This Week Newsletter - April 28, 2010

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Sarasota History Alive! Where history happens every day.

Charles Ringling was a Major Player in Sarasota's Development

Charles Ringling, in many ways much different than his brother John Ringling, though he had a tremedous impact on our communtiy despite his more understated tone. While John was gregarious and a showman, Charles was more subdued and a behind-the-scenes kind of man.

Lucky for us, his influence today can still be felt here in many ways that are unrelated to the circus. Come on a journey with Lee as he explains how this remarkable man transformed development and a was a wise and ethical businessman.

Click here to view the video.

Tales of Sarasota

Diane sure can't pass up a good reunion, and the Grand Reunion was no exception for Sarasota High School graduates, held on April 17th.

Why, even an alumnae from the Class of 1933 was there! All in all, this was their biggest crowd ever, and Diane had her first experience in putting together such a large event.

Click here to see how it went; Anchor's Aweigh!

The Sarasota Times

(The Sarasota Times newspaper was our area's first. Rose Wilson was the publisher and editor for many years after her husband passed away. Sarasota History Alive! would like to share artices from this paper with you that reflect on our heritage. Today we have chosen one that tells of one of Uncle Ben Stickney's very popular picnics. This article was first reported in the January 5, 1911 edition of the weekly paper.

Picnic At Uncle Ben's

A picnic to Uncle Ben Stickney’s home on Sarasota Key (today’s Siesta Key) was participated in by about 30, who were taken there in the launch Ada which was presented to the hostess, Mrs. Abbe, for the day with the “Season’s Greetings,” by the Captain, Clarence Roberts.

Mr. Stickney gave a concert with his gramophone, and the dinner – as always with Mrs. Abbe’s parties – was all that one could wish.

On returning, a stop was made at Captain Robert’s Hotel where an immense turtle of 400 pounds is kept, whose barnacles covered shell and ancient appearance entitles him to all the respect usually accorded by visitors. Arriving at the Sarasota dock, three cheers were given for the Captain, by the guests of a day greatly enjoyed.

(photo credit: Sarasota County History Center)


The Frances-Carlton Apartments

The Frances-Carlton Apartments located at 1221-1227 North Palm Avenue were built beginning in 1924 as furnished, rental apartments. The announcement of the proposed complex first appeared in the Sarasota Times of May 1, 1924. The apartments, which were to be called the Frances-Carlton, evidently received the nomenclature from a combination of “Frances,” the first name of co-architect, Francis James of Tampa, and Carlton, in honor of the owner’s son, Carlton Olin Teate, Jr. The construction announcement described the proposed building in detail, specifying the construction materials to be hollow tile with a stucco finish in the “Spanish-Moresque style with tile roof and extended eves (sic) very much resembling the ancient hostelry of the Pyrenees along the Spanish border of southern France. The structure will contain 21 complete apartments of four and six rooms respectively, and each and every apartment completely finished with the purpose of affording the tenant personal and individual service."

The press release also specified that the site on Palm Avenue would afford views of the Sarasota Bay with vehicular access provided by “one driveway entrance opening on Palm Avenue and extending the entire distance through to Seventh Street” (Seventh Street is now First Street). The vehicular entrance would provide access to the two main entrances located at the central open courts lobby area of the first floor. The original plan also called for the innovative addition of a 30’ x 40’ roof garden which was located at what was referred to as “Frances-Carlton Apartment Galley No. 2.” Read more...


Do you like Saints or Sinners?

The Saints & Sinners Tour is sure to delight the long time resident as well as those visiting Sarasota for the first time. The two hour tour invites guests to examine a unique cast of historical characters and decide for themselves who were the saints, and who were the sinners. To learn more about the tour visit us online or give us a call 951-7727.


Just What is a Water Atlas?

The Sarasota County Water Atlas is designed to provide citizens, scientists, professionals, and planners with comprehensive and current water quality, hydrologic, and ecological data, as well as information about recreational opportunities and a library of scientific and educational materials on water resource issues.

Typically, the scientists and citizens who live and work on water resources have found it difficult to gather the information they need from the myriad of agencies that collect the related data. To solve this problem, we conceived of the Atlas as a "one stop information shop" for concerned citizens and scientists alike. The Atlas functions as a warehouse for a variety of water resources information, including documents and educational links.

Sarasota History Alive! would like to congradulate the dedicated people who amass this very useful information; after all, protection of our environment is very closely associated with historic preservation. Good job, folks!

To view their website, Click here.


The Very Thing to Send (Electronically)

Oh, how perfectly convenient! Vintage e-Postcards of Sarasota to send to friends and family with a quick thought from you. Nobody has much free time to write and stamp a card these days, so check out our postcard service. It's fun and as 'easy as pie'.

Click here to view the postcards, and try out this 'good time' feature.


Browning - An Early Sarasotan

Alex Browning, colonist, architect and writer, left his mark on Sarasota. Browning arrived on Sarasota Bay at the end of 1885 with a group of colonists who sailed from Scotland to start a new life in Florida. He was a young man of 19 years at the time.

The Browning family had lived in Paisley, Scotland, where Alex’s father, John B. Browning, was a carpenter and operated a wagon making shop. Persuaded by a pamphlet extolling the opportunities in Florida, they sold their properties and sailed from Scotland on the Furnessia on November 25, 1885. When they arrived at their new home, they discovered that the promised town had not yet been built. Many of the colonists who had sailed with them were unprepared for the life of a pioneer and soon left for more settled areas. The Brownings stayed, however, and quickly became some of the creators of the town. In his memoirs, Alex noted that while other family members were carpenters on the hotel and boarding house projects, he began work on the dock. For $2 a 10-hour day, he stood in water knee to shoulder deep, rocking back and forth until they hit bed rock, the pilings for a dock.

Having apprenticed for three years with an architect in Glascow, Browning was called upon to design some of the larger houses in the new town. John Hamilton Gillespie, later Sarasota’s first mayor, had Browning design his home. Browning, who also helped build it, later described the Palm Avenue house as “the finest in the county.” It had a detached kitchen, a cistern to collect rain water, porches on three sides, and a picket fence. The builders then added a chicken coop and cow sheds. Read more...

(photo credit: Sarasota County History Center)


Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Every day of the year we highlight what took place in Sarasota's history, thanks to Whit Rylee and Tom Payne's extensive research and sense of humor. Frequently check our website's homepage to find out what occured today.

Also, be sure and check out Whit's website at:

Today in 1866, Thomas Reed Martin was born in Menasha, Wisconsin. A multi-faceted architect, Mr. Martin designed buildings ranging from the Municipal Auditorium and the Chidsey Library (now the History Center Museum and the county's Visitors and Convention Bureau) in Bayfront Park, to the "Oaks," Mrs. Potter Palmer's home. He also did the original sketches for Ca'd'Zan, the John Ringling mansion. In all, during his thirty-year career in Sarasota, he designed more than 500 homes and commercial structures.

(photo credit: Sarasota County History Center)


Ain't Life Grand?

Your editor spends a great deal of time at the Sarasota County History Center finding interesting information for you to ponder. While there, he also comes across many photos that depict life at an earlier time in history. With that in mind, check out this week's mage.

Oh silly boys! The only real woman in this photo is Rita Levinson. Turns out this in either 1935 or 1936 was at a skit during a major golf tournament here in Sarasota. All the 'guys' are famous baseball players of that era. They are; Roy Spencer, Robert Burke, Butch Henline, Heinie Manush, Bill Sweeney, Roy Spencer, and Wes Ferrell. The two other gentlemen are golf pro's Elmer Biggs, and Bert Montressor. I guess any reason to get in bad drag is an opportunity just waiting to happen. I think Rita should have at least helped them with make up.

(photo credit: Sarasota County History Center)


History Locator

Today we are honoring the Nokomis School marker. It reads:

One of the area’s oldest educational institutions, the Nokomis School, was built in 1924 on Nippino Trail. The photo shows the two-room Mediterranean Revival style school.

Originally, children in grades one through eight attended the school. A bus carried high school students to the only high school in the county, Sarasota High. In 1927, two wings of three classrooms each were added to the original structure to accommodate students from Laurel, Nokomis, Venice and Englewood in grades 9 through 12. In 1930, the first class of eight seniors graduated.

Those first eight seniors established a school newspaper and yearbook, boys’ basketball and football teams, girls’ basketball and track teams, glee club, and a Declamation and Drama Club. They competed in statewide contests. Read reverse side...

(photo credit: Greg Best)


Where Am I?

The winner from our last quiz was Bill Hartman. We would like to thank our generous sponsors for providing prizes. You too, can become a sponsor (see below).

Click here to review the photo, question and the correct answer of last week's challenge.

This Week's Clues:

Ahhh...Spring has sprung and here I sit on my nest with my little ones waiting to hatch. Yes, indeed, I am a black swan; there used to be quite a few of me around here, but you know, things change.

I used to be treated pretty darn well in my day, so it is up to you to figure out, where am I? Click here to give it your best guess. Good luck, and no help from the little birdies out there.

(photo credit: Sarasota County History Center)

Your prize this week is a Sarasota High School tote bag, and is created and supplied by Sarasota History Alive!

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?


Sarasota County Announces New History Center Website

Arriving from her home in Chicago in 1910, Bertha Palmer is credited with helping to establish Sarasota County as a destination spot for those seeking refuge from the cold winter months in the north. She also maintained homes in Rhode Island, Paris, France and London, England. Traveling in the circles of the elite and wealthy, Palmer attracted not only her social friends to Sarasota County, but her business associates as well.

“Bertha Palmer is responsible for so many advances in Sarasota County,” said Lorrie Muldowney, Preservation Specialist with the Sarasota County History Center. “She was a visionary that was way ahead of her time in the fields of business, farming, agriculture and sustainability. In a time when women did not have the same rights as men, Bertha Palmer was a leader that helped make Sarasota County what it is today.”

The Web site, features links to hundreds of historical photographs as well and descriptive summaries of manuscript collections held at the Center, and information on the history and pre-history of Sarasota County. Information on current exhibits at the Sarasota County History Center Museum, 701 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota also appears on the site. For more information contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000.


Fifty Years of SHS Class Reunions Under One Roof

On Saturday, April 17th, 2010, the Sarasota High School Grand Reunion was held at Robarts Sports Arena, and a crowd of over 1,500 people showed up representing classes from 1935-1985, and beyond.

Former students and falculty of the iconic high school, were on hand to visit, get re-acquainted, find long-lost friends, and just have a great time during this all day event that occurs every five years. A big 'thank you' for Marshall DuBois and Diane Esthus and their committees for making this get-together a grand success.


The Venice Area Historical Society Hosts WEDU Premiere

On Wednesday, May 12, 2010, at 7:00 p.m., the VAHS will host the premiere of the WEDU documentary: "Venice, Florida: Moving Forward by Looking Backward." This event will be held at Village on the Isle, in the Mark Manor Building, Renaissance Room #1.

Seating is limited, so please make your reservations early. Call the VAHS office at 941-412-0151, and leave your name, phone number, and the number of seats you wish to reserve. Or, you can contact Betty Intagliata at 941-484-0769 for further information.



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