Built in 1925 by developer Charles Ringling, the Terrace Administration Building is getting a breath of fresh air with renovations that are designed to both preserve history and increase utilization.
One of Sarasota County’s oldest buildings is all but obscured by a skeleton of scaffolding these days.
In fact, the historic Terrace Administration Building — once the renowned Sarasota Terrace Hotel and now home to the Supervisor of Elections and County Tax Collector — is undergoing two major renovations to both its 10th floor and roof.
According to County Project Manager Darryl Blair, the roof replacement is a necessity — its past its life expectancy and leaks have persisted since Hurricane Irma in 2017. The 10th floor, on the other hand, has been on the county's mind for years.
Once County Commissioners moved a few blocks west on Ringling Boulevard from their 10th floor chambers in 1996, the space became obsolete. Now, the county is now repurposing the floor and constructing four conference rooms for county and clientele use.
“The 10th floor is not original to the 1925 design of the building,” Sarasota County Historic Preservation Specialist Jorge Danta Spector said. “Originally it had a roof terrace and, in 1976, the tenth-floor addition was built. That’s when they converted it to county offices.”
But the historical aspect of the building will not be lost. In fact, in keeping the spirit of Charles Ringling alive — John Ringling's brother was the original developer of the building — one of the conference rooms will be named after him. The other conference rooms are to be named after other figures of historical significance to Sarasota, such as John Hamilton Gillespie, the first mayor of Sarasota, and Jack West, a prominent Sarasota architect.
Additionally, officials aim to maintain the building’s history through small details. For instance, the tenth-floor work includes new terracotta tiles that are meant to mirror the same tiles that were installed in 1976. The windows will also be replaced, though they, too, are going to maintain the same design as in the original plans from the 1970s.
The modernization aspect comes in with regard to equipment, electrical circuitry and code enforcement of the floor.
“We completely started everything anew,” Project Superintendent Gene Cook with DM Constructors said. “All new mechanical, all new drywall, all new stud walls. And so we’re in the process of completing the drywall and we’re in the process of also taking out the existing windows and installing new impact-rated windows back in.”
And between a new balcony, new tiles and the new roof, the prominent scaffolding was constructed not only to keep nearby pedestrians safe but also to allow construction workers full access.
“This is quite a project that we’ve taken on here,” Cook said. “We’ve had to build scaffolds from the ground floor all the way up to the roof. And we had to build a buck hoist (an external elevator) on top of that in order to transport manpower and materials from the ground floor up to the tenth floor and up to the roof. So, it’s been quite a challenging project.”
Both projects started in early January. The roof replacement is expected to reach completion in early spring. The 10th floor should be completed sometime in the early summer months.
But not much about the new work can change the meaning of the building to the community at large.
"This modernization project should take this historic building to a whole new experience," Blair said. “We’re proud of the building. It’s going to be a magnificent space and addition to the county’s portfolio.”