Two houses on Washington Drive give me a whole new take on this popular key. By Robert Plunket
After what I saw yesterday I’m rethinking my whole attitude toward St Armands. Before, I always saw it as a little too traffic-clogged and full of tourists to actually live in. But now I see it in a whole different light. It’s our version of Palm Beach—a super-exclusive island with gorgeous homes, the beach just a block away, great restaurants a block away the other way, and most important, a rich, sophisticated atmosphere that “the new downtown”—as nice as it is—can’t hold a candle to.
It also has some of the most interesting houses in town. Yesterday I saw two sitting next door to each other, built 80 years apart, that contained the whole history of Sarasota architecture and lifestyle. And even though they were completely different, it was virtually impossible to pick a favorite.
236 S. Washington
The first is 236 S. Washington. You’ve seen this house many times. For years it was a rather shabby old white Spanish house, a tear-down in the making. Which was a shame, because you could just tell that it would have all sorts of original details that you just couldn’t replace or replicate these days. Well, the best thing possible has happened to it. Somebody has renovated it just the right way. The good stuff has been kept and gussied up; the outdated stuff (meaning kitchen and baths) has been replaced with high-end fixtures and finishes that hint at 1927, yet are modern and luxurious. Example: no granite in this house—the countertops are all white marble, and the effect is breathtaking.
At 2,700 square feet it’s just the right size, rather intimate, in fact. The realtor is Jan Bradley at (941) 302-3496. $2,300,000.
The famous hallway.
And now for something completely different—next door. 214 S. Washington is a descendant of the Sarasota School. I usually don’t like these, as they are so watered-down and charmless, but this one really works. It’s three stories, with the living area on top— yes, there is an elevator—so that you get beautiful views over the entire neighborhood. (From the rooftop deck you can see the Gulf.) The rooms are big, simple and modern, with slate floors.
But the house’s most amazing feature is what has all the town’s realtors buzzing. To get from one wing to another you walk down a hall that crosses over the pool—but the floor is made of glass. In other words, you look down and there, 12 feet directly below, is the water. It’s very unnerving at first. People were afraid to walk on it. It reminded me of watching puppies discover what a glass-top coffee table was. It’s the stroke of genius that every great modern house should have. (Although if you have any naughty little boys—or naughty big boys, for that matter—make sure they don’t linger down by the pool when you’re having a party.) This is a totally unique house, very beachy and very Sarasota, and, at under two million, very well priced. Jon Partridge at (941) 724-4452.