Museum Quality

By Robert Plunket January 28, 2009

This week's hot property: a 1920s gem near Sarasota’s Ringling Museum.


By Robert Plunket

Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie discussing the Museum Area on TV.


The Museum Area is a little vague as a neighborhood name, but it has long been one of the top places in town. It occupies the area just south of the Ringling Museum, along a pretty bayfront with coves and peninsulas. The homes are eclectic, built from the 1920s to the present day, and values range from $250,000 for a little fixer upper (yes, there are a couple, and in prime locations) to over ten million for a new waterfront mansion.


As a well-to-do neighborhood the Museum Area has always had a certain cachet as a little more artistic, a little more intellectual than, say, Harbor Acres or Oyster Bay. Maybe it’s the proximity to all that art at the Ringling, or the fact that you can also walk to the Asolo and New College. If you’re rich and smart, it’s the perfect place.


But the Museum Area’s real claim to fame is that it’s home to 25 or so old Spanish houses built during the first real estate boom from 1925 to 1927. This is Addison Mizner-inspired old Florida architecture, and these homes are the granddaddies of all the Spanish Med homes that blanket the state today.

The Thoms House, 5030 Bay Shore Road

One the biggest and best – possibly the biggest and best – is currently on the market: the Thoms House, built in 1926 by the family that developed the dog track. Located at 5030 Bay Shore Rd, it is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a sizeable 4,300 square feet. It has 5 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, several fireplaces, a walled swimming pool, a separate guest house, and is set on a lot sized at over half an acre.

The Thoms House guest bedroom, top, and pool, bottom.

The Thoms house has been well-maintained over the years, and the current owner has done a wonderful of preserving and embellishing the Great Gatsby-esque atmosphere. There are period lighting fixtures and hand painted moldings. Perhaps more than any other house in town, this house recalls the great 1920s estates of Palm Beach and Santa Barbara. Call Jeff Weller at 941-266-8206.
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