A Piece of Old Sarasota

By Robert Plunket October 6, 2010

Today’s house is unique—it’s like a perfect storm, a collision of history, charm, location and affordability.



637 40th St.



653 40th St.

Actually, it’s two houses: the Hegener estate. The slightly larger house has three bedrooms, one bath, and 1,942 square feet. Next door on a contiguous lot—nobody’s quite sure where the property line is—there’s another house from the same era (1920s) that’s currently a duplex: two units, each two bedrooms, one bath. When combined the property is close to an acre, but the homes are being sold separately.



They’ve been owned by the Hegeners since the 1930s. Back in Sarasota’s heyday as an artist’s colony, this was one of the hangouts where people would drop by for a drink, a cookout, and some conversation in those pre-TV days. Charles Hegener, who passed away recently, was an early leader in environmental causes. He discovered previously unknown species of frogs and newts, which he kept in a little pond that’s still on the property, covered with lily pads. There’s a bay access at the end of the street that’s named after him.



The larger home is the real prize here. It needs some work (it doesn’t have central air), but people who like old houses will kill for its floors, its oak woodwork details, its fireplace, etc. Unlike many houses from this era, it’s bright and sunny, and has a spacious feel. The duplex has been more recently remodeled, but has charms of its own, particularly the screened porch and the upstairs balcony.




And wait until you see the landscaping. Mr. Hegener was a pioneer in using native Florida plants, and the property is full of paths and Secret Garden-type corners, shadowed by enormous oaks. It’s all a little overgrown at the moment, but that only makes it more romantic.

And it’s in the perfect neighborhood—just south of the museum, just north of Indian Beach. There’s a little cluster of streets (look for Turks Cap Place) with old houses that will take you right to the Sarasota of 60 years ago. It’s long been one of my favorite corners of town.

The possibilities for both properties are—as the realtors say—endless. And the price couldn’t be better for something so special. The larger home is $265,000 and the duplex is $249,000. Jane Kelly is the listing agent. She can be reached at (941) 544-5855.

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