From Realtor, a Christmas treat


Realtor and popular party-giver Pat Taylor loves the Christmas season of decorating so much that right after Halloween, she pulls out her heirloom ornaments, garlands, trees and collections of angels and nativity scenes.

Two professionals help her festoon her 4,000-square-foot Sarasota home, leaving Pat time to make two giant fruitcakes, about 50 rum cakes for gifts, and to order giant red apples from Washington state. They are stacked in a copper bin by the front door of her vintage Mediterranean Revival home on the bay in the museum district of Sarasota. As party guests leave, they take an apple.

decoratemainPat has lived in her home, at 2704 Bay Shore Road, for 35 years, the past 12 as a widow. Her son and daughter are grown and have their own lives in Virginia, and, although Pat enjoys a thriving real estate practice with Coldwell Banker and has no intention of retiring, this may be her last Christmas in a home she says is full of good spirits. She has listed it at $1,995,000.

Taylor, known for her Southern charm and accent, also shows an eye for elaborate holiday decor without making the spaces seem overdone.

And she doesn’t just decorate one room and leave the rest of the house untouched. Party guests are welcome to roam and enjoy the decor. Central features are found in the living room — a grand tree coated in lights and ornaments, and an elegant Nativity scene displayed on the mantle.

PHOTO GALLERY: See more images from Pat Taylor's house.

With the house so full of traditional Christmas spirit (including six themed and decorated trees), does Realtor Pat Taylor think that all the decked halls are a distraction to potential buyers?

“Most people can look past the decor to see the custom details in the rooms and just how spacious and authentic the house is,” says the owner. “I’ve found that buyers look at homes all times of the year, including Christmas, because they have different agendas. Families are compelled to move into a home in July or August because they want to be established when it’s time for school to start.

“This time of year, I’m seeing a lot of people who want to purchase their retirement homes now as vacation retreats with the idea of moving here in a few years.”

decoraterealmain“I mean that about the positive spirit in the house,” she says emphatically. “When I first saw this house, I was a young mother riding my bike in the neighborhood because my husband, John, had just bought a motel down the street on Tamiami Trail. He had retired from Sears and was passionate about real estate investment. At the time we had a motel in Asheville, N.C., and three other houses, but we were living in the motel.

“Anyway, I saw this big beautiful house and my heart literally stopped. I got the most amazing feeling that our family belonged there and that the house was opening its arms to me. I just knew this sturdy and friendly home was the one and only place for our family to put down roots. I told John that I wanted that house and I prayed about it and soon enough it was ours. I know it was meant to be.”

Pat is the third owner of the house, which was built in the 1926 in the Italianate style. Pat thinks it was designed by either Dwight James Baum or Thomas Reed Martin, but there’s currently no documentation for that. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It was first owned by the Whitfield family,” Pat says. “Not the developer of Whitfield Estates, but his brother J.G and his wife, Pearl. Then Charles and Althea Black owned it, and it was from Mrs. Black that we bought the house, two years after I first saw it.

“Mrs. Black was quite something. When I was going through the house, I noticed there was no washer and dryer and I asked her where it was and she told me there was no such thing in the house because her maid took all of her laundry home and brought it back clean and pressed.”

Pat’s laundry area is tucked into a small and charming dwelling off the back sleeping porch that was once the maids’ place — two bedrooms with a bathroom in between. Pat has reconfigured the apartment as a catering kitchen/pantry. There’s a full basement under the house. That’s where Pat stores her holiday decorations.

Over the years, the Taylors made no changes to the footprint of the house and did not do anything to compromise its architecture.

“Of course, we updated the plumbing, electricity and the appliances in the kitchen,” says the homeowner. “And the original hand-made, sun-dried tiles cover a modern roof under it. The only structural change we made was to open up the fireplace so that it is a double hearth for the living room and the kitchen. And in the kitchen, when I ripped up the red linoleum, there was the same oak that is the flooring throughout the whole house.”

Pat did change the color of the house. “I did that 10 years ago,” she remembers, “after I got back from a trip to Monaco. I fell in love with the color of Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Monte Carlo, and when I came home to Sarasota, I painted my house just like that Ritz. I thought some of the neighbors were going to kill me in the beginning of the process, but when it was all finished they agreed it looked just wonderful. It’s a happy color for a happy house.”

The interior design of the Taylor home is the work of Jerry Walker. And some of the painting, such as the mural in the landing, was done when the house was on a charity house tour. It’s been open to the public over the years as a Junior League Holiday Tour house, and it’s been a Symphony Showcase house twice. Last year, it was featured on the Historic Homes Tour presented by the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation.

The home is pristinely preserved and represents the high-end of the Mediterranean Revival movement in homebuilding that swept Sarasota in the 1920s and has remained popular for new homes today in various corrupted versions.

The Taylor house has 10-foot ceilings throughout, arched doorways, twisted Corinthian columns, three original bathrooms, French doors, crown molding, a banquet-sized dining room, built-in bookcases and corner cabinets, upstairs sunroom, two porches, terraces, Juliet balconies and walled gardens. Wrought-iron ornamentation and bas relief decorative sculptures over the arched doorways are standout details.

The kitchen features a commercial gas range with two ovens, two pantries, a large side-by-side refrigerator, butcher block island, cast iron double sink and granite counters. Rocking chairs flank the fireplace. This time of year the kitchen is fragrant with gingerbread and hot holiday tea that is Pat’s mother’s recipe.

Pat was a school teacher when she moved to Sarasota 38 years ago (she’s a Greenville, S.C., native), and did some substitute teaching here until her best friend Doris Floyd decided to take a six-month real estate course at Manatee Junior College and Pat signed up, too. A smart move.

And where will she go from here? “Ideally, I’d like a two-bedroom vintage cottage West of the Trail, maybe here in the museum district,” she says. “I wouldn’t mind a renovation project, but I definitely need to end up with a big kitchen. Cooking and entertaining are important to me, and I’m going to need space to make my holiday cakes.”


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: December 22, 2013
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