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Cherokee Park - A Dream Fulfilled

Articles: Sarasota History

Author: Lorrie Muldowny
Photo Credit: Sarasota County History Center
Credit: Sarasota County History Center

Sarasota History - Cherokee Park - A Dream Fulfilled photo

Although owner and developer J.C. Brown's vision for Cherokee Park as a neighborhood where all of the homes would be designed in the “Spanish, Moorish, or Italian styles of architecture” wasn't  realized, today's Cherokee Park has a diversity of architectural styles, ranging from boom time revival to post World War II modern.

Separated from Osprey Avenue by a stucco wall and gate posts with decorative tile work depicting a Cherokee rose, the subdivision was platted in 1926 and is near Southside School.

Brown built this wall and gate posts, along with interior streets and his own home, the Cherokee Lodge, before the bottom fell out of Sarasota's real estate market in 1927. Brown was a silk manufacturer born in Scotland who came to Sarasota from New Jersey.

According to Dorothy Stockbridge-Pratt in a 1994 article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Cherokee Lodge was designed by Sarasota architect Thomas Reed Martin. It was completed in 1926 at the reported cost of $500,000. The lodge was sold in 1931 and ultimately demolished in 1962 when canal front lots were developed.

In addition to regulating architectural design, deed restrictions in Cherokee Park dictated a minimum construction value of $10,000 for lots on the bay front and $7,500 for interior lots. They also required masonry construction and restricted fences and outbuildings to the rear of the lots. Horses, cows, cattle, hogs and poultry were not permitted.

Although a second home was built in 1926, it was nearly 10 years before a third was built, spurred in part by Brown's amendments to the deed restrictions that made them less limiting.

According to Audrey and Louise Henderson in their “Short History and Walking Tour of Cherokee Park,” the fifth house built in Cherokee Park was for attorney Clarence McKaig.

McKaig enjoys telling the story of how he acquired the lot in Cherokee Park. On a Sunday in 1935, he and his wife were driving through the Cherokee Park subdivision, when they were stopped by James Brown. The three engaged in a conversation. Brown asked if they liked the neighborhood and after replying that they did, Brown asked them if they would like to have a lot. McKaig responded that they were financially unable to purchase one. At that point, Brown told he would give them a lot of their choice if they would agree to construct a home within one year and give him approval of their design.

According to McKaig, Brown was so interested in stimulating growth and continuing  development in Cherokee Park that he also deeded lots to two others, Colonel Mayo and Benton Powell, both of whom selected lots and built on North Drive.

McKaig recalled that Cherokee Park was so undeveloped that he trained his bird dogs to catch quail.

In 1940, the westernmost portion of the Cherokee Park was re-platted in order to create South, West and North West drives and to dedicate a strip of land along the water for a park. Later, this bay front property was sold to the adjacent neighbors and subdivided, along with the 12 acres once occupied by Cherokee Lodge.

Today, Cherokee Park is a thriving neighborhood, fulfilling the real estate dream of one-time owner and developer J.C. Brown and contributing, with its unique history, to the richness of our community.