LETTER FROM HOME: Architects (and a colleague) who made a difference

The Florida State Museum of Natural History (1971) at the University of Florida in Gainesville, by William Morgan. Photo from the Smathers Libraries collection at UF.

The Florida State Museum of Natural History (1971) at the University of Florida in Gainesville, by William Morgan. Photo from the Smathers Libraries collection at UF.

The passing of two fine architects is noted this week.

The better-known of the two was William Morgan, FAIA, a Jacksonville modernist who was known for designing buildings that were almost one with the earth.

University of Florida alumni know his Florida State Museum of Natural History (1971), now known as Dickinson Hall of the Florida Museum of Natural History, which has earthen walls on the Gainesville campus’ Museum Road. He also designed Hilltop House in Brooksville that is mostly buried into the top of a hill.

His Goodloe House near Jacksonville is a widely admired modernist beachfront structure. Dune House (1975) in Atlantic Beach is a duplex buried in a grass-covered mound; the two windows look like eyes staring out at the ocean. Williamson House (1966) in Ponte Vedra Beach is listed on AIA Florida’s list of the top 100 buildings of the past century.

Dune House, by William Morgan. Smathers Libraries.

Dune House, by William Morgan. Smathers Libraries.

Morgan, who was born in 1930 and formed his own practice in 1961, studied at Harvard under modernist pioneers Walter Gropius and Jose Luis Sert and trained in the Cambridge office of Paul Rudolph.

Archivist Cindy Peterson, founder of the Center for Architecture Sarasota, got to known Morgan when she was processing his collection of work documents at the University of Florida’s Smathers Libraries.

“He was an incredible man with a quick wit, dry sense of humor, amazing personal accounts of the ‘characters’ in architecture,” Peterson said, “and one of the most incredibly talented architects, who shared his gift with us very lucky Floridians. He will be missed.” See more of his work at ModernMorgan.Wordpress.com.

A week ago, Sarasota’s Arthur Mead passed away at 80. You may not know the name, but you know his work if you are a Sarasotan. Among many other buildings in a 40-year career, he worked on the Mote Marine facility, the Sarasota Heart and Vascular center, Marina Jack and The Pines nursing home. A Celebration of Life gathering was held at Saturday afternoon at Mote Marine’s auditorium.

Posting on Facebook, Lynn Archibald wrote, “I worked at Blue Line for 40 years, and (he) was always one of my favorite customers; a truly wonderful person with a wicked sense of humor.”

And about Marjorie ...

I am still glowing from the Celebration of Life gathering for Marjorie North on Wednesday evening at Michael’s on East, a venue the Herald-Tribune’s longtime social columnist ruled on countless occasions.

It was one of the most uplifting events I’ve attended in a long time. I will never forget the love in the room from the many Sarasotans whose lives were touched by Marjorie.

And the remarks by Kim Githler, written so eloquently and delivered so gracefully, were a highlight of the evening, as were the short, sweet speeches by Marjorie’s daughters and granddaughter.

It was great to see colleagues and friends from days gone by, and meet some wonderful new people, too.

And to think, I copyedited Marjorie’s column for a good many years back in the day. I never could tame her quirky abbreviations in violation of the AP Stylebook, such as shortening “executive director” to “exec. dir.” But that was Marjorie; she was unique — another word journalists are taught not to use.

Marjorie, you made a difference!

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: January 24, 2016
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