This two-story building was constructed in the fall of 1926 for $26,000. The ground floor was to house five stores with eight efficiency apartments on the second floor. It was designed by architect J.C. Humphrey of Sarasota in the Northern Italian Style architecture, with clay block walls and a red tile roof. J. Franklyn Wheeler of Fort Myers received the construction contract. One of the original tenants was a dentist, Dr. George Gilman Wheeler.
This was one of several buildings owned by Mr. Estes in Venice. Construction of this building was started in September 1926. By 1927, it was the home of Venice Stationary Company, Meare’s Men’s Shop, and the construction firm of Latimer and Lee.
During the 1940s, it was the home of the Venice Gondolier, and a radio and TV store. Since TVs were not common during this time period, the store owner had a “public” TV in the window. A bench on the sidewalk facing the store window allowed those without a TV at home to relax and view programs during the evening hours. By the 1960s, radio station WAMR had a studio on the second floor.
This two-story building (pictured above on right) was owned by William E. Mohler and originally housed the Woolard Furniture Company and the J. T. Hardware Company. As was common during the 1920s, there were rental apartments on the second floor.
Social notes in the Venice News chronicled the arrival of winter residents from as far away as Ontario, Canada to rent these apartments. The second floor façade clearly shows the raised stucco relief that defined the “Northern Italian” architectural theme for the city. Later this building housed the Venice Electric Supply Company and the Venice Tile Company.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.