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Newsletter September 21, 2016

Published Wednesday, September 21, 2016 7:00 am

Drive By Gem

Despite all the new mega-houses in Harbor Acres, there are still homes there that were built to a livable scale. This is an example of one probably constructed soon after Harbor Acres was dredged and developed in the late 1950s. The red-colored concrete decorative element near the front entrance, was a typical tropical design incorporating water and palm trees; a great welcoming feature. When driving in this upscale neighborhood, you can still spot a good number of homes that have not been demolished to make way for those huge places.


Ain't Life Grand?

I love seeing costumes that people chose to wear when they attended a ball of long ago in Sarasota. In this case, it was the annual Beaux Arts Ball. The woman pictured here is wearing a treasure chest, and her date appears to be happy to have the honor of dancing with her. It seems like the many balls during ‘season’ feature costumes that are rented or professionally made for the patron. How about this year, Sarasotan’s return to making their own costumes – what a refreshing sight that would be. Stuck with coming up an idea? Get hold of a Ringling College art student for some help; talk about a talented group – I bet one of them could help you unlock a treasure of your own.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Postcard of the Week

Remember Floridaland? What about the “Precision Porpoise Triple Jump?” This postcard says it all – good times at a local attraction just before Disney World found its way to Orlando. That was the demise of many memorable and not-so-memorable attractions in Florida. Note the man has a fish in each of his hands and one in his mouth. Sushi anyone?

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Just Jane

When is it going to chill down enough so I can get out my crockpot and start making chili and winter soups? I’m getting tired of this heat, especially while receiving photos of two grandkids, frolicking in snow in the Swiss Alps!

TODAY is the day when you should log on to the www.GivingPartnerChallenge.org and donate to your favorite historical non-profit in Sarasota. Your donation will either be doubled, or tripled if you’re a new donor, and believe me, all of our worthy history-saving organizations in Sarasota would welcome any donation, large or small. But, today is the last day, so don’t delay.

Due to a grand CIRCUS! event going on at Phillippi Estate Park over the weekend of November 11-13, 2016, the All Faiths Food Bank’s, annual 'Bowls of Hope' soup celebration will be moving this year to Ed Smith Stadium. I loved getting my hands dirty, making pottery bowls with a rollicking group of artisans from St. Boniface Church. Two weeks later, I grabbed a good friend and we went back to paint some of them, but I bet if you call 941-359-2773 and speak to Carla at Carla’s Clay, she’ll be happy to have you come in and paint a few, too. They need 1,500 bowls for the event; we only finished seven of them in two hours.

Check out our Vintage Properties for several homes which have mother-in-law cottages. Panicky snow birds are calling me every day looking for winter nests here, so if you have an available nook, a garage apartment, or other accommodations, please feel free to email me. In the meantime, stay cool!


Pretty as a Picture

I don’t get down to Venice very much, but when I do I make a point of driving by the Venice Beach Pavilion. A great deal of Venice’s architecture is Mediterranean Revival, which I love, but this mid-century modern example stands out and makes a statement. That statement surely includes creativity, and simple purposeful design, in a beautiful setting.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Cornerstone Re-dedication

On Saturday, September 10, 2016 the Bethlehem Baptist Church conducted a cornerstone re-dedication service at their church. The 1899 marble cornerstone was located at the original site of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Overtown (a.k.a. Rosemary Historic District), at the corner of Central Avenue and 7th Street. After it was demolished in the 1970s, and the new church was built on 18th Street, the cornerstone went missing for decades and eventually found a home in Sarasota County Historical Resources. Staff there thought it would be appropriate to return the cornerstone to the church on a permanent-loan basis. After the county had the marble piece professionally cleaned and repaired, it was installed at the new church just outside the sanctuary. Following the ceremony refreshments were served to the guests and church members in the fellowship hall. Pictured here, after the unveiling, the Rev. Patrick A. Miller, Pastor stands next to the cornerstone.  

Building is Cornerstone of City

Located on the main commercial boulevard in downtown Venice, the Johnson-Schoolcraft Building (pictured) has been a Venice landmark since 1926. The building’s prominent location and distinctive style are not by chance, as was the case in so many boom-time downtowns. Rather, the Johnson-Schoolcraft Building, at 201-203 West Venice Avenue was a significant element in the grand plan for the city of Venice.

The construction of the two-story, hollow clay tile, commercial building the Northern Italian style signaled to the citizens of Venice the realization of a significant element of John Nolen’s 1925 Comprehensive City Plan for Venice. Nolen, who was known as “the Dean of City Planning,” had gained international prominence by the time he was retained by Venice physician Dr. F.H. Albee in 1925.

Albee hired Nolen to design a city on the 2,196 acres of land he had recently purchased. Nolen’s planning philosophy placed utmost emphasis on the need for a comprehensive city plan, with considerations for the location and design of housing, industry, public services, green spaces, commercial needs and traffic circulation.

The Johnson-Schoolcraft Building was erected in the planned commercial zone of the City of Venice at a cost of $45,000. Principals in Johnson-Schoolcraft, Inc. were C.P. Johnson and W.D. Schoolcraft. The building was designed for a mix of uses, apartments on the top floor and retail on the ground floor, uses which remain today. Because of the scarcity of housing in Venice the five apartments were rented in October 1926, a month before the building was completed.

The Venice Pharmacy occupied the first floor when the building was completed and opened for business on December 7, 1926. An article in the Venice News on Friday, December 10, 1926 opened with the headline, “Venice Pharmacy said to be one of the South’s Best.” Read more... 

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Tomorrow in 1848, the grandfather of hurricanes visited Sarasota. Afterwards, settler, Bill Whitaker walked to the bay to look for his nets. Not only were they gone, but so was the part of Longboat Key they had been left on. Whitaker could look straight through the hole directly to the Gulf. He named the new pass, uh…”New Pass.” 

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Where was I?

The winner of our last contest was No one!. Come on, folks - put on your thinking caps. 

I might be an easy guess this week, or not. Nevertheless, I resided on Main Street and was a popular place to shop back in the early 1900s. The two young men in front of me are displaying some wares, and the storefront behind them was the official Sherwin-Williams paint supplier in town. Next door was a furniture store that carried the latest and greatest looks for the day; today those same pieces would be valuable antiques. Ready for your challenge? I won’t make you name me (the building), but I insist you name the cross streets at this popular corner. Where was I?

Click here to submit your answer for this week's 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?


County Treasure

Here is another one of MacKinlay Kantor’s prized possessions that are housed at Sarasota County Historical Resources. He definitely enjoyed a drink or two of Scotch, but I find it delightful he was able to acquire this display piece – how fitting! I wonder if it came from the Plaza Restaurant where he and many famous authors and artists hung out on a weekly basis. They all belonged to the “Liar’s Club.” I wonder if the two presidential candidates might want to resurrect a Liar’s Club of their own – sorry, I couldn’t resist.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources, MacKinlay Kantor Collection)



This is an example of the Sarasota Art Association’s annual catalog, with each year having a different and creative cover. This particular one is from 1950, and it showcased the front of the building on the cover. Since that time, the façade has been altered a couple of times, yet still houses local artist’s works, and is a great asset to the community. Stop by sometime; you’re in for a treat!

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)