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Articles: Sarasota History

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Churches Satisfy Need for Convenience

By: Lorrie Muldowney, County Preservationist

Southwest Florida's unique attributes of climate and population has affected the way the community has developed. One truly Sarasota County phenomena, an outgrowth of these dual forces, is the drive-in church. Developed to accommodate Sarasota's post World War II population boom, Sarasota's earliest drive-in services were held at existing drive-in movie theaters.

 

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Cigar Industry Thrived for a Time in Sarasota

By: Mark D. Smith, former County Archivist

Cigar making has been a tradition in Florida since before the turn of the 20th century.

 

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City Pier

By: Ann A. Shank, former County Historian

When the colonists arrived from Scotland in late December 1885 to form the new community of Sarasota, one of the first projects was to construct a pier.

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City Waterworks Building

By: Lorrie Muldowney, County Preservationist

Imagine the delight with which today's government officials would receive news of the unanimous approval of a bond issue for public improvements. Such was the case in January 1925, when a $150,000 bond issue for the improvement and extension of the City of Sarasota's water system was approved by Sarasota voters. Part of this funding was used to construct the City Waterworks Building, set back from the northwest corner of Orange Avenue and 10th Street at 1015 North Orange Avenue.

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City's Purchase Started Civic Center

By: Ann Shank, former Sarasota County Historian

During the Depression years of the 1930s, a number of properties became available to anyone who could pay the back taxes on them. Mayor Ernest Arthur “E.A.” Smith led the effort to acquire one of the properties, a prime section along the bayfront, for the City of Sarasota. Located west of North Tamiami Trail (then called Broadway Avenue), between Boulevard of the Arts and Tenth Street, the 37 acres became the beginning of today’s Civic Center.

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Coleman's Bay Haven Hotel was one of Sarasota's Finest

By: Ann Shank, former Sarasota County Historian

Sarasota attracted many people who were hoping to strike it rich in the 1920s Land Boom. One such real estate developer, who came to Sarasota in 1923, was Walter V. Coleman. Coleman was originally from Detroit, leaving there in 1912. He, his wife and five children headed to Miami with little more than the clothes on their backs. After succeeding in several ventures there, Coleman and his family arrived in Sarasota just as the land boom was getting underway.

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Compulsory School Attendance

By: Ann Shank, former Sarasota County Historian

Understood through the pen of Sarasota Times publisher Mrs. C.V.S. (Rose) Wilson, compulsory school attendance was a woman's issue in early 1919. Without yet having the right to vote, and with the present Sarasota County still part of Manatee County, members of the Manatee County Federation of Woman's Clubs in November 1918 passed a resolution calling for an election to institute compulsory school attendance.

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Contributions of Charles Ringling

By: Mark Smith, former Sarasota County Archivist

Sarasota County has been fortunate over the years by having visionary people who saw the potential of this primitive area. Between 1910 and 1920, people like Mrs. Potter Palmer, Owen Burns and John and Charles Ringling were beginning to transform Sarasota from a small fishing village to the ideal winter retreat. 

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