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Calvin N. Payne

Articles: Sarasota History

Author: Sarasota County History Center
Photo Credit: Sarasota County History Center
Credit: Sarasota County History Center

Sarasota History - Calvin N. Payne photo

Calvin and Martha Payne, winter residents from 1917 to 1926, were said to have given Sarasota the finest gift it ever received.    In 1925 they donated 60 acres of centrally located land, valued at $250,000, to be used for a public park. Located at East Avenue and Adams Lane, part of the land is used for a skateboard park today.  

Beginning with the New York Giants in 1924, Payne Park was used for Major League spring training until 1988 when the Ed Smith Stadium was built.  The Boston Red Sox practiced there for 25 years.  The Chicago White Sox were the last to use Payne Park.

The Paynes lifted their use restrictions on 14 of the 60 acres so the city could sell the land for $150,000.  The funds were used to acquire 290 acres north of Fruitville Road for a municipal golf course.  It became the Bobby Jones Golf Course, which opened in 1927.

A few years earlier Payne had purchased 7 acres along Sarasota Bay at 10th St.  To move fishermen from the downtown waterfront, he had a basin dredged, built docks, and brought in a siding from the Seaboard Air Line Railroad.  With a $60,000 bond issue, the city purchased the area and named it Payne Terminal.  Now Centennial Park, it is widely used by boaters.

Today boaters, golfers, baseball fans, and skateboarders all enjoy the generosity of Calvin Payne, a man whose life was a “rags to riches” story.


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