Posts made in March 21st, 2010

Villa Am Meer, Chapter 1

It all started with a walk along the beach…

A stroll along the beach

For 15 years, our family has been visiting the beautiful barrier island of Longboat Key, Florida – just outside of Sarasota on the Gulf of Mexico. This year, like every year, we found ourselves ambling along the beach and imagining what it would be like to live in one of those beautiful new oceanfront mansions that seem to keep cropping up. We marvel at the architecture and wonder who could possibly afford to live there, then we saunter along, hoping this is the week we finally hit all six numbers on Ross’s PowerBall ticket.

There is, however, this one ramshackle, weather beaten house that has continued to hold our interest for all of these 15 years. I call it “my house,” because I’ve always told my husband that I would buy it someday. Someday, when I write a bestseller, option a screenplay, or hit the PowerBall. Someday…

My house

I’ve never been able to quite put my finger on it, but something about this rundown, abandoned-looking house has always intrigued me. I stare at it and I wonder. Who built it? How long has it been there? Who owns it? Why has it fallen into such a state of disrepair?

It’s clear that it was beautiful once, with stained glass windows, hand-painted ceramic tiles, and a spiral iron staircase that leads to a rooftop patio. I can only imagine the resolve it’s taken for the family to stave off the condominium developers, encroaching from either side. Clearly, there is some nostalgia attached to this home. I can almost picture it in my head… images of days gone by… children enjoying long, lazy days on the beach, building sandcastles and collecting seashells… the grown-ups looking on, waving and laughing, sipping piña coladas from the patio.

Waiting for the wrecking ball?

This year though, things were different. The high rise condominiums just to the north were putting in a new concrete pier (groin) to prevent erosion of their rapidly diminishing beachfront. Large, heavy equipment was moving in and out of the property, and I worried that “my house” had finally been sold and was about to be torn down.

I panicked. I returned with my camera, anxious to preserve a bit of Longboat Key history before the wrecking ball did away with this vintage treasure and all its romantic charm. The problem is, photographing the house only caused me to fall more in love with it. I wanted to know more. Who lived here, who played here, who slept here? What was life like on Longboat Key, before the condominiums, before the Crackberry, before the chaos of our 21st century lives?

And so it began… my quest for answers. I will admit, I went a little bananas. For over a week now, I have put off things like laundry, housecleaning, and preparing my income taxes to delve into the history of this charming little beach house.

And to think it all started with a walk along the beach.

View the rest of my photos on Flickr…
(You’ll need to click the “Show Info” link in the upper right corner of the screen to view the captions.)

Oh, and stay tuned. We’ve only just begun.

Read Chapter 2

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