Bee Ridge's Tatum House
Articles: Sarasota History
Tucked away in the historic community of Bee Ridge there remains a simple wooden home that provides a link to Sarasota's early rural history. Built circa 1890 by William Harvey Tatum, son-in-law of Bee Ridge's first settler, the home is typical of turn-of-the century residences in rural Florida.
Simply constructed, the Tatum house was built using available materials, pine and cypress that were cut with a portable saw mill. The Tatum house still rests on its original wood foundation piers, and shows evidence of its wood shingle roof. Several windows in each wall allow for cross ventilation and large porches provide comfortable outdoor living spaces during the summer.
The community of Bee Ridge is located between Bee Ridge and Clark roads, Phillippi Creek on the west and Cowpen Slough on the east. It was named Bee Ridge because of the high, inland, sandy ridges and marshes present there, and the large number of bee swarms.
The Bee Ridge community's first settler was Isaac, Alderman Redd, who came to Sarasota during the Third Seminole War, 1856-57 and returned permanently with his family in 1867. The Redd family lived in a number of places, but by October 3, 1877, the state of Florida sold Elinor E. Redd 41 acres for $1 an acre. This property on Bliss Road is now part of Emerald Gardens subdivision.
Isaac Redd's daughter Laura Fedonia Redd Rawls married her second husband, William Harvey Tatum, in 1885. They settled north of Proctor Road, near today's Lakeview Elementary School. It was there that William Harvey Tatum built the rural homestead where they raised her five children, and eight of their own.
Homes like the Tatum house have been gaining attention in the popular press as some architects and builders have begun to look toward historical precedents for new designs. Popularly called "Florida Cracker" by some, it refers to the simple architecture found on farms and in rural communities still scattered throughout Florida.
For information on the Bee Ridge community and a map that indicates the location of historic landmarks there, visit the Bee Ridge marker erected by the Sarasota County Historical Commission in 1991. It is on the property of the Bee Ridge Presbyterian Church at Proctor and McIntosh Roads.
Special Thanks to Lorrie Muldowney, County Historic Preservation Specialist, Sarasota County History Center for her research and time devoted to writing this article.
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Construction of the Bee Ridge Hotel in 1914 symbolized the growth of the Bee Ridge Community in the second decade of the 20th Century. Pioneer families had been living in the area since the Civil War, but it was not until 1912, with the platting of the “Town of Bee Ridge,” that the area was promoted for speedy development.