Referred to by the name of the man who built it, the Sandlin house is one of Punta Gorda’s most treasured historic houses located in the downtown historic district.
The Sandlin House was built in 1893 by early merchant, shipper and developer, and town mayor James Sandlin. With it’s gingerbread trim and wrap-around porch, the stately house is a stunning example of an old grand Floridian house. Situated on Retta Esplanade, the house was built near the frontage of the harbor before land had been filled to extend the depth of the parks lining the bay. The widow’s walk at the top of the home gave Mr. Sandlin a vantage point from which he could observe vessels bringing his merchandise to a nearby dock.
Sandlin came to the area before Isaac Trabue platted the town that became Punta Gorda. He originally lived on Alligator Creek. He and his wife, Mary Lula Seward, had six children. Their first, who died in infancy, was the first child born in the new city of Punta Gorda. Another boy, their second child, Felix, died at twelve.
In 1909, Sandlin’s daughter, 14-year-old Mary, died in a fire at the house while pressing clothes using a gasoline-powered flat iron. The gasoline spilled onto Mary, catching fire. According to local legend, Mary’s ghost continues to haunt the house.
James Sandlin died in 1903.