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Newsletter December 30, 2015

Published Wednesday, December 30, 2015 8:00 am
by Larry Kelleher

New Year, 2016

Lee and I would like to wish you a wonderful and exciting New Year. 2015 had a huge amount of challenges for many Americans; hopefully things will begin to settle down in the near future. Goodness knows, we all need to take a collective sigh, followed by a deep breath. Take some well-deserved time and focus on how we can all participate to understand each other’s point-of-view, religious and political affiliations, economic positions, family units, and other convictions that seem to keep us divided. “Stop, Look, Listen" (To Your Heart) is not just a song title, but some words to live by. Indeed!

(Image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Drive By Gem

Over this past weekend, I was out and about looking for some new “Drive by Gems” to post in the newsletter. I came across this beautifully-restored Craftsman Bungalow in the West-of-the-Trail area, north of Sarasota Memorial Hospital. As my Irish luck would have it, I recently met the owners, though I have not visited their home. From what I saw on the outside, I can only imagine their good taste flowing into the interior of this special house. 


Preservation Coach Tour

The Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation announces a special coach tour of two of Tampa Bay’s most important buildings in the historic downtown district on January 28, 2016. The tour will be narrated by Ron McCarty from The Ringling.

Come enjoy a private “behind the scenes” tour of the Tampa Theater (pictured) and see the historic Wurlitzer Organ that rises up through the stage floor. The 1926 historic Theater is a beloved community landmark that rivals other period theaters in the south. Designed by famed theater architect John Eberson, the building is a superior example of his “atmospheric” style of design. Atmospheric theatres are best known for the treatment of the decorative ceilings, having a faux open-air effect showing an evening sky filled with star light.

After lunch the group will proceed to the Tampa Bay Hotel (today's University of Tampa) and its historic gardens. Henry B. Plant created this luxury resort when it opened in 1891. The building was designed by John. E. Wood at a cost of 3 million dollars.

Tickets are priced at $85 each for non-members, and $75 for members. There are only 45 spaces on the bus, so purchase them early at www.historicsarasota.org. Questions? Call 941-953-8727.

(photo credit: Courtesy of Tampa Theater website)


Just Jane

It’s almost gone… 2015, that is, so I hope you all are ready for the New Year, filled with happiness, peace and good health, most of all… good health!

I promised in our last newsletter to let you know about more Vintage Homes on the market in Sarasota, so here is my list of OLDIES BUT GOODIES in no particular order, or neighborhood. DRUM ROLL please…

1500 Cunliff Lane
Year Built: 1947
Rooms: 4/3
Price: $2,750,000

1968 High Point Drive
Year Built: 1938
Rooms: 2/2
Price: $449,000

813 Hudson Avenue
Year Built: 1936
Rooms: 4/4/1
Price: $849,000

2326 McClellan Parkway
Year Built: 1935
Rooms: 4/2
Price: $510,000

1750 South Oval Drive
Year Built: 1928
Rooms: 2/2

1778 Hyde Park Street
Year Built: 1926
Rooms: 3/2/1
Price: $649,900

1524 Bay Point Drive
Year Built: 1925
Rooms: 3/3
Price: $1,195,000

1896 Hibiscus
Year Built: 1925
Rooms: 3/2
Price: $725,000

1707 Waldemere
Year Built: 1920
Rooms: 3/3/1
Price: $999,000

2525 Pleasant Place
Year Built: 1900
Rooms: 5/2
Price: $924,900 

This is just a smattering of elder homes and there are plenty more, like these, all around town, so please check with your favorite Realtor to get the details on these wonderful homes and to learn of many more. Attention Realtors: Contact me if you would like to list that historical beauty on our site. Our advertising prices are great, and results happen when you reach our niche audience.

This information was “as of December 3, 2015” and it may have changed in the last three weeks, so please don’t say that “Jane told me so”! Prices change all the time, so happy hunting! To check out our current listings, Click Here.


Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor: 

I vividly remember seeing the first show in the old gym under Coach Bill Rutland in around 1950. I was not a performer but did clown makeup and worked with costumes and Shirly Rutland. I have rarely missed a show and plan on continuing attendance. I was proud to cut the ribbon for the 50th anniversary show! Sailor Circus is an amazing, awesome activity that has been very successful and brought fame to Sarasota.

Mollie Cardamone
Sarasota, FL

Dear Editor:

I guess my donating $10,000.00 to the Friends to open and help get off to a good start the Sarasota Historical Museum was not worth mentioning in this newsletter article. Thanks for nothing...

Arnold Berns
Sarasota, FL

(Editor's note: Deadlines and space constraints occur with any publication. My bi-weekly newsletter is no different than any other media offerings, when it comes to making decisions of what to include, or not include in any issue or broadcast).

Dear Editor:

Here’s part of my "Jill’s Journal" story online about what it was like being in the Sailor Circus:

What had suddenly, magically, happened at high school was a perfect escape for me; in 1949 Sarasota High School started its very own circus! I tried out and made it as a web girl.

The web girls are the circus equivalent of a chorus line. You’ve seen them at the circus, a bunch of girls who run out and climb fat ropes (called the web, fortunately having nothing to do with spiders), do a couple of dangerous-looking graceful postures up there and then are violently spun around as a finale. This was my favorite part. We did it to the music of Manuel de Falla’s Ritual Dance of Fire, and at the climax of the music we would be spinning fast enough to be horizontal and for the music in my ears to go out of key due to the Doppler effect.

Other than that exciting finale spin, most of the tricks we did up on the web were just the standard circus acrobatic actions, for which I had an early propensity. Except for the part about pointing your toes and holding your arms out gracefully, I had been doing these things since childhood, often on the top of our backyard play-gym instead of using the swings below; or, in the swings, briefly taking flight by jumping off at the peak of the swing; or, simply, mindlessly suffering numerous scratch marks on our legs by climbing up and sliding down the huge clump of bamboos in our nearby park a block away.

OK, I did make the high school circus team, though still not a star. Never performed in center ring (there are three, remember?). . .

But I did get to ride an elephant in the parade sequence of Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Greatest Show on Earth,” starring Charlton Heston, Jimmy Stewart, Cornell Wilde and Betty Hutton, which was filmed in Sarasota. We donned the gamey sequined costumes of the real circus girls (costumes mass-produced and worn by the typically short-term web girls, unlike the carefully sewn outfits Aunt Adriana Borza made for Peppi and Nita) and ride in the parade sitting barelegged on the elephant’s head. It felt kind of like doing a pleasant hula dance on a floating inner tube. All went well with my elephant, but the one ahead of me got hot and cooled itself off by putting its trunk in its mouth to get a good batch of saliva and then spraying it all over him and the poor girl riding him.

Jill Spelman 

Amateur Poetess Practiced Real Estate

A little baby girl is certainly a treasure,
So I’m sending her a bonnet just for good measure -
Also the stockings to keep her feet warm,
So that old Jack Frost can do them no harm.

Ethel Wood loved poetry and used rhymed verse such as the one above to communicate greetings to family and friends. Her birthday poems to her father were typically part of his annual birthday celebration at “Uncle Ben” Stickney’s as reported in the Sarasota Times. “To My Little Mother,” an undated press clipping of a poem in Wood’s collection, could well have been written by her at the time of her mother’s death in 1924.

Wood came to Sarasota as a winter visitor with her parents, Luke and Annie Wood, in 1896. They purchased a house that, with surrounding citrus trees, had been untended for several years. Near the present McDonald’s at U.S. 301 and Wood Street, the house became their winter residence. They kept milk cows and tended the citrus. In the summer, they returned to Onset, Massachusetts.

Luke Wood had been a farmer, and his daughter continued the family tradition in her gardening and landscaping. One of her favorite spots on the Wood property was the ravine (pictured with Ethel). A news reporter described it as “one of the loveliest garden spots in Sarasota…A visitor passes through a wildwood of shrubs and flowers and fruit trees” on the way to the ravine hidden by “tapestried gray moss hangings.” Only a hint of the ravine remains, just west of the Wood Street – U.S. 41 – U.S. 301 intersection.

Within two years of her father’s death, Ethel Wood joined Daisy Williams in establishing the real estate firm of Williams and Wood in October, 1935. Wood was relatively new to real estate. A diary entry on May 10th of that year noted that she had received her first sales commission, $100, the previous day. The women’s office was on the north side of lower Main Street, opposite Sears and Roebuck. For more than a decade, they sold, rented and managed properties. Read more... 

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Tomorrow in 1926, the El Vernona (pictured) officially opened with a long-remembered New Year’s Eve party.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Where Am I?

The winner of our last contest was Gary Jacobs. Congratulations!

Ah, a sheik fashion show in the 1920s at the Mira Mar Hotel. It appears that the ladies are assembling to do their ‘runway’ moment in my courtyard. My fashionable room behind them was a popular venue that was used frequently for events. Your challenge is to name this splendid room. 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?



This oil painting doesn’t qualify as ephemera, but I liked it and wanted you to see it (it resides in the conference room at Sarasota County Historical Resources). The artist, Asa Cassidy, nationally renowned portrait painter, was well-known for his many portraits of celebrities including naturalist and author John Burroughs, opera star Enrico Caruso and “American sweetheart” of silent movies, Mary Pickford.

After retiring as head of a lithographing business in New York, Cassidy devoted his time to painting. Cassidy’s affiliation to the early motion picture industry included designing posters and sets for W.W. Griffith’s famous “Birth of a Nation,” in addition to his work in Nassau where he financed and produced one of the first overseas motion pictures.

Cassidy was a Sarasota resident for many years where he painted several oil portraits and maintained studios in the Commercial Court building.

Asa Cassidy died at his Tampa residence in February, 1946 at age 81

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Pretty as a Picture

Perhaps a volleyball game does not qualify for a ‘Pretty as a Picture,’ however this was taken at the ever-missed Lido Beach Casino. To add even more interest, it is one of the few images in color that I have come across. If you have any color (or black and white) pictures of the Casino you would like to share with our viewers, please let us know, here

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Ain't Life Grand?

A fishing ‘smack’ is what this half of the stereo-card says, but could this also be considered sparking? Whatever works, when you’re sneaking a smooch, as far as I am concerned. Pucker up!

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Postcard of the Week

This postcard states that this is the favorite outdoor sport in St. Petersburg. Being a bench-warmer must have been a big thing back in the 1920s from the looks of all the people seated. Are all those men standing just being gentlemanly, or are they waiting for someone to get up and leave, so they too, can join in all the fun? Another interesting point is 99% of all the crowd have on hats. Lids on people, on benches – nice way to spend a sunny day in downtown St. Pete.

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Sarasota Architecture With Pizzazz

The Sarasota Garden Club will have their 85th annual flower show, “Sarasota Architecture with Pizzazz,” which is free to the public, on January 23rd and 24th, from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. It is a celebration of Sarasota’s rich history in architecture.

The merchants of Palm Avenue will decorate their windows for the show and be judged on January 16, 2016. Cheryl Burke from Burke Antiques will appraise two of your items for $15.00 (usually charges $150.00) Saturday, January 23, 2016, ONLY. There will be vendors, gardening tips and lunches will be available. For more information visit their website, www.sarasotagardenclub.org or reach them by phone at: (941) 955-0875.