[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.