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Newsletter June 15, 2016

Published Wednesday, June 15, 2016 6:00 am
by Larry Kelleher

The Big One

In 1921 hurricanes were not named, but the one in October of that year left a lasting impression on those who experienced it. Beginning with rain on Saturday, October the 22nd, the storm left the Sarasota Bayfront in shambles by Tuesday. The storm lifted the Seaboard Airline Rail tracks from the dock serving several fish houses and dropped them over the sea wall onto Gulf Stream Avenue not far from City Hall at the foot of Main Street. We urge you to be prepared for this hurricane season which already has been ushered in with Tropical Storm Colin. To view the video, Click Here.


Drive By Gem

I must apologize for this ‘Drive by Gem.’ It used to be located on Golden Gate Point, but is no more. Of course, condos rule and places like this have given way to the wrecking ball. I recall this home and have always liked this style which appears to be Art Moderne or Art Deco. I wish we had more examples of this architecture in our community.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Ain't Life Grand?

When was the last time you saw a log cabin on wheels? Okay, okay, I know this is a stretch, but this image will make you wonder. Heck, in the 1930s, the Tin Can Tourists held their annual convention here and they must have had a sense of humor. This trailer reminds me of the “tiny house” movement. What goes around comes around.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Postcard of the Week

I sure do miss the Mira Mar Hotel, and still cannot comprehend why it was demolished in the 1980s. It was solidly built by Andrew McAnsh and probably only needed the same restoration as his Mira Mar Apartments required. The apartments, and retail shops below them, still grace Palm Avenue and are a pleasant reminder how good preservation methodology and mindfulness can foster heritage tourism and add value to the downtown area.

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Just Jane

The Newtown Conservation Historic District Project had a great Christmas in June gift, last Monday at the regular City Commission Meeting, which was packed with friends and supporters of Vickie Oldham and her team of historic researchers. After viewing the emotional, but too short video of many of Newtown’s old timers and sharing “the Book” which has been filled with interviews, historic maps of Newtown, and plans for establishing historic districts therein, the Commissioners voted unanimously to fund Phase II of this long overdue project. A standing ovation followed their vote!

Vickie has been the director of the project, who in eight short months has mined the neighborhoods for records, letters, photos, stories, and videos of life north of 17th Street to Myrtle Street, bounded on the East and West by the railroad tracks. It’s a monumental task which her committee has undertaken and the results are an incredible body of work, which will soon lead to opportunities for more heritage tourism sites in our town. You can view the first chapter of this growing project here.  Congratulations to all.

Don’t forget - If your home is over 50 years old, and it’s on the market, we want to feature it here in our Vintage Real Estate Section. Check it out; note how many SOLD signs there are in our listings.

Mark your calendars for a fun archeological day, on Saturday, June 25th 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. at Phillippi Estate Park. Think American Indians who fished these waters, beached their canoes on Phillippi Creek and left remnants of their life here in 500 BC. Talk about historic Sarasota!



This is the cover of the 1989 Symphony Association’s Designer Showcase brochure. The “Duet of Historic Homes” featured were ‘Old Oaks, 916 Indian Beach Drive, and ‘Casa Aralu” located at 4311 Bayshore Road. The alluring cover artwork was done by local artist Richard Capes.
(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Pretty as a Picture

This is a picture of our original Ringling Causeway Bridge with fishermen and ladies angling for their family’s dinner during the Great Depression years. Note the wooden deck and the negligible boards separating the traffic. When I was a kid, I loved when my parents drove over the bridge to get to the Lido Beach Casino – 'clickity clack.' I also enjoyed seeing the balustrade which reminded me of the Celtic cross. Christian legend has it the first Celtic cross was formed by St. Patrick while bringing Christianity to the Druids. The Druids used to worship a large circular stone. St. Patrick, on seeing the significance of this stone, drew a large cross through the middle of it in order to bless it. From this act, the two cultures combined to form the Celtic cross. The cross represents Christianity and the circle is the Celtic representation of eternity; no beginning and no end.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


County Treasure

Are souvenir plates still being made? Surely they are and must be popular for collectors of such things. This plate has an assortment of local places depicted on it: The Lido Beach Casino, the Bradenton Yacht Basin/Chamber of Commerce, the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, the Ringling Art Museum and mansion, the Gamble Mansion, Sarasota Jungle Gardens, and the Bradenton Trailer Park. I wonder who was on the selection committee. Looks like they left off the Circus Winter Quarters. What a faux pas. 

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Fair Heralds Spring in Sarasota 

It’s not the chirp of the robin but the call of the midway barker and competition for the prize steer that announce the arrival of spring in Sarasota County. With its beginnings in 1924, the fair, or a substitute, has been a vehicle for showcasing local agriculture and home-produced goods as well as offering entertainment for most of the years since Sarasota County came into existence.

Soon after Sarasota County was formed in July 1921, community leaders worked to bring two new institutions (major league baseball and a county fair) to Sarasota in order to better promote the county to the rest of the world. In March 1923, the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce launched the Sarasota County Fair Association. Calvin and Martha Payne sold to the county and city 60 acres of prime real estate two blocks south of the new courthouse “for fairground and other park purposes.”

To convert the land into a fairground and baseball field, Mayor E.J. Bacon proclaimed a community work day in the fall of 1923. The above photo shows volunteers from the community working on an exhibition building in time for the first fair. Read more...

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Today in 1875, John F. Burket was born in Findlay, Ohio. He was convinced to come to town by businessman Ralph Caples to join him in the purchase of the Belle Haven Inn. Burket later became the Sarasota City Attorney and a leader in the movement to separate Sarasota from Manatee County.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Where was I?

The winner of our last contest was Diana Paver. Congratulations! Please email me your mailing address, so I can send you your prize. My email address is: editor@floridahistoryalive.com.

Larry thought about blurring my sign (The Granada) to make my location difficult for you, but kind soul that he is, he was determined to help you in this week’s quiz. My original owners (the Ringling’s) had me built as an apartment building. Right before I was demolished a few years back, Larry stopped by then, out of respect, to take some pictures of me before I was knocked down. Your task is to determine the street’s name right in front of my entrance - 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?



I have refrained from offering my opinion on controversial or political matters for many years in this newsletter. Recently, I decided to do so and hope you will join in the conversation. Today, I would like to offer my opinion on traffic congestion. It seems like daily I hear complaints about our seasonal and now year-round situation. In fact, the Sarasota Observer asked, in a recent editorial about this subject, "What's the Plan?" To date, I have not yet seen a realistic plan, so kick back and read my suggestion. If you have suggestions or ideas, please let us know Here

As more people visit and move here, it is inevitable traffic will continue to increase. Perhaps this is the time for our community to consider a different route to take while the planners are working on a permanent solution to a complicated problem. On a similar note, forget about paying out-of-state companies to come to Sarasota to create jobs when we can simply utilize the manpower and creativity we already have here. With that in mind, join me on a pleasant yet fanciful journey that will provide us with a sophisticated and practical solution:

Imagine stepping into a luxurious circulator shuttle bus, after you park your car at the closest mall, or shopping center, near your home. This state-of-the-art efficient vehicle will take you to your ultimate destination, while you relax and forget about traffic during high season, or the daily rush hours. This service will initially only be available on US 41 from south Venice to the Sarasota-Bradenton airport, and the keys. Each 21-seat circulator bus is equipped with free WiFi for you to use your smart phone or tablet, individual directional A/C vents, a large screen TV, comfortable seats with safety belts, an attendant with CPR and First Aid training, a wheel chair lift, and other thoughtful amenities. We all know texting and talking on your cell phone while driving is dangerous, but doing it on the shuttle bus creates no problems on the road, and you can enjoy the ride without safety concerns or distractions.

Today’s large hybrid SCAT busses cost on average $500,000 each, and are rarely filled to capacity when traveling their assigned routes. They will be sold or traded-in to acquire a fleet of small coach circulators. Though it will take many more shuttle busses and drivers to accommodate this service, consider the tax base currently supporting public transportation; the savings from using smaller circulators should be a considerable factor in weighing this solution.

Each circulator bus will be “wrapped” in an imaginative design indicating its destination for riders to easily recognize which bus to board, and not have passengers deal with confusing numbered routes. A map/flyer shows color coded routes that make it easy for residents and visitors to understand a circulator system. The maps will be available at all libraries, bus stations, online, and at hotels. Shuttles arrive every 15 minutes for your convenience, and they will be the only ones permitted to use the designated express lane for this service on US 41. The bus driver will not be distracted by passengers, as the bus attendant personally addresses their needs.

Your automobile is securely parked in an insured and leased section of the shopping center’s parking lot. This section is replete with a tent canopy to shade your car, a manned kiosk stocked with beverages, sundries, and reading materials for you to purchase and enjoy while you are being driven to work, cultural attractions, the medical complex, the judicial sector, downtown, St. Armand’s Key, festivals, sporting events, the marina, or the beaches. If you are heading to the beach, or have large items to transport to work, the bus attendant will stow your gear for you in the buss’s exterior side compartments. He or she will also serve as a tour guide for visitors and be in a position to recommend restaurants, upcoming social events, cultural destinations, shopping venues, sports events, and so on. Read more...