History of the Platted Subdivision of Avondale
Avondale was first platted in 1914, and in 1915 the area was recorded as Avondale Heights Subdivision. A modern bungalow, valued at $1,500 was offered to promote development. Later, Avondale was re-platted, lots were enlarged and one street was eliminated. It was announced that Avondale would have a boat dock, seawall and street trees, creating a “model development.”
In 1923, the neighborhood became a platted subdivision, known as Avondale. The boundaries are U.S. 41, Osprey Avenue, Bahia Vista Street and Lincoln Drive. The Avondale lion urns were placed on entry corners into Avondale. Two original pedestals with seating remain in place at Yale Avenue and Bahia Vista Street. At the corner of Lincoln Drive and Brewer Place, close to the ground, is the only remaining concrete street identification. It is interesting to note that 41 was then a dirt road!
Avondale was originally developed by the Sarasota Improvement Company for families of average means. Seventy-five lots were advertised at $250 each with a down payment of $50 and $10 per month. A number of the lots were sold in 1923 to Irving Bacheller, Edward Brewer and Fred Woolley. A company was formed called the Bacheller-Brewer Corporation.
They formed the plat for Avondale, subdividing it into 11 blocks, lettered “A-K” and subdivided into approximately 80 lots. Individual lots were enlarged and streets were widened, a water system installed and the sea wall along the Hudson Bayou was built. Deed transfers identified Avondale as a “model suburban development” and restrictions required that no dwellings be built under $5,000. Such restrictions remained in force until January 1950. Several model homes were built to attract buyers. The sales of lots increased, in part due to the frenzy and whirlwind of the Florida Land Boom (c. 1924-1926). Records state the County population in 1925 was 8,284, jumping from 840 in 1910.
Tremendous land sales occurred in Sarasota in 1925 and Avondale gained recognition as one of the finest subdivisions in Sarasota. In 1926, Sarasota was considered a young city, with no traffic problems, when a train crossed the main artery many times daily. The city did not have a street car system but did keep experimenting with bus lines, and its first and only local bus carried 18 passengers from Five Points to Siesta Key. The Sarasota Herald reported “that all lots, except those facing on the bayous in Avondale were sold”. The Bacheller-Brewer Corporation hired a Milwaukee architectural firm to construct a 600-foot concrete pier on the bayou. The bayou had been dredged for boats. A magnificent residence was planned and built for $30,000, with the idea that other estate sized lots would be built with Spanish style homes.
To attract wealthy residents, Bacheller-Brewer marketed the remaining estate-sized lots along Hudson Bayou with a model home designed by Thomas Reed Martin, a well known Sarasota and Chicago architect. The Mediterranean Revival style model home at 1903 Lincoln Drive was constructed in 1926. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. There is another home on Lincoln Drive in the National Register, as well as two homes on the Sarasota County Register, one on Alta Vista Street and one on Brewer Place.
A Chicago artist, Gibson Carlett, created a large 14×4 painting as a promotion “Come and enjoy the golden sunset of Sarasota.” It was displayed at a National Convention of Realtors in Washington. The painting depicted the completed development of Avondale, basking in the golden rays of a Florida sunset.
The present day Avondale Subdivision remains an affluent section of Sarasota. Most of the infill in the subdivision appears to date from the 1950s or 1960s, though there are some Colonial Revival style homes from the 1925s, and modern interpretations of Mediterranean Revival style of the 2000s.
The above information, with some conflicting statements, was found in various documents including newspapers, historic designations and from the County Department of Historical Resources.