Mindful not to relive the past, but instead to celebrate its elegance, the historic Villa am Meer is to be restored as Aria’s centerpiece, an exclusive beachfront Residents Club.
The history of Villa am Meer is an epic American story of rags to riches and reinvention. It is the story of an immigrant who arrived from his native Germany with little more than a chemist’s degree and the vision and determination to succeed in his new homeland.
Dr. Hermann Kohl and his wife, Hertha, opened a perfume business in the mid-1920s, ran afoul of the law during Prohibition and later invested in a small citrus business that later grew into – Tropicana. Childless, he and his wife adopted their gardener’s daughter, educated her and made her their heir. Along the way Kohl bought real estate. One of those properties, if legend is to be believed, was purchased from circus king John Ringling. He built a house on the stunning estate, designed by Dwight Baum, architect of the Ringling’s own Sarasota estate.
Resplendent with hand-painted tiles, stained-glass windows and a spiral staircase that led to a rooftop patio, the house was named Villa am Meer, German for “mansion by the sea.” The Kohls’ adopted daughter became a successful businesswoman and noted philanthropist. She and her husband had 6 daughters, 15 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. One can imagine them gathered together here, playing in the warm gulf waters, building castles in the sand, watching sunsets from the rooftop patio.
The estate changed hands a number of times until it came to Ascentia Development’s Jay Tallman, another man of vision and determination. He is restoring the Villa to create a place worthy of this estate’s storied history.
The Villa Invigorated
The Residents Club will be the natural social heart of the Aria experience, a lovingly restored villa transformed with an inviting gathering room, fireplace, wine storage, private dining room and caterer’s kitchen. There is a covered terrace and fire pit – it is an environment certain to host lively reunions, impromptu parties and intimate affairs. One can imagine a beachfront wedding, anniversaries – all made ever so much more special in a place 80 years in the making, and now, magnificently restored. An added amenity is a beachside guest suite available for visiting friends and family.