Anna Cosden Berry House
Buildings: Sarasota History
The Anna Cosden Berry House, located at 1910 Datura Street in DeSota Park Subdivision, is a Spanish Eclectic Style bungalow with easily identifiable characteristics and details of that style of architecture. The Spanish Eclectic Style was the most popular style built during Sarasota's boom years whereas, the bungalow was the American democratic ideal of the emerging middle class, providing quality low-cost housing with an excellence of craftsmanship.
During the Florida Land Boom, subdivisions were platted throughout an expanded Sarasota City Limits. One of the subdivisions platted during this period of unparalleled growth was DeSota Park Subdivision. The subdivision was platted by Lewis Combs in 1924. Combs had purchased the property on which he developed the subdivision from his father, Thorton Combs. Combs had several homes constructed within the subdivision including a home constructed for his father and for his own family. Both of these houses were also located on Datura Street. The subdivision itself was the home of many prominent Sarasota citizens. Combs was considered a prominent Sarasota resident. He served as a State Legislator from 1925-1926. He also developed nearby Lewis Combs Subdivision.
Many homes were constructed in DeSota Park by Combs. In addition, the New York-Florida Investment Company undertook the construction of several homes within the subdivision.
The house was constructed in 1925 and was one of the homes contracted by the Florida Investment Company. Although the architect is unknown, the builder was Logan and Currin. Logan constructed a house for his own family, also on Datura Street. Frank A. Logan, besides being a highly respected builder, was a leader in the development of Sarasota during the 1920s and 1940s. A graduate of Dennison University in Granville, Ohio, Logan was originally from Norwick, Ohio. He served in the army during WWI and invented a new type of gas mask canister while serving as the head of the production plant at Edgewood arsenal in Maryland. The canister was subsequently widely used by the Army. Logan came to Sarasota in 1924 and formed the Logan and Currin building firm with Russell A. Currin whom he had been associated with in college. He entered the bond business in 1931 and in 1936, the city council recognized his ability by appointing him the city's fiscal agent. Largely, through his efforts, the city's bond refunding plan was successfully negotiated.
Russell A. Currin had come to Sarasota from Baltimore, Ohio in 1923. In Sarasota, Logan served as the President of the Chamber of Commerce, two terms as a member of the City Council and the only man ever to serve two consecutive terms as a commander of the Sarasota Bay Post No. 30, American Legion. Currin also took an active role in local community and government affairs. He served on the draft board and was a member of the City Council and the School Board. They constructed many homes throughout the city and worked with most of the important architects of the period. The Logan and Currin firm built many of the most prominent buildings in Sarasota.
Anna Cosden Berry
On January 1, 1926, the house was purchased from The Florida Investment Company by Anna Cosden Berry. Widowed twice, Mrs. Berry was a wealthy winter resident from St. Michael's, Pennsylvania, outside Baltimore. She was the daughter of John and Sarah Proctor of Ken County, Pennsylvania. Her first husband was John Cosden of Queen Anne County, Pennsylvania. She later married William Thomas Berry. Mrs. Berry lived the greater part of her life in Baltimore although in her later years she maintained a home in St. Michael's and in Sarasota. She first came to Sarasota in the early 1920s and first resided on Palm Avenue. Mrs. Berry's son Joshua Seney Cosden was a millionaire oil producer who first engaged in business in Bigheart, Oklahoma in 1908. Beginning his career as a drug clerk, he made and lost an oil fortune of $50,000,000. During the early part of the century, he and his wife were considered part of the inner ranks of New York's "Four Hundred." His rise to wealth in the mid-continent field is one of the epics of Oklahoma's oil history. In 1913, he built the world's largest oil refinery at the time in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He organized and later was the President of Cosden & Company Oil Refineries. He was also the president of Cosden Pipe Line Company and, Cosden Oil & Gas Company. He maintained homes in New York and Palm Beach. His estate, Playa Riente, constructed in the mid 1920s (since demolished) was designed by Addison Mizner. Upon Mrs. Berry's death in June, 1927, the house remained vacant for several years.
In 1931, the house was purchased by Richard and Susannah Lindsay. Mr. Lindsay was the son of George Lindsay, the publisher and founder of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Mr. Lindsay worked in the family business during the time he and his family occupied the house.
Merton O. Mead and Helen D. Mead purchased the home in March, 1934. Six months after purchasing the property, the Meads purchased two additional lots, one on either side of the property. The lots were sold to them as part of the liquidation of the assets of the Bank of Sarasota. Evidencing the depressed economic climate, the Meads paid $75.00 for both lots.
As the previous owner, Richard Lindsay, Mr. Mead was in the news business. He owned the Mead News Company at 148 Third Street. His business involved the wholesale supply of magazines and periodicals. Subsequently, he served as a local manager of the Tampa Tribune Agency at 150 Third Street. In 1927, and 1928, he owned Gulf Coast News with James R. Black. Mrs. Mead was in the real estate business and was a partner with Ernest R. Baker in Mead and Baker Real Estate and Investments on Main Street. Apparently, Mrs. Mead was quite successful in her investments as evidenced by many real estate transactions in her name during the 1940s in the Sarasota County Public Records. Based on the construction materials and window sash, it appears that the addition on the east side of the rear facade of the house was added during the Meads ownership. Very likely, it may have been constructed to serve as a home office for Mrs. Mead's real estate business.
The Anna Cosden Berry House was locally designated by the City of Sarasota in 1993