The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 17 - January 20, 2010


The prairie meets the beach

Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most prominent architects and proponents of the Prairie School of architecture starting around the turn of the 20th century. There may not be prairies on Anna Maria Island, but there is a lot of natural wonder, and one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s fellows has designed homes on the Island to be organic with the environment.

The works of the Prairie School architects are usually marked by horizontal lines, flat or hipped roofs, broad overhanging eaves and windows grouped in horizontal bands with the landscape integrated into the design. The buildings were meant to appear as if they grew from the site rather than being placed upon it, invoking a wide, flat and natural look, like a Midwest prairie.

Thanks to H. Patterson Fletcher, a former apprentice at Taliesin, Wright’s architectural school in Arizona and Wisconsin, Wright’s philosophy has influenced some homes on Anna Maria. Fletcher has designed several houses on the Island, including one for his own residence in Anna Maria which he no longer owns. He has also worked on the van Wezel and Ruth Eckerd theaters as well as churches, restaurants, commercial and government buildings on Florida’s west coast.

Although the homes he has designed on Anna Maria have the distinctive Frank Lloyd Wright influence, they also have been adapted to a style that is appropriate for beachfront living. In order to meet the requirement of building 13 to 18 feet above sea level, Fletcher has avoided the stilt look of pilings under the homes and replaced it with fireplaces, stairs or elevator units which visually anchor the home to the lot. He orientates the home toward the view by using solid walls and high windows on the street side, creating a private and undisturbed environment for the residents and silencing the rest of the world.

Looking out through the living room windows of an Anna Maria gulfront home he designed in the early 1990s you’ll feeling like your floating on the crystal water, riding above the waves. His design objective is to have rooms flow naturally from one to the other avoiding a boxy look. Even his roof levels are varied while still maintaining the same slope. What he learned from Wright is that space and natural materials are the major components of design. He makes a special effort to use materials in their natural form including coral rock, stone and wood, both inside and outside. Like Wright, Fletcher also designs furnishings for his clients as well as landscaping designs and details specific to beachfront living.

Pat Fletcher didn’t build a lot of homes on Anna Maria, so spotting one could prove to be difficult, however, there is one on Gulf Drive near 56th Street in Holmes Beach currently on the market with a local real estate broker. Although this particular home is not waterfront, it does have many of the same features with open decks for sunset viewing and distinctive windows typical of his style.

If Anna Maria Island isn’t an architect’s dream I don’t what is. H. Patterson Fletcher has built and lived on the Island and has integrated the Frank Lloyd Wright education he received to make the most of the Island’s beautiful settings. Organic architecture means being one with the environment and living in the space not just within the walls of a home. What better space is there to live in than a home on Anna Maria Island?

Real Estate Transactions
Closed sales between Aug. 10 and Oct. 10, 2009

Anna Maria

517 Blue Heron Drive        Lot        $1,100,000
125 Crescent Drive        Single family         629,900
210 Archer Way        Single family         600,000
207 Spruce Ave. #A        Duplex         304,000
428 Magnolia Ave.        Lot        287,000

Bradenton Beach

1911 Bay Dr. N.        Single family         $755,000
104 Gulf Drive S. 201       Condo         425,000
1900 Gulf Drive N. #6        Condo         400,000
901 Gulf Drive S. #5        Condo         300,000
901 Gulf Drive S. #6        Condo         265,000
1801 Gulf Drive N. 152       Condo         255,000
2101 Ave. B        Single family         140,000


No recorded transactions

Holmes Beach

615 Ivanhoe Lane        Single family        $850,000
607 Concord Lane        Single family         610,000
5200 Gulf Dr. #608        Condo         488,300
519 77th St.        Single family         472,500
6806 Gulf Drive        Condo         457,500
303 64th St. #A        Condo         450,000
7000 Gulf Drive #105        Condo         430,000
201 35th St. #4        Condo        390,00
214 67th St.        Single family         385,000
6250 Holmes Blvd. 45       Condo         359,500
4200 Gulf Drive #106        Condo         350,000
4102 Fifth Ave.        Lot         350,000
430 63rd St.        Half duplex         316,000
207 71st St. W.        Half duplex         298,000
3100 Gulf Drive #5        Condo         225,000

Source: Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office

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