Etowah - Hagan/Jackson House
Buildings: Sarasota History
Etowah, the Hagan-Jackson House, is located on 4511 Bayshore Road, in Indian Beach Subdivision in Sarasota, Florida. The large two-story residential Mediterranean Revival style residential structure was completed c. 1925. Originally, the site included three additional lots directly to the south. According to descendants of the longtime second owner, Felix Jackson, a cottage used for guests once occupied a portion of that adjoining property. In 1940, adjoining property, including the land on which that structure stood, was sold off and new private residences were erected within a short time.
Indian Beach, in which the subject property is located, had seen some development prior to the 1920s. In the winter of 1890-91 Dr. Frederick K. Williams of Bristol, Connecticut traveled through the Sarasota Bay region. He eventually chose a tract of land to purchase, just north of 33rd Street (later 27th Street and still later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way) His land acquisition included 267 acres that had been owned by John J. Dunne. Dunne bought the property a few years earlier, paying only $1 per acre, from the original settlers. Dr. Williams paid $3,345.50. A group of investors participated and the tract was then subdivided. A plat was recorded in October of 1891, as the Indian Beach Subdivision. Syndicate members were allocated choice waterfront lots.
Promotional material from this period of the subdivision's development called it the "ultra-exclusive residential area" of INDIAN BEACH on Sarasota Bay. That promotion also said, "This location is studded with the magnificent homes of wealthy people from all over the U.S. and some from foreign lands, who chose this beautiful spot on the land-locked, placid waters of the bay, after a world-wide search for the IDEAL WINTER HOME." It went on to say there were 93 of the "prettiest located lots to be found on the entire bay, nearby the palatial homes of wealthy northern tourists who spend their winters here." Among those were the Ringling Brothers, Col. C.M. Thompson of Buffalo Bill's Wild West (since demolished), D.L. Wooster, wealthy manufacturer of Cincinnati, O.W.F. Purdy (since demolished), Mrs. Admiral Jack Philips, the commander of the battleship Texas of Spanish war fame, Dr. W.W. Gurley.
In January of 1922, Lee Hagan announced that he expected to relocate to Sarasota from Atlanta. Hagan and his wife and daughter had visited Sarasota for a number of previous winters and had owned a Sarasota home until the early 1920s. In 1923, the Manhattan Bond and Mortgage Company began further development of the subdivision selling many of the lots for building sites for winter residences. On January 24, 1923, in light of the new wave of promotion for Indian Beach, Lee Hagan purchased Lot 25 within the development from Susan K. Smith, a widow. Within the next two or three years, Hagan oversaw the construction of a new winter home and boat basin.
Lee and Clam E. Hagan
Lee Hagan was originally from Atlanta, Georgia. Hagan co-owned and operated the Hagan & Dodd Company in that city where he also owned the Red Rock Building, a commercial property on Springs Street. The 1925 Atlanta City Directory indicates that he was a Vice President of the Mortgage Guaranty Company of America. Apparently, it appears that the Hagan's only enjoyed their new winter home for a few seasons before returning to Atlanta where Mr. Hagan died on June 26, 1929. Mrs. Hagan died on May 21, 1944, also in Atlanta.
Felix Preston Jackson and Christine Lumpkin Jackson
On July 9, 1925, W.H. Calhoun, brother of pioneer Sarasota merchant, J.C. Calhoun of the Calhoun, McCall, and Company Store, sold Lots 27 & 28, Indian Beach Subdivision from his brother's estate to Felix Jackson, who would eventually purchase the Hagan house and property from Mr. Hagan's estate.
On April 3, 1930, the Trust Company of Georgia, the trustee of Mr. Hagan's estate, sold the property to Felix Jackson for approximately $35,000.20 Jackson already owned two lots, just south of the property. He named his new home and property as well as his private yacht, "Etowah", after the river that flows through his native home in Bartow County, Georgia. According to the April 6, 1930 edition of the Sarasota Herald Tribune, Mr. Jackson "expressed himself (through Robert L. Hayes, his realtor) as being greatly impressed with the Sarasota region as a place of permanent residence and thoroughly delighted with the opportunity to acquire the home that is now his."
Felix Jackson was born in Cartersville, Georgia on March 31, 1870. His father died when he was two and he moved with his mother and older sister to Fairmont, Georgia where he grew up on a farm. In 1892, he married Leta Agnes Walton in Aspermont, Texas on March 29, 1892. They had three sons. In his younger years, he tried farming and gave it up to sell fruit trees. He took other jobs and eventually went to Texas where he worked his way up to a bank president in Port Lavaca, one of the oldest commercial towns in the state. He later became a railroad president in Velasco, Texas. He was the organizer and head of the Seaboard and Gulf Steamship Company that traveled in the New Orleans trade route and eventually took on an additional from Velasco to New York.
According to family members, Jackson was also an important official in the operation of the American Red Cross overseas during World War I. Following his wife Leta's death on January 10, 1921, he went to New York and organized the Inland Steamship Company and commenced the operation of a line of barges from Baltimore to Newborn, North Carolina.
He then proceeded to establish an even more successful barge line between Philadelphia and Norfolk, and it became the Philadelphia and Norfolk Steamship Company of which he served as President.
Upon first arriving in Philadelphia, Jackson had virtually no friends there and was faced the task of persuading shippers to trust their shipments to a barge line. Through the sheer force of his personality and his ability as an executive and trader his steamship company was a success from the start most likely in part due to his concern for his employees. According to his obituary published in the Sarasota Herald Tribune on March 25, 1940; "In 14 years, his genius developed a line of three motor barges capable of carrying only 150 tons twice a week into a fleet of four deep-water 4,000 ton steamers, making a daily trip in each direction. During the Depression, his company did not lay off a single man nor make a single reduction in wages or salaries with one exception. Mr. Jackson himself went to his board of directors and voluntarily took a 40 percent cut."
Like many others, Jackson selected Sarasota after having inspecting a number of attractive localities in the state. At the time, he was still actively engaged in business in Philadelphia but intended to spend as large a portion of each year in Sarasota as possible. Jackson and his first wife, Leta Agnes Walton, first came to Sarasota from Merion, Pennsylvania in 1920 for his wife's health but she died in 1921. In 1922, he married Christine Lumpkin, a native of Gainesville, Georgia. There were no children from their union.
Upon his semi-retirement to Florida in January, 1936 Jackson continued to take an active part in the management of his steamship line and remained its President. Later that year, his physicians urged him to completely retire. His son from his first marriage, Milton Jackson, replaced him as president of the shipping line until the line permanently closed in 1945 with the continued expansion and competition of rail shipping. Jackson was active in civic affairs in Sarasota and Bradenton. He owned a commercial building at lower Main Street in Sarasota which, at the time of his death, housed Bradley's Department Store. He was an avid boater and tarpon fisherman and was responsible for constructing the boat house on the property.
Mr. Jackson and his wife resided together year round in the home until his death after a lengthy illness in Tampa on March 25, 1940. He is buried in Gainesville next to his first wife. Although Mr. Jackson left a large cash bequest to his widow, she did not inherit "Etowah" but she elected to purchase the property from the estate for its appraised value which in 1940 was $25,000.36 and she continued to reside in the home, initially with her sister, Roslyn Lumpkin, and in later years, her brother, Ben Lumpkin. She did sell off a small section of the original property at the north lot line to Mrs. Adeline Munce who lived directly north at the time. In addition, sometime in the 1940s, she sold off the first lots purchased by Jackson in 1925 from the estate of J.C. Calhoun on the south that contained a guest cottage that most likely served as Jackson's first Sarasota home, beginning at the time of first visits to Sarasota in the early 1920s. Shortly thereafter, the earlier home on that property was demolished and new single family residence was constructed on the site.
Etowah is historically significant for having been constructed during the height of the Florida Land Boom and as an excellent example of the winter residences that affluent northerners who chose Sarasota to erect winter homes during that period. Although the owners of the property from 1930 to 1968, originally only spent winter seasons in Sarasota, they made additional investments in the local economy and took an active part in civic affairs, thus contributing to the quality and growth of Sarasota's cultural and social foundation. In addition, the original structure is remarkably intact, providing an exceptional and excellent local example of Mediterranean Revival architecture of the 1920s. The house also contains extremely elaborate interior decorative detailing compared to the majority of local residential structures dating from the period of construction.
Ethowah - The Hagan/Jackson House was locally designated by the City of Sarasota in 2000.