Architecture Lesson

By Robert Plunket June 10, 2009

Two Sarasota School houses hit the market.


By Robert Plunket


Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie discuss these Sarasota School homes on ABC7.

This is a sad week for the Sarasota School of Architecture, as they are tearing down Riverview High School even as we speak. But the news isn’t all bad. The Cohen house is back on the market, and at a sensational price - $1.1 million.


101 Garden Lane


The Cohen House may well be Paul Rudolph’s Sarasota masterpiece. It was designed for David and Eleene Cohen – he used to be mayor and was one of the founders of what is now called the Sarasota Orchestra. I remember him well from my early days here. He was a nice old gentleman who would occasionally take me to lunch at the University Club. He had problems speaking – I think it was cancer of the larynx – and you had to listen very, very carefully. But he kept going right up to the end, a force for social good and the arts.



In fact, the house’s enormous living room – I think it’s something like 50 by 30 – was designed with rehearsals and performances in mind. Though it has a 1950s modern look, it’s also timeless. Nobody handled proportion and asymmetry like Rudolph, and the Cohen house is a great example of his classic period.


The house is not big – two bedrooms, I believe – but it’s very luxurious in a Zen sort of way. It was extensively restored several years ago and is set on an enormous lot (27,000 square feet) on Bayou Louise in north Siesta Key. There is a dock, and you can get right out to the Gulf.


I could go on a rant about how the town is full of second-rate McMansions priced much more expensively than the Cohen House, and in ultra-conformist cookie cutter sub-divisions way out in the tomato fields instead of the luxury of a premium waterfront Siesta Key location – but I won’t.


820 Whitfield Ave.


Still, a million dollars is a lot of money, and if you don’t quite have it but still want a Sarasota School house, check out the Bechtel House, brand new on the market and priced at $315,000. It was designed by Tim Siebert back in 1967 and is located on Whitfield Avenue, up by the Sarabay Country Club – and right across the street, I’m told, from where Gregg Allman used to live.



The Bechtel House has 2 bedrooms, two and half baths, and a studio that could be a third bedroom. At over 2,500 square feet, it’s spacious and laid out around an atrium with a pool. It needs a little work but not much. I’d certainly want to keep the original vintage kitchen. Check it out yourself this Sunday (June 14) – there’s an open house from 12 to 4.


Both houses are being sold by Martie Lieberman, whose specialty is the Sarasota School. She even arranges tours for visiting architecture fans. (There’s more info on her website, Martie is now working at Sarabay Real Estate and can be reached at 941-724-1118.


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