Mabel Nabona Woodhull House
Buildings: Sarasota History
The Mabel Nabona Woodhull house located at 1325 Cocoanut Avenue, in Sarasota is a two-story Mediterranean Revival style single family residence that was built as a duplex in 1926. It is believed to be the design work of Thomas Reed Martin, a prominent Sarasota architect from 1920 into the 1940s; however that could not be documented.
HISTORIC CONTEXT AND SIGNIFICANCE
During the 1920s, numerous subdivisions were platted throughout an expanding Sarasota city limits. One of these subdivisions was Valencia Terrace located approximately 2 miles north of the historic downtown business district.
Valencia Terrace was platted in March of 1924 by the First National Co., as Trustee. The subdivision consisted of 10 blocks, lettered A-K. Each block was divided into 22 lots. Deed restrictions for the subdivision were recorded in the public records. These included provisions for minimal setbacks from the street of fifteen feet and that no building in Valencia Terrace could be constructed for less than $3,000. Buildings on Bradenton Road, Coconut Avenue or Central Avenue could not be constructed for less than $5,000. These restriction were set to remain in place until July 1, 1940.
On July 7, 1924, the plat for Valencia Terrace was revised by the F.C.L. Realty Corporation of which A.B. Cheney served as President. Other principals in the firm were Ed and Michael Roth, W. McGeorge Mason, and local active and prominent builder. T.W. (Thomas) Crisp.
The lots on which the house stands was purchased by the First National Co. on March 12, 1924. On August 31, 1925, the First National Co. sold the property to Minnie C. VandeVenter, an unmarried woman from Duval County, Florida. The subject structures do not appear to have been completed at the time the property was owned by Miss VanDeventer and her ownership of the property lasted less than three months.
On November 14, 1925, Minnie Deventer sold the land to Mabel Nabona for $6,000 and construction of the house was completed by mid 1926. Built as a duplex, it appears that the house was used as such from 1926 until 1936.
The original owner of the house, Dr. Mabel Robinson Templeton Nabona, N.D., D.C., was the daughter of Lilly Hastie Robinson Ward Ferrill and George W. Robinson. Mabel was born in Harrisburg, Illinois on January 8, 1892. Her father at one time owned the Papacrat Coal Mine in southern Illinois. He later occupied himself as a promoter and real estate investor in Harrisburg before the family came to Sarasota in the early 1900s. Following Mr. Robinson's death, Lilly Robinson married to P.T. Ward and in her later years she became the wife of Bill Ferrill whose family had come to Sarasota in the early 1900s.
Mabel Robinson was a student and graduate of the National Chiropractic College in Chicago as well as an unknown school of osteopathy in that city. In 1909, she married her first husband, Charles Templeton, Jr., in Harrisburg, Illinois. Mr. Templeton was an undertaker. Together, the Templeton's had one son, Charles F. Templeton. In 1916 or 1917, they couple were divorced.
Following her divorce from Charles Templeton, Jr. in 1916 or 1917, but prior to 1920, when she came to Sarasota, Mabel Robinson Templeton married Dr. Yosmite Nabona. According to a Sarasota newspaper account, Dr. Y. Nabona graduated from one of the "leading" medical colleges in Berlin, Germany, besides being a graduate of Cook County Hospital, Illinois. He was a veteran of the medical corps during World War I, during which he was gassed, resulting in health problems in his later years. Both Mabel Nabona and her second husband, Dr. Nabona, were said to be "authorities" on Indian baths and Indian treatments for various illnesses.
In November of 1920, the Nabona's arrived in Sarasota together having come from Chicago. In December of that year, they opened their first office in Sarasota in the Bank of Sarasota Building for the practice of chiropractic and chiropody, specializing in Indian baths and scalp treatments. Baths were electrically heated and herbs, boiled in cauldrons, were added to the bath waters.
In 1921, Mabel's husband, Dr. Y. Nabona, purchased five acres of Palmer Park on the eastern end of Main Street. The site was beyond the old Central School, which stood approximately where today's main post office is located. Therefore, it was actually located at a mid section of Main Street, opposite near where the First Baptist Church stands today on Main Street in downtown Sarasota. Nabona purchased the property and proceeded to construct a beautiful large sanatorium, the Navajo Sanitorium. By late 1921, the facility was near completion.
A November 10, 1921 article in the Sarasota Times describes the Nabona's health facility. The newspaper and credited Dr. Mabel Nabona with the plan for the building and Dr. Y. Nabona with undertaking much of the construction work himself. The two-story stucco building was said to have a second floor piazza, arched windows, be well set back from the street, and to be 50 x 60 feet in size. The first floor was divided into areas for bathing, chiropody, a beauty parlor and restrooms. One side of the first floor was for steam baths, high pressure shower baths, mud baths, medicated hot baths, and electrical treatment, as well as a laboratory. Although both sides were said to be alike, the left side was set aside for women under Mabel Nabona's personal care.
Stairs to the second floor rose from the large waiting room. A dining room was centered on the second floor. French doors opened to the piazza that extended across the front of the building at the second level. There were four suites open from the piazza, each with a sitting room, bath, clothes closet and bedroom. Three of the suites were available for rent to private patients. The kitchen was also located on the second floor and a chef, formerly employed by a large hotel in New York, was in charge of meals. The dining room was not only open to clients but made available for private parties. Attractive landscaped grounds, with a fountain and pool, surrounded the building.
The grand opening of the Navajo Sanatorium was scheduled for November 15, 1921. Invitations were sent to encourage people to attend the event. The opening was celebrated with an eight course dinner and music. The rooms in the facility were opened for inspection to guests.
The Nabona's operation of the facility only lasted less than three years. By mid 1924, the building had been converted to the Navajo Apartments. Sarasota City Directories and Sarasota Visitors Guides, dating form the 1920s-1940s indicate the building remained in use as either apartments or as an apartment hotel. The structure no longer stands.
Prior to purchasing the Coconut Avenue property and the completion of their home on that site in 1926, the Nabona's resided in a house at 208 8th Street, east of Central Avenue near N. Lemon Avenue, which today, if standing, would bear a 2nd Street address and be located in the 1400 block. The Nabona's had two children, Stanley and Margaret.
Charles F. Templeton the oldest of Mabel Templeton Nabona's children, who was born in 1910, recalls that following the family's move to the Coconut Avenue house, Dr. Y. Nabona did considerable work on the construction of the house. Yet, Dr. Y. Nabona only resided in the subject residence with his wife and two children for less than a year after Mabel purchased the property in November of 1925 and the house was subsequently completed.
By the fall of 1926, Yosmite and Mabel Nabona were divorced and Mabel was soon married to Rollin "Woody" Y. Woodhull. Woody Woodhull's former wife, Helen, had traveled to Colorado to obtain their divorce and for some unknown reason, Dr. Yosmite Nabona, Mabel's former husband, also traveled to Colorado at that time and, interestingly, soon afterward married Helen, the former Mrs. Woodhull. Together, Yosmite and Helen Nabona founded their own clinic or sanatorium in or near the Black Forrest near Colorado Springs, Colorado. They later divorced and, amazingly, Helen Woodhull Nabona eventually married Mr. Charles Templeton, Jr., Mabel Nabona Woodhull's first husband. Dr. Nabona eventually went to California where Dr. Nabona is believed to have died in Long Beach although no written confirmation is known to exist or could be located.
Mabel and Woody Woodhull remained in Sarasota after their marriage. By 1928, Mabel was operating a health facility on N. Pineapple Avenue. She and her husband lived with Mabel's children at the subject property on Coconut Avenue. Various tenants occupied the second floor living unit, although Sarasota City Directories do not indicate non-family occupants until 1940. The 1930 Sarasota City Directory lists Woodhull as the Secretary/Treasurer of Florida Fish Products with quarters in the Hog Creek Terminal, later known as the Payne Terminal. Beginning in about 1929 or the early 1930s, Mr. and Dr. Woodhull operated a clinic together, Dr. Woodhull's Clinic, at 301 S. Palm Avenue, which would today be between the Mira Mar Building and Ringling Boulevard.
On November 25, 1936, Mabel Woodhull sold the subject property on Coconut Avenue to William C. Suppler. She and Woody Woodhull had ceased operating the clinic on S. Palm Avenue and they were divorced in December of 1936.37 Mabel moved to 2429 S. Osprey Avenue as a tenant. Subsequently, the 1938 and 1942 Sarasota City Directories indicate that Mabel was still living in the S. Osprey house and operating the Sarasota Health Baths from her home, promoting herself in the Sarasota City Directory as a "Naturopath" and "drugless physician" and as providing Swedish massages. In late 1937, it appears that Mr. Woodhull remarried but his new wife died in 1940. Later biographical information regarding Mr. Woodhull could not be located.
By 1945, Mabel Robinson Templeton Nabona Woodhull was living in Tampa where she worked in her field briefly. In the early 1960s, she moved to Broward County to be near her daughter, Margaret Louise Nabona Dunstan a/k/a Bull DeMars. Mabel Robinson Templeton Nabona Woodhull died in Broward County, Florida on July 28, 1964.
William Suppler, who purchased the subject property from Mabel Woodhull in late November of 1936, was a native of Wheeling, West Virginia. He was a retired official of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company of Birmingham, Alabama when he and his wife, Katherine P. Suppler, came to Sarasota in 1936. According the subsequent owner of the house, Carolyn Brye, the Suppler family originally owned Merritt Island and donated the property on which Cape Canaveral (Kennedy) was built. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Suppler resided in the house for the next ten years. Sarasota City Directories indicate some other occupants of the residence, beginning in 1940, including Leonard and Florence Girouard that year. Following a year long illness, Mr. Suppler died in 1946, leaving the property to his heirs but giving his widow a life estate in the property. Mrs. Suppler continued to occupy the house until about 1949.
The Mabel Nabona Woodhull House was locally designated by the City of Sarasota in 2001.