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Edward H. Knight House

Buildings: Sarasota History

Source: City of Sarasota Public Records
Credit: Sarasota History Alive!
Location: 1828 Grove Street, Sarasota, FL

Sarasota History - Edward H. Knight House photo

The Edward H. Knight House is a one-story bungalow located at 1828 Grove Street between U.S. 41 and South Osprey Avenue in Grove Park Subdivision within the city limits of Sarasota, Florida. The home and garage are directly north of Southside Elementary School. Several of the homes on the street were constructed during the same time period in various styles ranging from small bungalows to larger Mediterranean Revival style homes.

An interesting feature of the home is a trap door located near the dining room doorway in the rear addition.  Although, it is currently covered with ceramic tile, it leads to a small concrete room beneath the house that at one time contained a cistern for the collection of rain water. At the time of construction broken rock, shell and concrete were used as fill for the house's foundation to rest on. At some time later, the house was raised and placed on concrete piers.

 

Historical Information

During the 1920s, residential subdivisions were platted throughout an expanded Sarasota city limits. Cheap land prices and the promise of quick profits swept the city into a spiral of development. This decade brought unparalleled growth to Florida. Sarasota downtown development was coupled with expanding suburban residential areas. Sarasota was fast replacing the fishing village image that it had with that of a developing resort community. Construction following World War I, produced what would become a modern city.

In 1925, nationally renowned land planner, John Nolen, established a comprehensive plan for Sarasota. His plan was intended to guide in the provision of adequate traffic circulation, utilities, and schools; yet rapid development drastically altered Nolen's original plan. During 1925 and 1926 over five hundred structures were built, half of them residences. Many of the platted subdivisions remained partially undeveloped when the real estate market collapsed in 1927.

The subject structures were either moved to or constructed in 1936 in Grove Park Subdivision which was platted that same year by the real estate firm of Curry, Christie, and Cobb. Christie was the manager of Badger's Pharmacy, and establishment located in downtown Sarasota for many years, and known as a popular gathering place. Christie played baseball and no doubt it was through his affiliation that he became acquainted with and business associate of J. Paul Cobb. Cobb was the brother of the illustrious ballplayer, Ty Cobb, and had come to Sarasota in 1924 and immediately became involved in many real estate investments as well as being active in civic affairs throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

Up until 1936, the subject property was vacant and owned by Ella Cobb, Ty Cobb's wife. J.J. Williams, Jr., was a prominent Sarasota attorney who served as the City Attorney in 1933-1934 and 1936-1938. He also made real estate investments in several of Sarasota's subdivisions in the 1930s such as the purchase in 1936 of several lots on Grove Street which included the subject property. The lots were purchased as an investment on behalf of H.C. and Ruth Entrinkin. Williams often acted as legal agent for unknown buyers for land purchases. The Entrinkins defaulted under a mortgage to Ella Cobb and the property transferred that same year to the Edward H. Knight family. Sarasota County tax rolls do not indicate that the house stood on the property until 1936. Mrs. David Embrey, daughter-in-law of former homeowners, Oscar and Lois Embry, and former resident of the home, recalls being told at some time that the house had been moved to the site; this however, cannot be confirmed.

 

1936-1945 Edward H. and Nina E. Knight

The Knights were originally from Circleville, Ohio. Mr. Knight was a civil engineer and the local manager for Monongahela Construction Company. The 1927-1928 City Directory indicates that they were road builders and had their offices in the Dewey Building in downtown Sarasota. Knight and his family most likely came here for the opportunity that the Florida Land Boom brought to the construction and road building business. Mrs. Knight was a charter member of the Whitfield Estates Presbyterian Church. From the late 1950s, the Knights resided in Southgate.