Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Nook of Cottages, Close to Town

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Nook of Cottages, Close to Town

Article excerpt

Most of the homes in Terrace Gardens, a charming neighborhood just east of downtown Sarasota, date to the early 1950s, but its history reaches back much further. The area marked the eastern edge of the first Florida golf course, laid out in 1904 by Sarasota founding father John Hamilton Gillespie.

Later it became part of the extensive holdings of Bertha Palmer, the Chicago socialite and businesswoman who purchased nearly 90,000 acres of the Venice-Sarasota region after her first visit here in 1910.

Tucked behind the Ringling Shopping Center and the Ringling Garden Apartments just east of downtown Sarasota, Terrace Gardens is a small subdivision, composed of about 100 homes. Its boundaries are Ringling Boulevard to the north (a row of condominium apartments is not part of the neighborhood), Shade Avenue to the east and the railroad tracks to the south and west.

When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus still had its winter quarters in Venice, the neighborhood kids would line the backyards along the tracks to watch the animals as the train went by.

The subdivision has plenty of "Old Florida" allure. Mature oaks and lush vegetation surround the small, two-bedroom cottages, which have been well maintained or lovingly renovated. Because of the curving railroad tracks, many of the back yards have unusual shapes.

Charles Burks, an IT consultant who works from home, purchased his house on Pelican Circle in 1998 from the original owners. At the time, he paid $75,000.

Today, according to a Trulia estimate, the house is valued at $163,000.

When Burks moved in, he found, in the attic, the original 1952 blueprints and the abstract and title going all the way back to the Palmer estate.

He has renovated and remodeled the interior in vintage-modern style, keeping many of the original moldings and details, including the stucco on the interior walls, and building an addition to house the master bedroom. He is modernizing the kitchen.

Burks loves Terrace Gardens for its convenient location -- he considers it a "walk-to-town neighborhood." Payne Park and the Sarasota Skate Park are close by, and many of the residents go there to walk their dogs, ride their bicycles or have a picnic. …

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