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Chateau Petite (F.A. DeCanizares Residence)

Articles: Sarasota History

Author: Lorrie Muldowney
Photo Credit: Sarasota County History Center
Credit: Sarasota County History Center

Sarasota History - Chateau Petite (F.A. DeCanizares Residence) photo

Since many property owners are eager to keep pace with new trends, historic preservationists are often confronted with requests to make changes to historically significant structures.

Requests of this kind must be considered carefully because, by their very nature, they can threaten the historic integrity of a structure, disqualifying it from recognition on local or national historic registers.

Sometimes, however, these alterations are so interesting and unique, and enough time has passed since their completion, that they become historically significant in and of themselves.

Such is the case with the F.A. DeCanizares Residence, known at one time as Chateau Petite. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Chateau Petite was relocated to 1215 N. Palm Avenue sometime prior to 1925. Originally, the home was a simple, wooden two-story structure, symmetrical in appearance and devoid of elaborate ornamentation (see before and after images on right).

In many ways, it was a structure that typified architecture of simple wood frame vernacular in Sarasota in the early 1900s. The second floor doorway, which was later removed, indicates that at one time there was a porch on the front of the building. It is likely that it was removed in preparation for the structure's move.

It seems likely that the dramatic renovation of the structure was completed to update its appearance to one more in keeping with the design trends of the mid-1920s, a time when Sarasota was booming and Mediterranean Revival was the style of choice.

Two notable structures in this style flank the F.A. DeCanizares Residence: the L.D. Reagin Residence at 1213 N. Palm Avenue and the Frances Carlton Apartments at 1241-1247 N. Palm Avenue. Their presence probably influenced the DeCanizares in their renovation decision.

The stucco façade with cast ornamentation was applied over lath placed on the wood-frame building. Described as a Mediterranean Revival "slipcover' in the National Register nomination of the building, elaborate stucco ornamentation included a round wreath with acanthus leaves terminating in stylized bellflowers appears on the shaped parapet roof, located above the main entrance.

Additionally, two one-story wings were added to the original wood-frame structure. The western wing connected the house to a porte-cochere, a covered entry for automobiles and carriages.

So successful was the transformation of this structure that Sarasota's 1929 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, used for fire-rating purposes in cities throughout the country, listed the structure's construction type as concrete block rather than wood. Insurance rates for the structure were probably lower, given the mistaken construction material assigned to it.

Frederic A. DeCanizares purchased the site at 1215 N. Palm Avenue from the Burns Realty Company in November 1923. Although little is known about the family, it is known that its primary residence was in Wayne, Pennsylvania and that the family wintered in their home on North Palm Avenue for many years.

The F.A. DeCanizares Residence is a highly successful example of compatible infill design. Perhaps even more importantly, it provides us with a dramatic example of how changes to historic buildings can achieve their own significance over time.