Lorrie Muldowney noted for eloquence in promoting preservation


During her 22 years with Sarasota County, Lorrie Muldowney was the community’s leading champion of historic preservation. She also was an effective leader in promoting history education.

But for me, the former manager of the Sarasota County History Center — she resigned that job recently — was a go-to source whenever I needed an ironclad quote for a story on local development history or historic preservation, from the Settlement Era through the Sarasota school of architecture.

Lorrie Muldowney

Lorrie Muldowney

The woman is a quote machine. In interviews, some people babble; some people utter sentences that defy diagramming. Lorrie makes pronoucements, off the cuff, with perfect grammar and diction, as if she had spent days crafting and rehearsing them. In a different time, I would suggest she run for public office, because she would not need a speechwriter. But she is too dignified for that in this political era.

When including comments from the authoritative Lorrie in a story, I did not have to worry about anything except quoting her verbatim. (If she didn’t know, she referred me to someone who did.) That’s one reason I am going to miss her as she embarks on a career as an independent consultant on historic preservation and sustainability.

The friends who gather from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Louie’s Modern, 1289 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, will have their own reasons for wishing her well during a “new beginnings” celebration. Possibly unrelated to that, there will be a cash bar. The public is welcome.

I pulled from our archives three of Lorrie’s quotes that were gleaned from interviews:

On the Summerhouse restaurant: “It’s the kind of building that, if you’re not careful, you’re going to walk through a plate-glass wall. It is just an absolutely seamless transition between in the indoors and out. It embodies the best of the Sarasota School.”

On historic preservation regulations: “There are communities where residents have united in their belief that historic preservation matters, and have elected officials and enacted regulations that fortify this position.”

On a circa 1910 cast-stone building: “The fact that it had cast stone did make it somewhat remarkable for the period. (Architect) Edgar Ferdon is the person that John McCarthy credits with having brought cast stone to Sarasota. We wondered if Ferdon had bought the structure and then clad it in cast-stone. That would be an explanation for the simplistic design, the vernacular appearance of the house in its first configuration.”

Maybe you have to be a writer to appreciate these fully.

Lorrie began her career at Sarasota County in 1993 as a historic preservation specialist.

As a consultant, she does “creative planning and historic preservation. Clients include individuals, architects, developers, neighborhood associations, general contractors, nonprofits and local governments on topics as diverse as developing projects in conformance with local land development regulations and historical rehabilitation standards, conducting grant-funded projects for architectural surveys and national/local register listings.”

By the way, she wrote that.

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 1, 2015
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