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Harrison and Laura Watson Residence

Buildings: Sarasota History

Source: Sarasota County Public Records
Credit: Sarasota County Public Records
Location: 3106 North Lockwoodridge Road, Sarasota, FL

Sarasota History - Harrison and Laura Watson Residence photo

The Harrison and Laura Watson residence, at 3106 North Lockwood Ridge Road was constructed in the Neoclassical Style. Its wood frame is supported in part by a pier foundation of poured concrete, and in part by a continuous brick foundation. It stands two stories in height, and is crowned by a gable and hip roof, covered with metal sheeting. The walls are clad with asbestos shingle, vertical wood siding and clapboard. The main entrance consists of a fifteen-light wood door with a wood screen and elaborate door surround composed of five-light sidelights and a six-light fanlight.

It is located on the west elevation, within a two-level porch consisting of a full-height entry porch topped with a gable roof with a pediment supported by two concrete Tuscan-style columns and a lower three-quarter width porch with a hip roof. Original windows include six-light over one-light double hung sash, placed independently, paired and in ribbons of three. Exterior ornament includes wood window and door surrounds, corner boards, gable vents, deep overhanging eaves and fixed wood window shutters. The interior is characterized by a mostly symmetrical plan with a central staircase and hallway with rooms flanking either side. The staircase itself consists of a molded handrail with turned guardrails. The living room contains a segmental arch entry into the adjacent room flanked by pilasters with a simple capital. Rooms on the second level retain the original hardwood floors and decorative molding.

An original detached garage is located to the east of the residence. It is a wood frame structure clad in wavy asbestos shingle, and has a poured concrete slab foundation and a gable rood faced with composition shingle. On the west elevation, it has two sets of paired wood swing doors, each with six lights, and diagonal wood panels. The north elevation has a one-light, three panel wood swing door near the east end. The east elevation has a pair of six-light wood casement windows, and the south elevation has a casement opening.

In addition, the property contains a shed to the northeast of the house, a pole-barn to the north of the house, and an in-law residence to the east of the garage, all of which are considered non-contributing.

Neoclassical Style

The Neoclassical Style was most commonly used during the late 1800s to mid 1900s in the U.S. It is characterized by a façade dominated by a full height entry porch with a roof supported by classical columns that generally have either Ionic or Corinthian capitals. The façade typically shows symmetrically balanced windows and center door. The principal areas of elaboration would be in the porch columns, cornices, doorways and windows.

New Site Description (3307 Gocio Road)

The Harrison and Laura Watson house was moved to a multi-acre residential lot, located three lots to the east of the building's former location. It is rectangular in shape, with the short end along Gocio Road. Currently, the property contains four structures, three of which are clustered near the south end of the property (Gocio Road). These buildings are surrounded by numerous trees and other vegetation.

The close proximity of the new location to the old site, and the vegetation, created an appropriate site for the residence. This keeps with the National Park Service's requirements that "...moved properties must still have an orientation, setting and general environment that are comparable to those of the historic location and that are compatible with the property's significance". Although the polar orientation of the house changed from an east-west axis to a north-south axis the main elevation will still face a roadway. In addition, at the new location, the house is in a residential section, as opposed to the Assisted Living Facility, with a large parking lot, that now occupies the current location.

Area History

As a result of the First Seminole War and the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819, Florida became a United States territory in 1821, but settlement was slow and scattered during the early years. The earliest American attempts to settle, what is now Sarasota County, occurred in 1842 when William H. Whitaker homesteaded 145 acres along Sarasota Bay.

Encouraged by the passage of the Armed Occupation Act in 1842, which was designed to promote settlement and protect the Florida frontier, settlers moved south through Florida. The resulting increase in settlement of the region precipitated the need for cadastral cartographic surveys. In 1847, A.H. Jones surveyed the interior lines of the Township and Range. In his survey notes, Jones describes the immediate area as "mostly 3rd rate" pine woods with scattered pines and palmettos. The resulting Plat depicts no man-made features within the project area.

In most of the early settlements, development followed the earlier pattern with few settlers, or two stores, and a lack of available overland transportation. Those communities along the coast developed a little faster due to the accessibility of coastal transportation. On August 2, 1880, the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 9, Township 36 South, Range 18 East, within which there lies 3106 N. Lockwood Ridge Road, was purchased by John F. Bass.

The turn of the century prompted optimism and excitement over growth and development. In 1902, the United States & West Indies Railroad and Steamship Co., a subsidiary of the Seaboard line, started laying track from Tampa through Bradenton into Sarasota. The first train arrived in March 1903, and the track was extended into Venice by 1912. In 1910, Mrs. Bertha Honore Palmer, widow of Chicago financier Potter Palmer, traveled to Sarasota. Mrs. Palmer was accompanied by her brother Adrian Honore and her sons Potter Jr. and Honore. The quartet was so taken with the area that they established companies which would ultimately come to hold a fourth of the land of present day Sarasota County. Mrs. Palmer established a showplace estate along Little Sarasota Bay, a 30,000 acre cattle ranch, the Palmer Experimental Farms, and the Bee Ridge Farms, Bee Ridge Homesites, and Sarasota-Venice real estate venures.

The Gocios arrived in Sarasota around 1910-1915.  Arthur Gocio planted the Gocio grove that was once located at the end of Gocio Road. Harry Gocio was in charge of the Sarasota Citrus Exchange packing house and was manager of the Palmer Hyde Park.

The investment in infrastructure contributed to the Florida Land Boom of the early 1920s. Growing populations necessitated more governmental facilities, and in 1921, Sarasota County was formed from the southern portion of Manatee County, and Charlotte County was carved from Desoto County. These halcyon days were short-lived, however, and during 1926-27, the Florida real estate market collapsed. The wild land speculation that preceded the land "bust" resulted in banks finding it impossible to track loans or property values; the October 1929 stock market crash, and the onset of the Great Depression only worsened the situation. Sarasota County, along with the rest of Florida was in a state of economic stagnation.

By the mid-1930s, federal programs implemented by the Roosevelt administration provided jobs for the unemployed who were able to work. The programs were instrumental in the construction of parks, bridges, and public buildings. The Public Works Administration was responsible for the repairing and paving of a section of U.S. 41 in south Sarasota County. Harrison G. Watson, and his wife Laura, lived within Sarasota during the 1930s where he worked as a waiter in the Jiffy Sandwich Shop. By 1940, he was employed as a foreman for the Palmer Farms Growers Cooperative Association. A local telephone directory from 1944 lists the Watsons living at another address. Around 1945, Watson and his wife purchased property at the northeast corner of Lockwood Ridge Road and Gocio Road, and built the Neoclassical home at 3106 N. Lockwoodridge Road. The neighborhoods surrounding the Watson residence were developed some years later including Kensington Park, directly south of the Watson residence, during the 1960s, and Maple Hammock, east of the Watson residence, during the 1990s.

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