Lord-Higel House

Join us in saving this gem of Venice’s unique heritage


Constructed in 1896 by entrepreneur Joseph Lord, the Lord-Higel House is the second oldest house in Sarasota County. Acquired by the City of Venice in 2005, Venice Heritage volunteers have raised more than $300,000 and invested thousands of hours restoring the house to its original glory. Additional funds are needed to restore the interior and construct an outside, ADA-approved bathroom and access ramp.
Once completed, the first floor of the house will serve as an early settler museum and welcome center.

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HOUSE HISTORY



For many years, Joseph H. Lord was the largest landholder in Sarasota County, eventually acquiring nearly 100,000 acres. Born in Maine in 1860, he was a real estate attorney and entrepreneur who moved from Chicago to Orlando in the fall of 1885 for health reasons and also to prospect for promising phosphate land. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1886 and moved to Sarasota three years later where he began making significant investments. By 1906, he owned four of the five corners at the city’s Five Points area and also built the first “high rise” in downtown Sarasota, eventually known as the Palmer Bank Building. He eventually became the second person to represent Sarasota County in the Florida Legislature.

Perhaps Lord’s most significant contribution to the area’s economy was when he took out a small advertisement in a Chicago newspaper, touting the opportunities for investment in Sarasota County. His ad caught the attention of Mrs. Palmer, who sailed into Sarasota Bay in 1910 for a closer look. The rest, as they say, is history.

Lord’s interests were not limited to the city of Sarasota alone. He purchased 90 acres of land on the south shore of Roberts Bay – what would become part of Venice – and planted a citrus grove there. In 1896, he built a two-story, Queen Anne Victorian-style house in the middle of the grove. The house was later occupied by George Higel, who he hired to manage his orange grove. In addition to managing the grove, Higel also wrote a weekly column for the Sarasota newspaper. Five of the Higel children were born in the house.

Although he passed away in 1936, Joseph Lord’s legacy is a continuing presence in the community. The house that he built 119 years ago was eventually moved by Mr. Higel’s son to family property west of its original site. In 2005, the house was again moved to its present location on Granada Avenue and was acquired by the City of Venice. During the past decade, volunteers with Venice Heritage have worked tirelessly to restore the Lord-Higel House to its original splendor. And hundreds of volunteers have donated more than $300,000 to provide the resources needed to continue the work. Once completed, the house will offer residents and visitors a glimpse of what life was like at the turn of the 20th Century.

TIMELINE

1896Joseph H. Lord constructs a two-story house on 90 acres of land located south of Roberts Bay now known as Bayshore Estates. Lord plants a citrus grove around the house. The house is constructed of “fat lighter” pine and has a wrap-around porch.
1905This apparently is the last year Lord occupies the house. Lord’s citrus grove manager George Higel takes up residence in the house.
1906George Higel marries Abigail Williams. Five of the couple’s six children are born while the couple lives in the house.
1919This is the last year the Higels reside in the Lord house. The property is sold to Rea R. Bales of Ohio.
1923The property is sold to the Stone Farms Association, a Massachusetts Corporation. Although the property is sold several times over the years, it is commonly known as the “Stone Grove House.”
1950The citrus grove is sold and the land subdivided for residential development. The house is scheduled for demolition.  George Wesley Higel, son George and Abigail Higel, moves the house to La Guna Drive, removes the wrap around porch to facilitate the move, and converts the house to a duplex with one unit occupying the second floor and another on the first floor.
1990sA new owner restores the house to a single family residence.
2005The house is given to the City of Venice. The city pays to move the house to a city owned lot located on the southeast corner of Granada and De Parques avenues (409 Granada Avenue). The city also pays for engineering and construction of the foundation. The house is to be restored to its original appearance and serve as a museum of early settler life and welcome center.
2007A Rehabilitation / Preservation Plan for the house is completed by the architectural firm of Jackson + Hall Architects of Sarasota on June 20th.
2008The City of Venice Historic Preservation Board approves a contract with Siebert Architects of Sarasota to prepare an Architectural Design Plan for the restoration of the house on June 20th.On June 4th the Friends of the Lord-Higel House is organized as a Florida corporation with the purpose of promoting, restoring and sustaining the local historic landmark known as the Lord-Higel House.
2009On May 18th the Friends of the Lord-Higel House becomes a 501(c)(3) organization exempt from Federal income tax and qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers, or gifts.
2012In June, Friends of the Lord-Higel House merges with the Triangle Inn Association (TIA) and the TIA is renamed Venice Heritage, Inc.
2013By the end of February, the missing south gable of the house is rebuilt. By October a shed that was part of the original Wesley Higel property is moved to 409 Granada Avenue behind the Lord-Higel House and restored.By June the metal roof has been installed and Eric’s Painting and Decorating has donated the labor and materials to paint the second floor siding and the roof eaves.
2014From February thru May volunteers complete the installation of the newly fabricated window frames and sashes.
2015Working from October 2014 thru March 2015, the contractor rebuilds the wraparound porch on the house, resides the first floor exterior walls, and installs the new first floor window frames. (Fabrication of the column wraps for the metal support beams still needs to be completed.)From September thru the beginning of 2016 the City constructs a public parking lot east of the house and installs a sidewalk from Harbor Drive to Avenida des Parques.
2016By the end of February volunteers complete the installation of new first floor window sashes and Eric’s Painting and Decorating paints the underside of porch roof blue.An architect is hired to design an exterior ADA restroom and access ramp to the wraparound porch.
IN THE NEWS

Venice volunteers breathe new life into Lord-Higel House

By Earle Kimel  Published: Thursday, June 2, 2016 at 2:04 p.m.

Venice Heritage Inc. hopes to have the first floor of the Lord-Higel House ready by May 9, in time for the 90th anniversary of when the state legislature changed Venice from a town to a city. (STAFF PHOTO / EARLE KIMEL) earle.kimel@heraldtribune.com

VENICE — Larry Humes admits that the first time he drove by the Lord-Higel House, he was he wondered what the fuss was about. Several passes later though, he became intrigued by the restoration of the 120-year-old Queen Anne Victorian-style house. Now, it’s a passion project for Humes, the immediate past president of Venice Heritage Inc., and a driving force behind a “20 for 10” fundraising campaign to amass $200,000 needed to finish the house.

“It grows on you,” said Humes, 68. “The more I’ve been involved, the more I love this thing. “Yeah, it’s an old house, I get that,” he added. “But more than that, it’s an iconic symbol of who we are — our heritage. “That’s why we want to keep this for our kids.”

Venice Heritage has a goal of finishing at least the first floor in time for the 90th anniversary of the founding of Venice as a city on May 9, 2017. “Wouldn’t be great if we can celebrate on the front porch?” Humes said. “What a great place to celebrate our heritage.”

Built in 1896 by Joseph Lord, the eight-room, two-story house is the second oldest residence in Sarasota County. (The oldest is the Bidwell-Wood House, maintained by the Historical Society of Sarasota County at Pioneer Park in Sarasota.) George Higel, who managed Lord’s orange grove and wrote a regular column for the Sarasota newspaper, moved into the home in 1905.

The City of Venice acquired the structure in 2005 and moved it to its current location at 409 Granada Ave., behind City Hall. Donations totaling about $300,000, as well as countless volunteer hours have brought the house to its current state — a finished exterior and unfinished interior. Once completed, the first floor of the house will serve as an early settler museum and welcome center. The upstairs — inaccessible by ADA standards — will likely become offices.

George and Abigail Williams Higel raised five of their six children in this house until 1919. The Queen Anne-style home would have been very common up north, Humes noted, but adapted well to the southern environment, with free-flowing air underneath and each of the four rooms were set up for cross-ventilation. In the evening, rooms would be lit by oil lamps, while in the kitchen food would be cooked on a wood burning stove and stored in a pantry cabinet or ice box. “The late afternoon the family would have moved out to the porch and the porch would provide a cooling sensation,” Humes said.

James Hagler, director of historical resources for the City of Venice, said once complete, the Lord-Higel house would fit well with the city, which was laid out by one of the nation’s most prominent early planners, John Nolen, for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. “It would be an educational and functional place for people to not only see what live was about but also to obtain information on all the other historical structures in the area,” Hagler said.

Venice Heritage launched the fundraising campaign to complete restoration of the interior as well as build an ADA-approved external bathroom and access ramp. The Lord-Higel House, located between the bustle of downtown Venice and the beaches, may become a venue for wedding receptions and other gatherings. Humes can also see the 360-degree wrap-around porch being lined with rocking chairs — paid for by donations of $500 each — where people can sit and sip lemonade after seeing the museum and sit a spell. He hopes they’ll take time to imagine the past, like when Lord could sit on the porch of the home, which was first located on his 90-acre orange grove on Roberts Bay, and smell the fruit or when the Higel children would ride their tricycles around the porch on rainy days because that was their play are. Other times, the porch might feature a storyteller where children can sit at picnic tables and hear those stories come to life. Venice Heritage Inc. is about halfway to its goal to make that a reality.

Humes and his wife Carol kicked in the first $10,000 in the 20 for 10 campaign, so named because the goal was to find 20 area residents or groups so taken with the history that they would contribute, too. So far the campaign, which started in earnest this January, has $90,000 in commitments, including $10,000 donations each from Janis Fawn and Winston Wilmore, Curt and Tommye Whittaker, and Bob and Barbara Dein, as well as a $50,000 capping grant committed by the Bill Jervey Jr. Charitable Foundation. Smaller donations — the rocking chairs being one example — are gladly accepted, too.

Humes also hopes to foster a penny drive for schoolchildren, partly to kindle an interest in the historical home. “We want everybody to feel like they own the house because it is the community’s house,” Humes said. “It’s not our house, it’s not really the city’s. It’s the community’s house. “That’s what we want it to be.”

Copyright © 2016 HeraldTribune.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.


The following article appeared in the Nov. 7, 2015 edition of the Venice Gondolier Sun

HELP US HONOR A MAN WHO PUT COUNTY ON MAP

By Larry R. Humes, Guest Columnist

Bertha Palmer and Dr. Fred Albee rightly deserve a lot of credit for developing and promoting what is today Venice. But there is another individual who is largely overlooked, but whose name should also be celebrated for helping to put our little patch of paradise on the proverbial map.

For many years, Joseph H. Lord was the largest landholder in Sarasota County, eventually acquiring more than 100,000 acres. Born in Maine in 1860, he was a real estate attorney and entrepreneur who moved from Chicago to Orlando in the fall of 1885 for health reasons and also to prospect for promising phosphate land. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1886 and moved to Sarasota three years later where he began making significant investments. By 1906, he owned four of the five corners at the city’s Five Points area and also built the first “high rise” in downtown Sarasota, eventually known as the Palmer Bank Building.

Perhaps Lord’s most significant contribution to the area’s economy was when he took out a small advertisement in a Chicago newspaper, touting the opportunities for investment in Sarasota County. His ad caught the attention of Mrs. Palmer, who sailed into Sarasota Bay in 1910 for a closer look. The rest, as they say, is history.

Lord’s interests were not limited to the city of Sarasota alone. He purchased 90 acres of land on the south shore of Roberts Bay – what would become part of Venice – and planted a citrus grove there. In 1896, he built a two-story, Queen Anne Victorian-style house in the middle of the grove. The house was later occupied by George Higel, who he hired to manage his orange grove. Lord was eventually elected to represent the area in the Florida Legislature and was instrumental in the establishment of Sarasota County.

Although he passed away in 1936, Joseph Lord’s legacy is a continuing presence in the community. The house that he built 119 years ago was eventually moved by Mr. Higel’s son to family property west of its original site. In 2005, the house was again moved to its present location on Granada Avenue and was acquired by the City of Venice. During the past decade, volunteers with Venice Heritage have worked tirelessly to restore the Lord-Higel House to its original splendor. And hundreds of volunteers have already donated more than $300,000 to provide the resources needed to continue the work. Once completed, the house will offer residents and visitors a glimpse of what life was like at the turn of the 20th Century.

Earlier this year, volunteers completed work on the exterior. A campaign is now underway to raise the remaining funds needed to restore the interior as well as construct an ADA-approved outside bathroom and access ramp. The Gulf Coast Community Foundation, with funds provided by the late Elaine Vasel, recently established a $25,000 matching grant to help VHI reach its financial goal. A restoration fund for the house has been established by Gulf Coast, CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

What we’ve done, however, is not nearly as important as why we are doing it. The culture and quality of life in Venice is tied very closely to its unique heritage. As the historian and biographer, David McCullough, says, it reminds us of who we are and why we are the way we are. Those who have worked so diligently to restore the house to its original splendor really consider it the “people’s” house, a touchstone that will, for generations to come, connect us with our past. And once it is done, and the wrap-around porch is lined with rocking chairs, it will afford us all an opportunity to come “set a spell” and reflect on a simpler time gone by.

Larry R. Humes is president of Venice Heritage, Inc. He can be reached at: larry@veniceheritage.org.

HOW TO DONATE

“We have lived in and restored many historic homes over the years, so when we first saw the Lord-Higel House, we immediately realized its potential. I also take pride in the knowledge that Mr. Lord was a Mainer like me. We’ve provided financial support to help complete the restoration because we believe this museum and welcome center will be a wonderful asset for Venice. We encourage others to join us in this project.” – Tommye Whittaker

You can support the Lord-Higel House restoration by making a tax-free donation to THIS account established at

 

 


Or by sending your contribution directly to:

Venice Heritage, Inc.
P.O. Box 1190
Venice, Florida 34284-1190


VHI Personal Information Privacy Policy: Venice Heritage respects and protects the privacy of its donors and members. We will not sell, trade, or share your personal information, collected on our website or by any other means, with anyone else. We will only share your personal information if you give us specific permission to do so. If you have questions about VHI’s privacy policy, or would like additional information, please contact us at: veniceheritageinc@gmail.com.

Venice Heritage, Inc. meets all requirements specified by the Florida Solicitation of Contributions Act. A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE, WITHIN THE STATE, 1-800-HELP-FLA OR BY VISITING THEIR WEBSITE WWW.800HELPFLA.COM. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE. FLORIDA REGISTRATION #CH5152.

SUPPORTERS

“Times were challenging when Joseph Lord built this house in 1896. But this area also offered the early settlers plenty of opportunities. This house still offers opportunities, not only to welcome visitors to Venice, but also to educate young and old alike about what it was like to live here more than a century ago. That’s why I feel honored, not only to work as a volunteer on its restoration, but also to provide financial support toward its completion.” – Dr. William Jervey, City of Venice Historic Preservation Board Member


The following companies and organizations have generously supported the restoration of the Lord-Higel House:

Pat Ball Construction

Eric’s Painting and Decorating

Gulf Coast Community Foundation

Seibert Architects

Sherwin-Williams Paints

& Multiple Venice-Area Charitable Foundations


Contact Us

LORD-HIGEL HOUSE LOCATION