This week: houses I like in Sarasota’s Whitaker Bayou neighborhood.
By Robert Plunket
Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie discuss these Whitaker Bayou gems on ABC7.
Whitaker Bayou may well be Sarasota’s oldest and most historic neighborhood. Located just north of the Van Wezel, it was settled back before the Civil War, and in fact, one of the war’s most interesting footnotes took place there, when Confederate Vice President Judah Benjamin, escaping from the Yankees, was rescued by sympathizers and spirited off to the Bahamas and then to England.
So it’s not surprising that the area has some of Sarasota’s oldest and most interesting homes. Let’s take a quick look at the Andrews House on Lowe (the tiny street behind Aristo’s Restaurant). I say quick look because it just sold, like last week. But they could always use backup offers.
It was designed in the early 1950s by Ralph Twitchell, the father of the Sarasota School of Architecture, for his secretary, and though it is small (about 900 square feet) it is perfect. It’s a famous house, in many architectural history books, and when the owner gave me a tour yesterday, I was knocked out. It full of great details, and still has most of the original built-ins and some of the specially designed furniture. The setting is gorgeous, overlooking a pond covered with water lilies.
But like I say, it just sold. The asking price was $299,000. I’ll let you know if the deal falls through.
About two blocks away is another wonderful house, completely different in style but just as special. It was built by two spinster sisters back in 1925 and is Spanish in feeling. It also has a spectacular setting, almost half an acre, shaded by enormous banyan trees. The current owners are actors at the Asolo, and they did a great job of updating and restoring it. I love the Bohemian feeling: the great big living room, with its 12-foot ceilings, wood floors and fireplace, and the sunken dining room with lots of original built-ins, and a new kitchen that blends very well with the home’s old-fashioned look.
The house has 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and a studio apartment that could easily be converted into a master suite. (It’s a legal rental, though, so you might want to use it to help pay the mortgage.) As far as Sarasota’s old Spanish houses go, this one is particularly eccentric and charming, meandering around its enormous lot with all sorts of wings and gardens and porches, not to mention a hot tub, a separate garage (with the original wooden doors) and, most amazing, the wonderful banyan trees. Frank Goerdes is the lister; (941) 228-9583. The asking price is $389,000.
And don’t forget: this is Sarasota’s big week on HGTV. Tomorrow, Thursday July 16, at 9 p.m. House Hunters will take place here. Lynn Robbins from Coldwell Banker will show a doctor three downtown condos, with 9 million viewers tuned in. And on Sunday, this season’s Design Star begins, with local designer Jason Champion as one of the contestants. Sarasota Magazine is sponsoring a special premiere at Burns Court. For more info, call 866-222-8219.