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Newsletter October 5, 2016

Published Wednesday, October 5, 2016 8:00 am

Drive By Gem

I love to drive through McClellan Park between Osprey and Orange Avenues south of downtown Sarasota. There you will find a neighborhood, developed in 1916 by two sisters that tried their hand at real estate during a time it was rare women dared to do so. This traditional home is on a very large lot there, and hopefully it will remain and not be sold off and subdivided to accommodate two mega homes sans a yard. It is well-maintained and could last for many more decades, as a reminder of spacious yet practical use of the property.


Ain't Life Grand?

Here’s my carry-on luggage, but what do you mean there is a weight limit for passengers? I am not a former Miss Universe, and since when is a size 12 considered fat? Don’t get me started…

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Postcard of the Week

This is an image of the Clearview Hotel that was on Broadway Avenue near downtown Sarasota. Note the name, “Clearview” – it had a great view of the bay. If it were still in existence that would no longer be the case. Let’s see what the huge development at the Quay property, and the 20/20 Bayfront plans create in terms of public view of the bay.

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Just Jane

Just a bit of historic news for all my readers out there, and THANK YOU for letting me know how much you like my blogs! It’s nice to know they’re actually being seen by lots of history-loving folks.

If you missed Style Magazine in this past Sunday’s Herald-Tribune, get yourself a copy right now! Besides the calendar for season, it has a centerfold, filled with fascinating information compiled by our favorite historian, Jeff LaHurd and Ms. Gayle Guynup, on “25 Women Who Helped Shape Sarasota.”

You’ve probably read that the former historic school, in the middle of McClellan Park, has been on the market for some time now (read more about the McClellan sisters who developed the park area back in the early 1900s, in the aforementioned Style Magazine). Let’s try to make sure that this property doesn’t get bulldozed like so many other historic landmarks in our neighborhoods.

It’s that time of year, when all of the local farms seem to be celebrating their harvests, but one that you may not have heard too much about, is Geraldson’s Community Farm. Granted its way out on 99th St NW in Bradenton, but it sounds like their Harvest Festival, on Sunday, Oct. 30th is going to be a fun day for all. I’m taking several of our favorite Sarasota artisans up there to sell our wares, so we hope to see you there, between noon and 5:00 p.m. Bring the children, too.


Pretty as a Picture

Some people refer to this area as “Lower Main Street,” probably because it slopes from Five Points to the bay. Note the way the cars were parked in the 1920s; I don’t see a parking meter in sight. There was lots of activity in this section of downtown, because many nightclubs, restaurants and small businesses were located here. Anyone remember the Manhattan Club, the Tropical, or the Circus Lounge? .

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)



I loved the Azure Tides Hotel on Lido Beach, and who didn’t enjoy bellying up to the bar at the Viking Room? If this cocktail napkin could talk, I bet it would have plenty of stories. Do you have any recollections about this notable spot? If so, contact us here.

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


The Origin of the Name Sarasota

Residents of Sarasota have long speculated about the origin of the name. A plausible sounding daughter Sara was invented for explorer Hernando de Soto, who landed in the Manatee River in 1538, complete with a tragic love story to dramatize a 1916 “Sara de Soto” pageant. The pageant became an annual week-long celebration climaxed by a circus parade, and declined when the Barnum & Bailey winter camp was moved to Venice in 1960. But Sara is not a Spanish given name, and there is no known historical basis for the story; it is probably just a pleasant myth.

A more recent speculation is that the name may have meant Point of Rocks or Place of the Dance, but there is little or no linguistic or historical basis for this hypothesis. The true story is more interesting.

The Original Form “Zarazote”

An early Spanish map on sheepskin that turned up in London when Florida passed to British possession in 1763, shows the word “Zarazote” across present day Bradenton and Sarasota. When the coast was charted, the name appeared as Boca Sarazota (Sarazota Pass) between Lido and Siesta Keys, and by the 1850s the barrier islands and the bay were both labeled Sarasota on maps.

Zarazote is not a word of clearly Spanish origin like most other names on the 1763 map, and no specimen of the native Calusa language is known beyond some village names and one or two other words, which provide no basis for interpretation. But there are more likely origins of the name Zarazote.

I discovered recently that there is a neighborhood called Alta Zarazota (“High Zarazota”) in Bogotá, the capital of Columbia, which the Spanish explorers occupied just a few years before de Soto came to Florida. Clues in the Mediterranean make it likely that the explorers brought the name with them.

However, it is possible that Zarazota is a native Columbian name of the Chibcha language family, which like the Calusa language is extinct. But a manuscript Chibcha dictionary survives in the national library in Bogota, that may contain clues when typed and alphabetized, and an inquiry is underway.

Read More

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Tomorrow in 1922, ground was broken on the Mira Mar Apartments. In what may be a record for any large building in this part of the state, the entire building was finished in exactly 60 days. The “60-day Wonder,” as it was called, was the product of 24 hour a day efforts by the builder, Andrew McAnsh and his crews.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Who was I?

The winner of our last contest was Jon Stone. Please email me your mailing address so I may send you your prize. 

I was a temporary location in the Laurel Park area back in the 1920s. Your editor has blocked out the sign above my door on the right side of this shot, only to throw you off. Without elaborating too much, your task is to submit what my name was until my permanent location was constructed. 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

I am taken with some of MacKinlay Kantor’s objects that reside at Sarasota County Historical Resources, and this vase is no exception. I especially like the funky animal handle. How creative, just like the famous Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

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