Live from Longboat – 2012

I’m on Longboat Key this week, vacationing with my family. The weather has been amazing, and today is no exception. The forecast says sunny and 83 degrees, and as I write this, I’m sitting in my favorite spot, staring at one of my favorite views. The beach is less than 20 steps away, and this is where we sit and watch the sun set every night. Here are some photos from earlier in the week.

Click image for slideshow...

So, as you can imagine, it’s pretty easy to see why I love this place. But for those of you who have followed me along on my crazy journey, you know about a special little beach house called Villa am Meer that sits quietly and resolutely about a half mile up the beach. MY house… and the impetus for me to quit my career of 20 years and take this great, scary leap of faith.

[For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s a long and winding tale that all started with my very first blog post. Start here if you want the whole backstory: Villa am Meer, Chapter 1.]

Ross and I took a walk the other day to go check on my house. Nothing much new to report. A fisherman on the pier told us that a caretaker lives on the property, and as far as he knows, there are no plans to develop it anytime soon. It doesn’t look much different than it did last year at this time:

Villa am Meer

Me and my house, 2012

There is something new to report, though. Last month, I received an amazing gift via email. A relative of the Kohls who lives in Germany found my blog and sent me several old photos of Villa am Meer, taken back in its heyday.

Enjoy the gift. I’m off to soak up some sun.

Vintage Villa am Meer… view the slideshow

Villa am Meer

Click image to view slideshow


  1. Love the pictures….would have been fun to be there back in it’s heyday! Enjoy your vacation!

  2. Linda Kelvington |

    The pictures are amazing, what opulence!

  3. Oh my gosh! HOW GRAND and wonderful to have received photos from relatives – and from Europe no less! I have a feeling the Kohl family and other relatives are enjoying your blog as much as we are. Thanks Joy!

  4. OH MY LORD!!! Villa Am Meer is MY HOUSE TOO!
    Since the mid 60s my family vacationed twice yearly to Longboat, staying at the colony. I’m talking back in the days of the small cottages only, no condos, no tennis courts. And every day I was there I walked to the Villa (The Pink House). For many years, even as a teenager, I was afraid to go thru the gate because there was a little car at the caretaker’s house.
    I honeymooned at the Colony in ’87 and again made my pilgrimage, this time with camera in hand, and found that there were still residents of some sort there because there was a child’s baby pool on the lawn.
    I was there again in 2001 and 2005, stubbornly refusing to let go of my routine of staying at the Colony, and of course, making my requisite visit to my house. this time, seeing no signs of life, I ventured into the yard and looked in the windows. and I got really depressed.So I sat in the plastic chair on the once-grand porch and paid homage. What a waste. And i thought how great it was that whoever owned it had not caved and sold it to a developer. Ha ha, what did I know???
    Do you remember The Buccaneer…Jori’s restaurant where you could feed the raccoons at night…The hot dog stand at St Armands, along with the Tintinabulary and the Pied Piper? We as kids, if we were really good on our vacation, each got to pick a toy from the Pied Piper before we went home. I still have three of mine. Do you think I’m sentimental?????
    Gosh i could go on and on…my mother went to Ringling art college…so many ties we have to thr place…email me sometime so I can share the rest. Have you ever been to the top floor of the Ringling home and seen the fabulous Willy Pogany paintings?

    I can’t believe there is someone out there like me who has loved that little house all these years!!!

    Ok, I m off to look again at your photos. Hope we can share more info and memoriesthru email!!!

    Lynne Blackwell
    Montgomery, Al
    Mother, grandmother, Christian, free spirit, animal rescuer, horsewoman, constant investigator of things forgotten, and inhabitant of the land of imagination.

  5. joy.the.curious |


    You really should go back and read all the way from the beginning, starting with Chapter 1. Especially if you’re a horse lover! This house has so many stories that go along with it. It was fascinating to write about.

    –Joy Baker

  6. Hi Joy!
    My fiance works at a resort on LBK just down the beach from Villa am Meer, so this weekend I took another opportunity to walk down there and peek because over the last year the grounds have been cleaned up and someone has been living there.
    I have loved this house for so long and again thank you for publishing the story behind it.

  7. I did. I read the whole thing! It is so awesome!!!!!I have some pics I need to dig up from years ago taken of the gates and back of the house. It has always charmed me.

  8. Just returned from Longboat earlier in the week. I always pass those gates with so much curiosity, my closest look at the estate coming via google earth… I was completely hooked after reading your first page and wished that I could have been a part of your photo taking expedition.

    My family has enjoyed Longboat Key for nearly thirty years and we have all been witness to the many changes. Our summer months and holdays are spent on Green Lake in Minnesota, another place I think you may know well.

    I hope something of this beautiful old estate can be saved as there are so few reminders of the past on the island. I also hope your story continues. I didn’t get quite enough. For now I will just return to chapter one and enjoy it all over again.

  9. joy.the.curious |


    I do know Green Lake… very well, indeed! By any chance, do you farm in this area? Also, if you’re going to be on Longboat Key next March, I’ll be speaking about Villa am Meer on Thursday March, 7, 2013, at 7pm, LBK Recreation Center. More details to come…


  10. Joy,

    I actually live in Minneapolis but my parents live on Longboat Key and also have a summer house on Northshore Drive. I spend as much time as I can at these two great places. I’ll be watching for details about your talk next March, I know it will be fascinating.


  11. Hans Eugster |

    You did a marvelous job reporting on the Kohl-Benedict
    family. My wife and I worked for “Doc” Kohl and “Ben”
    Benedict in the 1960’s and knew part of the story but
    never quite as much as you reported. Now we live in
    Sarasota near the “University Commons” and remember seeing the gate saying “Duke & Benedict” on Tuttle and the gate “Villa am Meer” on Gulf of Mexico Drive.

  12. I stumbled upon your blog by happenstance. My cousin married into the Benedict family. I have a few photos of the Villa am Meer that I can share with you. Very interesting blog.

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