The years: 1941 to 1966. The place: Sarasota, Florida. The story: the creation of modern houses by a group of innovative American architects. Inspired by the local climate, contemporary materials, and the easy-going midcentury Florida lifestyle, what’s known in architecture and design circles as the Sarasota School is a high point in both midcentury modern architecture and regional American design.
This fabulous house, now listed for $3 million with Lisa Rooks Morris at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, was designed in 1959 by Tollyn Twitchell for Ralph Twitchell Architects. (Ralph, Tollyn’s father, was a leader of the Sarasota School.) The house was commissioned by Sydney Adler, a northerner who made his money pioneering the building of mobile home parks for sun-seeking retirees in Florida, beginning in the 1950s. His company was initially called Trailer Estates but, possibly because of the less-than-luxurious lifestyle inspired by the word “Trailer,” changed its name to Mobilife. Some of its parks still exist.
Never given an official name, the house is nevertheless, and for obvious reasons, known as the Zigzag House. Current owners Roberto and Clare Arguedas, who bought the then run-down residence in 2014 for not quite $1.1 million, undertook a multi-stage overhaul completed in 2019 and the residence looks fresh as a daisy and ready for new owners. Overseen by Michael Epstein of Seibert Architects, the sensitive renovation has managed to bring the latest and best smart technologies to the historically significant house. In addition to expanding bathrooms, bedrooms, and closets, updates and improvements included roof membrane and window replacement, all new landscaping, and replacement of plumbing, HVAC, and electrical wiring. This reno was recognized nationally in 2020 by the American Institute of Architects and the American Registered Architects.
Many features of ZigZag House are emblematic of the Sarasota School, including boxy open spaces, wide roof overhangs to provide shade from the omnipresent Florida sunshine, and windows big enough to need gallons of Windex on hand at all times. With about 3,400 square feet, the single-story layout offers three and potentially four bedrooms and four baths, arranged in two wings. The main bedroom, which includes a dressing room and a soaking tub, is privately positioned on the eastern side of the house, while two en-suite bathrooms are clustered at the western end. A study off the main living area is easily used as a fourth bedroom.
In addition to a library, media room, and a home office, the open-concept kitchen is unique and modern, with curvy wooden cabinets that echo the curvy upholstered furniture in the living room. Under the unusual sawtooth roof that provides the house with its most defining feature, the spacious living and dining areas spill out to a deep lanai alongside a saltwater pool and minimalistic Zen garden.
The property is ideally located in the sought after Lido Shores neighborhood, convenient to downtown and home to many other well-known Sarasota School buildings. Another bonus is that owners of the ZigZag House receive deeded private-beach access to North Lido Key Beach. Iconic regional architecture thoughtfully updated for a modern lifestyle and deeded beach access? Sign us up.