#14. South Nassau St.: The Sawyer Building

#14. South Nassau St.: The Sawyer Building

During the second half of 1926, Harold W. Sawyer had this two-sided building constructed for an estimated cost of $20,000 to house his grocery and meat market. Besides the two store-fronts on the first floor, there were eight offices on the second floor. The Woodroffe Investment Company and the building firm of Clark and Stevens occupied two of the second floor offices. In 1934, the building was purchased by the First Baptist Church and by 1936 had been enlarged.

Photograph provided by Venice Museum & Archives

#15. 229-237 W. Miami Avenue: The Lawton Building

#15. 229-237 W. Miami Avenue: The Lawton Building

In October 1926, Mrs. Louis L. Lawton announced the construction of this building at a cost of $15,000. It was designed by architect Harrison Gill and built by Carey & Walter of Plant City. It was described as a “Spanish design” with stucco-covered hollow clay tile walls. The exterior façade has not been altered since it was constructed. According to newspaper ads, it was originally the home of Venetian Dry Cleaners. Business must have been good, because by May 1927 the owner Pat Gudger was installing new cleaning and pressing equipment.

Photograph provided by Venice Museum & Archives

#16. 225 W. Miami Avenue: The Teal Building

#16. 225 W. Miami Avenue: The Teal Building

This building was constructed in 1926 by L. M. Teal. Its first tenants were the Teal Barber Shop and the Venice Billiard Hall.

In the 1930s, it was used as an elementary school. In 1946, the Stancil and Potts Garage occupied the building (probably in the rear). In 1950, the building was purchased by the Robarts-Shannon Funeral Home of Sarasota. The building was to be converted into a “modern funeral establishment and ambulance service.” The announcement went on to state that “we also believe that the Venice-Englewood area is due for substantial growth in the near future and we want to do our part in furthering that growth.” It was, later, the site of the Rawles Funeral Home. In the late 1980s it was remodeled for retail uses and has had various tenants over the years.

Photograph provided by Venice Museum & Archives

#17. 221-223 W. Miami Avenue: The Wimmers Building

#17. 221-223 W. Miami Avenue: The Wimmers Building

This building was constructed in 1926 and named for its first tenant H. N. “Bud” Wimmers. He was a Cleveland-born veteran of World War I who was the assistant cashier for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) Cooperative National Bank in Cleveland, Ohio.

Wimmers arrived in Venice in February 1926 and, for a while, was paymaster for the BLE hired work crews building the city. In December 1926, he was appointed to the town council after Venice was chartered by the Florida Legislature as a “town.” The first councilmen and mayor were all BLE men. In the spring of 1927, the BLE petitioned the Legislature to change the municipal designation from “town” to “city.” In December 1927 the city held its first election and Wimmers was defeated in his bid for election. When the BLE Realty Corporation failed in 1928, he was appointed receiver. Following the collapse of the BLE Venice development, Wimmers remained in Venice and opened a real estate office in this building, said to be the first in Venice.

Photograph provided by Venice Museum & Archives

#18. 201-207 W. Miami Avenue: The Green Building (today Burgundy Square)

#18. 201-207 W. Miami Avenue: The Green Building (today Burgundy Square)

Thomas Green of St. Petersburg constructed this building in 1926 for $85,000. Designed by the architectural firm of French and Gill, this stucco-covered clay tile and brick building had ten apartments, five stores, four offices, and a automotive repair station at the eastern end of the first floor.

The building was modeled after the famous “Flat Iron” building in New York City and its architectural style was described as Spanish. Because of its unique shape, it was also known as the Triangle Building. Before the building was even completed, space was also leased to a hardware store, and a sporting goods store. Tom Green’s Electrical Shop and the Tom Green Spray Paint Shop also occupied this building.

The October 6, 1927 edition of the Venice News was the first newspaper printed entirely within the city by the Venice Printing Company located in this building. This newspaper had color covers usually with a photograph of a completed Venice building. The June 3, 1927 issue had a full-color artwork cover that was filled with articles promoting the city and its development by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE). The paper never mentioned the slowing Florida real estate market and heavily promoted the planned BLE activities to attract prospective buyers. The BLE was convinced that it was immune from the general economic down-turn affecting other Florida developments.

By the 1930s the building was converted to retail uses and the second floor apartments were known as the Hollywood Apartments. Today the building is known as Burgundy Square and is one of the best preserved examples of the city’s commercial buildings constructed during the 1920s.

Photograph provided by Venice Museum & Archives

#19. 303 E. Venice Ave.: Venice Train Depot

#19. 303 E. Venice Ave.: Venice Train Depot

The depot was constructed in 1927 by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) at a cost of $47,500 in the Mediterranean Revival style of hollow clay blocks with stucco finish. The 400 foot x 50 foot station was framed of heavy timber hewn at the Brotherhood’s sawmill. The station roof extended over the cars and provided a large waiting room, a ticket office, baggage room, and freight room. It is significant for its historic association with the BLE and their development of the City of Venice, according to the Venice Comprehensive Plan drafted by city planner John Nolen in 1925. It is significant architecturally as an embodiment of the official design theme for the planned city. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 17, 1989. For more information, CLICK HERE to download the Venice Area Historical Society’s brochure about the Venice Train Depot or visit the VAHS website VeniceAreaHistoricalSociety.org.

Photograph provided by Venice Museum & Archives

#20. 409 Granada Ave.: The Lord-Higel House

#20. 409 Granada Ave.: The Lord-Higel House

The Lord-Higel House is the oldest existing structure in South Sarasota County. It was built by Joseph H. Lord in 1896 and was originally located in a 90-acre citrus grove just south of Roberts Bay. Originally built for his own use, Lord turned the house over to his grove manager, George Higel, in the early 1900s. Higel, the son of Venice pioneer settler Frank Higel, married Abigail Williams in 1906 and the couple moved into the house where five of their six children were born. The family lived in the house until 1919 when the grove property was sold to a new owner from Ohio.

The house has been moved twice. In 1950, the grove was purchased by a developer who wanted to demolish the house and subdivide the property into residential lots (the subdivision now known as Bayshore Estates). To prevent its demolition, the house was moved from the “grove” to Laguna Drive by George Wesley Higel, son of Abigail and George Higel, to an area locally known as Higelville, so called because of the number of Frank Higel descendants living in the area. To facilitate the move, the distinctive wrap-around porch with cypress columns was removed. After the move, the house was converted into two living units, one on the first floor and the other on the second floor. By the 1990s, the structure was converted back to a single family residence.

In 2005, threatened with demolition a second time, the city’s Historic Preservation Board convinced the new owner to deed the structure to the City of Venice. The city paid to move the structure and secure it to a new foundation on a city-owned lot at the corner of Granada Avenue and Avenue des Parques South.

The house is in exceptionally good condition and has retained many of its original elements, including windows and doors, and interior walls of horse hair plaster over wood lath. The house is constructed of “fat lighter” pine making it almost impervious to termites.  When restored, the first floor and reconstructed wrap-around porch will be open to the public and will be a venue for interpreting the pioneer history of the Venice area from the 1880s to 1920.

The structure is listed in the City of Venice Local Register of Historic Places.

Photograph provided by Venice Museum & Archives

#21. 519 S. Harbor Drive: The Banyan House

#21. 519 S. Harbor Drive: The Banyan House

The Banyan House was built in 1927 as a six bedroom, five bath home in the Northern Italian architectural style for Robert and Dorothy Marvin. Mr. Marvin was an engineer who managed the home department of The Venice Company, a subsidiary of the Brotherhood of Locomotive (BLE). The house was built of hollow red clay tile with a stucco finish.

This elegant house has terra cotta, patterned ceramic tile, and oak flooring, as well as original plastered walls, cypress ceilings, and exposed beams. The house has three elaborate fireplaces. The most elaborate is located in the first floor living room and was imported from Italy. A second, located in the corner of the first floor den, was constructed in the abode style. The third, located in the original second floor master bedroom, is faced with pink marble and has pink ceramic tile in front of the hearth.

When the BLE left Venice in 1928, the house was vacant until 1935 when it was purchased by Virginia Greenway Wilson. Mrs. Wilson had two children to support and engaged in various businesses to support herself and her family during the Depression. She rented rooms in her home, first calling it the “Copper Kettle Inn,” but eventually naming it the “Banyan House” after a large Banyan tree in the side yard said to have been given to the previous owner by Thomas Edison. She also ran a nursery school called the “Venice Country Day School” from the house and transported children in a station wagon with a surrey-fringe attached to the top. Because the house had the first, and for a long time the only swimming pool in the city, many children learned to swim in it.

In her spare time, Mrs. Wilson operated the city’s first taxi service, charging 10 cents for a ride anywhere in the city. She also ran a tea room called the “Copper Kettle” in downtown Venice in the building at 200 St. Augustine Avenue (currently Luna’s Restaurant). During World War II, Mrs. Wilson rented rooms to servicemen stationed at the Venice Army Air Base, now the Venice Municipal Airport and her home became Venice’s unofficial USO (United Service Organization).

In 1960, Margaret Thomas purchased the house from Mrs. Wilson and established a shark’s tooth and fossil museum in the house. Ms. Thomas wrote a book on fossil collecting and took many children on fossil collecting expeditions. She sold the house in 1976. Today the house is operated as an inn known as the Banyan House.

In December 1989, this structure was listed in National Register of Historic Places as a contributing structure in the Venezia Park Historic District.

Photograph provided by Venice Museum & Archives

#22. 351 South Nassau Street: Triangle Inn (not shown on walking tour map)

#22. 351 South Nassau Street: Triangle Inn (not shown on walking tour map)

This building was constructed in 1927 as a two-story rooming house or inn. It was specifically designed to house the lodging business and was not designed as a single family house. It was built by Mrs. Augusta Miner who moved to Venice from Chicago where she ran a tea room. There is no record of the architect who designed the building, just the contractor who built it. Like many others, Mrs. Miner sought new opportunities in the wildly speculative Florida real estate market of the 1920s. She borrowed money to build the Triangle Inn and paid off the loan, unlike many others who defaulted on loans and left the City.

According to family members, she also purchased acreage in Fort Ogden and raised citrus. She lived in the Triangle Inn and ran the business until 1934. In October of that year, the recently reestablished Venice Fire Department was called to the Triangle Inn to extinguish a fire caused by an oil stove. According to the fire report, Mrs. Minor was fatally burned before the eight volunteers and the assistant fire chief arrived.  There was no damage to the building.

The Triangle Inn was home to piano teachers, secretaries, prospective land buyers, tarpon fisherman, and visitors escaping the cold of the north. During World War II, it was home to civilian employees of the Venice Army Air Base and married military personnel. After the war, it was a private home and during the 1950s it was converted to six apartments. It was a five-unit apartment building when it was acquired by the City of Venice in 1991. The City built a new foundation, moved the building, restored the exterior to its 1920s appearance, and renovated the interior to house the City of Venice Museum and Archives.

Photograph provided by Venice Museum and Archives

New MainStreet Business Partner Sun Events: Delivering a Great Show. Every Time.

New MainStreet Business Partner Sun Events: Delivering a Great Show. Every Time.

Welcome new MainStreet Business Partner Sun Events! Sun Events, the events and entertainment division of D-R Media and Investments LLC, headquartered in Venice, Florida, has a passion for bringing fun, quality entertainment to communities across the state. The small, family-owned events company promotes concerts with local and award-winning national artists and strives to provide the highest quality entertainment by offering diverse genres of music, talented artists, and various indoor venues. Contact Sun Events at 941-207-1038.