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This is the centennial of John D. MacDonald’s birth, and there are various events going on, in particular a continuing series of lectures put on by Selby Library and One Book, the downtown bookstore. But for an even more intimate look at JDM and his life in Sarasota (he lived here from 1952 til his death in 1986), let’s take a look at his first home here. This is literally where, in a room over the garage, Travis McGee was born.

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The house is located on Point Crisp, a small peninsula that extends into Sarasota Bay from Siesta Key, more or less where Sanderling is located. The setting is incredible—it’s right in the middle of the bay, with full water views to the north and the south. It’s one of the last original houses on the Point—there are 16 in all--with its neighbors now mansions that go for seven million plus.

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It was last owned by Dr. Masood Ramani, a prominent local psychiatrist who passed away several years ago. There’s been some remodeling over the years but it’s easy to see what it must have been like when John and Dorothy MacDonald lived there and Sarasota was a very small town, way off the beaten track, full of eccentric writers and circus performers.

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The home has no particular architectural style. It just rambles along in a 1950’s sort of way, with 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths in the main section and 2/1 in the guest house. There’s a very nice pool, plus a boat dock. There’s a surprising amount of wildlife—sea birds of all sorts, plus dolphins and manatees and even a family of iguanas that hang around the dock.

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JDM wrote in a little room above the garage. It’s the most “Old Florida” working space imaginable and it’s easy to see how the author’s sense of Florida’s ecology became so important to his work—he was looking at it constantly.

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In 1970, with Travis well-established and the money raking in, the MacDonalds hired architect Tim Seibert to build them a new home several miles away, right on Big Pass. It’s still there too, though very much remodeled. The Point Crisp home is currently on the market for $2,830,000. That’s its land value and it’s pretty much taken for granted that it will be replaced by one of the enormous mansions that JDM railed against. Ironic, yes—but there’s still time for a rich fan to save it. I personally think the Hermitage Artist Retreat should buy it and use it as a retreat for fledgling mystery writers and environmentalist. You can always dream….

1430 Point Crisp Road is priced at $2,830,000. For more info call Brandy Coffey of Keller Williams at (877) 308-6311.

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