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Public Can Soon Tour the Twitchell/Rudolph Cocoon House

Sarasota Architectural Foundation to launch tours of the famed midcentury modern residence this summer.

By Ilene Denton May 29, 2018

Cocoon House

Good news for midcentury modern architecture fans: the Sarasota Architectural Foundation has inked a 12-month lease on the historic Healy Guest House on Siesta Key’s Bayou Louise—otherwise known as the Cocoon House—and will start regular public tours in July.

The two-bedroom, 800-square-foot cottage was designed in 1950 by Ralph Twitchell and his then-assistant, Paul Rudolph, who went on to become a giant of 20th century architecture.

The Healy Guest House was decades ahead of its time in its design, and was named “Best Design House of the Year” by the AIA in 1949, as well as being named a “pioneer of design” in 1953 by the Museum of Modern Art. The City of Sarasota designated it a historic property in 1989.

“Cocoon House exemplifies one of the major characteristics of modern architecture, open space planning, which has recently been popularized by HGTV as ‘open concept,’ but has been practiced since the early 20th century,” says SAF board chair Christopher Wilson.

According to SAF: “The house gets its name from the technology used to build its roof: a polymer spray that Paul Rudolph saw being used at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on warships returning after WWII in order to ‘cocoon’ or moth-ball them. Rudolph's creativity made him realize that this material could also be used in the construction industry.” 

Interior of the Cocoon House

The nonprofit architectural foundation is working with Pat Ball of Ball Construction to make minor cosmetic repairs to the home.

This is the centennial year of Rudolph’s birth, and besides these tours, SAF will also honor him at its annual SarasotaMOD Weekend Nov. 9-11.

For details on the Cocoon House tours, as well as SAF’s monthly tours of Rudolph’s Umbrella House, click here.


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