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Chicago Paper Tells of Mrs. Palmer's Winter Home on Sarasota Bay

Articles: Sarasota History

Author: Chicago Examiner
Photo Credit: Sarasota Times
Credit: Sarasota County History Center

Sarasota History - Chicago Paper Tells of Mrs. Palmer's Winter Home on Sarasota Bay photo

With the foresight equal to that one might expect from the shrewdest financier of modern times, Mrs. Potter Palmer has just closed a deal that gives her complete control of 70,000 acres of Florida's richest virgin soil.

Yes, I know what you are going to say: “Some clever businessman closed the deal for her.”

Nothing of the kind!

To be sure she employed an experienced surveyor to ‘cruise the land' and make an estimate of the value of timber contained on the entire tract.

No one will question the fact that she employed an expert to analyze the soils, to ascertain the percentage of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and sulphur it contained, without which elements not a grain of wheat or kernel of corn can be raised.

It is a foregone conclusion that all of these figures were submitted to Mrs. Palmer before a legal document was signed. Furthermore, she inspected personally the entire tract before instructing her attorney to pass on the titles. Since the legal documents were recorded that transferred this great body of land to the leader of Chicago's smart set, there has not been the slightest rumor afloat among the ‘knowing ones' that would discredit Mrs. Palmer's judgment in closing up this big land deal on the basis mutually agreed upon.

On the contrary, it is generally understood that Mrs. Palmer has demonstrated shrewdness in handling business propositions that some of our Napoleons of finance might adopt and at the same time improve their financial standing.

Mrs. Palmer has traveled from coast to coast and visited nearly all the dreamland spots on this continent, in search of an ideal location to build a beautiful winter home and beautify a great landed estate to be handed down to posterity.

She has not only investigated the natural beauties and resources of America's most famous resorts and witnessed the great golden sunsets and sapphire skies from the deep blue waters of the bay of Naples.

Italy's fairy islands and picturesque mountains were Mrs. Palmer's favorite places of interest during her trips abroad.

After spending several weeks and months investigating the natural advantages offered in various parts of the United States, Mrs. Palmer has decided that beautiful Sarasota Bay on the Gulf Coast of Florida, with its delightful climate, golden sunsets, palm, orange and grapefruit groves and stately pines, is the ideal spot, where nature has prepared a paradise for the winter home builder.

Mrs. Palmer's holdings are located in Hillsborough and Manatee counties.

The land in Hillsborough County includes a 19,000-acre tract which joins the North Tampa Land Company's 21,000-acre tract. This company on the scene before Mrs. Palmer, naturally had first choice of the desirable lands in this section. Part of the land is located within four miles of the city limits of Tampa.

The Palmer land in Manatee County is east and south of Sarasota, a famous summer and winter resort for Floridians on beautiful Sarasota Bay, fifty miles south of Tampa on the Gulf coast. The Seaboard Air Line Railroad has surveyed and graded an extension of its line through this property southwest to the town of Venice. Four miles of rails have been laid to the first station south of Fruitville, named Palmer, in honor of Mrs. Palmer.

She has in Sarasota at present her architect and landscape gardener from Boston, who are making sketches and gathering information on the ground as a preliminary to the laying out of a winter home and estate.

The spot selected is at Osprey, twelve miles below Sarasota on the bay, and known as the Webb place. It is beautifully located on a neck of land with groves of virgin trees on the property. Mrs. Palmer has stated that the Gulf Coast of Florida with a little cultivation will rival the fairest spots of Europe, being far prettier in natural beauty than the famous spots of Italy and Spain, and much more desirable than Pasadena or other California resorts.

Sarasota Bay, she says is prettier by day or night than the famous Bay of Naples.

Mrs. Palmer intends locating in this section permanently and has induced many of her friends to buy and improve property near her. Separate houses will be built for members of her family.

An era of prosperity has advanced this section to such an extent that land values are increasing rapidly. The land is dotted with groves and cultivated farms. This section seems to attract Northern people, especially of the better classes.

Hunting, fishing and sailing to one's heart's content and many golf courses and beautiful drives help to make the spot attractive.

Among the Chicago people owning groves in this section are Earl MacNair, Mann, E.H. Burch, E.C. Bode, W.B. Towles, W.A. Beckler, Mrs. Dodge, Charles S. Painter, Mr. Obermiller, Owen Burns and W.D. Burch.

These people make annual pilgrimages to this land of milk and honey, where values double during the year. It is destined to become the rich man's winter playground for all time to come.

Florida is growing by leaps and bounds. The iron fingers of commerce are reaching out in all directions, preparing to take care of the increased production of bounteous crops by the army of new homebuilders. Marvelous development work is evidenced in all parts of the state. The music of hammer and saw is heard in all directions.

Legions of workers from the north who haven't had time to become acclimated to the glorious Florida winter, have thrown off their heavy woolens for lighter wearing apparel, rolled up their sleeves and are busy surveying, dredging, cultivating, planting and doing the work that will pay the largest dividend on the energy and time consumed.

They have all come to Florida with the one fixed purpose, and that is to secure independence for life. Mingle with them, talk with them and you will be convinced that they are from the same stock of pioneers that settled the great Mississippi and Missouri valleys and beyond, built an empire out of the mighty western country, which is now on the eve of its fullest greatness. Study their faces closely and you will see written there the characteristics of determination that will win success under any circumstances. They are home builders that have come to Florida not only to make a comfortable living for themselves but to lay by a generous annuity for their families after old age shall have taken away their earning power.

In Florida the new home builder does not experience the hardships of the early settlers in the West. Here he finds a climate where he can live in a tent during the entire year, if he so desires. He can ride to the very door of his new home in a Pullman car from Chicago, in thirty-six hours.

The old-time prairie schooner does not enter into the problem of transportation, as the seeker of opportunity experienced during the early days of settling up the West. Pioneering in Florida today is more like an outing as compared with the hardships experienced by early settlers.

When thoroughly cultivated, Florida will produce more new wealth than any state in the country similar in size. Today only 6 percent of the 85,000,000 acres of Florida land is under cultivation, yet millions of new wealth is produced yearly.  – Chicago Examiner