In 1979 Dr. James Marsh, a young plastic surgeon in search of a place to live and work, and his girlfriend, Beverly, a nurse, came to Florida in a motor home and toured the state before discovering Sarasota and deciding this was their place. Three months later they got married, and Beverly became the first employee in Dr. Marsh’s office. The couple had met in Columbus, Ohio in a hospital where she was a surgical nurse and he was finishing up some specialized training.
“I had vowed never to marry a doctor,” said Beverly Marsh, “but you see where that went. Jim loved to travel, he loved art and just loved life. I knew he was the one.”
They both also admired French architecture and wanted to live on the water, but they were far from rich. So they bought a small house on Siesta Key’s Tropical Circle on Roberts Bay and as the medical practice grew and flourished, they gutted their modest 2,000-foot ranch and began re-shaping and adding to it. Today it’s an imposing, two-story, 7,000-square-foot estate of luxury indoor and outdoor living spaces with postcard water views and 132 feet on Roberts Bay. The house, called Chateau Aux Beau Visages, is now on the market for $2,950,000 through Peter D. Laughlin of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty.
With four bedrooms, four baths, office, game room, home gym and a kitchen that took three months to install, it is customized and replete with European design detailing. The Marsh property also offers a large waterfront swimming pool along with an outdoor fireplace and terraces big enough to accommodate lavish parties for 300 guests (Jim and Beverly know this from experience). The home is grand, glamorous and impressively artistic.
But, its owners are ready to detach and embark on a new way of living. They recently spent six weeks downsizing their clothes and personal possessions and say they intend to do more. They’ve also had the landscaping redone in preparation for putting the property on the market. The house is sited on a closed street with a 10-acre preserve across from the front of the brick home.
“Our son, Christopher, is grown and married and living in New York,” said Jim, “and Beverly and I are about done with big entertaining. We’re ready for lots of travel and maintaining a smaller place, maybe in a downtown environment. We’ve enjoyed every aspect of designing and furnishing this big wonderful home over the years, but now it’s time for a family to enjoy it. Or the buyers could be people who love boating or who want to entertain on a big scale. We’ve had dance floors laid down on the terrace, bands, dancing demonstrations, costume parties, even gondolas in the canal.”
But, the party isn’t over for Dr. Marsh.
“I studied art history in college and for a while I thought I’d have a career in fine arts,” he said. “I ultimately chose medicine, but I’ve always painted as a hobby and I intend to get back to doing more of that over the next few years. I’m hopeful our next home, while much smaller than this one, will have a space that I can use for a painting studio.”
The couple’s son provided a lot of the impetus for the expansion of the Marsh home.
“When we did our first renovation and addition, we made a big nursery on the first floor for a baby,” said Beverly Marsh. “But over the years when a child didn’t come, we turned that room into a glamorous guest room/bath and put a home gym near it. When, after eight years, we did have Christopher, we were so thrilled that we literally built a second floor wing just for him. He eventually grew into it, and his friends loved coming here.”
When Christopher was born, Beverly Marsh left the medical practice to be a fulltime mother. Later, when her son was in school at Out of Door Academy (where he met his future wife, Diane Moore), Beverly took up ballroom dancing and realized she was quite talented. For about 20 years she has competed as a Pro/Am dancer specializing in nine dances in the American style. Besides a display cabinet full of trophies, Beverly has closets that were custom made to store costumes that she wears on the dance circuit.
Other special features in the Marsh home include two large murals of European scenes downstairs in the public part of the home, ornate light fixtures and original metal work, two built-in safes, marble floors with original inlaid designs, a custom hand-carved Italian marble fireplace in the living room, coffered ceilings, a secret room and hidden doors. The 34-foot dock is in deep, protected sailboat water with direct access to the bay. The French Provincial home is two miles from Siesta Key Village and just a three mile drive to mainland of Sarasota. It’s been the Marsh dream home for more than three decades.
The question now it who else might see Beau Visages as their dream come true.