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Bay Haven School

Markers: Sarasota History

Location: 2901 Tamiami Circle West, Sarasota, FL

Sarasota History - Bay Haven School photo

Bay Haven School is one of two elementary schools built in Sarasota from identical plans to accommodate population growth resulting from the 1920s real estate boom. Bay Haven and Southside Elementary were designed by architect M. Leo Elliott, a New York-trained practitioner with offices in Sarasota, Tampa, Orlando and St. Petersburg. Both schools reflect the Mediterranean Revival Style: each cost $77,000 to build. Their locations – Bay Haven north of the city center and Southside to its south – reflected the advice of nationally renowned land planner John Nolen, city planner of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who recommended two schools in the outlying residential areas.

Designed for 600 students, Bay Haven School opened in 1926. Mrs. Mason H. Rose was its first principal. Actively supported by a vigorous Bay Haven Parents-Teacher Association they instilled pride in the school. At its first, held November 4, 1927, Mrs. Benjamin F. McCall was elected president, dues of 50 cents were established, and the first student program was presented.

The Great Depression closed Sarasota's public schools for lack of funds on February 24, 1933. The Bay Haven PTA raised cash to operate its school on a tuition basis, sponsoring a dinner to raise tuition for impoverished families. Parents worked in the kitchen and provided vegetables, canned fruits and milk for free lunches for needy students. In 1934, the state PTA convention honored the Bay Haven PTA for its welfare work and membership efforts.

In 1957, Bay Haven established the county's first staffed in-house elementary school library. In 1962, Bay Haven became the first integrated county elementary school and enrolled 29 black students. Bay Haven School became the site of the first Kindergarten in a Sarasota County public school in 1964. In 1983, the Bay Haven School of Basics Plus initiated a written contract between student, family and school to enforce academic and behavioral standards. It requires parents to attend PTA meetings and volunteer time annually to the school. In 1990, the school received the National Elementary School Recognition Program Award.

The school was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.


Dedicated in 1995 by the Sarasota County Historical Commission