Added Value for Your 50-Year-Old House

From Kafi Benz


On Feb. 8, Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations, is hosting Lorrie Muldowney, the immediate past manager of historical resources for the county, who now has established a historic preservation consulting service in Sarasota. She will discuss the benefits of historic preservation that could enhance our communities greatly through higher property values, retaining the character of our neighborhoods and creating a sense of place with significant charm. She also will dispel concerns often rumored about restrictions on property owners.

The value of historic preservation often is overlooked in Sarasota. The reason for that is pondered by many who know how much of a benefit it may be. Some say that Florida lacks ‘real’ history, without knowing that the first known European settlement in the new world was in Florida (named in 1513 by Ponce de  León). The first recorded birth in the new world of a child with old world ancestry was in 1566 at Saint Augustine. That was two decades earlier than the brief settlement at Roanoke Island (1585), and those of the next century at Jamestown (1607), New Netherlands (1609), and finally, Plymouth (1620). I won’t even go into the details of the debate about the location and nature of the first “Thanksgiving,” but can assure you that Florida is the likely site!

The surprising value of historic designations can benefit the entire community and neighborhood as well as an individual property owner. Think of the charm that makes Laurel Park so desirable. Retention of its bungalows that were built in comfortable scale to one another has blended with its few 1920s apartment buildings into a fabric that creates a welcoming character. The next boom era of Sarasota, after the Second World War, lent a new architectural style to neighborhoods developing throughout the county. From the early cores of the cities and settlements, suburban neighborhoods were developed that reflected a burgeoning economy and new access enabled by the automobiles families now were able to afford. The neighborhoods emerging during that development may have embraced new styles, but scale always will remain essential to new and appealing neighborhoods, providing character and a sense of place. 

Homes and buildings built before 1966 now have crossed the threshold for eligibility for historic status. Property owners in communities and neighborhoods that recognize how historic preservation can be used to add extra value can work together to enhance values.

My home was built in the late 1940s, but research into its history shows that the property was homesteaded a hundred years before that by the family of A. B. Edwards. A youthful Edwards was hunting with his father when they welcomed the Scots who traveled here to establish a colony. He became her first mayor when Sarasota incorporated as a “city” and he attracted Bertha Palmer to Sarasota so he could demonstrate why she should invest here. He was active in the effort to carve Sarasota County out of Manatee and founded the Edwards Theater that is home to the Sarasota Opera. The Edwards homestead was included in the plat Charles Thompson registered as Shell Beach, which would become winter retreats for the Ringlings and the Sapphire Shores neighborhood during the 1920s. What history is associated with your property and how can that increase its value?

Come learn the facts about historic designation and the added value it brings to homeowners, neighborhoods, an communities. The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, February 8 at the Sarasota Garden Club, located at 1131 Boulevard of the Arts near its intersection with Tamiami Trail. Parking and the entrance are reached from Van Wezel Way. For more information see the CONA web site,

Kafi Benz is president of the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations, vice chair of the citizen advisory committee of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization and the founder and president of Friends of Seagate. 

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