Once upon a time, there was a house named Ventana. Built more than a century ago and located West of the Trail, it's situated on just less than two acres, among oak trees named Sampson and Ozzie and a sundial named Tosca.

If Ventana looks and sounds like a fairy tale because during these times of many doing away with the old to make room for the modern, it’s a Cinderella—and a standout one, at that.

But after nearly 40 years after they moved in, prominent interior designer Anne Folsom Smith and famed architect husband Frank Folsom Smith are ready to sell Ventana. It can be yours for $11.9 million.

The two-story, 3,209-square-foot farmhouse was built in 1894. In 1986, it caught the Folsom Smiths' attention—even though they weren't looking to move.

“We weren’t actually looking at the time we came upon it. We loved the neighborhood and fell in love with the setting and history," Anne says. "It appealed to Frank’s concept of New Urbanism: a country setting within a city."

And here's a real plot twist: all those years ago, it cost the couple just $150,000.

 “The house sits on an ancient Indian midden,” Frank once said. Part Presbyterian and part New Age spiritualist, he said he could “feel the energy flowing back thousands of years.”

Frank began his career in Sarasota in the early 1960s when a group of architects was creating buildings in a modernist style, influenced by Florida's tropical climate, that would come to be known as the Sarasota School of Architecture.

His career was once celebrated during Sarasota's annual MOD Weekend, during which he gave a presentation about his work in the 1960s, an explosive decade for architecture in Sarasota. It’s also the decade when he got the commission to design his most iconic building: the towering Plymouth Harbor.

Meanwhile, after roughly 40 years of running her own interior design business, Anne Folsom Smith has a been presence in some of the region’s most luxurious properties, from an Art Deco Casey Key beach house filled with works by Marc Chagall and Helen Frankenthaler to Michael’s On East. She launched Anne Folsom Smith Interior Design in Sarasota in 1983, and is adamant that the sale of her home is no indicator of slowing her down.

"Everyone needs to have a nest work for them,” she told us, and that’s why the Folsom Smiths are selling.

Anne says although it’s been a difficult decision to put Ventana on the market—it’s named after the Ventana Inn on Big Sur in California—“living in a multi-level home at this stage of life has presented challenges.”

Throughout the years, “we both have put our own distinctive stamps on Ventana," she says. "Frank represents the more contemporary aspects and I represent the more casual, country style."

The home sits on 210 feet of Indian Beach, and the Smiths respected the age and integrity of the property when remodeling. In addition to the main two-bedroom, three-bathroom home, there’s a cottage house and a charming carriage house located above one of the two-car garages. 

Inside you’ll find wide-plank pine floors and soaring cedar-paneled ceilings. Walls of windows and doors invite the outdoors in and overlook the grounds and private shell beach. Anne says she often spies an osprey on Ozzie the oak tree dining on its latest catch.

She named the other large oak tree, just off the back deck, Sampson due to “his impressive mass and strength, which have allowed him to endure many storms,” she says.

The 912-square-foot cottage house has two bedrooms and one bathroom and a full kitchen and a porch. Located above one of Ventana's two-car garages (which comes complete with a Tesla charger) is the darling 678-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom carriage house, filled with character and charm, including a kitchenette and wood walls and ceilings.

Although the couple is still undecided on their next Sarasota address, they’re taking the home’s contents with them, including the piano, which Anne plays daily, and the many books that stock the library.

“All of the pieces we have collected throughout the years reflect our history," she says. "It is time for the house to have a new history.”

It’s might be easy to assume that new buyers may apply the modern aesthetic that's all the rage now, and possibly rebuild, but she understands a homeowners’ need to put their own stamp on the place.

“We would want them to create their own version of paradise,” she says of potential buyers.

Asked what she’ll miss most about the house after spending half a lifetime there, she says, “Everything! Driving into the property still takes my breath away with its natural beauty. Sitting on the back porch looking out across the bay slows down time and lets your mind relax.”

But, she continues, "we love Sarasota and will continue to be active in all that it offers. My design firm has always had a strong presence in Sarasota and we will continue to create beautiful homes.”

Interested? Call Martha Thorn of Coldwell Banker Realty at (727) 432-9019. 

Show Comments