Cherokee Park is one of Sarasota’s most treasured neighborhoods. Located just west of Southside Elementary, within one mile of the Southside Village and Hospital districts, and two miles south of Downtown Sarasota, the neighborhood’s 94 residences are in high demand. But its beginnings weren’t so popular. It took 35 years for Cherokee Park to fulfill its founder’s vision.
Cherokee Park’s Developer: James C. Brown
Cherokee Park was developed by James C. Brown, a Scottish silk merchant who arrived in Sarasota via New Jersey in 1925 during the infamous Florida Land Boom. He had big plans. He purchased property at what was then the southern edge of town, and platted Cherokee Park the following year. Mr. Brown developed the streets, and built the still-standing stucco wall and gate posts with decorative tile work depicting a Cherokee rose. The Cherokee rose, rosa laevigata, is a white, fragrant rose native to China which was introduced to our country in the mid 1700s. The rose is said to have been widely distributed by the Cherokee indians.
Cherokee Park’s First Residence: Cherokee Lodge
The original deed restrictions at Cherokee Park dictated a minimum construction value of $10,000 for lots on the bay and $7,500 for interior lots. They also required masonry construction, and restricted fences and outbuildings to the rear of the lots. In addition, no horses, cows, cattle, hogs or poultry could be kept or raised in Cherokee Park. A big fan of Mediterranean Revival architecture, Mr. Brown built a large home for himself on 12 acres of bayfront land and called it Cherokee Lodge.
Cherokee Park’s 2nd Residence: 1607 South Drive
Although a second home was built in 1926 by boom-time realtor Pat Ennis at 1607 South Drive, it was nearly 10 years before a third was built due to the Florida housing market crash and the Great Depression.
Cherokee Park’s 5th Residence: 1744 South Drive
Three homes were built in 1936, and several more by 1939 at which time building stopped until after World War II. The late 1940s and early 1950s were a busy time in Cherokee Park as the majority of homes were built in this period.
Clarence McKaig, who built the fifth home in Cherokee Park at 1744 South Drive, enjoyed telling the story of how he acquired his lot in Cherokee Park. On a Sunday in 1935, he and his wife, Alice, were driving through Cherokee Park. They were stopped and engaged in conversation by James Brown. Brown asked if they liked the neighborhood, and after replying that they did, Brown asked them if they would like to buy a lot. McKaig said that they were financially unable to purchase one. At that point, Brown told them he would give them a lot of their choice if they agreed to construct a home within one year with his approval of their design. According to McKaig, Brown was so interested in stimulating growth at Cherokee Park that he deeded lots to two others, Colonel Russell Mayo and Benton Powell, both of whom selected lots on North Drive.
The McKaig’s residence is one of the few remaining original homes in Cherokee Park — a two-story, Colonial Revival home on South Drive. McKaig and his wife lived there until their deaths in 1992. The home last sold in 2014 for $1,625,000.
Waterfront Appreciation: 1520 South Lodge Drive
The 1.3 acre waterfront estate at 1520 South Lodge Drive sold in April 2012 for $5,350,000 — 535% over the original $10,000 minimum construction value for a waterfront lot. The bayfront estate has over 220-ft. of direct Sarasota Bay frontage and is home to the largest boat house on the open bay in Sarasota County.
South West and North West Drives
In 1940, the westernmost portion of Cherokee Park was re-platted in order to create South West and North West Drives, and to dedicate a strip of land along the water for a park. Later, a portion of this bay front property was sold to the adjacent neighbors, and the rest was subdivided along with the 12 acres once occupied by Cherokee Lodge which was demolished in 1960.
Transforming the Past: 1753 North Drive
In 2012, Col. Russell Mayo’s home at 1753 North Drive, built in 1937 by Cherokee Park’s developer James Brown, was renovated. The owners worked with local architect Cliff Scholz who preserved elements of Mr. Brown’s original design along with his art deco three-tiered lines that are carried throughout the entire renovation. The owners were meticulous in updating the original home while incorporating a contemporary addition featuring a state of the art kitchen. The home sold in 2015 for $1,665,000.
A Family Expansion: 1671 North Drive
Built in 1949, the original Florida ranch residence at 1671 North Drive was expanded and remodeled by current owners Paul and Colette MacPhail into a spacious comfort zone for their growing family. Formal living and dining rooms provide elegant spaces for entertaining. But the heart and soul of this home is the very large, very open, very connected kitchen + family room + outdoor living + pool area + putting green. The entire living area has clean lines, sleek profiles and conveys a transitional aesthetic with contemporary flair. Now that the kids are grown and on their own, the MacPhail’s home is on the market for $1,295,000.
Moving Forward: 1732 North Drive
Like the surrounding Sarasota West of Trail neighborhoods, Cherokee Park properties are prime for renewal. Two older homes were demolished over the last two years to make way for larger residences more suited to the high-value location. Cherokee Park’s newest home is at 1732 North Drive. Crafted by Allegra Homes, the five bedroom residence incorporates today’s most sought-after design elements with forward-thinking energy efficiency. The home sold in June 2019 for $2,700,000.
Audrey & Louise Hendersen: “A Short History and Walking Tour of Cherokee Park”
Lorrie Muldowny: “Cherokee Park: A Dream Fulfilled,” Sarasota History Alive!
Maranda Kles, Marion Almy, Marlene Lancaster: “Neighborhood History,” Southside Village Magazine
Chris Angermann: “A Sought-After Neighborhood in Constant Change,” Sarasota Herald Tribune
All information provided is from listed sources and deemed reliable.