Sarasota Architecture Foundation

[From reader Riverside Dog Walker, sent to me a couple of weeks ago and my bad, no time to publish until now…… but better late than never because the story is very interesting and his photos perfection. Words and photos all by RDW. Thanks].

November 11-12, the Sarasota (Florida) Architecture Foundation held a number of events showcasing mid century modern Sarasota architecture.  They had open houses for seven houses in the Lido Shores development on Lido Key which has many examples from this period and we toured two of the houses where architects led the discussion.

The first house we saw is known as the Umbrella House.  It was designed by Paul Rudolph in 1953, who also designed the Walker Guest House on Sanibel Island which I posted on several months ago when it was recreated on the grounds of the Ringling Museum.  It was built as a spec house commissioned by Philip Hiss, a local entrepreneur and local character, who saw potential in building houses in Lido Shores.

What is striking about this house is the canopy covering the roof (protecting the roof from the sun) and extending into the backyard to provide shade.  The original canopy was constructed of tomato plant stakes, as Rudolf built from what was available.  The canopy looked like an umbrella, so the house was known as the umbrella house.  Also visible in many of the pictures are the 32 inch louvered windows which provided ventilation.  They were ordered from Sears Roebuck, as it was the largest size they had, so many design elements of the house adopted this 32 inch dimension to stay in balance.  The original canopy was destroyed by a hurricane in 1966.  In 2015, the people across the street bought the umbrella house and restored it so that it would not be destroyed.  The canopy was replaced with aluminum to meet hurricane code.  The man in the white shirt in the interior picture is an architect with Hall Architects, who did the restoration.  The interior has several levels which my pictures don’t do justice to.

We then went next door to tour the Hiss Studio, built by Philip Hiss to be his office and which was one of the first air conditioned buildings in the area.  I’ll post a link to better pictures than I took.  This tour was led by Carl Abbott, one of the last active architects from the original Sarasota school.  He worked on this original design and said he normally does the tour with Philip Hiss’ daughter Muffy, who seems quite the raconteur, but she was in Panama today and not returning to Sarasota until later in the week.

This house is lived in by its owner, who is currently renovating its family quarters.  Hiss moved his family to the added attached family quarters when he sold their ocean front home down the street.

Umbrella house bedroom

Umbrella House exterior

Umbrella house interior

Umbrella house poolside

12 thoughts on “Sarasota Architecture Foundation

  1. Sarasota really has a great arts and architecture scene. Great post RDW and thanks for taking photos too. I like the look of the Umbrella House quite a bit. My wife rolled her eyes and said no way she could live in it.

    Empty house once again. Kids have flown back to Atlanta and Nashville. Dogs’gone too. Successful long weekend. My wife is really tired because she did the lion’s share of the work.

  2. I’ve been to Sarasota twice and loved it. Very liveable and full of things to do. Agree with Peter that it has an active arts scene.

    1. Mr. EOS and I are in the early stages of planning a February-March getaway. I’m lobbying for Florida – Sarasota down and around the bend and up the east coast. No matter how many times I say “this will be fun”, I get a “meh” response. He’s just not that into Florida, arts scene or not. You’d think NOW that he has a white truck, he’d be gung-ho, but nooooo.

      1. Not Jamaica mon?

        My parents had a small house in Sarasota in the 1980s. I was too young to appreciate the warmth of Florida winters and oblivious to any scene, arts or otherwise, in town. They died years ago. The estate sold the house but I do hanker going back to see what everyone who lives in and lives Sarasota raves about.

        Thanks RDW for the house tour.

        1. Ha. Just today we talked at great length about going back to Half Moon. Considering our less than stellar stay last year, combined with the fact the former “50% off Cyber Monday” sale is now “up to 50% off” and our suite discount is only 10%, we’re opting out.

  3. Great photos and commentary, thanks RDW!

    If you win the lottery you can go here.

    We were there in the ‘80’s and it’s on my bucket list to go back as an adult. It’s pretty much stuck in my head as the most ideal vacation spot.

    Or you can come visit me in the Keys🌴

    1. PSV is indeed stunning. The best thing about a resort like that is the rate includes three meals a day. At Half Moon the rate is only the room. The food plans are the “gotchas”. I’m wiping drool off my phone screen looking at the photos of PSV. Thanks. Seems affordable in my book. Their 7 for 6 rate isn’t bad considering what it includes. I said to Mr. EOS if we got there we might never leave. Kids? Who has kids? 😂

      1. Wait, New Canaan has modern houses now? Who knew? Thanks to everyone for their kind comments; glad you enjoyed the post. I have never heard of PSV, but it sounds like a great place. I’ll add it to the bucket list, along with the Florida Keys which I’ve never visited.

        There are a number of modern houses being built in Sarasota these days, as everyone seems tired of the Spanish Mediterranean style. As noted, Lido Shores has many examples of modern houses. It is amazing to me what these architects did in the 1950’s with very limited resources. While the Umbrella House is a bit small by today’s standards and does not have the open plan of most current moderns, it is just so far ahead of its time. When it was built, the view from the upstairs bedroom shown was clear to Sarasota Bay. Now it has the privacy wall as a highway and many other houses are between it and the Bay.

        Our kids went back to NYC today and we are eating our way through leftovers in the refrig.

  4. I love your guest posts. Your readers really are great with sharing photos and stories. Thanks RDW.

    Coming back home Tuesday. Decided not to stay in California in through Christmas because a couple of girlfriends and I are going to Mexico. Cabo.

    1. You’ll be coming home to a few days of higher than normal temps. Better than leaving sunshine to come East for snow.
      Cabo at Christmas. I could do that. We stayed at a great hotel there, Esperanza. Ate one night at Las Ventanas. And a lunch at the way over the top One and Only. But the best eats by far were on the beach. Great fish tacos and a cold Corona. Mmmm.

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