Buildings: Sarasota History
The Frances-Carlton Apartments located at 1221-1227 North Palm Avenue were built beginning in 1924 as furnished, rental apartments. The announcement of the proposed complex first appeared in the Sarasota Times of May 1, 1924. The apartments, which were to be called the Frances-Carlton, evidently received the nomenclature from a combination of “Frances,” the first name of co-architect, Francis James of Tampa, and Carlton, in honor of the owner's son, Carlton Olin Teate, Jr. The construction announcement described the proposed building in detail, specifying the construction materials to be hollow tile with a stucco finish in the “Spanish-Moresque style with tile roof and extended eves (sic) very much resembling the ancient hostelry of the Pyrenees along the Spanish border of southern France. The structure will contain 21 complete apartments of four and six rooms respectively, and each and every apartment completely finished with the purpose of affording the tenant personal and individual service.
The press release also specified that the site on Palm Avenue would afford views of the Sarasota Bay with vehicular access provided by “one driveway entrance opening on Palm Avenue and extending the entire distance through to Seventh Street” (Seventh Street is now First Street). The vehicular entrance would provide access to the two main entrances located at the central open courts lobby area of the first floor. The original plan also called for the innovative addition of a 30' x 40' roof garden which was located at what was referred to as “Frances-Carlton Apartment Galley No. 2.”
The complex consists of three blocks of rectangular plan and one block of wedge-shaped plan. The four blocks being three stories in height are flat-roofed and connected by recessed stair hyphens at the interior courts located between each block. The entrance is located at the south elevation; vehicular and pedestrian access is provided from North Palm Avenue. Glass and screened conservatory openings are provided at the north and south elevations – the conservancy porch projections are three stories in height and are topped by pantiled-hipped-roof parapets. A variety of roof structures, including a domed observatory and a mirador, adds a picturesque dimension to the skyline. The original fenestration is intact – remarkable multi-paned and multi-headed casement wood windows provide light and ventilation for the conservatory piazzas or sun parlors located at the north and south elevations. The Mediterranean Revival Style apartments were originally characterized by the use of dark-hued stucco with trim, string course moldings and projecting window sill moldings picked out in white. The stucco facades are currently pink.
The apartments were built for Carl Olin Teate, according to the designs of Ormiston colonist and architect, Alex Browning. Alex Browning and Francis James, architect of Tampa, Florida. The contractors responsible for the construction of the building were Carmen and Carmen. By Mid-August of 1924, construction had progressed to the basement level, the work having commenced two weeks prior to the 21st of August. Construction was estimated to be completed by December 1, 1924. Every possible convenience was offered including icebox openings on the exterior of the kitchen so that the ice could be delivered from the hallway, the promise of a telephone connection and speaking tubes to be located in each apartment, garbage receptacles and the novel inclusion of a roof-garden. The Frances-Carlton Apartments also had the added advantage of being located to the west of the Woman's Club. The picturesque massing of the roofline with its observatory, mirador and gabled roof was innovative in its picturesque massing in 1924. The apartments were advertised in Hotels and Apartments in Sarasota; the pamphlet prepared by Roger V. Flory. With each of the 21 apartments equipped with “Kelvinator electric refrigeration,” the fully-furnished apartments were also provided with silver and linens.
The spelling of the name Frances varies from primary source to primary source, from Francis to Frances. Although the current condominium apartment is known as “Frances,” one would speculate that the original spelling was “Francis” after the first name of the Tampa architect primarily responsible for the plans, Francis James, and the Carlton obviously having been supplied by the name Carlton Olin Teate, Junior, or Senior. C.O. Teate, Jr. and Sr. were in the real estate investment business with an office at 320 Main Street by 1926. Both the Junior and Senior Teate lived in the Frances-Carlton Apartments in the year 1926.
Cartlton Teate, Sr. was a prominent developer during the early boom period in Sarasota. The Frances-Carlton project was very large for that early period. Teate also developed several subdivisions and built the Firestone building at 344 Main Street which is still devoted to commercial purposes. Teate, a resident of his own building, was also a member of the Scottish Rite body of the Masons and a charter member of Egypt Shrine Temple of Tampa.
Other residents of note include Thomas (Tommy) L. Glenn and W.S. Randall, listed in the 1930 City Directory. Glenn, an attorney, was an active civic leader. Arriving in Sarasota in 1926, fresh out of law school, he began a partnership with George Evans. In 1928 Glen was appointed Prosecuting Attorney for the Sarasota County Board of Commissioners. Glenn was a vice-president of the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, and served on the Board of Directors. He was president of the Sarasota Bar Association and region director of the Florida Bar Association. In 1936, Glenn participated in the revival of the Sara de Sota Pageant, an event important to today's cultural activities. Glenn is also attributed with organizing the Sarasota Angler's Club. He died in 1951.
Walter Spellman Randall was another noted resident. He served as the Sarasota Public Accountant for many years. He died in 1941. A very prominent resident was Dr. Clarence J. Hicks. Dr. Hicks was a renowned labor relations pioneer who counseled large corporations such as International Harvester and Standard Oil, among others, on industrial labor relations. Dr. Hicks served as chairman of Industrial Counselors for John D. Rockefeller. Dr. Hicks was also interested in the international field of the Y.M.C.A. and spent time in Europe working with that group on railroad employee conditions. He also lectured at Princeton and Harvard Universities. Dr. Hicks died in Sarasota in 1944.
The selection of Alex Browning as one of the architects of the new apartment complex was significant. In the advertising of the 1924 City Directory, Alex Browning is the only architect listed; his office was located at 530 Ninth Street (today 3rd Street, or Fruitville Road). Thomas Reed Martin's Studios were listed under the landscape architecture division. Alex Browning, who was one of the original Ormiston colonists, provided the first structure in Sarasota built according to architect's plans for the company manager of the Florida Mortgage and Investment Company, Ltd., in 1886. According to Karl Grismer (The Story of Sarasota), Browning had studied architecture as an apprentice in the office of James Lindsay of Edinburgh. Arriving with the Ormiston colonists in 1885, he moved to Tampa in 1890 where he is credited with having been the assistant architect on the Tampa Bay Hotel, which was completed in 1891. Returning to the Bradenton and Ellenton areas during the next five-year period, he returned to Sarasota in 1919 and drew the plans for the Frances-Cartlon Apartments. Alex Browning was also responsible for the authorship of what is known as the Browning Manuscript, an unpublished memoir devoted to the documentation of the early days of the Ormiston Colony in Sarasota.