Villa Am Meer, Chapter 14

The Florida Master Site File, and a few other tidbits

New here? Start with Chapter 1…

For those who don’t know me, my father is a Minnesota Christmas tree farmer who runs two cut-your-own farms, several tree lots, and a large wholesale operation from his company just north of Minneapolis. Last week, he wanted to go look at some trees from a grower in Quebec, so my mom decided to go along because she’d never been there, and I got invited along because I know how to speak French (sort of). I’d been to Quebec once before, on a 9th grade French trip, but truth be told, I couldn’t remember a single thing about the city or the trip. So, we did the town, took some tours, drank some wine, ate a lot of great food, and had a fabulicious time.

While I was in Quebec, I received a few blog comments that I thought I’d pass along. First, I heard from someone named Frank who mentioned he’d been good friends with Ralph Smith, a husband to one of the six Benedict daughters. It turns out Ralph had been the best man in Frank’s wedding, so every now and then, the two couples would vacation together at Villa Am Meer. Frank mentioned that he and his wife spent many evenings sleeping in the southwest bedroom of Villa Am Meer, listening to the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach. If my bearings are correct, I believe the southwest bedroom is the one with the beautiful stained glass window that faces the beach.

View my entire album of Villa am Meer photos, taken in 2010…

Tilly Foster Farm, Brewster, New YorkI also heard from someone named Annette who mentioned that she’d worked on the Tilly Foster Farm from 1985-1999, and served as Manager for the last five of those years. She mentioned that Elena called Mrs. Kohl “Tante” which means “Aunt” in German. It was Mrs. Kohl (Hertha) who was the one with the parrots, and in the attic of one of the barns at the Tilly Foster Farm, there were several large, ornate bird cages that used to belong to Mrs. Kohl.

A while back, I also heard from Shannon O’Donnell who is a Historical Data Analyst for the Florida Master Site File, a State maintained inventory and archive of recorded cultural resources in Florida. She had found a link to my blog in a recent issue of Sarasota History Alive, and contacted me about recording the Villa Am Meer property with the FMSF. That way, if it was ever to be torn down in the future, there would be a permanent historical record of this beautiful home. I was concerned about whether this “historical designation” would hinder the future development of the property, and she assured me it would not. I was also concerned that I had no direct link to the property, nor its original owners, but she assured me that anyone could register the property, regardless of whether I was an owner or not.

So, with a little guidance, I completed the form and now Villa Am Meer is officially recorded with the Florida Master Site File for all posterity. Shannon also included all the posts from my blog, along with the photos I had taken of the property. For future reference, the Florida Master Site File ID number for Villa Am Meer is SO6900.

I’m afraid I’m coming to the end of my Villa Am Meer story, not for lack of interest, but simply because I’m running out of material. If you have any thoughts, memories, or photos of this house, please send them my way.

Next time: A few final thoughts and a new mystery to solve…

Read Chapter 15


  1. Thanks for documenting Villa Am Meer and sharing such an interesting story!

  2. What will happen to Villa Am Meer? Will the developers get ahold of her? Will she be restored? Or perhaps these questions are unanswerable at this time. I’ve enjoyed the written journey with Villa Am Meer and I hope to visit her some day. Thanks, Joy! And thanks to all of you with personal ties to the property. We’ve enjoyed reading your comments. Thanks for sharing.

  3. FYI, I figured out why some of my Flickr pictures had disappeared. Apparently once you reach over 100 pictures, you need to pay for a professional account, vs. a free account. So, I did that, and now all my pictures are viewable again.

    Sue, I wish I knew the answers to your questions. Somewhere in these comments on a previous post, I remember hearing that any plans for development of the property have been put on hold until Florida’s real estate economy turns around. Not sure when that will happen, but for now, it seems Villa Am Meer has bought some time. If I can get a hold of the developer and get permission to view the property, I would love to bring my camera and/or video camera inside to see more of the grand old estate. My great hope and dream is to tour the property with a family member who has memories of staying there. We’ll see…

  4. Thanks for the grand trip, Joy, through history, photos and your love of Villa Am Meer. Also thanks to the people who shared their memories with you.

  5. A. Z. K. Sanders |

    There was a story many years ago about someone who was shipping orange juice from Florida to the Northeast in his own small tanker ship. Quite an innovative and inexpensive method of transportation. I think the ship docked in College Point, Queens, New York City at which point the juice was bottled for distribution to grocery stores.

    All went well until one year when Florida orange juice was not all sweet. The story continues that the Florida agricultural authorities were very strict about never allowing sugar to be added to orange juice for fear that the good name of Florida orange juice would be damaged. The owner of the company decided nevertheless to sweeten the juice with sugar. One night he tried to do that. The night watchman, who didn’t know him, caught him. The result was a scandal.

    Is there any truth to this story? If so, what was the outcome?

  6. Villa Am Meer is GERMAN for Villa by the Sea

  7. Valerie Lockwood Demberg |

    My name is Valerie Lockwood Demberg. My family lived across from the Benedicts on Purchase Street for 14 years. What a beautiful estate they lived on. They are a wonderful family and I have many fond thoughts of the times we spent with them. Thanks for the memories. Val

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