Ruth Richmond

Over the years I have sold quite a few homes built by Richmond Homes. Some were in Sarasota, some in Nokomis, some in Venice and some on Siesta Key. So what is the story about Richmond Homes? Well Ruth Richmond was an interior designer and a general contractor. She was born in Brooklyn New York in 1912 and she studied art and advertising in New York City. Ruth and her husband Larry built thousands of homes in Sarasota Florida and the surrounding areas from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. In 1976 one of their models was noted in “Newsweek” magazine as one of the best home values in the country. While helping her husband prepare to take the test to become a licensed general contractor in Florida, Richmond decided to take the test herself. Ruth Richmond became the first woman in Florida to earn a grade “A” contractor’s license. She helped the home buyers personalize the ranch homes they were building for them. One of her slogan’s was “Live Better in the Best”. Ruth believed in the personal touch and each new homeowner was given a gift every 6 months for the first two years in their new homes. I love that thought. Ruth sketched many of the company’s model homes. Ruth Richmond received 14 national home and interior design awards, and in 1970 was presented the “Woman of Achievement Award in Construction” in Washington, D.C. Ruth was one of several interior designers invited by Jacqueline Kennedy to the White House in 1961 to offer redecorating tips for the formal reception room.

Ruth Richmond doorknow

Lucite knobs. One of the trademarks of Ruth Richmond homes

Richmond Homes built ranch style homes that were built for the Southwest Florida lifestyle and she used many innovative designs and design elements. It is said that she picked up the word “lanai” on a trip to Hawaii and that she coined the word for her Florida homes thinking that it sounded better than a screened porch. Most of her homes oriented around a screened lanai. Some of the other features that Ruth Richmond popularized are double door front entries, sliding glass doors that pocketed, pass-through windows, terrazzo floors, Formica kitchen cabinets, greenhouse windows in the kitchen, raised vanities in the bathrooms, built-in wooden medicine cabinets in the bathrooms with louvered doors and towel bars recessed into the wall for safety, unique

Ruth Richmond medicine cabinet

Trademark Ruth Richmond recessed medicine cabinet and towel bar

tile designs and of course her trademark acrylic or lucite door knobs and door cabinet pulls. They were from a company called Weiser. She helped introduce Formica as an easier-to-clean alternative to painted cupboards, and favored upgrading bathrooms with his-and-her sinks, and vanities that replaced exposed sinks. One of the upgrades I still see often is the rope trim on the closet rod shelves.  Richmond Homes usually built their houses with 7 ½ foot ceilings. It is said that Ruth felt vaulted ceilings made occupants feel unimportant. She was also very materials conscious trying always to keep the homes affordable.

Ryan Homes purchased the business from the Richmonds in 1978. Ironically a young man from Michigan came down here to work there. His name was John Cannon, who is now one of the most respected builders in our area.

Ruth Richmond died at the age of 94. I always try to point out the history of Richmond Homes to our clients. Some find it interesting and attempt to maintain the unique features. Many of the homes have been updated and the original features changed. I guess, “That is progress”.

Be sure and contact us to find your dream home in Sarasota Florida and the surrounding areas. Call 941.321.3916 or go to

by Beverly Z Bowen

2 comments to Ruth Richmond

  • Sandi Kelly  says:

    I have a Ruth Richmond home and love it. The unique design of the interior makes the house so much different than your “regular” ranch. Another point is the large overhangs keeps your house cooler and reduces your electric bill.
    I am so glad to own one of her homes.

    • Beverly Bowen  says:

      Thanks for sharing your love of your Ruth Richmond home. There are so many special features like you mentioned. Ruth Richmond was certainly ahead of her time. We are delighted to meet people that appreciate her homes. We just sold one in Venice and one in Nokomis and we were fortunate to have the original blueprints to stay with the house. Very exciting.

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