The Prices' home started life as a beach condo in the 1930s, and they tried to keep it true to its Old Florida roots.
What started out as a renovation became a rebuild and recently ended as a historic island treehouse.
Lori and David Price bought their Longbeach Village home in 2019, though they just moved in a few months ago. It’s Number Six of the original Whitney Beach Resort cottages which started life on the beach in the 1930s and moved across the street in the 1950s. It’s elevated above floodwaters and shrouded in mature palms and trees with dripping Spanish moss. It was a fixer-upper, but it captured the Prices, who were looking for a small, elevated waterfront home. Somehow, they found the one that ticked all the boxes.
“It is kind of old Florida,” Lori said. “David grew up in north Florida and when he saw this, he said, ‘This is Florida.’”
The Prices first came to Longbeach Village years ago when they would take their sailboat down from their home in St. Petersburg. Lori would walk the dog around the neighborhood when they were anchored off the Key and though she liked the little slice of Longboat, she never thought she and David would live there until they saw the listing in 2019. The house went on the market on a Sunday, they toured it on Monday, put an offer in on Tuesday and were the owners by Wednesday.
They started work in July 2020 and just got their final approval about a month ago. While their dream home was being redone, the Prices moved seven times in two years — from Bradenton Beach, to Linley Street, to their guest house, and so on — and all of their belongings were in storage. Finally, after they made their way into the house in April, they moved all their furniture and possessions in during June. As of mid-August, they were still finishing renovations and pouring concrete.
“We sometimes had seven carpenters working here at the same time,” David said.
“This was a carpenter’s dream,” Lori said. “They even thanked us while working on this. These guys were artists.”
The home still smells like a carpenter’s dream, too, like the pecky cypress wood that makes up the walls, newly vaulted ceiling and a couple doors. David saved the rough cypress from the inside and outside of the home as he worked on the demolition and filled it out with scraps from Sarasota Architectural Salvage. The heart pine floors are intact and the Prices rebuilt the original fireplace, too. They also put a roof over all three of the original buildings to be able to classify it as one home, thereby avoiding the multiple insurance policies they had. In the 1980s, a master bedroom and guest house were added, along with a pod on top of the home that they call the “nest.” It’s a bit tricky to find where you are in the home, and the Prices sometimes use a walkie-talkie system to find each other. Now that it’s done, it has the feel of a mountain cottage — just a short walk from the beach.
“It started as a renovation and became a rebuild,” Lori said.
“It’s really a restoration,” David said.
Having moved to St. Petersburg from New Orleans meant that the Prices knew how vital an elevated home can be in a storm-prone area. It was a must for them, and it’s already served them well. When the Village flooded during Hurricane Eta in November 2020, David Price had water up to his knees downstairs, but none of it got in the house. After that, their neighbor who also owns a Whitney cottage came over to check out the elevation for her own plans.
Not that the home is all high and dry. One of the biggest problems during the renovation was the complete lack of roof decking. The entire roof had to be taken off and redone because it wouldn’t keep the water out.
“I used to dread when it rained because we had to go around and put the buckets down, but I was thinking the other day that I love it when it rains now,” Lori said.
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