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Dr. Walter C. Kennedy Home

Buildings: Sarasota History

Source: City of Sarasota public records
Location: 1876 Oak Street, Sarasota, FL

Sarasota History - Dr. Walter C. Kennedy Home photo

The property that this home was built on was originally owned by Colonel John Hamilton Gillespie and later sold to Owen Burns in approximately 1910. The Mediterranean Revival-Style house was constructed in 1925 by Harris Pearsall and Owen Burns.

Development during the 1920s brought a new architectural identity to Sarasota. The Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean styles popularized by Henry Flagler in St. Augustine and Addison Mizner in Palm Beach were reflected in major Sarasota architecture.

Inspired 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 Eastern architect, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhur. Goodhur has previously authored a detailed study of Spanish Colonial architecture. Goodhur wanted to go beyond the then prevalent Mission interpretations and emphasize the richness of Spanish precedents found throughout Latin America. It was adopted by Hollywood stars of the era, its architectural form was popularized in films, and it was used for many building types.

The style became another choice in the stock of borrowed European classicism so popular with American architects at the time. What was known in the 1920s as the "Spanish Boom" incorporated stylistic qualities of Spanish, Colonial, Byzantine, Moorish, Mission and Italianate styles and is generally called Mediterranean Revival or Mediterranean Eclectic. For Florida, the Mediterranean Revival style proved a perfect marketing device for resort communities such as Sarasota, conveying the exotic beauty of the area, while also drawing upon a remote link to the Spanish Colonial heritage.

The house has historically been identified through its association with its third second owner, Dr. Walter C. Kennedy.

In 1936, the title holder of the property, John Buckbee, sold the property to Dr. Walter C. Kennedy, an optometrist. Kennedy resided in Sarasota from 1924 until his death in 1978 during which time he was active and recognized for his participation in civic affairs in Sarasota. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Kennedy attended the Needles Institute of Optometry in Kansas City, Missouri. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church, a charter member as well as President, Secretary, and District Governor of District 696 of the Sarasota Rotary Club and was commonly referred to as "Mr. Rotary" and was an honorary life member of the Chamber of Commerce. As chairman of the publicity committee of the Sarasota Livestock Association, Dr. Kennedy was also a progressive cattleman. The pride of his ranch land east of Sarasota near the Ringling Brothers Circus winter quarters was Hercules 102, the prize Charbraise bull.

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