Sarasota’s sprawling Southgate—with a whopping 2,100 one-story, concrete-block ranch-style residences built between Bee Ridge Road and Hyde Park Street west of Beneva Road—was carved from more than 1,200 acres of orange groves in the late 1950s and ’60s.
Southgate’s modest Florida ranches brought the high-design concepts of the 1950s Sarasota School of Architects to the middle class, with relatively open floor plans, humble materials (yes, terrazzo floors were low-cost back in the day), overhanging eaves to block the sun and floor-to-ceiling glass sliders separating the living room from the screened-in Florida room extending across the back.
Now Southgate is a focus of the sixth annual Sarasota MOD Weekend, “Sarasota in the Sixties,” presented Nov. 8-10 by the Sarasota Architectural Foundation. Trolley tours of Southgate residences, led by SAF board chair Christopher Wilson and architect Joyce Owens, will take place Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Kelly and John Whalin’s renovated home on Bedford Way, built in 1960, is one stop on the trolley tours. The Whalins, Philadelphians who visited Sarasota for the first time in 2015 and purchased a Southgate home two days later, worked with IDiA Group architect and designer Steve and Stacy Carlin to bring their dated new home into the 21st century while retaining its essential “Southgate-ness.”
The Carlins, themselves Southgate residents, worked with the original footprint—“it’s the right scale and honors the ‘texture’ of the neighborhood,” says Steve Carlin—and kept the terrazzo floors, which were in exceptionally good shape. They brightened and lightened up the home with white paint and gained 15 inches of ceiling height in the public spaces by opening the kitchen to the living room and dining room. The kitchen is now completely modernized with sleek flat-front cabinets, white quartz countertops and stainless-steel appliances.
Bumping out the master bath into the garage doubled the shower size, and a walk-in closet was added to the master bedroom. A small window in the master became a sliding door out to the pool. Landscape architect Tim Borden created a pleasing screen of royal palms and flowering shrubs around the pool and cleaned up the front entry.
The Carlins have completed a half-dozen Southgate renos, and say the community has unlimited potential for sensitive redesign. “We were super lucky to find this house,” says Kelly Whalin. “Christopher [Wilson, SAF chair] told us Southgate is all about the trickle-down effect, and that was exciting for us.”