PCR past banners
La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our ninth calendar year
    PCR #441  (Vol. 9, No. 36)  This edition is for the week of September 1--7, 2008.

LA FLORIDIANA
A Sarasota Road Trip Adventure, Part One of Two: The Powel Crosley Seagate Estate  by William Moriaty
MOVIE REVIEW
"Movies Of My Father"  by Mike Smith
RETRORAMA
DVD Review: "Phantasm: OblIVion"  by ED Tucker
FANGRRL
The FANGRRL Guide To Hurricane Preparedness  by Lisa Ciurro
SPORTS TALK
Dickey Being Dickey .... Chad Ocho Cinco .... College Uni's .... Daunte Culpepper Retires .... Week 1 Picks  by Chris Munger
MATT'S RAIL
This Day In History  by Matt Drinnenberg
MIKE'S RANT
Dad .... Gilligan .... Politics .... Passing On .... And The Oscar For 1980 Should Have Gone To...  by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2008
Archives 2007
Archives 2006
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR
Home

A Sarasota Road Trip Adventure, Part One of Two:
The Powel Crosley Seagate Estate

Who was Powel Crosley Jr.?
There are probably only a handful of people alive today who knew or knew of Powel Crosley Jr, but in his life time he was one of the true captains and innovators of American industry.

Powel was born on September 18, 1886 to a father who was an attorney and real estate investor. Powel grew up to be a giant in his time topping to a height of 6 foot 4 inches. In 1910 he married Gwendolyn B. Aiken. Initially her father thought of Powel as being as shiftless ne'er do well. Powel made his first fortune selling automobile parts through mail order under the auspice of the Automobile Accessories Company. After several years of existence, the company was grossing over a million dollars annually.

He expanded his empire into the the manufacturing of phonographs and radios, creating the widely successful wireless "Harko" radio. Under the auspice of the Crosley Radio Corporation he opened the 500,000 watt radio station WLW, also known as the Nations Station the most powerful radio station to be operated in the United States. It could be heard as far away as Canada and Mexico and other areas around the globe. In order to keep this huge audience's attention on a more daily basis, Crosley developed "continuing day time dramas" which were sponsored by Proctor and Gamble and came to be known as "soap operas".

In 1934 he acquired the Cincinnati Reds baseball team and noticed the sparse day time attendance. He deducted that this was due in large part to the masses having to work their day time jobs, so in 1935 he fitted his team's playing field with high intensity lighting heralding the first night time games. His team won two pennants in 1939 and 1940, and his name sake field, Crosley Field remained in operation until 1970.

In 1939 he invented what is considered to be the first compact economy car, not surprisingly known as the Crosley, and with the exception of a five year absence during the Second World War, continued to manufacture them until 1952. On occasion, car collectors with this type of car display them at the Seagate mansion in Manatee County. In addition he also brought to market the first automobile radio in 1930, the first radio broadcast from an airplane in 1930, the first 4 wheel disc brakes in 1939, a radio control facsimile machine in 1940, 35 mm cameras, 4 models of airplanes, the Crosley Shelvador refrigerator (a refrigerator with shelves in its door), scalp messagers, canoes, furniture, baby carriages, washing machines, stoves and bed cooling machines.

Crosley was an avid aviator and yachtsman. His Seagate estate's yacht basin once moored up to 11 of his yachts and also acted as a sea plane base. The basin was dug 60' deep and 200' inland from a channel dug 50' wide from the main channel in Sarasota Bay.

Seagate
Powel Crosley Jr. built Seagate as a winter residence for his wife Gwendolyn in 1929. The two and one-half story Mediterranean Revival mansion was designed by George Albree Freeman of New York and Sarasota, and the contractor was Paul W. Bergman of Sarasota. The mansion was built at a 1929 cost of $350,000 and was incredibly completed in only 72 nine-hour work days. Located in Manatee County, the mansion resides on 16.5 of an original 60 acres straddling the Sarasota County line and Ringling Estate. It also shares the University of South Florida and Sarasota-Bradenton Airport as neighbors. The airport owes its existence to Powel Crosley Jr. who donated property to the U.S. Army Air Corps that was used as an air base prior to becoming a commercial airfield.

The house is comprised of 11,000 square feet with 21 rooms and 10 bath rooms along with a servants quarters on the second floor. A garage capable of housing three cars is on the south perimeter of the property. There was originally a swimming pool adjacent to Sarasota Bay on the western portion of the property, as well as the yacht basin and sea plane base mentioned above. The house was constructed of steel columns and hollow tile with stucco on the outside walls with a roof covered in Old Cuban tile.

Winter heating of the mansion was made possible through a steam radiator system. All floors with the exception of the circular Ship Room on the second floor and southern end of the house were made of poured concrete. Family and guest areas had tile overlay while servants quarters and work areas had floors overlaid in terrazzo.

In 1982 the Seagate, Crosley Estate was placed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Saved from commercial development and sure destruction, Manatee County did a noble job of restoring this "Jewel of the Bay" and uses the structure for weddings, conferences, artistic and social and charitable events.

For more information on this Mediterranean Revival treasure, link to http://www.crosleymuseum.com/ or contact:

Manatee County Convention Center
One Haben Boulevard
Palmetto, FL. 34221
(904) 722-3244 ext. 221

First Stop In the Sarasota Road Trip Adventure
The Seagate Crosley Estate was the first stop in a Sarasota Road Trip Adventure on Saturday August 30, 2008 that was comprised of a group of people of various backgrounds with a love of architecture, plants, arts and Florida history. Arriving at Seagate in a rental van was yours truly along with three Temple Terrace residents, architect Grant Rimbey and graphic designers Tim Lancaster and Lana Burroughs. Florida native plant enthusiasts Ray and Jennifer Wunderlich III from St. Petersburg completed the rental van manifest. Several moments after our arrival, horticulturist Bob Scheible showed up. Completing the group were Clearwater Beach resident John Gianfillipo (next door neighbor to the former Spyglass Motel that went kaboom with Chris Angel in it) and Pasco County actress and model Jennifer Moore.

Little did any of us, with the exception of Bob Scheible, know that the true treasure of Sarasota was awaiting us on the next stop of our Sarasota Road Trip Adventure which will be covered in next week's PCR!

View from the general parking area of the the front of the Powel Crosley Jr. Seagate Estate.This close up of the northeast front corner of the Estate shows the classic Mediterranean Revival lines crafted by architect George Albree Freeman.
A view of the main lobby of Seagate. Constructed in 1929, this "Jewel of the Bay" was constructed in only 72 nine-hour days!Looking down the hall way of the second floor. A majority of the Estate's 21 rooms and its halls have period pictures of the Estate construction, as well as as photos of Powel Crosley Jr. and his many inventions and enterprises.
Look closely and you'll see a second story balcony constructed of one of nature's most durable materials, Pecky Cypress. Framed by a giant South Florida Slash Pine along with smaller Cabbage Palms is the view of Sarasota Bay from the second story balcony of Seagate.
A view of the rear portion of Seagate as viewed from the outdoor patio.Looking east from the expansive western yard bordering Sarasota Bay is the the symmetrical Mediterranean Revival beauty that is Powel Crosley Jr.'s most treasured legacy in Manatee County - - Seagate.


"La Floridiana" is ©2008 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.