A Westmore Tenant House & The Smith/Freeman Home
Buildings: Sarasota History
The Westmore Tenant House & Smith/Freeman Home is located at 1913 Datura Street in DeSota Park Subdivision.
The Mediterranean Revival/Spanish Eclectic Style was the most popular style built during Florida and Sarasota's Land Boom. What was known in the 1920s as the "Spanish Boom" incorporated stylistic qualities of Spanish, Colonial, Byzantine, Moorish, Mission, and Italianate styles of architecture making the Mediterranean Revival, sometimes referred to as Spanish Eclectic Bungalow, typical of the style of many homes built during 1920s Sarasota.
The Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean Styles popularized by Henry Flagler in St. Augustine and Addison Mizner in Palm Beach were reflected in Sarasota regional architecture. Motivated by several national exhibitions, the Mediterranean Revival style first gained prominence in California during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This style was popularized by the Pan-American Exhibition in San Diego in 1915 and the work of transplanted architect, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue. Goodhue authored a detailed study of Spanish Colonial architecture but he wanted to go beyond the then prevalent Mission interpretations to emphasize the richness of Spanish precedents found throughout Latin America. The style was adopted by Hollywood stars of the era, its architectural forms were popularized in films, and it was used for many building types. The Mediterranean Revival Style proved a perfect Florida marketing device for resort communities such as Sarasota, conveying the exotic beauty of the area, while also drawing upon a remote link to its Spanish Colonial heritage. The style soon became as popular in Sarasota as it was in California and other developing areas of south and central Florida. Its success may have been the result of its allure to Sarasotan's sense of history and the association, though inaccurate, with what the early Spanish explorers and settlers most likely built. A connection or comparison was probably made between the mild climate of the Mediterranean coasts and of Sarasota, and that the climate and architecture were suitable together. Whatever the reason, the Mediterranean Revival style was soon the prevalent design idiom for most of the major and many of the minor buildings in Sarasota during the 1920s.
In January, 1926 the property was purchased by Alan Westmore. Westmore, Vice President of the Case Holding Corporation, a New York real estate firm, was a former bank president. Under the auspices of his firm, the Case Holding Corporation, Mr. Westmore and his wife, Hattie Green Westmore, owned several properties in Sarasota during the Florida Boom years. One other known Westmore tenant house is located at 1936 Grove Street, The Frank H. and Isabella Smith/Brewer Home. Polk City Directories from the 1920s-1940s do not indicate that the Westmores ever resided in Sarasota. It is known that the Westmores maintained their residence at the Drake Hotel in New York for many years. Mrs. Westmore was born in New York and was alleged to have been a graduate of Hunter College, although alumni records failed to verify this. She is known to have operated a novelty and dress business, "Me and Hattie Green", in New York for many years.
In March 1936, Westmore conveyed the property to Frank V. Smith and his wife, Florence (no relation to Frank H. and Isabella Smith of Grove Street). The Smiths maintained the property as a winter home, spending the majority of their time in Kent, Ohio where Mr. Smith was employed by the Puralotor Corporation. Mrs. Smith, formerly Florence Alice Spille, was born on a farm near Winchester, Indiana.
Although the Smiths sold the property in 1947, they purchased another home following Mr. Smith's retirement, and made Sarasota their permanent residence. Mr. Smith died in 1966 and Mrs. Smith remained in Sarasota until 1968 when she moved to Tucson to be near her daughter.
In June, 1947, Mr. and Mrs. Smith transferred ownership of the property to James F. and Marie D. Smith (no relation to former owners, Frank V. and Florence Smith or Frank H. and Isabella Smith). James and Marie Smith retained ownership of the property until March, 1948 when the property was transferred to W. Rice Matthews and Ruth G. Matthews. The Matthews were from Front Royal, Virginia where they owned the Parkway Chevrolet dealership.
Mr. and Mrs. Matthews only retained ownership until April, 1951 when the property was purchased by Robert T. Freeman and Virginia J. Freeman. Mr. Freeman was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in Tampa. He was a graduate of the University of Florida and was employed as a stock broker with Merill Lynch in Sarasota for many years. Mrs. Freeman was born and raised in Commerce, Georgia and attended the University of Georgia.
The Westmore Tenant House and Smith/Freeman Home was locally designated by the City of Sarasota in 1993.