- October 7, 2020
There's more to a community than concrete and lumber. That's evident in the difference between a building and a home, and that was the whole point of a celebration last week at Seaplace, which marked its 50th anniversary.
“We’re not celebrating the day we put a shovel in the ground. That’s not what this is about,” Committee chair Donna Cornell said. “We’re celebrating 50 years of joy and love and living and experiences.”
More than 200 residents, former residents and invited guests gathered at the clubhouse to reminisce and create another memory for the condominium community's 50th anniversary celebration.
Condo board member Sandy Endres bought her unit in 1977. She was introduced to Longboat Key by Murf Klauber when they were both residents of Buffalo, New York.
Endres worked for Eastern Airlines, and Klauber was a local orthodontist. He was also the CEO of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort.
“My husband’s family had travel offices, so we used to upgrade him to first class on Eastern all the time, and my husband booked tennis groups,” Endres said, “So Murf said any time you want a sabbatical down at the Colony—well, we did it three times. The third time, it was a rainy day. That’s when we bought our condo.”
Endres has been a full time Longboat Key resident for the past 10 years. While her condo unit has been remodeled a few times since, she’s been quite happy with her purchase. And she’s not alone.
“Think about all the individuals that you know that either are original owners or they’re families of original owners. People don’t leave. There are generations of people that have been here,” Board President Susan Pariseau said. “It’s one of those things. Seaplace is a very caring and friendly place, and I think that’s what we’re known for and what differentiates us from the rest.”
When residents do leave, they often come back. Mary Saunders was another long-time owner in attendance. She and her husband bought in 1978, but lived and worked in Toronto their whole lives. She was a teacher, then a principal.
“We came down in early July when school got out for a few weeks and then whenever we could after that,” Saunders said.
The Saunders sold their unit in 2017 and have rented in other complexes on Longboat since. This winter’s stay will be their longest yet.
“Because we missed our friends here, we decided we’d come down this year to Seaplace. We rented for two months,” Saunders said.
The fond sentiment flowed throughout the clubhouse. Collages of sepia-toned pictures and newspaper clippings were handcrafted and displayed on big poster boards. Attendees were leafing through old photo albums and writing notes to a time capsule.
Jerry Lutgen made a video of photos recent enough to come in digital format that played on a loop throughout the festivities. He also had the idea for the time capsule and gathered documents, pictures and newspaper articles to bury inside.
“We basically have stuff from the beginning from ‘73 up to the present. There’s a range of ages that are represented,” Lutgen said. “People are writing personal notes to the future.”
The time capsule is still above ground waiting on a group photo from the party and this edition of the Longboat Observer.
Jeffrey Werner offered the history of Seaplace predating 1973.
It began in 1958 when Arthur Vining Davis started his namesake company Arvida. The following year, Arvida purchased 2,000 acres that included the southern half of Longboat Key, most of Lido Key and all of Bird, Otter and Coon keys from the John Ringling estate. The price tag was an estimated $13.5 million.
In 1971, Charles “Chuck” Cobb was hired to develop sustainable communities with infrastructure, which weren’t commonplace for the time.
“During his 16 years at Arvida, the company developed multiple condominiums on the island including Seaplace, Longboat Key Towers, Beachplace, Inn on the Beach, Fairway Bay, Sunset Beach, Grand Bay and hundreds of single-family homes in Bay Isles,” Werner said.
But the next thing Werner said sent a roaring cackle throughout the crowd.
“Cobb exercised caution on Longboat Key, knowing that residents and commissioners were concerned with traffic and seemed hesitant to increase tourism on the island.”