Small, charming vernacular houses are all the rage—and you can find them at bargain prices in Bradenton’s Wares Creek.
By Robert Plunket
Cottages seem to be the latest thing. Every lifestyle and decorating magazine on the stands is now Cottage Something. Small, simple vernacular homes from the first half of the last century are now highly sought after, and why not? They’re heaven to decorate, and they allow you to live in the past.
Sarasota, unfortunately, is not a great cottage town. It must have been once – you can only imagine what Gillespie Park must have looked like – and just about the only real cottage neighborhood is Southside Village. It’s a wonderful place but a little undone by its success. Mega-mansions are replacing all the nice old houses and its cottagey atmosphere is disappearing by the week.
But Bradenton is cottage heaven. They are plentiful there and quite inexpensive. In fact, there’s a surprisingly unknown cottage neighborhood that can hold it its own with any in the state – Wares Creek.
If you don’t mind the 25 minute commute – and it’s not bad; I do it myself – then consider this: block after block of cottages and bungalows, many from the 1920s, very well-maintained but not at all chic and gentrified. In other words, the real thing.
A couple of Wares Creek classics currently on the market: This 1925 Spanish bungalow at 2421 6th Ave West. It’s in pretty good shape yet wonderfully antiquated; it still has the original kitchen cabinets and bathtub. The rooms are much larger than in most small houses (both bedrooms are 12x15) and there are a dining room and a breakfast room and two bathrooms. Plus a large lot that could use better landscaping. The perfect rehab project and only $180,000. Lister is Este Lennox at 365-0022.
Yes, there really is a Wares Creek and our next house, at 630 Virginia Drive, sits right on it.
I think this house started life as a Craftsman bungalow. Now, with its tropical deco front porch, it’s a picturesque hybrid. It’s in excellent shape and has two bedrooms, one bath, a fireplace and beautiful wood floors. It’s a little pricey at $239,000, but it has riparian rights, whatever those are. The creek is very shallow at the moment but plans to dredge it have been a prominent Bradenton political football for years. Vern Buchanan has now gotten behind the plan so everybody has their fingers crossed. Call Ruth Lawler at 748-6300.
Wares Creek ends at 26th Street, and 2714 6th Ave West is therefore just over the line.
It’s next door to the Junior League, of all things, and is zoned commercial for certain uses. It’s tiny. I don’t have the square footage but I would guess around 700. Into that small area fit a living room with fireplace, a separate dining room, a nice-sized kitchen, two bedrooms, a front porch and a back porch. And it doesn’t seem cramped. It has great room flow and lots of light and is being put back into decent shape by a builder who will finish the kitchen and bath if you give him an additional $4,000. Probably a good idea. It’s on a big, beautiful lot. The current asking price is $148,000. Lister is Nancy Whipple at 650-0656.
There are several other nice old houses for sale in Wares Creek. Drive around and check out the signs. Finding something great under $200,000 is easy. It’s due west of downtown Bradenton, bordered more or less by Manatee Avenue on the North, 26th St on the West, 22nd Ave on the South, with the creek itself as the eastern boundary.