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 May 13, 2015

Published Wednesday, May 13, 2015
by Larry Kelleher

Drive By Gem

What a cool-looking updated mid-century modern nearby in the Brookside School area. I was driving around looking for unique houses to photograph for the newsletter and came across this simple and dynamic place that reflects 'minimalism.' It is on a block with typical cinderblock ranch style places and it really stands out. You never know what you’ll find a short distance from where you live.


Annual Meeting

The Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation will host its Annual Meeting on May 19, 2015 at the Sarasota Garden Club. After a brief business meeting and election of directors they will conduct a presentation that shows the importance of the landscape features to the preservation of a historic place. The presentation will include a lecture by John Chrzczonowski, who helped restore the Japanese Lantern (pictured above) at the Garden Club property. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Alliance, please contact them at: saph.mailbox@gmail.com or 941-953-8727.

Pretty as a Picture

I must to be enamored with Sarasota School of Architecture mid-century modern designs this issue. Here we have the old Sarasota Herald-Tribune at the corner of Wood Street and U.S. 41. Today the Publix with an escalator stands in its place.

One summer in high school, I worked there. Unfortunately, I did not perform any journalism tasks – instead I was doing janitorial work, and sweeping up lead shavings around the linotype machines. I melted them down in an open-kiln contraption, and then poured the molten metal into a mold to create a long lead bar with a hook on the end.

When I made a stack of these things (they were heavy), I hand-delivered them to the men working on the linotype machines. There, they were suspended, and the lead bars were melted to form letters for setting the type. Though this was not a glamorous job, it was exciting to see the huge rolls of newsprint be loaded onto the presses and watch the pressmen, start the presses!

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Just Jane

I had the honor last week of being invited to a private screening of a 14-minute, “proof of concept” documentary, called “Moods of the Miakka.” PBS is already clamoring for the expanded 60-minute length of this gorgeous nature film, and those of us at the home of Alan and Martha Horton, were awe-struck with the beauty of our local, historic and moody river.

The Director, Leslie Gaines, is a fifth-generation Floridian and co-creator of the Emmy Award winning PBS Series, “Expedition Florida” and the National Geographic series, “Expedition Wild.” He was lured back here, from Montana by his Sarasota native neighbor and Director of Photography, Jeff Palmer. Jeff was the field producer, cameraman and “Turkey Daddy” in the Emmy and Panda award winning film, “My Life as a Turkey” for PBS Nature.

In order to raise the $350,000 needed to wrap up this breath-stealing film, the pair is eager to share the teaser footage to interested local groups. To donate, or to schedule a viewing, please call Marjorie Floyd, the executive producer at 941-266-1376. Or email: mfloyd@gmail.com. I’m already trying to find a date to book it at the Historical Society!

Since we started our Vintage Real Estate listings, we’ve had nearly 50 properties sold, that were viewed by our readers! Isn’t it a great idea to gather these ‘oldies but goodies’ into one site, for those of us who are always longing for something different? If you want your home to be included, please tell your Realtor to let us know. We’re always looking for more, historic homes to share with you!

Ain't Life Grand?

“Now honey, don’t yell at me about grease on my clothes – can’t you just throw in one of those Tide laundry detergent balls in that new-fangled washing machine I bought you for Mother’s Day?”

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Postcard of the Week

When you think about it, fireworks will be bombarding us in July before you know it. This night shot was taken during the Sara de Soto pageant sometime in the 1940s. Personally, though politically incorrect and sans funding, I would love to see fireworks light up our skies every weekend.

As a child visiting my grandparents in New York, I recall they did that at Coney Island every weekend. Heck, at Disney World, they do it every night!

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)

Aeolian Organ Company, Opus 1559

Early in the twentieth-century, many millionaires built massive homes displaying their wealth as monuments of their “success.”   Music rooms, ballrooms and fine musical instruments were symbols of “culture and refinement.” During the Gilded Age, business magnates such as: Henry Clay Frick, William K. VanderbiltAndrew Carnegie, Samuel Kress, Pierre S. Du Pont and Louis Comfort Tiffany contracted with the Aeolian Organ Company to create and install fashionable instruments in each of their family estates and occasionally on their luxury yachts.

John and Mable Ringing followed their example and installed the elaborate Aeolian pipe organs in their one hundred acre estate “Gray Crag” in Alpine, New Jersey and Ca’d’Zan, their 36,000 square-foot Venetian-Gothic mansion in Sarasota, Florida.

The original order was submitted to the New York Aeolian Organ offices by John Ringling on July 19, 1924. It was later revised, upgrading the instrument from a two-manual organ to a three-manual organ that included a Duo-Art mechanism for playing perforated paper-rolls. The contract was finally signed by John Ringling on August 24, 1924 at a cost of $25,000.00; the cost did not include the necessary electrical wiring throughout the mansion and the carved oak gothic-style console casement. There were very specific requirements regarding the wiring, motor and generators to assure the organ functioned properly.  

The Ringling’s architect, Dwight James Baum, was given the laborious task of designing all aspects of Ca’d’Zan, which included the interior spaces which would need to accommodate the organ’s pipe chambers and motors.  (Baum had designed several other important residences in New York that had commissioned Aeolian for the same type of product.)  The competed organ was delivered in January of 1925 to the house, still under construction. Installation was difficult given that The Ringling’s had not yet decided where to place the console and many changes had occurred during construction; chambers had to be altered to meet the new size specifications and installing the pipes was problematic with the house still under construction. Read more...

(photo credit: courtesy of Ron McCarty, Keeper of Ca'd'Zan)


Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Tomorrow, in 1887, Bill Whitaker’s son Charles was appointed Postmaster when the office was moved from Charles Abbe’s store to the Whitaker store downtown. The old office was located south of Hudson Bayou and getting it moved resulted in some heated exchanges between the old settlers and the “town folk.” (Editor’s note: In this photo, Cadet Charles C. Whitaker graduated from East Florida Seminary, now the University of Florida, in 1886. He became a prominent attorney in Tampa).

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Who am I?

The winner of our last contest was Yvonne Hebda. Congratulations!

Now, I don’t expect that a lot of you remember me; I was a slender building on a busy street. On my left side was the Halton Hospital and on the right was Mac’s Food Shop. I even had a phenomenal Aztec relief that you might not be able to see in this photo. Your task is to name the street I am facing; in other words, “Where was I?”

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





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?



While rifling through ephemera, I came across this New York menu for a Tea at Delmonicos on 5th Avenue. The selection is fairly simple, but I bet the charge was a bit of a stretch for some folks. The menu for the Club Durant included: tea, coffee or chocolate, dainty tea sandwiches, cinnamon toast, a baking powder biscuit, or Madeleine, brioche toastee, English plum cake, linzer tart or a croissant.

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Preservation Ink

Sarasota County Historical Resources celebrated Preservation Month on May 2, 2015 at Historic Spanish Point in Osprey. “Preservation Ink” was the title of the program, and acclaimed pen and ink Welsh artist, Olwen Hughes was the lead speaker. She donated over a dozen of her drawings of vintage buildings, in Sarasota and Venice, to the county; they are on display at Historic Spanish Point for your enjoyment. Pictured on the left is Olwen presenting Sarasota County Library Director, Sarabeth Kalajian with her latest drawing of the new Gulf Gate Library.


Historical Society Potluck

The Historical Society of Sarasota County hosted their annual meeting this past Saturday at the Bidwell-Wood House on 12th Street. Just prior to that the members and their guests gathered at the historic Crocker Memorial Church next door, where several people were honored for their achievements. Jeff LaHurd received the first ‘Hero of History’ award, and Harriet Stieff (pictured), and Viola Goldberg were given ‘Distinguished Service’ awards.