The iconic midcentury modern Umbrella House in Sarasota is now open for monthly tours. The Sarasota Architectural Foundation, as part of a yearlong celebration of architect Paul Rudolph’s centennial birth year (he died in 1997), is offering the first-ever regular tours of the private home. (It’s not yet known if the visits will continue in 2019.)
Once described by Architectural Digest as “one of the five most remarkable houses of the mid-20th century,” the boxy home with floor-to-ceiling windows home has been under a renewed spotlight since the new owners restored the shading structure that gives the building its name. The original version was knocked down by a storm in the 1960s and was partially rebuilt in 2012. Current owners Bob and Anne Essner (he was chairman and chief executive of Wyeth Pharmaceutical) had the trellis-like structure finished in 2015. Until now, the Umbrella House has been open only occasionally or by appointment.
The Essners have completed the modern look with midcentury furnishings throughout the two-level home, which also is included in the book “The American House: A Guide to 100 Iconic American Houses.” Designed in 1953, it was one of the first homes built in the Lido Shores section of Sarasota. The small, upscale neighborhood, which sits just beyond popular shopping spot St. Armands Circle, remains one of the best areas in the country in which to view a high concentration of midcentury-modern homes.
Tours, which begin at the house at 1300 Westway Drive, will be held the third Saturday of the month and require reservations, which can be made at www.sarasotaarchitecturalfoundation.org. Cost is $40 for adults and $20 for students with valid ID.
Also in Sarasota, the Center for Architecture gives trolley tours of historical neighborhoods and significant architecture, much of it by Rudolph and other contemporaries who were part of the Sarasota School of Architecture. The regional style is characterized by modern lines and forward-looking sustainable practices. The trolley tours run every Thursday and the cost is $35. Reservations can be made at www.cfasrq.org
In Massachusetts, Rudolph, one of the country’s leading architects in the 1950s and ’60s, designed the brutalist Government Service Center as well as the main campus of UMass Dartmouth.Diane Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.