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J. Humphries Residence

Buildings: Sarasota History

Source: City of Sarasota public records
Location: 555 S. Osprey Avenue, Sarasota, FL

Sarasota History - J. Humphries Residence photo

The Humphries Residence, aka the Nelson Lodge and located at 555 S. Osprey, is an example of the classical folk house in the Queen Anne Style. It was built on Wares Creek in Braidentown circa 1903 where it served as the Humphries family residence for over 20 years and was subsequently moved (circa 1937) to its present location on the northeast corner of Osprey Ave. and Oak Street.

Joseph Humphries was a prominent citizen in Braidentown (now called Bradenton) and played a significant role in early State politics through participation in the State Constitutional Convention of 1885 and several terms in the State Senate. After his death in 1925, the family home was sold and moved to Sarasota, a common practice in that time due to high costs of materials as compared to low costs for labor.

The relocated structure, later known as the Nelson Lodge., served the citizens of Sarasota as a boarding house for many years until its closing circa 1977. Until recently,  it housed a day spa.

Biographies of Occupants Joseph H. Humphries, 1857-1925

J. H. Humphries was born in Thomasville, GA on January 24, 1857, and educated in Lexington, VA. He came to Florida in 1875, settling in Bartow where he practiced law. In 1887, J.H. Humphries married Miss Emma C. Blount in Bartow.

In 1888, one, year after Braidentown became county seat for Manatee County, J.H. Humphries moved there to start the Manatee River Journal. He was able to publish the first issue of the Journal, 250 copies, on August 30, 1888, in spite of a yellow fever epidemic which had limited delivery of supplies to the county.

J.H. Humphries remained in the newspaper business, working with several newspapers throughout his career. He retired from the newspaper business in 1919.

In 1922 he organized the Manatee County Fertilizer Company and was its first president. Undoubtedly he was able to draw from his earlier experience as State Phosphate Inspector. He remained active in its management until ill health forced him to retire.

Besides his business interests, J.H. Humphries made significant contributions to the political affairs of the region and State. A Democrat/Prohibitionist, he was elected to the State Constitutional Convention of 1885 to represent Polk County. He was a State Senator from 1904 to 1912, serving two terms. As Senator, his district included Manatee, Desoto and Lee Counties.

On the local level, Mr. Humphries was Secretary of the committee which successfully lobbied for the incorporation of Braidentown in 1903. He was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to serve as Postmaster for Braidentown in the mid-teens. He also served several terms as President of the Braidentown Board of Trade.

A religious man, Humphries was active in the First Baptist Church of Bradentown, serving as a Trustee for the Church as well as serving on the Church's building committee in the 1920's.

J.H. Humphries died on January 12, 1925 in Bartow. His wife survived him and was living in Braidentown into the late 1930's.

The J.H. Humphries Residence was locally designated by the City of Sarasota in 1987.