Sis Frank and Miles Stair
Fifty years after Ruth “Sis” Frank first opened the doors of Holiday Homes in 1960, the St. John real estate firm is still a thriving hub of activity today.
Holiday Homes is currently owned by Miles Stair, who purchased the company from Peter Griffith in 1992, and Christie O’Neil, who joined Stair as a partner in 2001.
Frank first came to St. John in December of 1959 and fell so in love with the island that she has never left. She started Holiday Homes as a rental management company — the very first of its kind in Love City.
“I arrived on St. John on December 23, 1959, and never left this beautiful island,” said Frank. “There were 20 continentals and 900 natives who thoroughly enjoyed their lives here. I knew that I had really found ‘paradise’ and set up a rental business.”
“The government insisted that I have a name and a license and that’s how Holiday Homes was born,” Frank said.
The former interior decorator from upstate New York would go on to run the local ferry boats, help found the St. John Corporation — which was an early lending and stock company integral to the development of the island — and the St. John School of the Arts.
After marrying Carl Frank in 1962, the couple became the first realtors on the island, selling property from the back porch of their Great Cruz Bay home — where Frank still resides to this day.
At that time there were dirt roads past the Franks’ house and a bulldozer had only recently cleared lots for sale. A parcel would sell for somewhere between $7,000 and $9,000, according to Stair.
When her husband died in 1972, Frank took on Peter Griffith, the father of the actress Melanie Griffith who used to vacation on St. John at the time with her then-boyfriend and actor Don Johnson.
St. John is not a new place for Stair either. He and his wife Susan first came to the island to work at the front desk of the then-Rockefeller resort Caneel Bay in 1972. After a stint at Cinnamon Bay, Stair became food and beverage manager at Caneel until 1977 when he left to work stateside.
The Stairs returned to St. John in 1985, when Miles Stair started working with Griffith at Holiday Homes. Stair bought the business from Griffith in 1992 and hasn’t looked back.
“It’s wonderful to have the company going for 50 years,” said Stair. “To have Sis here is the most exciting thing. There aren’t many people who live to see their company have an anniversary like this.”
The St. John real estate market is not at all the same landscape that Frank saw back in 1960s. Similar lots to what Frank sold for less than $10,000 have routinely sold for more than $1 million, according to Stair.
“There has been a big change,” he said. “But Sis was there in the beginning. She started an industry that has become one of the underpinnings of the St. John economy.”
Looking ahead, Stair sees Holiday Homes remaining as a vibrant entity.
“We hope to have just some portion of as good an influence as Sis Frank has had on St. John, between St. John School of the Arts and all the great things that she’s done,” said Stair.