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Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Depot

Markers: Sarasota History

Credit: Sarasota County History Center
Location: 1 School Ave., Sarasota, FL 34233

Sarasota History - Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Depot photo

This photo shows the Atlantic Coast Line passenger depot built in 1925. The architect was ACL's Alpheus M. Griffin. The Mission-style white stucco building, with its red pantiled roof and large shell-shaped semi-elliptical planter, visually anchored the eastern end of Main Street. The building had separate waiting rooms for white and "colored" patrons (similar to many railroad passenger depots built in the South before the 1964 Civil Rights Act.)

The Tampa Southern Railroad, an ACL subsidiary, entered Sarasota in May 1924. The first passenger train arrived in December 1924 at the freight and temporary passenger station north of Fruitville Road. Tracks were placed to serve the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Winter Quarters in 1927 and Payne Terminal on Sarasota Bay in 1928.

A 41-mile Tampa Southern line, "The Fort Ogden Extension," was constructed in 1925-1926 from Sarasota south-easterly to a junction at Southfort on the Lakeland-Naples line of the Atlantic Coast Line. A pair of daily passenger trains operated between Tampa-Sarasota-Fort Myers-Naples. The cars on these trains consisted of a dining car, coaches, Chicago-Fort Myers Pullman sleeper off The Dixie Limited, and New York-Naples Pullman sleeper off The Palmetto.

Timber, naval stores, citrus fruits, vegetables, and livestock moved on the new line to northern markets. Station names included Belspur (old Packinghouse Rd.), Palmersville, Honore, and Sidell. Adrian Honore, brother of Bertha Honore Palmer, was the major landowner along the line. The Palmer Growers Cooperative Packing House was located at Belspur.

In 1967, Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line Railway merged as the Seaboard Coast Line. With the advent of AMTRAK on May 1, 1971, the West Coast Champion made its last run to Sarasota and Venice from Boston and New York. The depot was demolished in January 1986, just two years after it was placed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Dedicated in 2002 by the Sarasota County Historical Commission