Siesta Key Architecture a Natural
As with the first condos and homes developed on Siesta Key in the 1930s and 1940s, Oceane echoes the natural beauty of the island in its Coastal Contemporary design. Above photo shows the former Siesta Key home of architect Ralph Twitchell on Big Pass just south of Oceane. The home was built in 1941 and dismantled in 2007.
A theme woven through the development history of Siesta Key is a strong connection with nature. Not surprisingly, many of the early accommodations on the Key also highlighted the natural beauty of the island in their designs and promotions. Waterfront locations, the extensive use of native materials, such as Coquina stone and cypress wood, and even the names, Gulf View Inn, Crescent View Cottages, Whispering Sands and Sandy Hook, relayed to the visitor a deep connection to the outdoors.
A location on Siesta Key still tied to its natural setting is the neighborhood of Sandy Hook. Once part of a larger parcel, the vision for its development came from a remarkable woman name Mary Rockwell Hook. Mary Hook attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and was only the second woman to complete this prestigious architectural program. Her lasting legacy to Sarasota, however, is the development she planned that emphasized innovative architectural design in keeping with the natural setting.
Hook’s first project in Sarasota was the Whispering Sands Inn. Completed in 1937, it was planned as a haven for painters, writers, and other creative people. In her autobiography “This and That,” she wrote that “Whispering Sands tried hard to be a little tropical paradise. Its wide beach of fine white sand was a joy to walk or drive on. The entrance road followed the bayou through the palm trees. One entered through a citrus garden and the front door opened into a tropical courtyard.”
In 1945 Hook sold the acreage on Siesta Key that included the property occupied by Whispering Sands Inn, and turned her attention to the development of Sandy Hook immediately to the south (located between Oceane and Siesta Key Village). Hook wrote in her autobiography that, “There was nothing but sand and a hook.” Sandy Hook is a place where exciting, modern, architectural design was realized by her and others. The first two homes were designed by Hook in the early 1950s and the third by a young architect named Paul Rudolph, whose career later brought him international acclaim.
As with many of the earlier accommodations on the Key, the post WWII homes at Sandy Hook were designed to fit in with their surroundings; yet with a distinctly modern feel. Many of the architects that have been recognized for the important contributions they made to the modern architectural movement through the Sarasota School of Architecture are represented at Sandy Hook. Among these are Paul Rudolph, Ralph Twitchell, Victor Lundy, Tim Seibert, Jim Holliday, Mark Hampton, Bill Rupp, and Frank Folsom Smith.
Hook planned for Sandy Hook a small architectural school that was never realized. Her dream, however, of creating a place where the original work of young architects would find expression, was. Sandy Hook remains today a special place where innovative architectural design complements the magnificent natural setting.
Source: Lorrie Muldowny, Sarasota History Alive