229-237 Miami Avenue: The Lawton Building

229-237 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 & Walters 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.

This building was completed in January 1927 for an estimated cost of $125,000. It was owned by Stanton Ennes, the general manager of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) Realty Corporation.

It was constructed of stucco-covered clay hollow tile and brick by the George E. Fuller Construction Company. Rather than the usual red clay barrel tile roof, this building had a green, concrete, shallow s-tile roof manufactured by the Venice Tile Company located in the Industrial Section of the city east of the railroad tracks.

The building was designed as two two-story wings connected on the first floor by a roofed, open-ended, sky-lighted roof that formed an arcade.  The second floor originally housed the Hotel Valencia. An uncovered walkway encircled both wings providing access to each hotel room. The hotel lobby was on the first floor facing the arcade. As was typical of the 1920s, the hotel rooms were small and the adjoining east and west facing rooms in each wing shared a bath (toilet and shower) with a sink in each room.

Seven stores, besides the hotel lobby and the post office, were located on the first floor with some opening directly onto the arcade. By July 1927, a newsstand and an office of Florida Power and Light Company (FPL) were also located in the building. The ventilated box-like structures on the roof were part of the original solar water heating system.

The first floor arcade has been closed and a roof now covers the area between the second floor wings creating a common area for the residents who occupy the original hotel rooms.

Historical documentation provided by:
Venice Heritage Inc.
Photographs provided by:
Venice Museum & Archives

225 W. Miami Avenue: The Teal Building

225 W. Miami Avenue: The Teal Building

This building was constructed in 1926 by L. M. Teal. Its first tenants were the Teal Barber Ship 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.

Historical documentation provided by:
Venice Heritage Inc.
Photographs provided by:
Venice Museum & Archives

213, 215, 217 W. Venice Avenue: The Sarasota Bronx Building

213, 215, 217 W. Venice Avenue: The Sarasota Bronx Building

Originally constructed as a two-story building occupying three lots, it has been divided in half with each side assigned a different parcel-id by the Sarasota County Property Appraiser. Both sides currently have the same owner.

Alterations to the street façade have obscured the architectural details (windows and doors) of the original structure. Aerial photos from the 1920s and sidewalk photos from the 1950s show large, two-story arched windows across the front of the building.

The building was originally the location of the Shaw Dry Goods store and is, therefore, sometimes referred to as the Shaw Building. Before the construction of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in 1939, the building housed the Episcopal mission. It has been used as a library, site of Venetian Cleaners, and a hardware store.

The eastern half of the building (213 West Venice Avenue) was renovated in the fall of 1990 according to the design guidelines established by the city’s Architectural Review Board (ARB). The ceramic tile under the store front windows, earth tone roof tiles, and stucco relief details were required by the ARB to replicate key elements of the city’s original architectural style. The western half of the building (217 West Venice Avenue) was also renovated according to ARB guidelines. The most notable addition was the canopy over the city sidewalk.

The shed tile roof on the street façade is the only original architectural feature of the original building that has survived.

Historical documentation provided by:
Venice Heritage Inc.
Photographs provided by:
Venice Museum & Archives

205 W. Venice Avenue: The Boissevain Building

205 W. Venice Avenue: The Boissevain Building

This was the first commercial building constructed in Venice. It was completed in August 1926 and built of hollow clay tile and brick with steel reinforcing beams.

It housed two retail stores on the first floor and several offices on the second floor. The original first floor tenants were the Dawson Furniture Company and the Venice Hardware Company. The offices of Venice’s first newspaper the Venice News, a weekly publication, were also located in this building.

Historical documentation provided by:

Venice Heritage Inc.

Photographs provided by:

Venice Museum & Archives

 

221-223 W. Miami Avenue: The Wimmers Building

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.

He 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 192 7 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.

Historical documentation provided by:
Venice Heritage Inc.
Photographs provided by:
Venice Museum & Archives

201-207 W. Miami Avenue: The Green Building

201-207 W. Miami Avenue: The Green Building

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.

Historical documentation provided by:
Venice Heritage Inc.
Photographs provided by:
Venice Museum & Archives

201 W. Venice Avenue: The Schoolcraft Building

201 W. Venice Avenue: The Schoolcraft Building

Completed in October 1926 for an estimated cost of $45,000, this building was to have five shops on the first floor and apartments on the second. The housing market was so limited in the new city that five apartments were rented before the building was completed.

The Venice Pharmacy, declared to be “one of the finest in the south,” was the building’s major first floor tenant. The company signed a long term contract with the Rexall Drug Company in August 1927.  Store fixtures were made of solid mahogany with a black walnut finish; the soda fountain counter was made of pink onyx; and the chairs for the round eating tables had triangular-shaped seats so they would fit under the table.

For many years the local phone company operated a switchboard from a rear storefront. At one time a red light was installed on the roof of the building. In the days before radio dispatched patrol cars, citizens would phone the operator to relay a message to the police. The operator turned the red light on, that was visible for many blocks in the sparsely built-up and populated city, and the patrol car would arrive to retrieve the message from the operator.

Historical documentation provided by:
Venice Heritage Inc.
Photographs provided by:
Venice Museum & Archives

140 W. Tampa Avenue: Originally The orange Blossom Garage

140 W. Tampa Avenue: Originally The orange Blossom Garage

This building was originally constructed to house a gasoline filling station, car storage garage, and five storefront shops. It was completedin the summer of 1927. Advertisements in the Venice News, the local paper, state that it housed the repair shop and the Sinclair Gasoline & Oil station of J. Harris Jones.

During the 1930s, it was used by the Kentucky Military Institute (KMI) as an armory, chapel, and basketball arena. KMI had an excellent basketball team and there was a spirited rivalry with local schools. These exhibition games were well attended and were a draw for the community during the winter.

In 1972 following the demise of the KMI, the building was purchased by the community based Venice Little Theatre organization and remodeled as a performance venue. In 2008 the Venice Little Theatre became the Venice Theatre. Among the country’s 10,000 community theaters, the Venice Theatre is ranked #1 in the country for towns the size of Venice and #3 in the country for towns of any size.

Historical documentation provided by:
Venice Heritage Inc.
Photographs provided by:
Venice Museum & Archieve

409 Granada – The Lord Family House

409 Granada – The Lord Family 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. Lord apparently lived in the house until 1905.

About this time, Lord hired George Higel, son of Venice pioneer settler Frank Higel, as grove manager. After George’s marriage to Abigail Williams in 1906, 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 is 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.

Historical documentation provided by:
Venice Heritage Inc.
Photographs provided by:
Venice Museum & Archives