Markers: Sarasota History
In 1923 circus magnate John N. Ringling (1866-1936) purchased St. Armands Key, an uninhabited, 150-acre, oval-shaped island. He planned a community of fine residences with a central circle park surrounded by shops. The park was named in memory of his friend President Warren Harding (1865-1923).
The landscape plan for the island consisting of the central park, boulevards and medians, was designed by a prominent landscape architect, John J. Watson (1876-1950). The development work was done by Ringling's partner, Owen Burns (1869-1937). The grand opening of St. Armands occurred in 1928 when the bridge to the mainland was completed.
Lots were sold and subsequently a few homes of Mediterranean and Spanish architecture were built. Although the Depression (1929-1941) halted the progress of his plan, John Ringling's vision was realized with the development of the residential area, beaches and shopping district since 1945. On January 16, 2001, Harding Circle, with its associated medians and boulevards, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its unique early community planning and development.
A Florida Heritage Landmark sponsored by the City of Sarasota, the St. Armands Residents Association and the Florida Department of State in 2004.