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Sarasota Times Building

Buildings: Sarasota History

Source: City of Sarasota public records
Credit: Sarasota History Alive
Location: 1216 1st Street, Sarasota, FL 34236

Sarasota History - Sarasota Times Building photo

The Sarasota Times Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 22, 1984. The three-story asymmetrically-massed, stucco and cast stone facade, Mediterranean Revival structure was designed by architect Dwight James Baum. It is significant to Sarasota's heritage for its role as a newspaper established in 1899, and also for its architectural merits.

HISTORIC CONTEXT

The City of Sarasota is located on Sarasota Bay along the southwest coast of Florida. The area around which the city grew was initially settled in 1856 by William Whitaker, but not until after the Florida Land and Improvement Company purchased some 240,000 acres of land fronting the bay did appreciable settlement occur. In 1885, a group of Scottish immigrants settled in the community. Sarasota grew steadily throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century. Commercial fishing and a growing tourist industry provided the economic base. The Town of Sarasota was incorporated in October 1902. Infrastructural improvements in the form of paved streets, sidewalks, and electric plant, and water and sewer services along with commercial diversification aided in attracting settlers to the town during the first decade of the twentieth century. The community's relative isolation ended when the Florida West Shore Railway extended track to the town in 1904.

Sarasota was later linked to the Seaboard Air Line system in 1913. Between 1910 and 1920 the population of the community jumped from 840 to 2,149. During the mid-1920's Sarasota, experienced a dramatic period of growth during the great Florida land boom. Most extant pre-World War II buildings in Sarasota were constructed during that period. The crash of 1926 slowed building in the city considerably, although the city's tourist based economy prevented a complete stoppage during the Great Depression. The historic building of Sarasota represent the full range of the community's growth and development over a century's time and express in their architectural appearance the aspirations and accomplishments of generations of residents.

HISTORICAL INFORMATION

The three-story Mediterranean Revival Style structure located at 1214, 1216, and 1218 First Street was designed in 1925 by the architect Dwight James Baum as the headquarters of the Sarasota Times newspaper. By November of 1925 the construction firm of Ricketts and Haworth had started work on the foundations of the Sarasota Times Building, but ceased work due to the revision of the original plans for the building. The Times Building was designed in the Mediterranean Revival Style which was in keeping with the other Baum designed projects under construction or planned for the Broadway area including the Burns Realty Company, the El Vernona Hotel (Later called John Ringling Towers, now demolished) and the El Vernona Apartment (Currently called Belle Haven Apartments). The Times Building also abutted the residence of the editor and owner of the paper, L.D. Reagin, whose house was located on North Palm Avenue.

The Sarasota Times newspaper, which was purchased by Mr. Reagin in March of 1924, was a significant communications force in the development of Sarasota, having been founded in 1899. Formerly located at 241 Main Street, the new site of the plant and offices was indicative of the shift in the commercial development away from lower Main Street.

The architect of record, Dwight James Baum, was responsible for many of the most significant buildings constructed in Sarasota in the 1920's including John Ringling's palatial home, the Ca da'Zan, the Sarasota County Courthouse, and the four Mediterranean Revival Style buildings in the Broadway area. Having traveled in Southern California, Mr. Baum had studied the use of the Mission Style and the Spanish Colonial Revival Style in California. Frequently the style is referred to as Spanish Eclectic. It was the product of a detailed study of Latin American architecture made by Bertram Grovesnor Goodhue.

In 1915, at the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego, Goodhue designed an exhibit that featured the rich architectural variety found in South America. Encouraged by the publicity afforded the exposition, other architects began to look directly to Spain where they found still more interesting building traditions. Many of the California elements Baum studied influenced his designs for Sarasota buildings.

In Florida, the Spanish Eclectic style was among the most dominant building styles during the 1920's continued to be built into the 1930's. It was adapted for a variety of building types ranging from grandiose tourist hotels to two room residences. It was so popular that many commercial and residential buildings were renovated in the 1920's to reflect the style. Identifying features of the style include flat (sometimes hip) roofs. Usually with some form of parapet; ceramic tile roof surfacing; stuccoed facades; flat roof entrance porches, commonly with arched openings supported by square columns; casement and double-hung sash windows; and ceramic tile decorations.

The design of the Times Building is one of Mr. Baum's most successful; the variety of architectural elements, including the use of three different door types and enframements on the ground floor elevation of the Times Building is particularly effective on a relatively small-scaled building. Following the crash of the land prices and the onset of the Depression, the Sarasota Times newspaper went into receivership. The Times Building was subsequently used as the office of the "Tree-Ripe Citrus Products, Inc. which was owned and operated by Mr. Owen Burns.

Today the building has been re-habilitated and altered somewhat to accommodate Ceviche, a tappas restaurant with Flamenco and a roof-top bar.

The Sarasota Times Building was locally designated by the City of Sarasota in 1985.