Buildings: Sarasota History
The Earle House located at 4521 Bayshore Road in Indian Beach Subdivision; Sarasota, Florida was begun in late 1926 and completed in 1927. The one and two-story house is Classical Revival in style with Georgian influences. The 1927 structure remains virtually unaltered and has been maintained in excellent condition.
Dr. Frederick K. Williams of Bristol, Connecticut scouted through the Sarasota Bay region in the winter of 1890-91 and finally selected a tract of land to purchase, just north of 33rd Street (later 27th Street and still later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.) The tract contained 267 acres. It was then owned by John J. Dunne who had purchased it a few years earlier for $1 an acre, from the original settlers. Dr. Williams paid $3,345.50. A syndicate of investors was formed, the tract was then subdivided, and the plat was recorded in October of 1891, as the Indian Beach Subdivision. Members of the syndicate were deeded choice waterfront lots.
Future printed promotion of the subdivisions called it the "ultra-exclusive residential area" of INDIAN BEACH on Sarasota Bay. That promotion also said, "This location is studded with the magnificent homes of wealthy people from all over the U.S. and some from foreign lands, who chose this beautiful spot on the land-locked, placid waters of the bay, after a world-wide search for the IDEAL WINTER HOME."
According to that same promotional material, there were 93 of the "prettiest located lots to be found on the entire bay, nearby the palatial homes of wealthy northern tourists who spend their winters here." Among those were the Ringling Brothers, Col. C.M. Thompson of Buffalo Bill's Wild West, D.L. Wooster, wealthy manufacturer of Cincinnati, O.W.F. Purdy, Mrs. Admiral Jack Philips, the commander of the battleship Texas of Spanish War fame, Dr. W. W. Gurley.
In 1925, George Earle, the original owner of the subject property, purchased bay front property in Indian Beach. He first built a small home on the north portion of his property and, in 1927, proceeded to build a more substantial home just south of that structure.
A set of original architectural plans in possession of the current homeowners, indicate the architect as Clas & Sheperd of Sarasota and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Clas and Sheperd had an office in the First Bank and Trust in downtown Sarasota at that time. "No name was held in higher esteem in Milwaukee than that of Alfred C. Clas, whose work over a long period of years has gained for him a reputation far transcending the limitations of his own city and state."
The firm did much public work. They were responsible for the improvement of the Milwaukee River and laid out and designed most all of Milwaukee's park buildings, including the Washington Park Zoological Gardens. They were awarded a gold medal on the Milwaukee Library and Museum at the World's Colombian Exposition in Chicago, at the St. Louis Exposition, and the Paris Exposition. The firm is also responsible for the construction of the music shell in Humboldt Park in downtown Milwaukee.
The Sarasota Herald Daily News on November 22, 1925 described them as "prominent architects." Sheperd, himself, has been identified as the architect of, the Charles Ringling Building, constructed as Ringling's office and located between Ringling and Main in downtown Sarasota.
The Earle House was locally designated by the City of Sarasota in 1992. In 1993, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.