City wins state historic preservation grant to help it pay for improvements to Federal Building

Hurricane protection for windows and new air-cooling equipment to be installed, along with restoration of balustrades

The Federal Building is a landmark in downtown Sarasota. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

The City of Sarasota has been awarded “a significant historic preservation grant from the State of Florida” to help cover the cost of improvements to the city-owned Federal Building, located at the intersection of Orange Avenue and Ringling Boulevard in downtown Sarasota, City Manager Tom Barwin announced in his July 14 newsletter.

The city will receive a $297,000 grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources, Barwin wrote, and the city will provide a match of approximately $148,000. Altogether, he continued, $445,000 will be invested in the building, which was constructed in 1934 as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s WPA job creation program.

Originally a U.S. post office, the Federal Building has been on the National Register of  Historic Places since 1984, Barwin noted, calling it “an architectural gem.”

The grant will fund the hardening of the building through use of removable hurricane screens for 63 windows, Barwin pointed out. Additionally, new equipment will be installed to improve the cooling of the air, the balustrades will be restored and the building’s exterior will be cleaned, he wrote.

State staff reviewed 87 applications for possible funding and approved just 16, including the one for the Federal Building, he noted. “That’s great news for our community and this significant Sarasota landmark!”

“Congratulations to the City’s grant writer, Laura Wittenbauer, who did the heavy lifting submitting the application,” Barwin added. She also helped land a $500,000 historic preservation grant last year for renovations to the Municipal Auditorium and Bayfront Community Center, he pointed out. “Without these significant state grants, it would be a financial challenge for the City to renovate and preserve these stunning historic landmarks,” he wrote.