A house built, moved, and cherished throughout



House-moving is now seen as a last-gasp effort to save old houses from demolition, but it once was fairly common. During the Great Depression, it was not unusual to see houses moved from one location to another. People traded structures as payment for services or to settle outstanding debts. One such house was moved during the 1920s real estate boom to 1715 Prospect St., in the desirable West of the Trail area of Sarasota.


In 1926, a 6-year-old girl watched as the house, a wood-frame bungalow, built about 1913 in Palmetto, was moved to her neighborhood, first by barge and then by land. That girl grew up to become a Latin teacher at Sarasota High. And Virginia Allen, in the 1940s, would move into that house. Allen died in 1982 without any heirs, and the house was placed on the market.

pros2Not long after, Jenefer McArthur and her five children arrived in Sarasota from Saudi Arabia, where Jenefer worked in the petroleum industry. Impressed with the house’s charm and character, McArthur said, “I fell in love the first time I saw the house.” She made an offer right away and was outbid, but when that offer fell through, she was able to buy the house, in 1987.

On the move

Some leading citizens had houses moved in the period between the two world wars.

John Early, a prominent attorney and mayor of Sarasota in the early 1950s, who arrived in the city in the 1920s, accepted a house in exchange for legal services and had it moved from Bradenton to Oak Street in Sarasota, where it still stands. He made it his home for more than 60 years.

Fred House, who built Sarasota’s first motel, Fred’s Cottages, which once stood at the corner of South Tamiami Trail and Bahia Vista Street, had his large houseboat rolled up on logs from the water to his lot at the corner of Osprey and Floyd Street.

In the mid- or late-1920s, Carlton Teate, who built the Frances Carlton Apartments, moved two newly built vacant stucco bungalows from his failed development, Nacirima Subdivision, near Bahia Vista and Tuttle Avenue, to Hawthorne Street. That saved the structures from being lost when the bank foreclosed on the land. The two houses became the lifelong homes of his ex-wife, Frances, and his son Carlton Teate Jr.

Thomas Crisp, one of Sarasota’s best-known movers, was kept busy as early as the mid-1920s moving houses from and to various parts of Sarasota and Bradenton.

Updating the house

In 1995, Jenefer McArthur married Jim Francis, a computer expert. They made the Prospect Street house their home, and updated the kitchens and bathrooms, and added lush landscaping and a spa in the backyard.

They also enlarged the two-story house with attention to detail and high-end features. They made great effort to retain the house’s original features and materials, including the original exterior siding, a window seat, built-in bookshelves and a china closet, both French and solid-paneled interior wood doors with original door hardware, oak and heart-pine flooring, crown molding and plaster walls.

The asphalt shingle roof was replaced with metal, bringing the house back to its original appearance. The addition of a family room, office and a new master suite enlarged the three-bedroom house to four bedrooms and three and a half baths in 3,310 square feet. Baseboards and windows in the addition were custom-milled in Alabama to match the original section of the house.

An outdoor kitchen and a large paved patio with a large flagstone-enhanced, heated lagoon hot tub, with bench seating and a waterfall, were also added. “All my grandchildren learned to swim in that hot tub,” said McArthur. A half-bath with slate flooring can be accessed from the patio. The landscape was enhanced making the property an enchanting setting with mature oaks featuring both the original screened front porch and a rear porch.

Kitchen updating included new custom period white cabinetry, hickory floors and the installation of a Thermador range and other high-end appliances. Other kitchen features are granite counters, a custom handmade tile backsplash and a breakfast bar. An antiqued work island is centered in the room.

The new, 19- by 14-foot master bedroom features mahogany inlaid floors and a stained-glass window. There are two walk-in closets. A large jetted soaking tub, a glass-block walk-in shower, double sinks and custom birch and cherry cabinets are in the new master bathroom. Bathroom details include Crema marble floors and honed Crema walls.

The second floor has three bedrooms with berber carpeting. Each bedroom has a large closet. Situated between two bedrooms is a “Jack and Jill” space that could be converted to a bath or used as a playroom, or upstairs sitting or study room.

McArthur and her husband cherish and love the house for all its memories, history, character, original details and location.

Now after owning the house for 27 years, McArthur and her husband have decided to retire to Biltmore Lake, North Carolina, and have placed the pristine, historical house on the market.

It is listed at at $945,000 through Betsy de Manio of Coldwell Banker. De Manio is holding an open house today (June 15).

“In an age when so many historic buildings are bulldozed, it’s nice to see a fine example if a historic home that has been preserved and updated for the modern homeowner,” said de Manio.

“This is a home to cherish, in the coveted West of the Trail location, close to Southside village, Southside School and downtown.”

The house came on the market in March 2012 at $1.2 million, followed by several price reductions. Coldwell Banker took over the listing in April and recently reduced the price by $20,000.

Last modified: June 14, 2014
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