Spanish Oaks Apartments: Vintage amenities near downtown Sarasota

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Sometimes you miss the historic buildings here in Sarasota because they're tucked away in neighborhoods and still functional. This week’s historic landmark is the Spanish Oaks Apartments.

They're located on Oak Street in Laurel Park, which is on the National Register of Historic Places -- an area right in the heart of downtown, where residents still have a strong feeling of community.

The apartments were built in 1925. "The Spanish Oaks consist of two 12-unit buildings. They are all apartments and are the same 2-bedroom one-bath townhouses," says owner James Miller.

They are made of red tile, stucco, and pecky cypress. Each residence has a screened in porch, fans, and beautiful hardwood floors on the first floor.

"Along the ceiling you'll notice the picture mold, and that was made to hang your pictures on like you would in a museum," says Miller.

On the first floor there's a living room, small kitchen and a pantry. “In the 1920’s in the borchures, this was referred to as the trunk. That's when people traveled, they had large trunks…that's where they would store them."

On the second floors are two bedrooms and a bath, with an antique tub and original flooring.

Resident Judy Merkt says Spanish Oaks feels like a community, even though it's right in downtown. “It’s been wonderful. I walk everywhere. That's one reason I came to this area is this is where I come here to go out and eat, go to a show, the opera, and I can walk to all of those places now."

Back in the 1920’s the apartments were listed in a Sarasota visitor’s guide. "These were listed as furnished apartments at $50 a month."

Maintenance director Jesse Bowman maintains for Spanish Oaks with great care. When repairs are necessary, he tries to replicate the original. "If you go replace the bedroom door with a hollow door, you get that hollow door feel to it. Whereas the old door is solid wood, it's got the glass nob, it fits the character of the building."

He’s keeping the apartments comfortably livable, but true to their past. "It’s an important part of the character of Sarasota. All these old buildings are."