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Newsletter February 10, 2016

Published Wednesday, February 10, 2016 9:00 am
by Larry Kelleher

Drive By Gem

This study in yellow has recently undergone a remodel and large garage added to the original house. I am so pleased it resembles the main house with close attention paid to the details, especially how the carport links the two. This is always important to keep the same theme, especially in older homes. It is located West-of-the-Trail south of Bahia Vista Street and north of Arlington Street. 

Just Jane

Things really started heating up on Orange Avenue last Sunday as the 3,000 runners in the Music Half Marathon came whooshing by, pushed by the winds and cheered onward by the hearty throngs of neighbors, clanging their cow bells. The Hatley Band, stationed at the topless female statue in McClellan Park, inspired the runners to a faster beat as they danced their way past the nearby water stations.

Real estate development along this West-of-the-Trail corridor has nearly reached a boiling point this season; the photo of a lonely stove sitting curbside says a lot. With snarling bulldozers chomping through older foundations, preservation is being challenged by the steady drumbeat of the developers’ hammers and nail guns. If you are looking for an older home to rescue, now is the optimum time to jump on board, before they all end up in the landfill cemetery. You might find just what you’re looking for here

Meanwhile, one house that is being preserved, for the public to enjoy is the Keith Farmhouse at Phillippi Estate Park. You can enjoy helping this project along, by attending the Farmhouse Market on Wednesday, February 17th, where you will find 80 Light Chasers artists, painting throughout this 60-acre park located on Phillippi Creek. At noon, they will assemble their finished works in the middle of the farmers market, and be judged by Master Artist, Bill Farnsworth. The paintings will then up for sale, right off the easels!

If you miss out on this Quick Draw Event, have no fear. You are invited to come to two FREE Galas when the Light Chasers set up their works in the Keith Mansion in Phillippi Park, on Friday, February 26th and Saturday, February 27th from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. each evening.

Donations at the door will be greatly appreciated, and Sunday, February 28th, the show continues from noon to 5:00 pm. Last year over 2,000 attendees were wowed by the quality of these modern day “Impressionists.” A portion of all sales goes toward the completion of the Farmhouse, before its 100th Anniversary in November of this year. Phillippi Park is located at 5500 S. Trail in Sarasota. Visit: www.farmhousemarket.org and www.LightChasersinc.com


Ain't Life Grand?

“Joy Riding” indeed! This is one of those things that commercials and reality shows stress “do not try this at home” and for good reason. The alligator doesn’t look too thrilled to have young boys along for the ride. As a kid, growing up in Sarasota, we did a lot of crazy and somewhat dangerous things, but this is not one of them. You have to draw the line somewhere. 

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Postcard of the Week

In the early 1950s, when I was busy being a kid, this is how the Municipal Pier looked. However, this may be a shot from the 1940s, but things did not change as rapidly back then as they do today. In any event, Sarasota had a simple skyline and the buildings were kept at a certain livable scale. Whatever happened to that tradition? 

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)



This is Black History Month and many organizations are honoring that important celebration. Part of that history is not always something to proud of in our country. This letterhead is an example of how the Ku Klux Klan had a presence here in Sarasota during the early 20th century. Rather disturbing…

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


The Banyan House

There will be a dedication of the historical plaque to be installed on Venice's 1926 Banyan House by the Venice Area Historical Society's Plaque Committee, on Tuesday, February 16, 1:30 PM, at the house, 519 Harbor Drive.

This house was built in 1926 for Robert Marvin, manager of the local office of The Venice Company. The company, a subsidiary of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE), sold real estate in Venice during the city's development in the 1920s. The house was designed in the new city's Mediterranean Revival style of architecture. The residence was later called The Banyan House in recognition of the Banyan tree reputedly donated by Thomas Edison and planted in 1928.

Built as a single family residence, the house had many uses over the years. It was a boarding house known as the Copper Kettle Inn, a pre-school called the Venice Country Day School, the unofficial headquarters of the local USO during World War II, and a shark's tooth and fossil museum. In 1986, new owners renovated the inn and opened the Banyan House Bed and Breakfast for area visitors. In 2015, they modified the home to provide for their private residence and to offer accommodations for seasonal renters.

The house was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing resource to the Venezia Park Historic District in 1989. For more information, please contact Barbara Smith at 941-412-0151, or visit veniceareahistoricalsociety.org.

The “Winter People” a Bissell Recollection

My father, Dr. James H. Bissell, and his first wife evidently started going down to Sarasota to spend winters in the middle of the 1880s. His brother-in-law, Norman Spang, interested my father in the idea of getting out of the Minneapolis winters and coming down to Osprey and enjoying the warm climate and the wonderful fishing, etc. Since Dad was a practicing physician at the time, I never did hear how he managed the time to go fishing in Florida! But, he fell in love with the whole area, and after spending several winters at Webb’s boarding house on the point at Osprey; he either built or bought a house on the land side of the bay north of Osprey about opposite the pass. I wonder if that would be what is today called Midnight Pass?

There was evidently at that time a very interesting group of “Winter People,” who came down from different places in the north to get away from the severe winters. Through the years they all became very good friends, and along with the natives, and year-round residents from Sarasota and Osprey, had many good times together. For some reason I used to hear of Spang’s Point, which could have been where Webb’s house was but perhaps it could have been somewhere else near Osprey. However, my Uncle Norman Spang, who was married to my father’s sister, Mary, always stayed at Webb’s when they spent time at Osprey. In the early 1900s the Spangs separated although never divorced. Mr. Spang went to live in Paris and died there some years later. Then in 1895, my father’s first wife died and for some years following, my Dad continued to spend winters at his house on the bay – enjoying the good friends and fine fishing, etc. Read more...

(photo credit: Courtesy of Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Today in 1913, construction was started on the Hover Arcade at the base of Higel’s Wharf by Brothers Frank and Dr. W.E. Hover. They bought the pier from Higel after the city turned his offers down. Seems he offered it to the city in 1905 for $1,500 and in 1910 for $5,000.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Who Was I?

The winner of our last contest was No one! What a shame. How about an easy quiz this week?

I know it is depressing to see me being torn down, but I was a very popular spot in my day. I think I have been replaced with a condo now; isn’t everything? Anyhow, your task today is to name me – in other words, “Who was 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 guess I am all about the Hover Arcade in this newsletter; I can’t help it – I loved that building. You can see it in the approximate center of this postcard. Back in the day when a young man was driving his sweetheart onto the pier and scored a kiss under the arch, he would toot his horn signaling his bravado. The echo could be heard all along Main Street, probably to the chagrin of the young lady. I think that beats a ‘tweet’ or a Facebook posting any day. 

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Bruce Stephenson Lecture on Nolen

On Tuesday, February 23, 2016, at 7:00 p.m., Bruce Stephenson will give a talk about John Nolen the noted architect and city planner. His presentation will be at the Venice Community Center, 326 Nokomis Avenue South.

Dr. Stephenson is the Director of the Department of Environmental Studies and Sustainable Urbanism at Rollins College. His books, editorials and journal contributions examine the intersection of environmentalism and city planning and authenticity as an overlooked factor in economic development. Bruce is a Florida Humanities Council scholar and contributor to the PBS documentary, "Imagining a New Florida." He will be discussing and signing copies of his new book, John Nolen: Landscape Architect and City Planner. For more information, contact the Venice Museum and Archives @ 941-486-2487.


Our County Treasures

This very interesting piece belonged to Bertha Palmer when she lived at the Oaks in Osprey. It is one of six matching vases, made of white bisque, in a chalice shape, with an applied flower design, on rectangular base. Whew! That describes it in a nutshell. Gee, I could see this being used to hold some Planter's Mixed Nuts at a house party.