Imagine arriving on Anna Maria Island circa 1924 and pulling up to a French-Normandy style stone house – nothing like the cinder block homes or wooden structures that one would expect to see out here. No air conditioning and many mosquitos to greet you, but you wouldn’t complain – not with the Gulf views, a turret to watch the stars from, and sleeping porches to beat the heat. Well, starting in 2015, you could rent this same castle, now known as ‘The Sand Castle’, as your vacation getaway. There is no longer a Gulf view, but the water can be heard while sitting on the porches or patio areas, and the turret is still home to the winding staircase.
You may already know the home we are talking about. At one point, it was complimented by 2 other distinctive homes – a Tudor style and a Mediterranean style. In 2000, this became the last of the three designed by English architect A I Alvinson to remain on the island. Located in Anna Maria City on Beach Ave, it is a historic, one of a kind home full of unique architectural designs and has a colorful history of housing many interesting people. As it is physically being restored, we plan to collect the history of the Sand Castle to share with all future residents.
Here are some tidbits we have already collected, using resources from the Anna Maria Historical Society, papers obtained from previous owners, and talking to neighbors.
The Alvinson family (A I Alvinson is the architect who designed the home) were the first owners and used it as a summer home. In the 1960s it was bought by the Torgeson family and called ‘The Castle Cottage’. Earl Torgeson was a professional baseball player, and during the winter, along with many other players, he and his family lived in Florida. They discovered Anna Maria in 1948 when they came to Bradenton for spring training. After renting on the island for a few years, they purchased The Castle Cottage about the time their daughter, Christine, started elementary school. They especially were fond of spending the night on the sleeping porch – no air conditioning made for stuffy temperatures during the summer, especially indoors! Christine Torgeson remembers, “It was a magical stone house with a winding staircase that led to a tower. Big cypress beams were in every room and even the heavy doors were made of pecky cypress.” (Quote taken from Tale of Three Cities by Carolyne Norwood). The staircase, cypress beams, and heavy doors are still part of the house today.
After the Torgesons, there have been many other fortunate renters and owners. It attracts all types – long time residents of the island, authors, singer / songwriters, and families. Some have left their mark – either through cement blocks etched with initials, a photo left in a drawer, or by stopping by to tell the new owner their story.
The Sand Castle will be the premier of vacation rentals on Anna Maria Island. As can be seen in the pictures, the home has incredible charm inside and out. A concrete spiral staircase, complete with wrought iron rails and located in the turret, is the centerpiece of the home. This is complimented by original flooring, a fireplace, and other unique details.
We are very pleased to say the owners of this home are working with Ross Built Construction – the same builder used for Lizzie Lu’s this year and last. Ross Built will carefully go through the home over the next year to perform a complete restoration of the home. This will not be a renovation like Lizzie Lu’s as the owners are taking special care to ensure the historical nature of this home remains intact. At completion in December, 2015 we expect to present a home that will bring you back to Anna Maria Island circa 1924 (with some modern additions such as air conditioning and wifi) and we know Ross Built will be up to the task.
We hope you will enjoy following this new journey in the coming year.