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Built in 1926, this storybook home in Lake County is utterly charming

This storybook cottage locals in Sorrento have dubbed “The Gingerbread House” is available for the first time in 40 years, priced at $500,000.
This storybook cottage locals in Sorrento have dubbed “The Gingerbread House” is available for the first time in 40 years, priced at $500,000. (Realtor.com)

A storybook house locals have dubbed “The Gingerbread House” is available for the first time in 40 years.

On the market for $500,000, the charming Tudor home on County Road 435 in Sorrento comes with quite a history.

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“It is one of about five or six remaining homes that were designed by Sam Stoltz back in the 1920s,” says the current owner, Mary St. Clair. “[Stoltz] was an artist as well as an architect, and brought his signatures into most all of those homes.”

Some of the signatures of the so-called “Plymouthonian” homes (so named because they are close to Mount Plymouth, FL) are murals on the walls, abundant use of pecky cypress, rounded edges, and pointed archways.

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Built in 1926, this 1,346-square-foot home on almost an acre incorporates all of those Stoltz signature elements. The original murals are one highlight.

The house was designed by artist and architect Sam Stoltz in the 1920s and is one of the few with many of his signature features intact.
The house was designed by artist and architect Sam Stoltz in the 1920s and is one of the few with many of his signature features intact. (Realtor.com)

“The flamingo over the garage is all original, and it’s still the original paint. There’s also one that is inset into the outside chimney that is original as well,” St. Clair says.

Inside, on the facing of the fireplace, is a mural of a big fish, with Stoltz’s initials on it.

Stoltz lived in this home for a few years before selling it to a local doctor. St. Clair bought it in 1981, and as far as she knows, there weren’t many owners between the doctor and her. That means most of the home’s original details remain intact.

The two bedrooms and the uniquely painted bathroom can be found up the pecky cypress staircase.

Some folks have been turned off by the photos of the paint in the bathroom, but it’s strictly paint on the walls.

“It’s not mold, I’ve seen some of the comments about it,” St. Clair jokes. “It’s like a sponged-on type of paint. It’s blotchy, and it’s supposed to be that way.”

There are also some birds and other paintings in the bathroom.

“That’s all original. I did not change the wall paint at all, because it was too unique. To me, that is part of the artsy-ness of Sam Stoltz, and I wouldn’t change that,” the owner adds.

Mosaic tile floors in some rooms on the lower level and the brown tile in the upstairs bathroom are also unique to Stoltz.

“It’s Italian tile and is very thick compared to today’s tile,” she says. “That’s another trademark that you will find in some of the other Plymouthonian homes.”

In the kitchen are newer cabinets and a unique archway.

“It’s forming the corner of kind of an entryway into this alcove, where you can put a table,” St. Clair explains. “When I had the cabinets put in, the contractor asked me if I wanted to remove it to increase floor space. I said no because it is part of the character of the house.”

One other quirky twist? There are no square edges.

The seller preserved the original tile and faux painting in the bathroom and throughout the home.
The seller preserved the original tile and faux painting in the bathroom and throughout the home. (Realtor.com)

“Almost all the edges in the place are rounded,” St.Clair explains. “If you took the curves out and put in angles, you would no longer have the characteristic of this storybook home. It kind of makes you think of a little hobbit home.”

St. Clair raised two children in the home and told us that she’s heartbroken to be selling it, but that the stairs became a little too much for her.

“The perfect buyer is somebody who has the same kind of love for old historical homes,” she says. “My hope is that somebody will come in and continue the restoration, but I’d hate to see it damaged or modernized too much. I’d hate to have someone take away the historical value, and I know it would crush the community as well.”

The house certainly grabs attention from the locals.

“Everybody has gone past it on the way to the nearby springs that are so popular,” she says. “People pull off the road frequently to ask if it’s all right to take pictures and just stop and look at it. It’s iconic. It’s a landmark in the area.”

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