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Historic Spanish Point

Markers: Sarasota History

Location: 337 N. Tamiami Trail, Osprey, FL

Sarasota History - Historic Spanish Point photo

This 30-acre preserve includes prehistoric shell middens and a burial mound dating from 3,000 B.C to 1000 A.D., buildings from the homestead of John Greene Webb, and gardens from the winter estate of Mrs. Potter Palmer. In 1975, it became the first nomination in Sarasota County to the National Register of Historic Places. Five years later the heirs of Mrs. Palmer donated the historic site to Gulf Coast Heritage Association, Inc., which today operates Historic Spanish Point as an accredited museum.

Archaeological excavations by Ripley P. and Adelaide K. Bullen and others document this place as one of the largest preserved prehistoric Indian village sites on Florida's west coast. The early Floridians harvested huge quantities of seafood, hunted deer and raccoon, collected native fruits and berries, made tools from shell, bone, and wood, and lived in thatched huts. They abandoned the village around 1000 A.D.
In 1867, John and Eliza Webb and their five children, Anna, Will, Lizzie, Jack, and Ginnie, arrived here from Utica, New York, claiming 145 acres under the Federal Homestead Act.

The Webbs named their homestead "Spanish Point," because a Spanish trader in Key West had told them about a high point of land extending out into the bay. Over the next 43 years, three generations of the Webb Family cultivated citrus groves, sugar cane, and vegetable crops, built and maintained boats for transportation, and ran the region's first tourist operation known as "Webb Winter Resort." In 1884 the Osprey post office opened. John Webb, the community's first postmaster, chose its name.
In 1910, Mrs. Potter (Bertha Honore) Palmer of Chicago purchased the site as part of her Osprey Point estate. Over the next eight years, Mrs. Palmer and her two sons, Honore and Potter II, acquired some 90,000 acres in today's Sarasota County for agriculture, farming, and real estate development. Adjacent to her winter home, The Oaks, Mrs. Palmer created beautiful gardens among the prehistoric middens and pioneer-era buildings. She died at her Osprey Point estate in 1918. Her grandson Gordon operated Palmer Nurseries at the site and sponsored the archaeological work done by the Bullens in the early 1960s.

Dedicated in 1985 by the Sarasota County Historical Commission

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