Just north of the Sarasota County line on the North Trail, hidden down a long driveway to the bay, is a mansion designed in the Mediterranean style known as Seagate. Seagate (or the Crosley Mansion) is one of the several notable mansions (Ca'd'Zan, Edson Keith House, Charles Ringling Estate) that were built during what was called the Gulf Coast Golden Age. The photograph above is of the bayfront side and gives an example of the grandeur of the estate. Built by Cincinnati industrialist Powell Crosley Jr. in 1929, the 11,000-square-foot mansion has 21 rooms and seven full bathrooms. Sarasota building contractor Paul W. Bergman completed construction in 135 days at a cost of $350,000.
Along with the construction of the mansion, Powell Crosley built a seawall and a yacht basin that extended nearly 600 feet along the bay and included a mooring area for his seaplane and a 25-foot-by-35-foot terrazzo swimming pool fed by an artesian well. Powell Crosley Jr, and his wife, Gwendolyn, lived at Seagate during the winter seasons from 1929 to 1939. After her death in 1939, the Crosley family occasionally used the mansion.
Powell Crosley was a promoter, businessman and industrialist who had the knack of transforming ideas into reality. Between 1900 and 1940, in the field of radio, Crosley generated the first automobile radio, the first push-button radio and the world's most powerful radio station. Other items included one of the first mail-order specialty companies, the first portable freezer, the patent for shelves in the doors of refrigerators and freezers, the first lights on a major league baseball field and the first mass-produced small economy car.
During World War II, an officers' club occupied the mansion. After the war, in 1947, the D. & D. Corporation purchased the residence from Powell Crosley Jr. In 1948, Freeman H. Horton purchased Seagate and its contents from the D. & D. Corporation. Freeman Horton was a prominent civil engineer, having designed several notable structures in the region such as the original Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the Sarasota/Bradenton Airport, the Tampa Bayshore Seawall and the Sebring Airbase. The Horton family occupied Seagate from 1948 to 1977. Between 1977 and 1982, the Horton family leased the Estate, and it remained in family ownership until 1982.
In 1982, the Horton family sold Seagate to the Campeau Corporation (Federated Stores) of Canada. It was the intent of the new owners to develop a shopping center fronting on U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail) and convert Seagate for use as the promotional headquarters and a clubhouse for a proposed adult congregate living facility. However, due to financial problems, Campeau Corporation sold Seagate to Manatee County in 1991. It has been restored and now is used for special events, wedding receptions, and community affairs.
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Unless some very modest community has beat us to it and then neglected to let the world know of its achievement, Sarasota is to have the first homemade people’s park. The idea of extending the present popular road-building day plan to secure the improvement of a tract of land for a park purposed by James E. Moore, has been seized upon with avidity and unanimity. In another column will be found Mayor Higel’s official contribution, in the shape of a proclamation setting aside Thursday, November 6, as Park Day, with the purpose in view of making this an annual event in Sarasota’s history.
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.
The antiseptic tone of today’s obituaries is a far cry from the finely crafted, inspirational prose that documented the deaths of Sarasota’s early residents.