Tropical Modern

By Ilene Denton Photography by Matt McCourtney December 1, 2009

One more victory for Sarasota’s unique architectural heritage—the De Vries Craig House in Lido Shores, designed by Tim Seibert in 1955 at the height of the Sarasota School of Architecture movement and now on the City of Sarasota’s historic register, has been sensitively preserved by architect Guy Peterson and real estate investor Howard Rooks.  

They’re the same pair who saved the iconic Paul Rudolph-Ralph Twitchell Revere Quality House on Siesta Key a couple of years ago; here they followed a similar principle: restoring the original historic home and joining it by way of a glass staircase to a brand-new, light-filled, three-story addition with a garage, master bedroom, office/guest suite and rooftop deck that provides knockout city skyline and Gulf of Mexico views.

Modest in size and proportions, the De Vries Craig House is “all about expressing simplicity of form, honesty of materials, and opening the doors to the landscape and flooding the rooms with natural light,” says Peterson. “It’s really tropical modernism.”

Structurally, Peterson left the original home untouched, other than enclosing the courtyard to make a dining room, updating the kitchen and powder room, and adding a glass connector to the living room. One ingenious original feature—the bedrooms’ retractable glass walls—was heightened by a new lap pool in the courtyard that was created by the addition. The new courtyard provides an attractive outdoor room, and the change allows for the ultimate Florida fantasy: “You can fall out of bed and into the pool,” says Rooks.

Coming from northern Virginia, “where historic homes are 400 years old,” Rooks says his affinity for the Sarasota School of Architecture was instant.  “I love the glass, the way you feel like you’re almost living outside. I fell in love with it quickly.”

And, perhaps, after the last decade’s frenzy of ornamental architecture—and other lifestyle excesses—the De Vries Craig House offers a timely reminder that more is not necessarily better. z

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