Buildings: Sarasota History
The Hood Block is located at 1373-1385 Fifth Street, near the intersection of Central Avenue. Central Avenue runs south to north, just north of the center of the Sarasota 's Historic Downtown Rosemary Business District. Fifth Street extends only a short distance to the west after crossing Central Avenue.The Hood Building is located in the central core of what was historically known as Overtown, Sarasota 's first Black community. It was constructed in the Mediterranean Revival style.
The Hood Block, was constructed in 1925 for use by the McRae-Burns Furniture Co. of St. Petersburg, Florida and J. Hood of St. Petersburg for whom the building is named. The 100 foot site was purchased in February, 1925 by the furniture company and Hood from Levy & Kaye. Although it is known that the building was designed by St. Petersburg architects, their names are unknown. Ralph E. McRae of Lakeland, Florida was the Vice President of the McRae-Burns Furniture store. He resided in Lakeland . Robert B. Burns was the Secretary Treasurer of the corporation. Burns also served as the manager of the Sarasota store. Burns resided in Sarasota on Hickory Avenue. In R.L. Polk's 1927-1928 City Directory of Sarasota, Florida , the furniture store was advertised as having "Everything for the Home."
In 1930, the McRae-Burns Furniture Store is listed at 431-435 Central Avenue. There former store is identified as Scott & Edwards Furniture. Juno N. Scott and C.F. Edwards were the principals. Sometime shortly after 1930, Harry Augustine purchased the Hood building. Previously Augustine owned and operated Sarasota Auto Wrecking at another location. Upon purchasing the Hood Building , he relocated his business to the building where he maintained an auto junkyard, H. Augustine Used Auto Parts on vacant land to the west, and also established a scrap metal business. The Augustine's have been well recognized as major landowners and businessmen in this section of the city since their arrival in c. 1927.
The 1936 Sarasota City Directory indicates that there was at least one other tenant in the Hood Block besides Augustine's auto parts store. The directory lists Yetta Schulman, a dressmaker, as an occupant. Upstairs residential tenants included Luther Aldrich first listed in 1938 and again shown as a tenant in 1945.
By 1949, Curtis Herring Sheet Metal was occupying space in the Hood Block. During the 1950s, Sarasota's first FM radio station was housed in the westernmost storefront and about the same time, King's Signs also occupied space.
Since the time the property was purchased by Harry Augustine in the early 1930s, it has remained in the same family. Harry Augustine's son, Mel, retained ownership of the property until 1998 when it was sold to the present owner, Pat Ball. Ball plans to undertake extensive rehabilitation of the building including returning the exterior appearance to what we believe to be its original appearance. Of interesting note is that although the Hood Block is located in the historic black community, all owners to date have been white.
Historic Context: Overtown
Lewis and Irene Colson were instrumental in starting Sarasota's first Black community in which the Hood Building is located. The community that became known as Overtown was bounded roughly on the north and south by today's Tenth and Fifth Streets and on the west and east by U.S. 41 and Orange Avenue. The hub of the community was at the corner of Central Avenue and today's Sixth Street.
By the mid 1920s, Overtown was a thriving residential and business district. It grew as businessmen, fishermen, physicians, contractors, carpenters, laborers, drivers, masons, blacksmiths, laundry workers and railroad workers made the area their home. Along today's Central Avenue were pressing clubs and lunch rooms, a movie theater, meat and fish markets, grocery and general merchandise stores, and a variety of other businesses that provided goods and services to the community. Residential architecture varied in size, but most houses were modest, one-story wood-frame structures incorporating front porches. In 1925, the Sarasota Grammar School was built at Thirteenth Street (today's Seventh Street), east of Central Avenue.
From the time of the community's founding, the Black residents living and working there played a vital role in the development of both the City and the County of Sarasota . Although a number of early businesses and residences in the community have been lost through demolition, a number survive. In recent years, a considerable amount of revitalization, rehabilitation, and streetscape improvements have been made by both private property owners and city government in this section of the city. Approximately 14 pre-1948 structures concentrated in the immediate vicinity retain much of their original architectural integrity.
The Hood Building was locally designated by the City of Sarasota in 1999.