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Buildings: Sarasota History

Source: City of Sarasota Public Records
Credit: Sarasota History Alive!
Location: 463 Sapphire Drive, Sarasota, FL

Sarasota History - Nagirroc photo

“Nagirroc” is a residential structure located in Sapphire Shores Subdivision at 463 Sapphire Drive. The structure was constructed ca. 1926 and based on historic photographs and newspaper references in the Sarasota Herald in 1928, the house was enlarged and “beautified” between 1926 and March, 1928.  

The building is two-stories in height, irregular in shape and Mediterranean Revival in style and in excellent condition. Construction is of hollow clay tile with a rough textured stuccoed exterior.  The foundation is a hollow clay tile wall.  

The asymmetrical front façade features an elaborate door surround. Centered above the front entry door within the surround is the Corrigan (the first owner) family crest. The family was originally from Ireland. Original 8/8 double hung sash windows flank the front entry. To the right (east) of the front entry door are two arched openings. Fixed pane single light glass replaces the original multi-pane wood casement windows. On the second floor of this elevation, there are four arched windows. These also contain fixed glass rather than their original casement windows. Decorative exterior wrought iron grills are not original. Striped Italian or Venetian style canvas awnings shaded many of the house's windows in earlier years.  

The house has three stuccoed masonry chimneys. One is located on the west façade, the other on the north and the third is on an interior wall. The roof is gabled with a gable wing and entirely surfaced in Spanish barrel tile.


Historical Information 

The area had originally been platted by C.N. Thompson in 1895. Thompson carved out Shell Beach from his original land and sold his former home and a portion of property in Shell Beach to John Ringling. The Ringling Museum and home, Ca'd'Zan were later constructed on the parcel. In 1911, Ralph Caples, who had come to Sarasota a few years earlier, also bought land from Thompson in Shell Beach, along with considerable other land in the area. Caples sold part of this land to John Ringling. Ringling had first come here in 1911 at Caples invitation. John in turn, convinced his brother, Charles to come down and invest in 1912. 

During the 1920s, residential subdivisions were platted throughout an expanded Sarasota city limits. Cheap land prices and the promise of quick profits swept the city into a spiral of development. This decade brought unparalleled growth to Florida. Sarasota downtown development was coupled with the expanding suburban residential areas. Sarasota was fast replacing the fishing village image that it had with that of a developing resort community. Construction following World War I produced what would become a modern city. This development also brought a new architectural identity to Sarasota. The Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean Revival styles popularized by Addison Mizner of Palm Beach were reflected in Sarasota architecture. 

In early 1925, Ringling and Caples began the development of Sapphire Shores Subdivision. Walter Bryson, who owned Bryson Paving Company in Jacksonville, Florida, acting for Brywill Realty Company, re-patted the four blocks south of the Ringling Museum fom Sarasota Bay to Brywill Circle including the original Thompson property. The subdivision became Sapphire Shores. Several of John and Charles Ringling's friends and contemporaries built homes in the area before the real estate market turned sour. Originally, the subdivision deed restrictions required that all homes must be Spanish, Italian, or Moorish. Building materials were required to be hollow tile, cement block, or similar construction. No horses, cattle, hogs or poultry could be kept or raised.  

Charles E. Corrigan was the first owner of the property although it does not appear that he initiated the construction of the property. Newspaper articles in 1928 refer to the fact that he purchased the house in 1926 and enlarged it prior to 1928, suggesting that Corrigan was not responsible for the house being constructed. The house was called “Nagirroc” which is derived from spelling Corrigan backwards. Corrigan was a pioneer in the electrical industry, who came to Sarasota to retire, but instead became one of the city's most active and public spirited citizens. He was a well known citizen and philanthropist. 

He was born in Martinsburgh, New York and after a brief business career in Minneapolis he organized the American Electric Vehicle Company in Chicago in 1892 and built the first electrically driven vehicle ever constructed. This machine was sold to a Chicago department store which used it as the world's first “horseless delivery wagon.” Its first trip was made to deliver a package to Mr. Corrigan's wife, Alice Merita Potwin Corrigan. Soon afterward, Mr. Corrigan published the first automobile catalogue in the United States.  

In 1896, Mr. Corrigan received written permission from the Chicago Park Commission for his machines to operate in the city parks. Up to that time no “horseless carriages” had been allowed to travel any of the park boulevards or drives. On April 28, 1900, Mr. Corrigan received similar permission from the park commission of New York City, thereby opening the parks to automobiles. In the same year, he was awarded a gold medal by the French government at the Paris Exposition for his leadership in the production of electric automobiles. He was widely known throughout the United States for his progressiveness and originality of thought. 

Mr. Corrigan quit the automobile business in 1901 and engaged in the manufacture of flexible conduits, becoming Vice President of the Osborn Flexible Conduit Company of New York. In 1907, he went to Pittsburgh where he merged the conduit business with the National Metal Molding Company, of which he became Vice President before he retired. He was considered a pioneer in the electrical industry. 

In Pittsburgh, Mr. Corrigan was recognized as one of the city's most successful manufacturers. He was a member of many clubs and societies. Among these were the Duequesne Club, Pittsburgh Press Club, Old Colony Club, Au Sable Trout and Game Club, and Woodmont Club. 

Upon Mr. Corrigan's retirement, Mr. and Mrs. Corrigan established their winter home in Sarasota in 1922 and immediately became actively identified with the city's civic and social affairs. He and his wife won high regard of their fellow citizens because of their many philanthropic deeds and the support they gave to every project for the betterment of the city. Together they had five children. He was always the first to respond when called upon to attend meetings in the interest of the city.  

As a hobby, Mr. Corrigan established a poultry farm near Bradenton, known as Crescent Farms, which he developed into one of the largest and most scientifically operated poultry farms in the nation. According to Mr. William Brown, his grandson, Quaker Oats eventually bought out the farm part of their operations. The  family continued to own the grove section of Crescent Farms and had a lovely home there where they spent many weekends and vacations with many activities, including alligator hunts.  

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