A Jay Peterson-designed home hits the market for $21 million
“Gimlets and Old Fashioneds,” Bill Croce’s favorite drinks, refuse to go out of style. But to mix it up, he and his wife, Elaine, don’t dare use one of the cocktail shakers on display in their home. No, the couple’s collection of 80- to 100-year-old cocktail shakers and antique stemware isn’t there for business — it’s there to please the eye.
The eye candy doesn’t stop there. The walls are decorated with 150 Art Deco posters, an impressive, extensive and expensive collection. Currently, 60 of them are on display in an exhibition at the Poster House Museum in Manhattan. Appreciate them while you can, though: They’re not included in the sale of the Crouses’ home at 8250 Sanderling Road in Siesta Key’s Sanderling Club, which would raise the $21 million listing price significantly.
As for the value of that sticker collection, “it’s the most important collection for almost everyone who knows anything about the subject,” Elaine says, though she wouldn’t share a firm number. Are the couple playing favorites? “If I had to choose, I could give you 50 favorites. But getting to less than that is difficult,” Bell says.
Even with some loaned posters, artwork is still everywhere throughout the house. The house itself is an award-winning piece of architecture. The Crouses purchased 8250 Sanderling Road in 2014 for $8.85 million. Famed local architect Jay Peterson, who designed it in 1996, returned to help the Crosses make it their own by redesigning the entire interior, down to the plumbing and electrical. Richard Gehry of Naples led the interior design. It was built by Michael K. Walker, who is free from fads, and the aesthetic denies linking him to any particular period.
Facing the Gulf of Mexico, the approximately 7,800-square-foot home is housed in a concrete pavilion with a glass curtain wall, composed of cubes set within a raw concrete frame. When it was occupied by the previous owners, each frame was colored to identify different functions (the orange cube was the children’s wing, for example). Concrete bridges connect the “cubes” inside. The Crosses replaced the color with white and layers of concrete. Cutouts and glass details define the facade. The box on the outside hides an electric generator and is painted with a mural inspired by Piet Mondrian.
Inside, the house is filled with art. The Crosses met on a blind date in New York City around 2000 and share a common interest in art of the 1920s and 1930s. Eileen Bell gave him his first antique cocktail shaker about 23 years ago for Christmas, and “I got carried away collecting them,” he says.
Eileen says she has always been drawn to the simplicity of the Art Deco style and finds this period fascinating, as luxury goods became available to the common person for the first time. Bill loves the clean geometric lines and bright colors of the period.
Bill, 81, is a venture capitalist and book author Art Deco Posters: Rare and iconic And Monaco Grand Prix car stickers. He is also the former global president of New Jersey-based Ortho Diagnostics and vice president of Johnson & Johnson International.
Eileen, 71, is a former AT&T marketing executive and a trustee at Ringling College of Art and Design and the All Star Children’s Foundation.
Before purchasing this home, the couple had lived on Casey Key for 10 years, in a house designed by architect Tim Seibert (an original member of the Sarasota School of Architecture), but wanted to expand to make room for their growing art collection. Because of their charitable work, they also needed space for social events. In fact, the second floor balcony can accommodate up to 150 people.
What was top of mind for me was design. “We’re very interested in the Sarasota School of Architecture,” Elaine says, which is an inspiration for Peterson’s work. After 44 years in the architectural field, Peterson says this house is “one of the most important homes he has created.” He still keeps the original drawings hanging in his home.
“Paul Rudolph’s fingerprint is on the Sanderling Club (he designed the cottages there), and this was the first house I designed there,” says Peterson. “I wanted to pay homage to the Sarasota School of Architecture and others, like Luis Barragán and Le Corbusier.” . “Although he was not the driving force, I have always been a fan of Mondrian’s later works with lines, colour, mass and emptiness. You could say that the emptiness of the house is the glass among the masses.” Local architect Leonardo Lunardi also worked on the renovation of the Cross Hotel, as did landscape architect John Wheeler.
The foyer has views of all levels of the house, combining glass, concrete, metal, teak and pure white. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the beach. A custom kitchen pays tribute to teak accents throughout the home, and a landscaped rooftop terrace overlooks the grounds.
Eileen feels that modern-style homes blend best with waterfront locations. Located on 1.54 acres, this site has 150 feet of bay frontage and more along Heron Lagoon, creating an estate that extends from bay to lagoon. Sanderling Club on Siesta Key also features a marina with boat docks.
Will downsizing affect the Crouses’ art collection? Not at all, it will just move it. The couple also collects Cubist oil paintings in their home in Pittsburgh, and the couple intends to mix and match them with other pieces of art once they sell that house and buy other homes in North Carolina and Sarasota.
They won’t compromise on their love of architecture either. “We think we have an opportunity to purchase another Peterson-designed home near the city,” Bell says.
So who is the ideal buyer for this unique address, especially in a property market that has become quiet since the buying frenzy of recent years. “This house is very specific,” says Joel Schimmel of Sotheby’s International Realty, who represented the Crouse family in the sale. “It will be someone who may not even know where Sarasota is but will gravitate toward a piece of architectural art. This type of house could predate the location.”
“It’s the sexiest list I’ve ever had,” he adds.
interested? Call Joel Schimmel of Sotheby’s International Realty at (941) 587-4894.