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Attorney John Burket Helped Develop Sarasota

Articles: Sarasota History

Author: Mark Smith, former Sarasota County Archivist
Photo Credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources
Credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources

Sarasota History - Attorney John Burket Helped Develop Sarasota photo

Sarasota in the 1910s was a small town with potential. Investors were beginning to look into the area and residents were bringing friends and associates to visit. One such person being lured to the area was attorney John F. Burket.

Originally from Ohio, Burket was persuaded to come here by his old friend, Ralph C. Caples. Caples had been visiting Sarasota since 1899 and had become a permanent resident in 1909. One of Burket’s first investment moves was when he and Caples bought the Belle Haven Inn on lower Main Street in 1912.

Burket had faith in his new home but he knew that if Sarasota was to prosper it would have to have good roads. In the early 1910s, paved roads in the Sarasota area were virtually nonexistent. You were either stuck in sand during the dry season or in the mud during the wet season.

The railroad was the mode of transportation to get to Sarasota. Traveling by road would make the trip quite an experience. In 1914 Burket was one of the twenty members of the good-roads committee that traveled through central Florida, inspecting roads in every town they visited. They convinced the City Commission to issue $250,000 in road bonds, which the voters approved in 1915-1916, to begin a road building campaign.

John Burket also played an important role in the development of Sarasota County. Before 1921, Sarasota was part of Manatee County. In 1920 Burket and others gave speeches on how Manatee County had neglected the Sarasota district in the past. The group all insisted that vitally needed improvements could be obtained only by the creation of a new county.

Burket was named to a general committee to carry out the new county drive. After dealing with the politics of Manatee County and smoothing things over, the legislation was pushed through the state house and Governor Cary Hardee signed the bill creating Sarasota County on May 14, 1921. An election was held in June and Sarasota County became a county on July 1, 1921.

Throughout his career Burket was involved in city and county legislation. He served as Sarasota’s City Attorney from 1913 until he resigned in 1927. He was the attorney for creating the Englewood Road and Bridge District and participated in proceedings for creating the Sarasota-Venice Road District.

Burket was connected to the Venice-Nokomis region when Dr. Fred Albee made large purchases in that area in 1917. Burket handled all the legislation pertaining to the incorporation of Venice as a city for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and legislation pertaining to the Venice Harbor and Inlet District.
A part of his city attorney duties, Burket was involved in the city of Sarasota’s deal with developer Andrew McAnsh to build he Mira Mar Apartments, Hotel and “Natatorium” in 1922, giving Sarasota its first premier hotel since the 1880s.

He also drafted the new city charter designed to expand Sarasota’s city limits. It was approved and signed by the governor on November 22, 1925, extending Sarasota’s city limits to 69 square miles. In the late 19120s, he assisted in bringing the Tamiami Trail through Sarasota County.
Throughout his career Burket continued to strive for improvements all over the county. He continued his law practice and was active until his death in July, 1947 at the age of 72 from the result of a car accident.