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Dr. George Day House

Buildings: Sarasota History

Location: 451 Woodland Drive, Sarasota, FL

Sarasota History - Dr. George Day House photo

The Dr. George Day House is located at 451 Woodland Drive in Sapphire Shores Subdivision in the northern section of the City of Sarasota. The house is Mediterranean Revival in style with Italianate influence and was constructed in 1926. This residential structure is one of two side-by-side mirror image houses.

The original owner and a close friend and associate built the identical houses on adjacent lots. The subject property stands directly west of the other house and an original shared garden wall with a decorative wrought iron gate and Spanish tile covered portal connects the two houses on the front walls. A large banyan tree stood behind the shared garden wall for many years. 

Historical Context 

During the 1920s, residential subdivisions were platted throughout an expanded 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 expanding suburban residential areas. Sarasota was fast replacing the fishing village image that it had with that of a developing resort community. Construction following the first World War, produced what would become a modern city. 

In 1923, nationally renowned land planner, John Nolen, from Cambridge, Massachusetts established a comprehensive plan for Sarasota. His plan was intended to guide in the provision of adequate traffic circulation, utilities, and schools. Sarasota's rapid development drastically altered Nolen's original plan. During 1925 and 1926 over five hundred structures were built in Sarasota, half of them residences.  

This development during the 1920s brought a new architectural identity to Sarasota. The Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean styles popularized by Henry Flagler in St. Augustine and Addison Mizner in Miami were reflected in major Sarasota architecture. The Mediterranean Revival style soon became as popular in Sarasota and other developing areas of south and central Florida. The Mediterranean Revival style symbolized the magic and excitement of Boom Time development and was a style that suited the time and place.

 The porch was an integral element of the Mediterranean Revival style. It was frequently arcaded with Romanesque arches or took the form of a loggia with columns. The floor of the porch was often tiled. The elevation of the Mediterranean Revival style building was asymmetrical, either one or two stories. It usually contained at least one dominating feature with vertical emphasis. 

These structures were accentuated with a range of decorative elements depending on the cost of the structure. These included ornate glazed tile, wrought iron used on balconies, gates and window grills, and as other ornamentation, pecky cypress doors and trim and casement windows, often with awnings. Several of these elements, such as tile and casement windows, and window grills, can be seen in the original design of the main house and are also incorporated into the modern addition.

 

Historical Information 

The Dr. George Day House was built in 1926 and is located in Sapphire Shores in the northern part of the City of Sarasota. This area had originally been platted by C.N. Thompson, the man who sold John Ringling the site for the Ringling Museum of Art and Ca'd'Zan site. Thompson had bought the property in 1895 and the parcel was carved from an area known as Shell Beach. In 1911, Ralph Caples who had come to Sarasota a few years earlier, bought land from C.N. Thompson along with considerable other land in the area. Caples sold part of that property to John Ringling who, at Caples invitation, had just come to Sarasota for the first time. John, in turn, convinced his brother, Charles, to come down and invest in 1912. Together, John and Charles planned an upscale development on part of the property which would become Sapphire Shores. 

In early 1925, Walter Bryson, the owner of Bryson Paving Company in Jacksonville, acting for Brywill Realty Company, replatted the four blocks south of the museum from Sarasota Bay to Brywill Circle, including the Thompson property that John Ringling and Ralph Caples owned together at the time. That area became Sapphire Shores. Original 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. Brywill can be thanked for curving romantic streets and the tall Washington palms. Several of John and Charles Ringling's friends and contemporaries built homes in the area before the real estate market turned sour.  

The architect for both the subject and mirror-image house was Clare Hosmer. Hosmer was a very successful architect who was elected Secretary and Treasurer of the Florida Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Before coming to Sarasota, he was the Chicago Architectural Exhibition Managing Director in 1923-24 and was responsible for the gathering and classifying of exhibits and supervising the engraving and printing of them. Upon coming to Sarasota, his design credits included the Veteran flag post at Five Points, and the First Presbyterian Church.

Logan and Currin were the builders. 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 World War I 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 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 also a member of the City Council and the School Board.

 

Dr. George H. Day and Katherine C. Day 

Dr. George Day was born in Albany, Indiana in 1879 and attended Hanover College graduating with a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Louisville, Kentucky. He was known as Major Day, having been a Spanish War veteran and a Major in World War I.  

Day came to Sarasota for his poor health in 1925 directly from Louisville where he was eminent in the practice of medicine, having practiced in that city for twenty years. He was an ear nose and throat specialist and served as Mable Ringling's physician from 1926 until her death in 1928. He was said to be a very genial and delightful gentleman and although he came to Sarasota for health reasons, he became interested in the development of the city and made some substantial investments in real estate and entered very heartily into the life of the city. 

Upon coming to Sarasota, Day met Dr. David Kennedy. Kennedy had arrived in Sarasota a year earlier and had established a surgical practice. The two physicians practiced medicine in adjacent offices in the Palmer First National Bank on Main and Central (since demolished). Major Day and Dr. Kennedy became good friends, even so much as to build mirror-image homes next to each other.  

In 1928, after recovering his health and in the midst of difficult times due to the failure of the Florida Land Boom, Dr. Day moved to Miami to become the physician for Pan American Air Lines, although he retained ownership of his home. 

His marriage to Katherine Day was his second. Day had two grown daughters from his first marriage and in the mid-1930s, he and Katherine had a son, George H. Day, Jr.  

In 1938, due to Major Day's ill health, he and his family returned to Sarasota and continued to reside in their home until Dr. Day's death in March, 1940. On March 27, 1940, the day following his death, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune printed a special edition in which the unknown writer said:         

"In his passing, Sarasota loses a citizen who devoted to its best interests and who, had his health permitted, would have contributed very materially to its development. Those of us, who knew him well, mourn the loss of a good and true friend." 

In 1941, Major Day's widow sold the property to Edith Ringling, the widow of Charles Ringling, one of the Ringling Brothers of Ringling Circus fame. She and her son then left Sarasota and returned to Louisville, Kentucky.

 

1941 – 1959 Mrs. Charles Ringling (Edith) 

In 1941, Katherine Day, Dr. Day's widow sold the home to Edith Ringling before returning to Louisville. Mrs. Ringling had extensive real estate holdings in Sarasota and she purchased this home as an additional investment property. Her sister Florence Williamson, lived there briefly. The Ringling (Lancaster) family continued to hold title to the home until 1959.

 

1941 – 1951 Harry and Lucy B. Kellim (non-owner residents) 

Under Edith Ringling's ownership, she first rented the property to Harry and Lucy Kellim. Mr. Kellim was originally from Chicago, graduating with a degree in law from the University of Michigan. He had practiced law in Montana and has been the district attorney of Helena, Montana before coming to Sarasota. Mrs. Kellim was originally from Maitland, Florida. The Kellims came to Sarasota in the 1920s and Mr. Kellim worked for the Salaman Kagay Realty Company, Inc. on Main Street.  

As an attorney, Mr. Kellim served as the business agent and secretary for Charles Ringling in Sarasota from 1926 to 1928, when Ringling passed away. He and Ringling enjoyed tarpon fishing together. Kellim was also the liquidating agent of the estate as well as for the Ringling Trust and served as the property manager for Edith Ringling's investment and rental properties. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Kellim acquired ownership of Manasota Memorial Park.  

The Kellims continued to serve as financial consultants with the circus until the early 1940s when they took up residency in the subject property in Sapphire Shores.  

Mr. Kellim died in 1949 and his wife continued to own and operate Manasota Memorial Park until her death in 1984. In 1950, she had moved to another home on Bayshore Drive. It was said she was instrumental in making the cemetery one of the areas prestigious parks and often referred to the cemetery and the families served as her “mission in life.” Mrs. Kellim designed the Grecian Temple mausoleum building and she personally selected its imported Italian marble.  

The Dr. George Day House was locally designated by the City of Sarasota in 1994.

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