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This Original Sarasota School of Architecture Home Comes With a Food Garden

Perched on the corner of Siesta Drive and Osprey Avenue, this Tim Seibert abode is on the market for $950,000.

This 1957 Sarasota School of Architecture home, designed by Tim Seibert, one of its forefathers, is the epitome of the Sarasota School ethos. Light floods every room, and thanks to the lots of glass, the views are limitless, giving as much value to the outside as the inside.

“Every room other than the bathrooms opens onto the courtyard through the big, original framed sliding glass doors,” says John Lambie, who lives there with his wife Vicki Chelf. “All the glass that looks out makes it feel limitless—like you live in a garden.”

The home harbors all the cool, new, architectural innovations of the time and place that saw the Sarasota School of Architecture foment. Built in a U shape, with open, continuous spaces, it has natural shading and ventilation (all put in place before AC), cooling terrazzo floors, and exposed beams and built ins. Individually and with his firm, Seibert Architects, Seibert designed dozens of significant buildings, like downtown Sarasota’s Bay Plaza, the Siesta Beach Pavilion, the Cooney House on St. Armands Key, Hiss Studio and Devries-Craig House in Lido Shores, an addition to the Field Club, and a Siesta Key house for novelist John D. MacDonald.

Shortly after it was finished, the home—which is located on the corner of Siesta Drive and Osprey Avenue in Southgate—was featured in House & Home and the Tampa Tribune. It received an AIA Merit Award and Better Homes and Gardens chose it as one of the six best house designs of 1958, paying Seibert $2,000 for reprint rights so magazine readers could buy plans to build their own.

It’s no surprise that the house eventually attracted the likes of local artist Chelf and Lambie, who was the executive director of The Florida House for Sustainable Development for 12 years, championing the use of solar power, recycled materials, water conservation and organic yard care.

Lambie’s father had strong ties to the Sarasota School and built lamolithic homes alongside two of its founders, architects Ralph Twitchell and Paul Rudolph. He was a concrete supplier and constructed homes with reinforced concrete for Twitchell dating as far back as 1939, for Twitchell’s secretary’s Andrews House, as well as the Revere Quality House.

Lambie’s contribution at the time fit with the innovations and ideas surrounding architecture. He used poured concrete with metal molds and also devised a unique cooling system, adding a layer of shell to the roof, which collected rainwater and “acted like a wick,” he says. “I grew up around performance building at the breakfast table.”

Attracted by the Seibert design and its good bones, the couple purchased the four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in 2011 for $155,000. Now ready for the next generation, it’s on the market for $950,000.

Over the years, they brought the home up to speed with modern reinforcements and efficiency. There are electric solar panels on the roof, spray foam insulation in the ceiling and outer walls, a new roof and mini-split AC systems that don’t sacrifice the original Sarasota School style. Plus, there’s updated plumbing and electrical throughout.

Beyond feeding the home’s electric needs and flooding it with light, the sun also nurtures Lambie and Chelf’s mature edible garden, which yields everything from broccoli to five types of mango, a curry tree, kefir limes and a fragrant herb spread.

“A third of our diet comes from the garden,” says Chelf. “We’re both lazy gardeners. He does soil, I do planting and harvesting. But it’s not more work than a manicured lawn. It’s like a micro-climate here.”

The couple also redid the kitchen and the bathrooms and aimed to make the bathroom period-looking, with orange and green tile. In the kitchen, they used lots of wood.

The home is 1,578 square feet, and the gross space doubles that. The grounds cover a third of an acre, anchored by a mature oak out front. It’s not historically designated, and though it would break the hearts of design aficionados, a new owner could tear the home down and rebuild it if they wanted to. (That seems to be the rage of late in neighborhoods like nearby Arlington Park.)

“Fortunately, I don’t think that will be the case—the home has so much to offer as it is, and because this Seibert design is so functional, it would be hard to improve upon it with anything new,” says Albert Wooster of Albert Wooster & Co., who is representing the couple in the sale.

“So far, it’s been attracting both local and out-of-state home shoppers, architecture buffs and local doctors with kids because of proximity to the hospital and Southside Elementary,” he says.

He says visitors are taken aback by the sense of space.

“The low, covered entrance walkway gives a feeling of compression, then when you walk through the front door, the floor-to-ceiling glass with the beamed ceiling running through the glass to the lanai and center courtyard is so impressive, it stops people in their tracks,” he says. “No one wants to tear it down—not at this price.”

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