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Newsletter August 10, 2016

Published Wednesday, August 10, 2016 7:00 am

Drive By Gem

You don’t see a yellow front door very often in Sarasota, but on this mid-century modern home (East of the Trail) is sure works well, and really sets off the house. It also contrasts beautifully with the exceptional lawn. I wish my lawn looked that good; the last time I got St. Augustine grass to look that flawless was when I lived in Houston during the 1970s. Chinch bugs are prolific here and gobble up all my best efforts to maintain a healthy lawn. 


Ain't Life Grand?

This couple is at the Lido Beach Casino clowning around. If the woman’s hair wasn’t dark brown, her boyfriend could easily be a department store Santa Claus come Christmas. 

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Postcard of the Week

This sure was a popular spot many years ago on the South Tamiami Trail. The pancakes were divine and packed with carbs and smothered in syrup. There was a certain irony being located across the highway from the hospital; a short walk to the E.R. after your heart attack! Since then there has been several other restaurants at this location, and now it stands empty waiting for another tenant. I wonder what franchise will take the wheel now and try to make a go of it, and last longer than Kissin’ Cuzzins. Batter up! Sorry, I couldn't resist.

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Just Jane

Ice cream! Did you, back in the ‘good ole days’ when gas was cheap, used to take Sunday evening drives to your favorite ice cream shoppe? We never had air conditioning in the ‘50s when I lived in Wilmington, Delaware. So it was practically a weekly treat when my Dad would pile the six of us into our wood-paneled station wagon and ease on over to Pusey Passmore’s Ice Cream Stand (I kid you not, that was the name).

We’d saunter up to the squeaky, sliding-screen window, after perusing his hand-chalked blackboard of ‘Flavors of the Day,’ and except for an occasional chocolate mint chip filled cone, I’d faithfully order black raspberry.

While on Cape Cod last month, playing Nanny with two of my grands, we discovered the most popular ice cream parlor in Dennisport…Sundae School. Their parking lot is so jammed from 4:30 p.m. till closing, they have to hire a policeman to direct the traffic (it’s worse than the Heavenly Ham shop on the South Trail the day before Easter).

The sad thing about this stroll down history lane... I was diagnosed as horribly lactose intolerant about 20 years ago, after the “last straw” attack. I’d eaten one of Greer’s delicious chicken pot pies, dripping with creamy goodness and my travel agency co-workers nearly had me hauled off to the emergency room; anyone know what became of Greer?

But, since I hadn’t had a real ice cream cone in at least 19 years, I dared to try the ginger flavor, figuring that the ginger would allay any intolerant pangs I might suffer. After one day with no problems, we went back two days later and I tried their black raspberry and heard “Memories” playing so loudly in my head, I was spinning!

I am back down to earth now and want to alert you to two new ‘oldies but goodies’ coming to our Vintage Real Estate section. Be sure and watch for them; I’m hoping that one even comes with chickens!



It looks as though the east coast of Florida was quite striking back in the day, but it surely is not as serene today with all the growth that has occurred since the early 1900s. I still prefer our coast, though the growth is catching up at a fierce pace. Gosh, I can’t remember the last time I saw mules pulling a buckboard with supplies that came off a train. Can you?

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Pretty as a Picture

Ah, the peace and quiet of sailing on Sarasota Bay – well, in this case sailors doing some maintenance to their boats at City Island. Yes, these fine young men are part of the Sarasota Sailing Squadron in 1948, and the spot couldn’t be more pristine.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources, Johnson Collection)


Casey Key is Filled with Architectural Delights

The natural beauty of Casey Key has attracted the attention of visitors and residents to the Gulf Coast for many years. Casey Key's first non-native inhabitants were members of the Isaac Shumard family, originally from Missouri, who arrived around 1900. Casey Key's earliest remaining structures date back to the first quarter of the 20th century and were quite typical of Sarasota's Boom Time, Mediterranean Revival Style, architecture.

However, as early as the late 1930s innovative architects were creating an architectural legacy on Casey Key in ways that are still being recognized for their importance. A notable example was the Miller House (pictured), located at 2209 Casey Key Road and built in 1948.

Designed by the architectural team of Ralph Twitchell and Paul Rudolph, who worked together in Sarasota from 1941 to 1951, their stated purpose in the design "was to make unmistakably clear how each member is joined to its neighbor." An award given by Progressive Architecture magazine in 1949, for the home's "orderliness of design and pleasant interiors" demonstrated that the architects had achieved their stated goal.
Featured in "Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses," a recent book by Christopher Domin and Joseph King, the home is described therein as "a large winter residence placed on a beachfront bluff that combines a sense of warmth and intimacy derived from the materials used and an openness created by the T-Shaped plan and open bay system." Read more... 

(photo credit: NorthCarolinaModernist.com)


Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Yesterday, in 1885, Maria (Mariah) Minshall was born the daughter of a geologist and inventor. In 1908, she married William Selby, a principal figure in several oil companies. They moved to Sarasota a few years later. Their mark is found throughout the area, including the library that bears their name, and the Botanical Gardens.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Who was I?

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

I sure was a lovely mansion, don’t you agree? Some notable folks lived here, but I will not ask you to provide their names, though many of you would probably know offhand. I’m also not going to request you provide my location, since developers had the nerve to demolish me. Aargh! However, I am going to insist you provide my name to win the contest; in other words – Who 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

When’s the last time you had your eyes examined? These instruments are from Dr. Furman Whitaker’s collection displayed at the Historical Exhibits & Education Center, located at 701 N. Tamiami Trail. Optometrists have certainly come a long way from the early 20th century. 

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor: You mistakenly thought the Bay Breeze Motel was demolished. I own the motel and here is an excerpt from the historical marker in front of it on the North Trail: "The Bay Breeze Motel (1770 North Tamiami Trail) is a one story Modern Ranch Motel with Mediterranean Revival influences. Construction began in 1949 under the ownership of Swedish resident Ture Gemzell. Originally intended for the motel to be apartments called The Lido Breeze, but was changed and opened as The Twin Motel instead. It has remained virtually unchanged since. 

Arnold Berns,
Sarasota, FL