Sarasota County has a rich history of exquisite architecture. Sarasota architectural landmarks vary from the simple frame vernacular structures of our post Civil War settlement era and culminating, with the World War II era Sarasota School of Architecture movement.
Sarasota’s earliest buildings were executed as simple wood frame vernacular structures with examples like the Tatum House, now located at Crowley Museum and Nature Center, which were constructed using rough hewn siding, simple wooden windows, and large porches with broad overhangs to provide shade. While these were most popular in rural areas, in town, the buildings – like the Bidwell-Wood House located today on 12th Street – exhibit more stylistic influences. Steeply pitched roofs and cross gables reflecting the popular Gothic Revival Style of the time can be seen in the Guptill House located at Historic Spanish Point which features modest Queen Anne detailing including decorative shingle accents.
By the 1920s Sarasota architecture turned to the roots of Mediterranean-influenced architecture. Spanish, Italian Renaissance, and Moorish Revival churches and hotels in St. Augustine were developed by Henry Flagler and others during the 1880s. From simple bungalows to John Ringling’s mansion, Ca’d’Zan, many residences were constructed in this style.
Twentieth century movement: Sarasota’s modern architectural movement, the Sarasota School of Architecture, recently has garnered attention. From Jack West’s Sarasota City Hall located at 1565 First Street, characterized by the extensive use of glass to create transitional indoor/outdoor spaces, and broad building overhangs and site planning to maximize shade to his BB&T bank building. The style dominated Sarasota architecture from 1941 to 1966.
Both the earliest frame vernacular style and the Mid Century modern movement are distinguished by designs that were executed in harmony with Florida nature, using native materials, natural light, site planning.