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Image: Gene Pollux

Eagle Point Club, the private, gated enclave of 44 mostly waterfront homes on Roberts Bay just north of the island of Venice, has an origin story deeply intertwined with the history of Venice itself.

The community was part of the vast land holdings purchased by wealthy Chicagoan Bertha Palmer in the early 1900s. There, she created Sarasota County’s first winter resort to entice other wealthy people to Venice. “Her idea was that if they came and saw how pretty it was, they would buy land from the Palmers and built palatial waterfront estates,” says Dorothy Korwek, the longtime former director of historical resources for the city of Venice.

Palmer provided hunting and fishing guides for her guests, among them ornithologist James Bond, after whom Ian Fleming named his fictional 007. “The second floor of the clubhouse was used for single gentlemen; couples and families would rent the cottages,” says Korwek. “It was very exclusive; it wasn’t open to the public, you had to be invited.”

Eagle Point Club was purchased by a Baltimore family in the 1920s and remained a winter resort until the late 1980s, when it was sold for development. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 as the Eagle Point Club Historic District. 

The original resort building, Camp Eagle Point, which Palmer built in 1916, still stands; it’s been repurposed as the clubhouse for the neighborhood marina. A few of the 1916-1917 sleeping cabins with their original heart-pine floors and other charming features remain as well, although they’ve been converted to private residences with modern amenities. The remainder of the homes were built in the 1990s and 2000s in a pleasant Key West style with metal roofs.

Jim Middleton, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent, has lived there since 1998. He is enthusiastic about its “environment, the woods, the big pine trees, and of course the history. Everybody’s really good people; there are two or three families that are third, fourth, fifth generation Floridians.” The original Tamiami Trail went right through the property, he says: “There’s still a piece of it, close to 300 feet, on someone’s property.”

“Its history gives it character rather than your standard cookie-cutter type house,” says Wayne Welsh, broker/owner at Gulf Shores Realty, who dug into recent real estate activity for us. Subsequently, there’s very little turnover. Just 10 of the neighborhood’s 44 homes have sold in the past five years—eight of them for cash. And compared to Venice’s average per-square-foot sales prices of $124, the 10 homes were in the $212-$395 per square foot range. Homes generally sell for close to asking price, Wayne says. And they generally don’t stay on the market long—the one residence that sold in 2017 was only listed for 44 days.

No. of homes in Eagle Point Club: 44

No. of sales since 2013: 10

Range of sale prices: $308,750 for one of the original sleeping cabins-$1.26 million for a 3,776-square-foot home built in 2011

Range of square footage of those sold homes: 1,486 – 3,776

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