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Second Street Historic District

Buildings: Sarasota History

Source: City of Sarasota public records
Location: 1200 Block of 2nd Street, Sarasota, FL

Sarasota History - Second Street Historic District photo

The Second Street Historic district is small, consisting of four contributing residential buildings located in the 1200 block of W. 2nd Street, between Cocoanut Avenue and N. US 41 (N. Tamiami Trail). Together, the buildings within the district exist as a concentration of buildings constructed during the same time frame. They continue to relay a great deal of historic integrity and are joined by physical development. The district reflects its historic use by its close proximity to Sarasota's historic downtown core as the site of the homes of early residents who were closely associated with Sarasota's early settlement and commercial and social development.

Although the following residential buildings within the historic district have undergone some modifications, and not all exhibit individual architectural distinction, they all contribute to the district and collectively they continue to relay their historic presence by site, setting and historic association. All of the houses are linked to Sarasota's first period of substantial growth following the establishment of a number of new businesses and the completion of a number of civic and infrastructural improvements that occurred in Sarasota in the early 1910s.

No significant number of pre-Boom Time residences continue to exist within the original Plat of Sarasota, therefore, they stand as a rare collection of their early building. Over time, with the continued expansion of the city and a reduction in the number of residences in the city's commercial core, many residential neighborhoods have been lost by demolition. These structures are significant as a surviving group of residential homes within the downtown area providing an excellent example of the quickly disappearing residential architecture that once existed in the city from this period.


In 1901, cattle and hogs roamed Sarasota's streets at their pleasure and there were no sanitary sewers or a public water system. A silverware salesman from Connecticut who visited Tampa Bay in 1904 made the observation that he thought Sarasota was similar to the cowboy towns portrayed in the Western movies. According to Karl Grismer in The Story of Sarasota, "the cattlemen and their friends, plus the fishermen, just about ruled the town." These groups objected to improvements that would allow the town to grow because they realized growth would jeopardize their interests so they fought progressive measures. So, it was not until 1902, that the Town of Sarasota was established as this area's first form of local government. In addition, the closely timed addition of rail transportation brought a larger variety of manufactured goods and building materials not previously available in Sarasota. Markets for Sarasota's fishing, citrus and agricultural industries were expanded and commerce began to increase. Tourists and settlers were then attracted to the area and the population began to grow and small infrastructure improvements became possible such as the installation of wooden sidewalks along Main Street.

All of the houses within the district are located on the north side of Second Street and are built on narrow city lots with minimal street setback incorporating front entrance porches a design element common to most homes of the period.

1243 Second Street
Period of Significance- The Progressive Era, 1911-1921

This one-story frame structure has a rectangular plan. The house can be classified as a National Folk House of the Hall and Parlor family, the dominant pre-railroad folk house over much of the southeastern United States during the period

The site of this house was purchased in 1914 by Mr. Samuel H. Highsmith. Highsmith was a prominent early Sarasota merchant who came to the city in 1899 from Oneco, Florida where he was employed in a general store. Upon coming to Sarasota, Highsmith purchased part of the general merchandising firm, formerly Coarsey, Turner & Co, located at the comer of Main and Pineapple. After joining the firm, the business became Highsmith and Turner. A year later, George B. Prime, another early Sarasota resident, joined the enterprise and the name of the store was again changed, this time to Highsmith, Turner & Prime. The three partners expanded the business by purchasing a vacant store and two adjacent lots in the center of town on the south side of Main Street.

The firm sold a variety of merchandise, including groceries, hardware, feed, hay, plows, and stoves. A large percentage of sales were conducted by exchange with the store receiving alligator and cow hides, furs, chicken and produce in barter. In 1909, Highsmith and Prime, as partners, began their own hardware and grocery store, Highsmith and Prime. Within a few years, Highsmith was partnered with a party named Bright. Frederick H. West, the first occupant of this subject house was an employee of the store. Although Highsmith purchased this property in 1914, he and his wife owned and occupied a residence on North Orange Avenue from about the time of their arrival in Sarasota until his wife's death in the early 1950s. Therefore, it appears that he may have had the home built as an investment property within a short time of purchasing the land.

The 1916 and 1918 Sarasota City Directories indicate that the house was occupied by Frederick H. and Mary West. The directories give Mr. West's employment as a clerk in Highsmith and Bright indicating that West was an employee of Highsmith. Assuming that the house was constructed in 1914 or 1915, (no city directories exist for these years to verify an occupant) this would indicate that West occupied the house as a tenant from the time of completion until 1918 when he obtained title to the property only to sell it one year later.

In 1921, the house was sold to Jenny Jordan. Mrs. Jordan was a widow from Bellefonte, Ohio (near Dayton) who began wintering in Sarasota with her daughter and son-in-law, Mary Etta and Reverend John Phillips Currin in 1916. Mr. Currin was an ordained Baptist Minister who served as pastor of many churches from Ohio to California. During the 1920s, he preached weekly at the Venice Hotel. The 1916 and 1918 Sarasota City Directories, indicate that Mrs. Jordan and the Currin's occupied the third residence east of the subject at that time. No city directories exist for the years 1919 or 1920 and it is possible that they also occupied that house during the winter during those years prior to purchasing the property in 1921. Mrs. Jordan retained title to the subject house until 1923, using it as a winter residence, when she deeded the property to her daughter and her husband.

The following year, the Currin's became permanent residents of the property. The Currin's retained title to the property until 1927 when they transferred ownership to their son's prominent Sarasota general contracting firm, Logan and Currin. Although title was transferred to the Logan and Currin firm, the Currin's continued to live in the house until 1938 when Reverend Currin died. Within a short time following her husband's death, Mrs. Currin moved to a cottage on her son Russell, Jr.'s property on Spring Creek Drive in the southern section of the city.

1259 Second Street
Period of Significance- The Progressive Era, 1911-1921

This home is a 1911 two-story I House style residence. The I House was coined in the 1960s by surveyors of vernacular buildings. It was found to be a common house type and typical in the midwest and throughout the country from Colonial times until the early-twentieth century. An I house is easily identifiable as a two-story house that displays a three-bay front facade and an interior plan of one room deep. Often a rear wing appears on the rear elevation. These houses typically have a gable roof, exterior end chimneys, and incorporate one-story front and rear porches. They can be embellished with classic and Victorian elements or be very plain.

This house was constructed as a single family residence in 1911 for Mr. and Mrs. Reubin Hayes. The Hayes purchased the lot on March 6, 1911 from George Roberts and began the construction of the house by March 23, 1911. The house was completed by April 27, 1911, when the Hayes moved into the house.

Although his occupation in 1911, at the time the house was completed, is unknown, the 1916 Sarasota City Directory indicates that Mr. Hayes was by then an employee of the Sarasota Ice and Electric Company. The 1924 directory indicates that he was a probation officer, truant officer, and jailer. Mr. Hayes wife, Mary, the former Mary Caroline Bass, was a pioneer resident of Sarasota. She came here in 1880 with her family in a covered wagon from Boone County, Iowa. Her mother, Mrs. John Bass, was one of the first teachers at the Fruitville School. The Hayes continued to reside in and own the property until the end of 1925.

1267 Second Street
Period of Significance- The Progressive Era, 1911-1921

This c.1913 one-story Frame Vernacular Style residence is of interesting note because of its pyramidal roof and a full-width shed roof front porch.

The 1916 & 1918 Sarasota City Directories indicate that the property was occupied at the time by "Currin". The Currin's first came to Sarasota as winter visitors in 1916. Reverend and Mrs. J.P. Currin came to Sarasota with Mrs. Currin's mother, Jenny Jordan. Although no city directories exist for 1919, 1920, 1921, and 1922, Mrs. Jordan and the Currin's came for the winter during those years and may have continued to occupy this house each year. Mrs. Jordan purchased another house, today's 1243 Second Street in 1923 which is also included in this designation area. O. Bell, a carpenter, and Mary, his wife, occupied the house in 1924 according to that year's city directory. The 1926 and 1927-1928 directories list Harold C. Anderson as the occupant and that Mr. Anderson was employed as a bookkeeper with Sarasota Sales Co.

The Second Street Historic District was locally designated by the City of Sarasota in 1994.

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