While the historical record for Sarasota has roots in prehistory, the first recorded contacts with our area date to the early 1500s. There's not much left from those days other than what's preserved at Historic Spanish Point. Pioneer families began arriving here in the mid-1840s — around the time that Florida achieved statehood. The Webb Family homestead was named Spanish Point.
In the late 1880s, in a trek reminescent of Sir Gregor MacGregor's 1923 hoax, the Florida Mortgage and Investment Company sold parcels in what was described to Scottish prospects as a thriving town in a tropical paradise. Although the settlers waded ashore to find none of the promised homes, shops or streets, many of them stayed to build Sarasota and even its first golf course at the Da Sota Hotel.
Sarasota's still extant landmark buildings date from the early 1900s. The buildings dated before the 1940s demonstrate the foundations for the modern community. Unfortunately, most of these structures no longer exist because their wooden frames made the buildings vulnerable to fire and storm damage well before the time of city water sources and fire departments. A fortunate reminder from that era is the Tudor Revival Florida Studio Theatre, which was built in 1915 as the Sarasota Woman's Club (left).
During the Florida Land Boom of the 1920s, Sarasota architects and their clients favored revival styles blending elements of Mediterranean and Spanish looks. Then, during the post-World War II period, the celebrated Sarasota School of Architecture or Sarasota Modern brought new ideas of space and form to the region. Building on the International style plus awareness of climate and landscape, these innovators are forever linked with our community.
Today cultural tourists flock to Sarasota to see architecture as outdoor sculpture. Take the History Stroll to see exotic revivalist architecture dating the Florida Land Boom of the early 1900s. I also urge you to stop by the History Center for a copy of toursarasota Architecture (Cost: $10). This booklet includes a map and driving directions for a self-guided introduction to the city's architectural heritage. Best of all, the point of interest focus on the famous Sarasota School of Architecture that brought a distinctly modern look to our community. Read more about the self-guided architectural tour here.
The Sarasota School architects express timely influences in ways that fit Sarasota's subtropical climate and lush semi-tropical enviroment. I love the way one Lido Shores homeowner described the Sarasota Modern renovation of her garden home (in Sarasota, a garden home means that the property is not on the water): ""Because we are not on the water, we wanted to feel like we could see water," she told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (January14, 2012). That was the whole idea behind the design. There are a lot of images of water and cool colors."
The innovative designs by the Sarasota School of Architecture drew international attention and today we treasure these historic buildings as art to live in.
Explore the architects, past and present, and how their works have marked Sarasota & Her islands. Click on an architect's name below to read about his or her life and work.
Photo by Louis Wery shows the historic Tudor Revival style Florida Studio Theatre designed by H.N. Hall.
Architects Past & Present
Clifford M. Scholz (1954-
Dwight James Baum (1886–1939)
Alex Browning (1866-1932)
Thomas Reed Martin (1865-1949)
Boyd Backner (1933-2002)
Bert Brosmith (1928-
Joseph Farrell (1932-
Mark Hampton (1923-
Philip Hiss (1910-1988)
Mary Rockwell Hook (1877-1978)
Gene Leedy (1928-
Victor Lundy (1923-
William Rupp (1927-2002)
Paul Rudolph (1918-1997)
Ralph Twitchell (1890-1978)
Tolyn Twitchell (1928-
Jack West (1922-2010)
Ralph Waldo Zimmerman (1889-1976)
Photo by Louis Wery shows the historic Mediterranean Revival style Ca d'Zan, the home of John and Mable Ringling, which today is a house museum on the campus of the Ringling Museum. Designed by Dwight James Bum, the 36,000-square-foot structure ranks as the largest historic mansion on the west coast of Florida.
For more information about Sarasota & Her Islands, please call Louis Wery at 941.232.3001 • LouisWery@gmail.com
Please Note: Architecturally significant Properties properties are shown for educational purposes only and, while some are listed for sale, others are not.