Saturday, September 18, 2010

Venetian High Rise in Florida

Architect Design™'s gorgeous September 1 posting on the OAS building, and his equally exciting September 6 posting on the Pan American building - both in Washington, D.C - inspired me to share the Snell Arcade with you. It was built 18 years after the other two (1928) but has some of the same decorative feel. And yet it is different; I would describe the Snell Arcade as Mediterranean Deco (my own label).

The Snell Arcade is at the main intersection of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Officially called the Rutland Building, it is familiar to one and all by the name of Snell. C. Perry Snell was a major developer of St. Petersburg, and it's clear that his own vision was to create on a grand European scale. He favored wide boulevards lined with statuary, and beautiful Mediterranean architecture.

Maybe this should be called Venetian Deco. What do you think?  I've always had a secret desire to completely dismantle the Snell Arcade and reassemble it into my own two-story house. Scale might be a problem, but I'd make it work.

Look at the narrow strips of blue tile between the courses of stone block! Would anyone have the panache to do that today?


The base of the Snell Arcade is made from coral, a practice that has been banned more recently, of course. In my next posting, I'll show you a little treasure inside the Snell Arcade.


  1. I agree the blue glazed terracotta is a beautiful detail amongst many.

    Could you sneak up to the top an take some photos from the balconies?

  2. Hi, Scott,

    Alas (for us), the upper floors have been turned into very nice condos, and are no longer open to the public.

  3. Fabulous detail, a stunning building!

    Art by Karena

  4. Thanks for visiting, Karena! I'll share some of the tile work with you when we deconstruct the building and move it to my place.

  5. To answer your question, nobody has the panache to do it today.

    I admire such buildings. I like the quality materials, the workmanship, and the interesting Venetian design. Your photos are great, and it is also interesting to see the vintage postcard and how the building looked at the time it was built without dull International style modern buildings around it.

    Nowadays, designers and architects speak disparagingly of period or period derived styles. In fact, they don’t have the craftspeople, the budget, the education, time to devote, or the years of European design background to even come close to creating such fanciful, detailed buildings or interiors. Yet as soon as a Manhattan penthouse has Rosario Candela detail, or an ocean front home is by Addison Mizner, they’re all over themselves to note the historic, period detail and style. And the public obviously loves it.

    Look at how well these buildings have stood up after decades of weathering, and how they entertain the eye with their interesting detail. It is an outstanding building.

    I appreciate the image of the coral showing the fossils/shells in it. Viewing such details brings the reader much closer to the feeling of the building and understanding it.

    Very much enjoyed the article and images. Thank you.

  6. Thanks for your comments, Square with Flair. And thank goodness we have a very active historic preservation group in our city. They keep busy.

  7. FABULOUS building; ingenius design! I totally agree with you that it would be 'Venetian Deco' but I also so strongly see the Beaux Arts roots, don't you? This is so evocative of late 20's architecture which in part stemmed from Beaux Arts Classisicm. In fact, this is very evocative of much of Paul Cret's later works! Thank you so much for sharing :-)

  8. Thanks, Stefan! I could see one doing a wonderful post that was an illustrated time line of 20's architecture. What if it were the same building, as it would look in different styles?

  9. ... and thanks to my secret proof reader! Oops!

  10. an inspired building and I definitely see Beaux Arts influences here. the blue tile, the coral, those 2 details go far in making my own abode a happy one.

  11. Thanks for visiting - I promise to share more of Mr. Snell in future blogs.

  12. Awesome building! Thanks for posting. I understand the top floor of the building is undeveloped and for sale!