Castles for Sale

By Robert Plunket July 16, 2008

Only in Sarasota—a midget house straight out of a storybook and a castle modeled on mad King Ludwig.


By Robert Plunket


The midget house is on the market! Yes, that tiny little French castle up by Jungle Gardens that has fascinated the town since the 1920s is currently listed by Carolyn and Gary Collins for $449,000. No other place in town is so wrapped in colorful stories.

4215 Sarasota Ave.

Was it built by John Ringling for a favored circus midget? (Doubtful.) Was it a bootlegger’s hideaway? (Possibly, it certainly has that air.) Is there really money hidden in the walls? (What, and touch that paneling?) 

But most important of all, what’s it like inside?


Is it tiny? Or is it normal?


Well, it’s both. With its later addition it has 1,500 square feet of very livable space, but the original, quite tiny little house is still clearly discernable. The original paneling is still there, and it gives the place a lot of atmosphere; it goes up the stairway, completely lining the eight-sided turret. The kitchen has the original tiles; similar ones were used at the El Vernona.

Any worries I had that the interior might be too dark or too weird completely vanished. It’s a fun, sunny house, one of the most charming in town. There’s also a little guest house at the end of a cute little garden.

First photo above, living room; second photo above, kitchen.

This style of house is called Storybook Revival by the architectural historians, and it is just what it sounds like. Houses, often quite small, that take their design cues from the illustrations in children’s books. Most have a Black Forest-thatched roof kind of thing going on, so a French chateau like ours is exceedingly rare. For my money it’s one of the most architecturally significant houses in town.



You can reach the Collins (SKY Sotheby’s) at 941- 308-6472.


And speaking of castles, the famous Palazzo de Colores (just east of Selby Gardens) is for sale – completely furnished – for $2,495,000. It was built in 2002 by well-known designer Kurt Lucas, in the style of Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria.


For once words fail me. Just feast your eyes on the pictures.

The castle on Hudson Pointe Drive.

You enter via a moat, which doubles as a swimming pool.

The banqueting hall--er, dining room.

Master bedroom.

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