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J.J. and Maude Murphy House

Buildings: Sarasota History

Source: City of Sarasota public records
Credit: Sarasota History Alive
Location: 1263 12th Street, Sarasota, FL

Sarasota History - J.J. and Maude Murphy House photo

The J.J. and Maude Murphy House, located at 1263 12th Street, was originally located at 1522 North Tamiami Trail, in the Valencia Terrace Subdivision. Both the Craftsman Style Bungalow and the one-story wood frame garage were originally constructed for single family domestic use, but in 1953, they were converted into office and storage space. In 2006, the new owner had the structures moved and were refurbished into residential use as her home.

The house originally stood on two lots along the east side of U.S. 41. Although a number of WWII residential structures were located this stretch of the Tamiami Trail at one time, virtually all have been demolished and replaced with commercial or condominium buildings over the years.  Many of the homes in the 15th Street area continue to retain its residential state with numerous residences constructed over several decades, from the 1920s into the 1950s, ranging from Frame Vernacular structures to Spanish Eclectic bungalows to simple Craftsman style homes.

Historic Context 

In the 1920s, single family residences both in the state and in Sarasota were constructed at an unparalleled pace as a result of the Florida Land Boom and prosperity of the nation following the end of World War I. During this period, residential subdivision were platted throughout new and expanding suburban residential areas within the Sarasota city limits. Cheap land prices and the promise of quick profits swept the city into a spiral of development. Sarasota was fast replacing the fishing village image with that of a developing resort community and a modern city.

One of the subdivisions platted in Sarasota during the Land Boom of the 1920s was Valencia Terrace. Dr. Sherman Taylor of Chicago and Sarasota, purchased and undertook the initial development of the subdivision, although the plat was executed by First National Trust Co. as Trustee in March of 1924. An April 9, 1925 article in This Week in Sarasota projected $75,000 in house construction for the new development. Lots were marketed in the $3,000 to $5,000 range during the early years, although some corner lots were advertised by real estate companies such as the Sarasota Development Co. for as much as $6,000.

Construction in Valencia Terrace and other Boom Time subdivisions continued at a rapid pace until 1926 when real estate prices collapsed. The final blow to the Boom was the stock market crash in 1929.

Architectural Context

Many of the residential architectural trends of the 1920s continued into the Depression, although the desire for Spanish Eclectic Style architecture, the most prevalent style of the 1920s, appears to have waned. Lacking great demand for new homes, coupled with the necessity that any new homes be affordable as a result of the state of the economy, and a lack of a desire for innovativeness, most of the few homes actually constructed during the 1930s were simple modest structures. Houses were small and for the most part, devoid of any elaborate or expensive architectural detailing. Nevertheless, the 1930s did see some house-building activity. In 1919, there were 8 million homes in the United States; by 1939 there were 12 million. The automobile solidly began to play an ever increasing role and when a house was built, it almost always included a detached garage on the site.

Virtually all of the 1930s houses were built by speculative builders in suburban developments around existing towns and cities as infill in previous platted subdivisions that were never built out. Such builders funded each project with the profits form previous buildings. Houses tended to be owned rather tan rented.

The 1930s saw a number of different styles in domestic architecture. In Florida, the earlier simple vernacular designs continued to be used in residential architecture because of the availability of lumber that remained readily available. A few homes were slightly more detailed and could be described as very modest Craftsman Style homes. It would not be until after WWII in the mid-1940s, that Sarasota would not see any noticeable change in the style of residential architecture.


On June 12, 1935, J.J. Murphy filed a lawsuit against Charles Merkel to foreclose on the two vacant lots. That year, Murphy had purchased tax certificates on the property issued when property taxes went unpaid on the two lots. Murphy had purchased unpaid tax certificates on the property and Merkel failed to redeem them from Murphy. Thus, Murphy obtained title to the property. On August 14, 1935, he obtained a mortgage from First Federal Savings and Loan to construct a new personal residence and garage on the property. They were completed very near the end of that year, or, based on the Sarasota County Property Appraiser's records, 1936.

“J.J: John J. Murphy was an electrician who moved to Sarasota in 1923. Born in 1882, it appears he was a native of Worcester, Massachusetts where his three sisters resided. He and his wife resided on Arlington Street in Sarasota prior to the construction and their occupancy of their new home. Mr. Murphy was active in civic and community organizations including the Sarasota Masonic Lodge, the Shriners and was an Exalted Member of the Sarasota Elks Lodge. He owned and operated J.J. Murphy Electric on Lemon Avenue for 29 years before retiring. He was married to Maude Murphy, the former Maude Archer who also came to Sarasota from Worcester. According to Sylvia Groom, who was acquainted with Mrs. Murphy, Mr. Murphy was the electrical contractor for the construction of the 1926 El Vernona Hotel (later the John Ringling Hotel, now demolished, and also the electrical contractor for a number of projects for John Ringling). Mr. Murphy died in 1963 and shortly thereafter his widow sold the property to Sylvia Groom, a well-known local real estate broker. Mrs. Murphy moved to North Lime Avenue and later was a resident of a local nursing home until her death in 1985.

In 1963, Sylvia Groom converted the residence into her real estate office. She continued to operate her real estate firm from the former house until 1981.

In 1981, Sylvia Groom sold the property to William and Phyllis Ring. The Rings used the former residence as the office for their advertising agency, Ring Advertising.

In 1995, the Rings transferred ownership of the property to Richard and Caren Lobo. Mr. Lobo used it as his business office until the property was sold to RIDAWN, LLC with Heather Chappel as Trustee, in 2005. Ms. Chappel purchased the property as an investment for new development and construction and a decision was made that the structure was not suitable for her future use.

In October, 2005, Katherine Kelly entered into discussions with Ms. Chappel about the potential for obtaining ownership of the structure which would allow Ms. Kelly to relocate the structure in order to save it from demolition. An agreement was reached in November, 2005 for transfer of the ownership of the structures that would allow Ms. Kelly to move them from the site to a vacant lot owned by Ms. Kelly which was adjacent to Ms. Kelly's other historically designated home, the Kickliter House, which she purchased and fully rehabilitated in 2001.

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