interested after learning about this new invention through an article in Life magazine. The design was militarized for use in the war and the first contract was awarded to the Food Machinery Corporation (FMC). The first LVT-1, unofficially known as the Alligator, rolled out of FMC’s factory in Dunedin in July 1941. Before they saw combat, Marines piloted them from Dunedin Isles to practice landings on Honeymoon Island.

The Kellogg Mansion featured in a local newspaper during World War II.

William L. Matthew

The foundation sold the house in August 1946 to William and Caroline Nolan. William L. “Bill” Matthew, a newspaper broker who handled numerous mergers and sales for some of the nation’s biggest publishing chains, purchased the home in 1964. It was under the ownership of Bill Matthew that the mosaic tilework was added. Painter Don Ringelspaugh who also worked at the Kapok Tree Restaurant in Clearwater was commissioned to paint the murals throughout the house.

Other additions to the house included a disco that had a remote control that opened up the ceiling, an elevator lined with tiger-printed faux fur, and a full bar in the carriage house. The master bedroom was also remodeled with wood claimed to have been harvested from Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello, though the wood used actually came from the land known as Pantops, owned by Jefferson’s father.

Kellogg Mansion | Photo © 2021 Bullet, www.abandonedfl.com
The Kellogg Mansion, 2021


James Nielsen, an ophthalmologist in Clearwater, purchased the home from Bill Matthew’s estate in 2003. Nielsen died in January 2021. His widow wrote to the Dunedin City Commission asking that it not vote to designate the home as historic. It was her thought that giving the home a historic designation would prevent a pending sale and any future sales from happening.

The new owners, Christa Carpenter and her husband David Wenk, made plans to demolish the home for a new one as renovating the Kellogg Mansion into a livable home or museum wasn’t realistic due to asbestos, structural issues, and mold prevalent throughout the house. Christa Carpenter got a guarantee the city would not designate the Kellogg home as historic which would prevent them from knocking it down. In exchange, the mayor of Dunedin, the seller, and the new owners signed a contract allowing the city to first take a number of fixtures, statues, and other pieces the owners say are worth at least $100,000. The city planned on auctioning off the salvaged items to fund the Dunedin History Museum and future preservation projects.

When Carpenter arrived at the Kellogg House, she found it stripped of the valuables promised to the city. Statues and fountains were uprooted, wrought-iron door frames and chandeliers were removed, and doorknobs and doorbells were missing. She called the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and reported a burglary. It was found that Tampa Bay Salvage was the culprit claiming they had permission from “a person we believed to be the property owner” to carefully remove and sell the items, and thought they were doing so legally. Having been misled by the previous owner, Tampa Salvage brought back the items.

The city of Dunedin and the museum are preparing to scan the interior of the home to create a three-dimensional exhibit that preserves the mansion virtually and to begin auctioning the donated items. The house was demolished in February 2022.

Author’s Note: I would like to thank Blair Kooi, Dunedin Historical Society president, as well as Christa Carpenter for giving me the opportunity to photograph the house.

Photo Gallery


David Bulit is a photographer, author, and historian from Miami, Florida. He has published a number of books on abandoned and forgotten locales throughout the United States and continues to advocate for preserving these historic landmarks. His work has been featured throughout the world in news outlets such as the Miami New Times, the Florida Times-Union, the Orlando Sentinel, NPR, Yahoo News, MSN, the Daily Mail, UK Sun, and many others. You can find more of his work at davidbulit.com as well as amazon.com/author/davidbulit.

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