The Sarasota School of Architecture is a name given to a group of architects who adapted the International Style to Florida’s subtropical climate. From the 1940s through the 1960s hundreds of houses, schools, beach pavilions, offices, government buildings, and businesses were designed by Sarasota School architects.
Most of the Sarasota School houses were built on barrier islands near the Gulf of Mexico such Longboat, Lido, Bird, St. Armand’s, Siesta, and Casey keys. Today, the land the houses sit on costs many times more than the structures themselves, so demolition is almost certain when these properties go on the market. Exhibit A. Exhibit B.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for Modernism in Sarasota. Lido Shores is a small neighborhood on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s located on Lido Key just north of St. Armand’s Circle and just south of the bridge that connects Lido and Longboat keys.
The neighborhood of about 100 homes was developed in 1950 by Philip Hiss, an adventurer, anthropologist, writer, photographer, architect, a developer, and school board chairman. When Hiss planned Lido Shores, he wanted his neighborhood to showcase the works of the Sarasota School architects, who were attracting international attention at the time. House and Home magazine profiled the neighborhood in its July 1954 issue:
Before visiting in November 2009, I had read about Lido Shores’ exorbitant land values and expected the worst. My first impression: Where’s the water? The mega mansions along the waterfront both physically and visually block the waterfront. But it’s a different story on the interior lots, where a number of original houses still stand relatively untouched. Also, many newer houses have kept Lido Shores’ Modernism spirit alive, though they are of a much larger size than the originals.
Please note: Much of the following information was taken from the excellent “Tour Sarasota Architecture,” a 2009 guide put out by the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau. It was created by the county, Sarasota Architectural Foundation, and Ringling School of Art and Design.
The Umbrella House (1953) designed by Paul Rudolph is the most famous house in the neighborhood, and possibly the most famous Sarasota School of Architecture building. It got its name from the slats roof, or “umbrella,” that covered the house and pool. It blew off in a storm decades ago, but the owners are reconstructing it in phases. The house has been meticulously restored and includes period furnishings. It is shown here in 2009, pre-umbrella restoration.
Here it is shortly after construction. Courtesy of Paul Rudolph Foundation.
Here is it in early 2011 during the umbrella restoration.
Next door to the Umbrella House is the Hiss Studio (1953) designed by Tim Seibert. It was built to house Phillip Hiss’ books and was one of the first air-conditioned buildings in Sarasota. Now it’s a residence.
Across the street from the studio on the water stood the Philip Hiss Home, but it was knocked down to make way for this. It sold for $7.4 million in summer 2009.
Here’s what used to stand there, the Philip Hiss House (1950). Courtesy of Florida Photographic Collection.
Typical 2000s Florida waterfront home. I don’t think Hiss had this in mind for Lido Shores.
The William Ingler House (1952) was one of the first houses in Lido Shores.
Typical postwar Florida house: flat roof, one-story, light color, carport, thin columns, clerestory windows.
Unfortunately, many of the houses in Lido Shores–both young and old–have been walled off from the street.
The William Rupp-designed Mrs. Gloria Kirsch House (1957) was renovated in 2007 by the firm of Sarasota School architect Tim Seibert.
The Mrs. Adelia Dolan House (1959).
This futuristic mansion was designed by Carl Abbott, a third generation Sarasota School of Architecture architect.
The Joseph Gould House (1955) was remodeled in 1994, at which time the colorful walls were added.
The Harkavy House (1957) is another Rudolph design. It has been added to over the years, but the design intent has remained. As of October 2011, it’s for sale.
Old modern, new modern.
The addition to the Devries-Craig Residence was done by Guy Peterson.
The Don Chappell House (2000).
The Putterman Residence (1986), another Abbott project. In contrast, the opposite side is a wall of windows that overlook the water.
Hugh Given House (1951).
Williams House (2001) designed by Guy Peterson.
Empty lots are common in Lido Shores. I wonder which Hiss Associates house was here.