The condominium complex celebrated its 50th year with an anniversary party March 26.
Mari Gauff was there on the first day Sutton Place opened to condo owners. Her parents bought one of the first units in the Longboat Key condominium complex, and now, 50 years later, Gauff is still here. There used to be a diving board and shuffleboard court, and some other differences have cropped up since, but it’s still home to her and dozens of other residents.
The past, present and future mingled at the Sutton Place 50th anniversary party on March 26. More than 50 residents came to the clubhouse to eat, drink and reminisce. Several children of original owners, such as Gauff and her husband, Dick, attended and swapped stories from back in the day.
“Communal condo living was new,” Jane Celentano said. “Living with other people who also owned their own homes was new. You had to get along.”
For the most part, Celentano remembers nothing but harmony in the early days of Sutton Place, and the community learned how to live together. The people of Sutton Place even raised a child together — Janet and Bob Shapiro’s son was born and raised at the condo. The couple moved there in 1987.
“We were the only couple who raised a child there,” Janet Shapiro said. “I taught in Sarasota, and my son went to school there. Everybody in the community raised him, and they still ask about him and want to see him when he comes back.”
At the party, the social committee had found old newsletters, photos and documents from Sutton Place’s history, including the Florida Builders magazine from 1972, when Sutton Place was being constructed, and newsletters from the late 1980s announcing new condo presidents. Messages from the summer and autumn issue of 1988 included new laundry equipment, the unfortunate price increase in washing a load and the great deal management got on new maintenance carts — hot-button issues in communal living.
“One guy taught everyone how to fold a fitted sheet, because we would see each other in the communal laundry,” Celentano said. “To this day when I fold a fitted sheet, I think of that man.”
As their parents got older and moved elsewhere, the younger generation began to populate Sutton Place. Now, the complex is full of the second, third, fourth and so on generations of owners, who got together to celebrate their community.
There were golden anniversary decorations around the clubhouse and pool area, and an anniversary cake of course. Attendees browsed the old documents and future plans for the community and caught up over paella throughout the evening.
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