Modernist gem is hidden in plain sight


The entrance to a house in Lido Shores that is for sale at $1.7 million. Architect Tim Seibert designed in in 1967. Staff photos / Harold Bubil

The midcentury moderns across the street get a lot more attention, but a house that has just come on the market deserves a place alongside Westway Drive’s landmarks.
Obscured by a wall and trees at 1340 John Ringling Parkway, the house of 2,862 square feet was designed in 1967 by Edward J. “Tim” Seibert.
It’s more dramatic than some of the modest moderns built in the 1950s in Lido Shores. Its privacy wall, a “must” because of the parkway’s heavy traffic to and from Longboat Key, helped set a trend that has become common elsewhere in the neighborhood, as wealthy homeowners seek as much privacy as possible in a neighborhood that is not gated.
“The privacy is incredible,” said Realtor Candy Swick, who has the house listed at $1,695,000. “You don’t know it is back here.”
But it is behind the wall where the magic begins.
The front door opens onto a courtyard that is enclosed by a second windowless facade toward the street and the glass-walled main house. The windows permit views through the house of Sarasota Bay, looking straight at Plymouth Harbor, which was built a year earlier.
That bay view is framed by four impressive flying buttresses, built as right angles, that extend as beams from the courtyard through the house and reach toward the water before landing on the pool deck.
rSeibert16i“Gosh, I was a pretty good architect back in those days,” said Seibert, reached by phone at his Boca Grande home, where he is winning awards as a sailboat designer.
He said that when he revisits a building he designed many years ago, “Sometimes I am disappointed, and sometimes I think, ‘Golly, I was really pretty good at that stuff.’ A lot of it depends on how well the house has been treated. Somebody has taken good care of this one, and that delights an old architect’s heart.”
His client was Jack Shain and his wife, who owned the house into the 1980s. They wanted to be able to enjoy the outdoors by the pool without being pestered by mosquitoes, so Seibert extended the roof to create a screened patio.
“Are mosquitoes still a problem up there?” asked Seibert, who described himself as “the funny old geezer with the beard and the cat who lives under the house drawing boats, while the nice lady lives upstairs.”
rSeibert16qHe is referring to his wife, Lynne.
“Regarding the flying buttress aspect,” said Tim Seibert, “the screen cage has a roof and just came on out. The main structure was the concrete part. The buttresses are functional. It is a ‘visual extension,’ in architect-ese. It is very much of the times, with concrete posts and beams instead of wood. I think that was the first house I did with concrete beams.
“In looking at the pictures, I am delighted by its clarity of concept. It is very clear what holds things up and how it all works.”
When built, the house’s walls were built of unfinished Ocala block, with each course stacked directly atop the one below on a grid. It has since been covered in white stucco, and the terrazo floors covered with Mexican tile.
Owner Estelle Silverman has decorated the house with art work that includes her own.
“Someone has gussied up kitchens and bathrooms. It is a neat-looking house,” said Seibert.
“For a 1967 house, it doesn’t feel like it,” said Swick, who acknowledged that a new owner will want to do some upgrading, perhaps with new windows, doors and appliances. Some of the appliances have a vintage look that adds charm to the kitchen.
“For a Tim Seibert house, this is pretty amazing,” said Swick, standing in the kitchen. “You have view. Tim usually has a kitchen that is cordoned off, but you sit here and you are part of the outside.”
The outside stretches beyond the uncaged pool and across the bay to Plymouth Harbor. At the water’s edge, the view includes the downtown Sarasota skyline.
Inside, the living room has walls of sliding glass doors facing the courtyard and the patio, pool and bay. Transom windows above add more light, and have blinds to control morning and afternoon sun.
“You have light on all four sides, and the majesty of the space,” said Swick.
The fireplace is surrounded by a pecky cypress wall, adding warmth to the space.
“The other magic part about Lido Shores is there is a private beach club that is gated,” said Swick.
To prepare the house for sale, Swick hired ProGro to give the landscaping a good trim, and Robin Miller and Judy Osney to “stage” the house’s furnishings. “They have the talent to use what is there,” including Barcelona chairs, “and also embellish it.”
Swick said the house has “fabulous bones” because the room spaces are large.
She added, “It is very unusual to find a house with three bedrooms, three full baths, a garage, circular drive, the bayfront and the long view.”
The bedrooms are in pods on either side of the main hall.
Seibert, who hasn’t seen the house since it was completed, wants to arrange a tour with Swick to savor his craft once again.
“I had forgotten all about it. This is as good a Christmas present as I have had.”

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: December 29, 2012
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