Bubil: The power of good design


PHOTO GALLERY: Casa del Cielo on Siesta Key, "House of Heavens"

Today's feature story on Casa del Cielo, also called the Gregg Beach House, brings to mind a family that had a big impact on Siesta Key.

The Gregg family, led by Harry Gregg, acquired a good bit of land on the key, starting in the 1920s, said Harry Gregg's grandson. Included was a parcel just south of the Siesta Beach Pavilion that the county acquired by eminent domain, said Cy Gregg.

Casa del Cielo on Siesta Key. Staff photo / Harold Bubil

Casa del Cielo on Siesta Key. Staff photo / Harold Bubil

He and his brother, former New Hampshire governor and U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, are now selling the Gregg Beach House. "We hate to have to do it," Cy Gregg said. But times change.

Abbott lived in a cottage on the Gregg property in the 1960s, near where Casa del Cielo now sits.

On the bay side of Midnight Pass Road, Hugh Gregg, Harry's son and a New Hampshire governor in the 1950s, owned more land that he wanted to develop.

Increasing taxes led to the building of The Summerhouse around 1974, Abbott recalled. "Hugh was thinking about building a New England barn and asked me what I thought. I told him, 'The street is going to be a mass of condominiums and highrises. You've got a jungle right now, and if you could keep that jungle and make it denser, you could have a building hidden in a jungle instead of a barn you have to paint every year.

"'Nature is going to be rare here.' He loved the idea and hired me to do preliminary studies."

The result was the dramatic, almost all-glass Gregg's Greenhouse," which later became The Summerhouse restaurant, a romantic spot if there ever was one.

"Arland Christ-Janer (former New College president) would say to me, 'Carl, you are responsible for my marriage. I blame you for all the good and the bad.' And his wife would just chuckle. He said, 'We went there for dinner, and I got carried away and asked her to marry me. I didn't mean to, but I did.'"

Been there, done that. My Summerhouse moment happened in the summer of 1983. Pretty much the same thing happened, except that I had a ring in my pocket, so it was not totally spontaneous. Still, good design can move people.

Marking 40 years

About the time The Summerhouse was being designed, I graduated from the University of Florida's journalism school and started my career at Lindsay Newspapers Inc. two days later.

That was almost exactly 40 years ago, and I have been with the company (or its successors) ever since, the past 20 years as real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune. We will hold a celebration from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday in the Herald-Tribune lobby, 1741 Main St., Sarasota. It's open to readers, sources and colleagues, who have meant so much over those 40 years. Cake will be served (while supplies last).


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 8, 2014
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