ABOUT THIS HOUSE
• Location: Old Naples
• Year built: 1952; architect Nat Cornwell of Fort Myers
• Size: 2,100 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, kitchen, dining and living rooms.
Photo by COURTNEY POTTER
Art devotees Richard Tooke, left, and Charles Marshall recline in the sitting room of their Gulf Shore Boulevard home, “Casananas,” on Friday, July 25, 2008. Tooke and Marshall have decorated their house with more than 150 paintings and sculptures. “I get my inspiration from a blank wall,” Marshall said.
Photo by COURTNEY POTTER
Art devotees Richard Tooke and Charles Marshall have filled their house with more than 150 paintings and sculptures. “That doesn’t include the furniture and trinkets we have acquired from traveling,” Tooke said. Marshall and Tooke moved to the Gulf Shore Boulevard home 15 years ago to retire. “The house just sort of evolved,” Tooke said.
Photo by COURTNEY POTTER
Charles Marshall and Richard Tooke have filled their home with beautiful works of art on the inside and outside. They dot their garden with sculptures and grow exotic fruit such as pineapple in their front yard. “We named the house Casananas; casa meaning ‘house’ and ‘anana’ meaning ‘pineapple,’ because my aunt always grew pineapples,” Tooke said.
NAPLES — On a large city lot on the east side of Gulfshore Boulevard North stands a seemingly modest house typical of early 50s architecture. The front lawn, an expansive green carpet surrounding indigenous palms and other native plantings, leads to an elongated front porch where a welcoming flag proclaims “Casananas” in bold green lettering below a stylized pineapple logo.
The name — a Spanish-language contraction of casa, or house, and ananas, pineapple — and comfortable seating set the tone for daily sunset watching by owner Richard L. Tooke and his partner, Charles L. Marshall, Jr. A glimpse of the sunset may be a bit harder now, but when it was built there was only a small pond across the boulevard that permitted a clear view of the beach and the Gulf of Mexico.
Tooke purchased the property in 1993 following the death of his aunt, Mamie Tooke, who was Naples — and Florida’s — first female bank president. But it wasn’t until 1999, after retiring from a 30-year career with the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, that Tooke relocated to Naples, along with Marshall.
The pair had met in New York City in 1960 and within months had established an enduring friendship based in part on their shared interests in the graphic and performing arts. Marshall, a Topeka, Kansas, native, was longtime architect for the New York-based Presbyterian Board of National Missions.
Inside and out, their Old Naples property literally breathes art.
The diminutive, 109-square-foot galley kitchen is a chef’s dreamscape, and the art starts here. K. Auster’s “Pineapple Express” painting, and “Portrait of a Red Pepper “ by Hyunsoo hang above one entry door. There’s a hand-tinted carrots etching by Larry Glasson. Two years ago the two hired designer Susan Oakley to push the post-World War II home’s kitchen into the new millennium. Now, frosted sliding glass doors front the illuminated pantry, where custom slots accommodate a MoMa stepladder, a small wine cooler, and shelving for glassware and the usual pantry contents.
After shopping for appliances, the three realized that only European appliances work in such limited space. Their absolute favorite is a combo Miele “speed oven”— an all-in-one microwave, broiler and convection oven no larger than a standard microwave.
Coffee fanciers may covet the glitzy red Illy espresso machine with its accompanying blue-and-white cups and saucers. Compact stainless steel appliances predominate, as does gleaming stainless steel open shelving, wall paneling, back splash and exhaust hood over the surface cooker. Counter tops are honed limestone and cupboard fronts are fashioned from natural, high-gloss beech. Upswing doors on high cupboards encircle the room. Tooke refers to matching photographs to efficiently locate their contents.
Dinnerware and pots and pans are stored in several levels of under-counter drawers. That leaves abundant space for a picture window above the stainless steel sinks providing a view out toward the emerald lawn.
The original cork kitchen floor was severely damaged during 1960 Hurricane Donna. During the renovation, Oakley found natural cork tiles that, like bamboo flooring, are a renewable resource that’s kind to feet and legs. The tiles extend from the kitchen though the dining room, which had been extended by 8 feet to the east in 1986 to incorporate a screened porch into indoor living space. The tiles “float” on concrete, and plain old tap water and a chamois mop keep them in tip-top condition, Marshall says.
A large picture window brings the outdoors in for both diners and those who lounge in the multi-purpose room, Many of the furnishings in this area are vintage collectibles — some dating back to the 20s — including seating, coffee and side tables, lighting fixtures, and vases and clocks discovered in antique shops, flea markets, garage sales and the like. Both Marshall and Tooke have discerning eyes for precious pieces with bargain price tags. Standout names among the furniture makers include Mies van der Rohe, Charles and Ray Eames and Eero Saarinen.
Here as throughout the entire house, white walls showcase masses of works by more than 75 artists in the eclectic Tooke-Marshall collection. WORKS by both nationally and internationally recognized masters are featured. Interspersed among these are Marshall’s own watercolors, Tooke’s oils and photos, and local creations from the studios of MUMTAZ (Nancy Gifford), Jo-Ann Lizio and former area resident Christopher Poehlmann. Jonathan Green is represented, as is the late Robert Rauschenberg.
The living room is located up several original, wide oak steps and beyond a long, low white brick divider “planted” with synthetic grass squares from Michaels Arts & Crafts on Pine Ridge Road. The rectangular room extends from the front door between a player piano on the right and a working fireplace on the left and carries on through to an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling glass sliders facing the east garden.
A brilliant blue, trapezoidal wall panel stands out above tall, glass sliders to an outdoor terrace that’s also accessible from the master bedroom. The blue accent replicates the blue of the upholstery fabric of a nearby Florence Knoll chair. Cadmium red panels on the opposite wall mark another departure from the home’s otherwise stark white walls. There are no curtains or drapes anywhere in the house — only shades.
The warm oak floors continue on throughout the remainder of the main house, including an art-enhanced narrow hallway with an old-fashioned telephone niche. Marshall explains that it was referred to as the “communications center” back when the house was built. The original 1950s full bath and 10-by-12-foot guest room cum library is where Marshall stores his collection of 130 piano rolls and antique replica metal automobile piggy banks.
The master bedroom suite showcases yet more art work along with family photos and mementoes. Those includes Tooke’s entirely local shell collection, which contains brilliantly hued tree snail shells. Another small, ensuite bedroom with pullman kitchen and Murphy bed generally functions as working office space and is obviously the home’s nerve center.
The north garden is a fruit salad of plantings, with mangos, tangerines, oranges, bananas and calamondins in profusion during their respective seasons.
Art, however, dominates the north and east gardens. Pennsylvania-based artist Steve Tobin’s massive, recently acquired “White Rainbow Root” dominates views from indoors and out. Weighing some 800 pounds, the painted steel sculpture is at once both flowing and forceful.
A small, bright red Tobin metal sculpture nestles in a bed of living plants as does one of his large, signature “exploded”clay bowls. Wind chimes and Solari bells are suspended above. With Tooke and Marshall in it, the house is now fully air conditioned. Still, ceiling fans, built-in screened louvers and a funky 40s hassock fan come in handy during transitional seasons. That 50’s design is what they most love about their house, Marshall succinctly and emphatically says. Tooke agrees.
“From the very first time I saw the house in 1956 when I stayed with my aunt for several months, I immediately knew that it was a good, very livable Florida home.”