Buildings: Sarasota History
The Bidwell-Wood House is located at 1260 12th Street and is a one and one-half story Classical Revival, wood-frame structure with a Georgian floor plan, built in 1882. The house formerly was located at 881 Florida Avenue, and prior to that, 900 S. Euclid Avenue, and prior to that it stood near the intersection of U.S. 41 and Wood Street. It was moved to its' current new home in Pioneer Park in October of 2006.
Construction of the house began in 1882 on an 80 acre tract which was purchased from the State of Florida by May B. Bidwell. A housewarming occurred Christmas Eve of 1881, but the structure was finished by the Wood family of Rhode Island who purchased the home and 70 acres in 1896. The restoration of the home by the Historical Society of Sarasota County was based on the Wood occupation as the "peak completion" stage.
The Bidwell-Wood house is among the earliest documented structures of the area's exploration/settlement phase. The Classical Revival style was the vernacular at the time of construction yet today the structure is outnumbered by Mediterranean examples from the City's Boom period. The structure is not on its original site, yet its early origins and association with its pioneer builders attests to its significance as a cultural resource.
Alfred Bidwell moved to Sarasota from Buffalo, New York and ran a store on the main street of early Sarasota (today's Cunliff Lane). Mr. Bidwell was implicated in the murder of local postmaster Charles Abbe. It was thought that Charles Abbe was responsible for supplying exact land boundary information to land grabbers who used the information to acquire the property of settlers who had not properly filed homestead boundaries.
On December 27, 1884, Charles Abbe was murdered in front of Mr. Bidwell's store. Bidwell was associated with the Sara Sota Vigilante Committee. It is alleged that plans for the murder took place at the Christmas Eve housewarming. Mr. Bidwell was arraigned and sentenced and the Bidwell property was sold in 1885.
Mary Bidwell sold the house to Dr. Olan Wright of Pine Level and over the next ten years the property changed hands a dozen times. In 1896 it was purchased from William and Susan Sumner by Annie Wood and Zachariah Spencer. A little over a year later Spencer's share was bought out by the Wood's.
The second period of significance of the house is associated with the Luke A. Wood family of Rhode Island who purchased the house and 70 acres in 1896 and began winter residency soon after. The property was purchased as a 30 year anniversary present from Mrs. Wood.
In 1931 twelve acres of the original tract were made available to the City as payment of taxes. Luke Wood Park was created from the parcel. The house remained in the Wood family until the death in 1966 of Miss Ethel Wood, one of the four Wood children.
Along with the adjacent Crocker Church in Pioneer Park, the Bidwell-Wood house is undergoing restoration and will be open to the public in the near future.
The Bidwell-Wood House was locally designated by the City of Sarasota in 1985.