The partial demolition of a tiny Mediterranean Revival bungalow in downtown Sarasota’s Burns Court Historic District has raised concern among historic preservation advocates on Facebook and in emails to the City of Sarasota planning department.
Homeowner Janice Bini tells us the home, when completed, will be in keeping with the style and square footage of the other 14 bungalows along tiny Burns Court.
“It’s always a surprise and challenge when you rehab a house and bring it up to code. Structural considerations lead you to re-evaluate all along the way. But the end goal of improving the usefulness of the house while still keeping the Burns Court style and integrity of the neighborhood and ensuring it stands for another 100 years are worth the investment,” she says.
Bini plans to put up a rendering of the finished house outside so that passers-by can see the final design. “I am super excited that we are finally underway and cannot wait to show it off to everyone,” she says.
The 836-square-foot bungalow at 442 Burns Court, like the other 14 pint-sized stucco bungalows that line tiny Burns Court, was built in 1925. Designed by architect Thomas Reed Martin and built by developer Owen Burns during the height of the city’s first building boom, the bungalows now house an eclectic assortment of residences and professional offices. Burns Court Cinema and Owen’s Fish Camp bound them on the south, and the historic two-story U.S. Garage office building is to the north.
Last week, a photo surfaced on Facebook of the demolition of 442 Burns Court that has taken place. It shows the chimney and a few partial walls remaining. “Does this look like a renovation to you?,” the Facebook poster wrote. A flurry of responses ensued.
The homeowner did indeed receive a permit from the city for renovations and alterations, says City of Sarasota senior planner Dr. Clifford Smith. Because 442 Burns Court is deemed a national historic district—but is not locally designated historic—it was not required to undergo a review or approval process. That would be required only if the owners were going to demolish the residence.
Smith says the planning department is hoping to institute some review on properties that have national, but not local, historic designation. “We’re looking for support from the community to improve our zoning code as we go forward. We always are,” he says.