Clare Hosmer came with his family to Sarasota from Chicago near the end of 1924 to join the growing number of architects who participated in the mushrooming development associated with the Florida Land Boom.
Some of his earliest activity was in Englewood. In February 1925, Hosmer purchased a 44-acre portion of Prospect Park, a recently established subdivision southeast of Englewood. Later that year, those 44 acres became a new subdivision called Bay View Manor. Drawn on the plat across the middle of Bay View Manor was Hosmer Avenue. At the point where it intersected with Broadway, a small pool with landscaping created a decorative traffic island.
In November 1925, the state legislature passed a bill to create the City of Englewood. The new city included 55 households in 13 square miles. In a special section of the Sarasota Herald Tribune on December 27th, city leaders anticipated the extension of the railroad to Englewood, the foundation of a university, population growth and a beautification effort, including the addition of stone columns to mark the three highway entrances to the city. Hosmer also agreed to design an Italian stucco 100-room hotel that Henry and Albert Langsner planned to build on the Tamiami Trail. None of the plans materialized.
Hosmer and another Sarasota architect from Chicago, Thomas Reed Martin, designed the building for the Lemon Bay Women's Club. It was the only structure in Englewood built in the Praire School Architectural Style. It reflected the architects' familiarity with that style, which was well-known in Chicago from the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.
In Sarasota, Hosmer designed a variety of structures. The 1926 home on Bay Shore Road that he designed for the Binz family is a one and two-story Mediterranean Revival Style building that is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Andrew and Kirsten Cornish hired Hosmer in 1925 to design an apartment complex on Loma Linda Street. It also reflects the Mediterranean Revival Style, and is listed in the city of Sarasota as a historic designation.
One of Hosmer's major projects no longer exists. It was the Commercial Court, a professional and commercial building on the west side of Central Avenue, south of what is now Second Street. Leadley Ogden, a popular builder, erected the building in a U-shape in 1927. First-floor offices opened onto the central courtyard..
In 1928, Hosmer designed the American Legion War Memorial that was built at Five Points. It incorporated a flag pole that had been erected to honor local World War I veterans. That memorial has since been moved to the park at the foot of Main Street. That same year, the Presbyterian Church selected Hosmer to design a building for the congregation's new property on Oak Street. Due to the economic decline already being experienced, the church was unable to build the elaborate edifice earlier designed by Dwight James Baum, so turned to Hosmer for a less costly structure. The result was a sanctuary with a balcony and open basement. Walls for classrooms were noticeably absent.
A full-page newspaper advertisement described the building's design as Italian Renaissance. At the time of Commercial Court's demolition in 1972, a journalist described it as "the pride of downtown" in the 1920s.
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The Modern Movement/International Style
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The modern movement began in Europe and gradually influenced American architects. European architects, including Mies van der Rhoe experimented with plasticity – exploiting new materials and the latest technological advances, especially the steel frame. Design emphasis was on utility and function, rather than ornament. With the Nazi party’s rise to power in Germany and the onset of World War II, several modern architectural designers immigrated to the United States, bringing with them their structural and theoretical concepts.
When I was four or five years old I found out that our next door neighbor, to the east, Mr. Pennington, who was a carpenter by trade, had a gopher hook. His daughter, Anna Frances, around my age, showed it to me and told me what it was. At that time, around 1939, we lived on Glengary Road. This was out in the country about three blocks south of Bee Ridge Road. My grandparent's house, where we stayed, was on 1 ½ acres of land.Read More »
Residents of Sarasota have long speculated about the origin of the name. A plausible sounding daughter Sara was invented for explorer Hernando de Soto, who landed in the Manatee River in 1538, complete with a tragic love story to dramatize a 1916 “Sara de Soto” pageant. The pageant became an annual week-long celebration climaxed by a circus parade, and declined when the Barnum & Bailey winter camp moved to Venice in 1960. A more recent speculation is that the name may have meant Point of Rocks or Place of the Dance, but the truth may be more interesting.