A heritage charmer in Sarasota


Peter and Nancy Policastro are living the Florida dream, and then some. They can awaken for a sunrise walk on the Atlantic, and then enjoy a sunset stroll on the Gulf of Mexico — sleeping in their own house each night. The Policastros have a home in Hobe Sound, just north of Jupiter, and another in Sarasota. Following the sun across the state is a delightful scenario, save for the three-hour drive.

But as it would be cheaper to bed down in a hotel after the sunset walk, the Policastros are selling their Sarasota house. They bought the 1920 home, at 968 Citrus Ave. in the city’s Bungalow Hill historic district, after one of those all-so-common visits in which one falls in love with Sarasota and buys real estate. They were living in Texas at the time.



“We came to Sarasota on vacation, fell in love with the city and decided we wanted to buy a vacation home here that we could someday retire to,” said Peter Policastro, who actually bought the Sarasota home without his wife.

charmerbigShe didn’t set eyes on it until a month later. “I knew it would be perfect,” she said. “We have the same taste, and we were looking for something close to water, downtown in an established neighborhood. We appreciated that the house had some history to it and was big enough for our two children and friends who would want to visit.”

The family used the home periodically, but never got the chance to live in it permanently. “While I was still in Texas, six years after we bought the Sarasota house, I got a great job offer in Jupiter,” said Peter. “I took it, we bought a home in Hobe Sound and suddenly we were maintaining two homes in Florida on opposite coasts.”

The Policastros used the Sarasota house for weekends occasionally and spent a few Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations here. Nancy particularly enjoyed furnishing the place with pieces she’d discover in vintage shops and then refinish and re-purpose.

“For a few years I was hauling my fantastic cottage-style finds from Hobe Sound to Sarasota regularly,” said Nancy. “I really like the way this place turned out; it’s comfortable but somehow looks of the period that the house was built.”

As they came less frequently to Sarasota, and as their two children reached adulthood and moved away, the Policastros began to lease the house to other vacationers. But being landlords who live so far away has become burdensome. Also, the Policastros believe that both the house and the neighborhood deserve year-round owners in the house. So they have listed it with Marianne LeBar of Michael Saunders & Company at $650,000.

History lesson

A friendly-looking green two-story house, the Citrus Avenue property is exactly the kind of dwelling that attracts history-loving house buffs who want the experience of living in a period home but don’t want to suffer the lack of modern conveniences.

In a coveted West of the Trail location, it’s a short walk to the bay, and you have access to launch a small boat or kayak. It’s an easy walk or safe bike ride to Southside Village or downtown. A neighborhood association ($20 annual fee) organizes a few events a year and makes sure everyone gets to know one another. The house has a nice setback from the street and a back yard big enough for new owners to install a pool should they wish to.

But the Craftsman-style house also has one or two quirky historic architectural features that make this home appealing (or not appealing) to buyers who routinely scout older homes because they appreciate a little history with their purchase.

There’s no garage, but there is space to add one where the carport is now situated. The eat-in kitchen is self-contained; no open-concept here. There are three bedrooms upstairs, but only one bathroom and it’s not exactly an en-suite to the master bedroom. It’s near it. Additionally, there is a full bathroom downstairs — off a hallway. The dining room and living room are separated by original half-wall white bookcases that you often see in Craftsman homes.

Highly desirable features in this home are big light-filled airy rooms. One of the bedrooms has windows on three sides. The wood-burning fireplace in the living room is original to the home, and there is a wonderful enclosed front porch off the living room that is accessible by a double French doors. Surely, new owners will use the porch as an extra room, and when opened to the living room, it extends entertainment space. The house has plenty of storage and is not in a flood zone, with an elevation of 13.2 feet.

It was built in 1920 by William Green, who came to Sarasota in 1917 and died at 88 in the town he loved. William, along with his brother Daniel, owned a felt manufacturing company. William Green built this home for his daughter Marjorie, who lived in the house until 1966. Apparently, it’s always been painted green.

Marjorie was a pianist; the dining room was her music room. According to records that the present owners possess, the house was originally located on Orange Avenue and later moved to Bungalow Hill. Quiet and lovely Citrus Avenue dead ends at Hudson Bayou.

The Policastros are the fourth owners of the home, and they greatly benefitted from the efforts of savvy owners before them, who updated the house with a new roof, new plumbing and air conditioning. The kitchen was gutted and replaced with stainless-steel appliances and granite counters.

There are new oak floors and the windows, while they appear vintage, are new, with energy-efficient design. Previous renovators left the footprint of the house alone and wisely did not disturb its architectural integrity, nor did they reconfigure rooms. The house has about 2,500 square feet under air.

LeBar, the Policastros’ Realtor, believes the house will sell to buyers who want to live in a neighborhood as convenient and pretty as this one. And the West of the Trail location is a huge draw.

“The house is unique because of its history, which appeals to lots of people,” said LeBar, “and the location of this street is highly desirable.

“Maybe the best feature of the is the house is that it’s completely move-in ready. The Policastros have maintained it beautifully and even added a large patio in the back yard. There’s nothing for new owners to do except add their own history to this vintage property and enjoy it.”

And maybe go for walks on the beach.


Marsha Fottler

Marsha Fottler has been a newspaper and magazine lifestyle, food and design writer since 1968 first in Boston and in Florida since 1970. She contributes to regional and national publications and she is co-publisher and editor of a monthly online magazine that celebrates the pleasures of the table called Flavors & More. (941) 371-8593.
Last modified: November 9, 2013
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.