Cloistered on the southern end of Sarasota’s renowned barrier island, Siesta Key, the enchanting Sanderling Club is revealed on a secluded lane under a canopy of rich tropical foliage. While cruising the meandering drive you will catch glimpses of shady lagoons, their banks thick with mangroves, and the often present Great Blue Herons poised for a little fishing. Occasionally, amidst the jungle-like atmosphere, you can catch a glimpse of a residence through stands of giant bamboo, tall seagrapes and exotic ancient trees. Framed by rare, mature tropical foliage, over 100 properties are sited in this manicured jungle paradise.
The only single family home community with a 24-hour manned security gate on the Key, some of the most spectacular waterfront residences on Florida’s Southwest coast are nestled within The Sanderling Club. Many of the estate-sized homes are built on unique two-acre lots positioned on wide lagoons brimming with wildlife and amazing Gulf of Mexico views. Some of the residences date back to the late 1940s, when Elbridge Boyd, who wanted to create a Gulf-side membership residential community, began developing the area.
Paul Rudolph, a former Dean of the Yale School of Architecture and one of the most innovative modernist architects produced by the Sarasota School of Architecture, was hired to design cabanas, a clubhouse and an observation tower. Rudolph used curving roof lines to remind the viewer of the gentle waves of the nearby gulf. He experimented with economical materials and came up with a method for bending plywood across the building space, opening up the club house to nature using broad expanses of glass. He painted the ceilings of the cabanas blue framed in white.
The main consideration at that time was to maintain a commitment to sustainable ecology with an aesthetic feeling, and that commitment has been continually upheld. Now, seventy years later, the park-like setting of the Club is still honored and maintained.
Siesta Key Realtor Mark McCann attests to the success of this community, commenting: “There are few places in Florida that have such rich tradition, architectural integrity, and an overall ambiance that welcomes flip flops, understated sophistication, and respect for the incredible beauty that nature provides daily.”
The Sanderling Club’s obligatory membership for community residents provides many benefits, including deeded gulf access and usage of the club’s cabanas, which literally sit on the front-porch of the Gulf. The cabanas may be purchased by members, some staying in families for generations. Both the cabanas and the clubhouse have been fully restored and are now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Sanderling Club offers a quiet, private and elegant existence, not often found on this high-spirited Key. Its affable members enjoy an informal lifestyle that includes a 15 slip marina located bayside, three tennis courts, and a myriad of recreational opportunities. Realtor Ellen Wells acknowledges the special sense of community here, with an active social calendar that includes potluck suppers, welcome-back parties and holiday events throughout the year at the beach-side clubhouse. In the late afternoon, people will gather at their cabanas or on the terrace of the beach house, set up their lounge chairs, cook out on the grills, sip cocktails and watch the sunset.
Men’s and women’s tennis groups play regularly throughout the week. The members’ popular annual tennis tournament, the Pinny Cup, named after a former resident, is held in November. “Three generations of families plan their vacations around it, so you have 10-year-olds playing with 90-year-olds,” Wells says. Presently, the resident population is getting younger; recent buyers have been in their 40s and 50s.
If you are seeking an inspired way to live a coastal lifestyle, The Sanderling Club is
a unique place… where membership truly has its advantages!