Real Estate Junkie

For Sale: A Piece of Sarasota History in the Museum Area

Bob Plunket takes us inside a lovingly restored Spanish-style home in the Ringling Museum area that's currently for sale.

By Robert Plunket March 8, 2016

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5128 Brywill Circle

This very picturesque 1926 Spanish house in the Museum area is notable for several reasons. Local lore says it was built by John Ringling, along with some partners. It’s certainly one of the top homes of the 1920s boom still around. But it’s also interesting for the article Harold Bubil wrote about it last year in the Herald-Tribune. It is a classic example of what can happen when the owners get a little too candid about the property they’re trying to sell.

“I’m 68 years old,” one of them says. “I don’t want to keep doing this over and over again.” She then goes on to list all the challenges the house has presented. They sound expensive and onerous. She is refreshingly candid—the living room was dark, the upstairs rooms were “dinky.”

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Well, it was worth all their pain and suffering because the place, once renovated and gussied up, looks great. They really kept the romance of the house. The right level of “old” and “new” has been achieved. The house is full of wonderful touches: little balconies, wrought iron, beams, fabulous old Mexican tile with an incredible patina, a sunken living room, and on and on.

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Some stats and facts: it’s large, just over 3,800 square feet, with four bedrooms and three baths. The master suite is on the second floor (replacing those “dinky” rooms) and there’s a guest house –originally the carriage house--out by the pool, which is in a walled backyard. And the dining room has a barrel roof.

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The house has had some colorful owners over the years, including a descendent of Victor Hugo and a woman who hoarded cats. John Ringling’s lawyer lived here back in the 1930s, and there’s even a secret room that was used to hide booze during Prohibition. It may have been a struggle to get it back in shape but the result is a beautifully preserved and renovated piece of Sarasota history.

5128 Brywill Circle is priced at $995,000. For more information call Daniel Matusiak of Action Realty at (941) 927-2900.

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