Paul Rudolph’s Walker Guest House Needs a New Owner—and Preservationist

Paul Rudolph’s Walker Guest House Needs a New Owner—and Preservationist

By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Designed by one of America’s leading midcentury architects, the Walker Guest House, main house, and beachfront property are available for $6,795,000.

Paul Rudolph—one of America’s leading midcentury architects—is celebrated for his contributions to Modernism and for his seminal role in defining the Sarasota of Architecture during the 1950s. 

Located on Sanibel Island, Florida, the 576-square-foot Walker Guest House was built in 1952 and was the first commission that the 34-year old Rudolph received after leaving his partnership with architect Ralph Twitchell. The cottage is the young architect's response to Mies van der Rohe’s iconic International Style work, the Farnsworth House

Rudolph used red cannonballs as weights to hold the home’s signature wood shutters in place.

According to the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, Rudolph described the guesthouse as one of his favorite homes, and was quoted as saying that the home "crouches like a spider in the sand." The cottage is also referred to as the "Cannonball House" because of Rudolph’s use of red cannonballs as weights to hold the home’s signature wood panels in place.

The house’s wood shutters allow residents to control how much privacy and light they want, while protecting the building from wind and rain.

The guesthouse’s shutters are controlled by a rigging system, similar to those found on sailboats, that allows residents to control how much privacy and shade they have. Rudolph himself described this feature as having a "snug cottage" or a "large screened pavilion"—a system which he perhaps saw as an improvement on the design of the Farnsworth house, which offered its inhabitants little privacy.

According to the listing, the cottage was recognized by the AIA Florida chapter’s Best Residential Building in the state.

The petite, open-plan guesthouse is divided by public and private space.

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The dining area and the entrance. 

The catch is that you can't just buy the guesthouse. The cottage is being sold together with the three-bed, three-and-a-half-bath main residence which sits on a 1.7-acre property with 200 feet of beachfront and Gulf of Mexico views for $6,795,000. 

The view towards the kitchen. 

The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation wants to spread word of the sale to help ensure that the property is sold to a buyer who appreciates the history of the guesthouse and is willing to preserve it. 

The cozy kitchen maintains a connection to the outdoors. 

The bedroom features expansive windows.

The shutters open and close, providing both privacy and shade. 

The bathroom.

The Walker Guest House floor plan

It is possible to tour a replica of the Walker Guest House at Modernism Week in Palm Springs: the Palm Springs Modern Committee relocated and reconstructed a full-scale replica, which is on loan from the Sarasota Architectural Foundation. 

Walker Guest House drawings

4143 W Gulf Drive and the Walker Guest House are now being listed for $6,795,000 by Jim Hall of VIP Realty Group. 

Related Reading: A Paul Rudolph-Designed Midcentury Is Rescued From Obscurity and Finally Completed

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