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Newsletter March 23, 2016

Published Wednesday, March 23, 2016 8:00 am
by Larry Kelleher

Drive By Gem

Gotta love all those casement windows! I grew up in a house that had them, and though they were always a chore to deal with, I still liked the way they looked. This well-kept home is in the Cherokee Park neighborhood – do take a Sunday drive there; you won’t be disappointed. 


Just Jane

When you enter the famous Colson Art School property, just literally steps away from Morton’s Market, from the garden entrance, I guarantee you’ll want to just stay and relax awhile in the screened in “aerie” patio, before going inside the home. After you’ve marveled at the peace and quiet back there, do go through this historic spot which has housed two of Sarasota’s finest artists, since the 1940’s. The Colson School of Art studio on the property is even older and was formerly a barracks during WW II before it was rolled up to the Hillview Street location.

Wood, lots and lots of polished wood will attract your attention is this fascinating home, from the floors to the updated kitchen cabinets. As you might imagine, the home which has been on 5 Fine Arts Society Homes Tours, is decorated at every turn with artworks from the multi-talented Colson family.

The separate studio could remain a super Art School, or it might easily be turned into a separate guest house. If you are an artist and want to carry on the tradition of this home, hurry and check it out here. It deserves another famous artist in residence!

Ain't Life Grand?

This is a photo from the Sarasota Army Air Base during WWII. I suppose it is a promotional image with the lovelies posing with gas masks. It appears, the poor dear on the left got the raw end of the deal.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Postcard of the Week

It’s a shame this cool postcard is not in color. In the background you can see the Palmer Bank at Five Points. This shot was taken from Main Street and Palm Avenue. A number of the buildings pictured on the north side of Main are still in existence today, surprisingly enough. I hope we can keep it that way.

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)



I’m willing to bet many of you recall the Exxon gas station on St. Armand’s Circle when the current famed shopping/restaurant district was more practical for the surrounding neighbors. It had a small grocery store, a swanky hardware store, and a couple of gas stations. Those days are gone, but with ephemera and ads, we can recollect a time when the area was more mundane and laid back.  

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Our County Treasures

Can you tell, I am a bit enamored with Bertha Palmer? This majestic-looking horse is part of her bisque collection (actually called “biscuit ware”) due to its unglazed firing. A few pieces of her items can be seen at the Chidsey Historical Exhibits & Education Center, 701 N. Tamiami Trail. For hours and event information, call 941-361-2453.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)

Thompson’s Contributions to Sarasota

At the turn of the 20th century, Sarasota was a small fishing village with just a few hundred people. Even though the area was primitive, Sarasota was attracting people who saw the area’s potential. Charles N. Thompson was such a person.

Thompson was the manager of the Sells-Forepaugh Circus in the mid-1890s. Over his career, Thompson was manager of Hegenback and Wallace Circus, Sells Brothers Circus, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the Ringling Brothers Circus, which he managed for six years.

Thompson had heard stories from his friend, H.C. Butler, about how wonderful Sarasota was. Butler had built a winter home in the Indian Beach area in 1891. Thompson said that he was interested and would visit the area during the circus winter season.

In the winter of 1895, Thompson and his wife traveled to Tampa. They wanted to see what their friend Butler was talking about. Thompson rented a boat and left Tampa Bay for Sarasota Bay. He docked at the Butler dock and stayed with the Butlers while looking the area over. Butler told him of a 154 acre track just north of Indian Beach, owned by Anna M. Clark, which was for sale for $1,650. Thompson bought it, and later bought 30 acres more.

The following winter Thompson and his wife came to Sarasota and began to build their winter home. Thompson would talk about his winter home throughout the circus world. Being friends with the Ringling Brothers, he would boast of his home in Sarasota. Read more...

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Today in 1927, John Ringling announces that Sarasota would become the winter quarters of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus. Of course, Ringling followed through with his plans.

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Who am I?

The winner of our last contest was Sue Chapman. Congratulations!

Ahh…the first ‘Drive-Up’ windows in Sarasota debuted at Palmer Bank with 1st Street separating them from the bank. The man in the convertible actually worked in the Palmer Bank building. I’m curious why he just didn’t go downstairs to a teller window to take care of his business. He probably liked driving up to make his deposit. Anyhow, this man was well known in Sarasota and almost was assassinated in his office in the bank building. Your task is to answer the proverbial question, “Who am I?”

Click here to submit your answer for this weeks quiz, click here to view the last challenge and correct answer.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


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?


Pretty as a Picture

I don’t know if this qualifies as “pretty.” But it looks as though the firemen think this fire engine is the cat’s meow. It sure was kept clean an orderly; firemen pride themselves on maintenance of their equipment. This building is still there, though it now serves another purpose. Do you know where it is? Give us your best guess, Here

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)