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Sarasota School of Architecture Building in Peril

June 11, 2013 Frank Folsom Smith 1962 office buildong
Sarasota Historical Preservation Board Meeting

Michael Saunders, owner of the Lawyers Professional Building at 2051 Main Street, offered to donate the building to anyone interested in moving the structure. If the building is not relocated it will be demolished to make way for a parking lot. 2051 Main Street is part of a proposed trade being offered to Sarasota County for their property at 301 Main Street and Washington.

2051 Main Street, designed in 1961 by architect Frank Folsom Smith, an original member of the Sarasota School of Architecture (SSA), is one of the few SSA public buildings remaining in Sarasota, Florida. The building is listed in the Florida Master Site File which is a statewide database of potentially significant historic resources. According to the surveyor’s evaluation the building is potentially eligible for listing in the local and national registers of historic places both individually and as a contributing resource to a national register historic district. The Demolition Application’s* (download PDF at end of post) description of the property: A one-story, Ocala Block, Sarasota School of Architecture, structure with a Tar & Gravel flat roof with cantilevered steel beams. photo by Frank Folsom Smith

There is an existing bid of $235,200 from R.E. Johnson & Sons, Inc. to move the building within 10 miles of its current location. Ms. Saunders offered to donate the first $10,000. Interested parties should contact Paula Rees, Vice President of Operations at Michael Saunders & Company, for further discussion. Her contact information is: paularees@michaelsaunders.com, 941-953-7900.

The Preservation Board put a 30-day time period — deadline July 10, 2013 — for discussions regarding interest in the building.

Click to download the Demolition Application* #13-FMSF-22: 2051 Main Street Survey Report

Photos: Top – 2009 by Greg Wilson; Bottom – 1962 by Frank Folsom Smith

March 29, 2013 email from the Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) board members to Randall Reid, Sarasota County Administrator, regarding the proposed land exchange:

“[2051 Main Street] is an excellent and significant example of the Sarasota School of Architecture (SSA) applied to a public commercial building. Just like Paul Rudolph’s Sarasota High School Addition, 2051 Main is very significant because most SSA buildings are private residences and this is one of the few remaining public buildings.

In the 2009 “TOUR SARASOTA” booklet, the building is described by architect Greg Hall: “In this example of commercial architecture in the regional modern style, a central courtyard leads to individual office suites. Simple building forms, intricate detailing, and a “floating” roof plane are the building’s dominant design elements.”

Breaking these comments down:
• “simple building forms” = one story, cubic repetitive blocks, flat roof
• “intricate detailing” = stacked block-work (where the joints line up to make a grid appearance rather than traditional “brickwork” jointing), exposed steel columns and beams conforming to this same grid
• “floating roof plane” = roof appears to float because of its thinness and the clerestory windows in the office blocks

In addition, the building contains the outside corridors and center courtyard that are only possible in a climate similar to Sarasota Florida’s.

SAF would not like to see this building destroyed but understand that this downtown County property is valuable. We hope the building could be re-purposed in a way that would retain it’s unique architectural features perhaps through incentives to the new owners.”