Get Social With Us

like watch follow


Receive Email Updates

Sign up today and receive our newsletter and more directly to your inbox.


Search Sarasota History

contact us follow us newsletter sign up search this site

Newsletter October 15, 2014

Published Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rosemary Cemetery

Halloween is right around the corner and this week we are featuring our video about Rosemary Cemetery that is downtown on Central Avenue. This site is the burial place for many early Sarasota citizens, civic leaders, and entrepreneurs including Scotsman John Hamilton Gillespie, first mayor and local manager for Florida Mortgage & Investment Co., British land developers of the municipality. The cemetery was set aside in plat "Town of Sarasota", filed on July 27, 1886. To view the video, Click here.

Drive By Gem

I was genuinely surprised to see a house this large on such a big lot east of 41. Isn’t it an inviting spot? I’m willing to bet a landscape architect would love to get the job to create more curb appeal on a relatively black palate. Take a drive in this area and you will be pleasantly surprised, too.

Just Jane

The Italians have a phrase for it, which succinctly interprets the preservation of structures from century to century. I wrote it down as were visiting a huge cathedral in Ortigia, Sicily, but now I can’t find that page in my notebook. But trust me the building we were touring began as a Greek temple in 480 B.C.  The Romans came, filling in the open spaces between the columns. The Arabs followed and turned it into a mosque; then the Spanish Bourbons took over. Today, it’s a cathedral set on the edge of a mammoth piazza where we sat at an outdoor restaurant, watching the world go by, until John jumped up to run after an old friend who he hadn’t seen in 25 years!

Needless to say, I am awestruck by the historic preservation efforts that have been going on for centuries in Italy, and humbled when thinking about how excited we are, when we preservationists in Sarasota can save a vernacular cottage that was built here in 1882.

Our trip to Sicily was truly a learning experience and we even brought back some of Mt. Etna’s hardened lava stones, to use as fertilizer in our garden.  They claim that the year after the last big eruption, there were entire fields of new plants springing up from the lava ashes.  I can’t wait to see what our “rocks” will grow.  Did you know that capers grow on vines that sprout out of the rocky hillsides of Sicily?

To listen to the Mafia history in Corleone (pictured) was fascinating, but the mountain town of Savoca, where much of “The Godfather” was filmed was just as eye-opening. And then, there was our class on “Italian Sign Language!”

I’m supposed to be writing about historic stuff here in Sarasota, but it seems the only history that is being made this week, is the opening of that new mall near the rowing park, off University Parkway. I think it will be a long time before I decide to fight the traffic out there, when Southgate and Main Street shopping venues are within walking distance.
Funny remark overheard, TWICE, in that Piazza, while we were waiting for our Pistachio Ravioli to arrive… “Oh, My Gosh, this looks just like Las Vegas!”

It’s good to be home, but boy would we love some pistachio gelato for dessert tonight.
(photo credit: Jane Kirschner)

Pretty as a Picture

This gorgeous spot now has a very large building on it with all the amenities for boaters and yachtsmen. You guessed it; this is the location of the Sarasota Yacht Club. As you can see, it had much smaller beginnings. 

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Postcard of the Week

I may have posted this postcard before, but nevertheless, I always enjoyed going to Ringling’s Winter Quarters circus when they were in town. I think I enjoyed the many interesting characters who were employed by the circus, as much as the shows. I would invariably wander off from my parents and visit with the clowns, acrobats, performers, animals, and workers. Maybe I had a fantasy of running away with the circus – an adventure, indeed!

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Czecho-Slovakian Band Played Significant Role

On opening day, February 7, 1926, the Czecho-Slovakian National Band played for the crowds that crossed the new causeway to view the John Ringling Estates on St. Armand’s Key. Daily performances from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. entertained  those whom John Ringling hoped would purchase lots and homes in his development on the keys.

The Czecho-Slovakian Band became a familiar participant in promotional activities during the Sarasota tourist season. Brought to Sarasota by John Ringling, the band gave concerts at band shells on Harding Circle and on Gulf Stream Avenue south of Main Street. The band later appeared at the Lido Pavilion, which was built by Ringling, Owen Burns and Samuel Gumpertz in the summer of 1926 on Lido Key.

Soon after the band’s late 1925 arrival in Sarasota, the Sarasota Herald published an interview with the group’s manager, Otokar Bartik, who was also ballet master of New York’s Metropolitan Opera. He provided a history of the band and its move to Sarasota. The band members had been recruited from throughout Czechoslovakia and played in various European cities before coming to the United States. Immigration officials held them at Ellis Island in New York until Bartik guaranteed performance engagements, thus ensuring that the band members would not become public charges. John Ringling heard them perform in New York, asked Bartik to cancel his planned tour, and hired the band to entertain in Sarasota during the winter season. Read more...
(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)

Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Tomorrow, in 1955, Sarasota’s modern Memorial Hospital opens with more than 1,000 people on hand for the ceremonies. During the years that followed, the institution has been vastly expanded in complexity and facilities. It has exemplary departments in a number of specialized areas. Today, the adjacent land is largely devoted to support professional offices as well as additions to the hospital itself.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Who was I?

The winner of our last contest was Joanne Anthony. Congratulations!

Gosh, October is just speeding by – before you know it Christmas will be at hand. Heck, the stores are already displaying their wares and it’s not even Halloween yet.

My window is ready for a bountiful Christmas, and at night I really sparkled. In order to win the prize, you have to give my full name, not the shortened version most people use. Who was I?

Click here to submit your answer, as well as view the correct answer to the last challenge.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources, Jantzen Collection)



Your award this week is the book, John Hamilton Gillespie - The Scot Who Saved Sarasota by Jeff LaHurd. The Friend's of the Sarasota County History Center generously provided this prize. Please consider becoming a member of the Friends; they have some exciting programs coming up soon. Visit them here.

If you would like to be a sponsor of our "Where Am I?" quiz, please call us at (941) 951-7727. It only cost $25 per week for us to set up your ad, and then you only have to provide a prize for the winner. What could be easier?

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Ain't Life Grand?

“Hey girlfriend – when at the beach, if you are short on pearls, think nothing of it. Simply grab a string of sea grapes and ‘voila’ you are set for your take with Mr. DeMille.”

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)



As much as I love vintage postcards, I never saw a box where their negatives were housed and delivered to businesses. This box is dated, 1927 – I wonder what interesting shots of paradise they contained.

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Historical Marker Dedication

On Saturday, October 4, 2014, the Sarasota County Historical Commission dedicated a new historical marker honoring the Sarasota Bay Front at Island Park Drive and Marina Plaza. The event was well-attended by residents, non-profit representatives, and city and county officials. Pictured from left to right: "The King of the Wire," Nik Wallenda, County Commissioner,Joe Barbetta, Sarasota Mayor, Willie Shaw, historian, Jeff LaHurd, Historical Commission Chair, Russ Guttman, and City Commissioner, Suzanne Atwell. To read both sides of the marker, Click here.