Local History

Found 8 blog entries about Local History.

I ran across this photo showing Lido Key toward the end of the 1940s. The vintage postcard illustrates so much that has changed in 60-plus years.

The card features Lido Casino designed by renowned architect Ralph Twitchell in Art Deco style. Ornamentation included cast concrete seahorses, tropical murals and glass blocks. Formally opened in 1940, the building was destroyed and replaced in 1969.

Some joys don't change. We still walk from St Armands Circle to Lido Beach for brilliant sunsets and a chance at spying the green flash just before the sun drowns in the Gulf of Mexico. The little cottages are mostly gone, replaced by condominium complexes along Ben Franklin Drive and mansions along Sarasota Bay, but the park purchased by the city from

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Sarasota Magazine’s Heat Index feature gave full-page treatment to the neon Flamingo Colony Motel sign that used to glow in the dark on Sarasota’s North Trail. The vintage sign lives on in Marty Treu’s book Signs, Streets and Storefronts: A History of Architecture and Graphics along America’s Commercial Corridors.

Learning that Treu, an architect, lived in Sarasota 30 years ago and helped us legislate protection for vintage signs, I started thinking about my favorite signs. It feels good to pull these graphics from the recesses of my mind and take note again.

The Gulf Beach Resort Motel sign gave me my first introduction to Sarasota more than 20 years ago. Converted to a condo motel in the late 1970s, this 1950s-era retreat on Lido beach has added

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We Sarasotans possess a keen interest in the history of our community. We’ve even been known to make up fanciful stories about how our town got its name.

Ever heard the one about Hernando de Soto's daughter Sara? As it turns out, that was creative marketing by starting with the first “Sara de Soto” pageant held here in 1916.

I don’t know about Sara, but, by the mid-1700s, maps identified Sarasota as Zara Zote, and Americans and Cubans ran ranchos or fishing camps along Sarasota Bay. They maintained a lively trade selling turtles and fish to merchants in Havana.

By the 1800s, the Seminole War raged and the U.S. Army established a fort at the site of the ranchos. Eventually the Seminole Wars ended and the federal government deported the native

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A day after renowned architect Edward J. “Tim” Seibert spoke at The Ringling’s Historic Asolo Theater, the Sarasota County Commission reviewed plans for renovating his 1959 Siesta Beach Pavilion.

Author and architect John Howey included Seibert’s pavilion in his essential reference book titled The Sarasota School of Architecture: 1941-1966 and includes a 1962 photo of the structure.

The August 1963 issue of Architectural Record published an article about the design pointing out the way Seibert employed low-maintenance materials such as reinforced concrete and concrete block. The article also examined the construction techniques and the way that the architect protected the structure against storms.

In 1980, the restroom entrances on the beach side

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Ten years ago, Gil Waters drove a vintage car over the brand-new John Ringling Causeway Bridge. The longtime advocate for the fixed-span bridge joined a parade for the August 31, 2003 grand opening that replaced the 1958 drawbridge and transformed the old bridge into a fishing pier.

Sarasota erupted into controversy at the thought of replacing the drawbridge. I remember locals complaining that they wouldn’t be able to see Sarasota Bay from the new span. It took a decade to wade through the discussions and legal challenges to the idea of a 65-foot-high bridge.

No doubt similar arguments arose about replacing the 1926 bridge which also connected the mainland with St Armand Key. After all, the Circus magnate John Ringling invested $1 million

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The Ringling offers an opportunity to hear and see Tim Seibert recount his memories of life in the creative world of the Sarasota School of Architects. Maureen Zaremba, curator of educational programs, will interview Seibert on stage at the Historic Asolo Theater at 10:30am Tuesday, August 27, 2013. Museum Members and Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) members admitted Free, General Public/Free with Museum admission, all others $5. Since The Ringling event is ticketed, I recommend calling 941.360.7399 for reservations. Afterward attend a book-signing reception. There are a few places available for the SAF-sponsored luncheon with Seibert at Treviso Restaurant (Advance online payment only: $25 per person).

Born in Seattle, Edward J. “Tim” Seibert

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In 2007, developers leveled Sarasota Quay (Photo below) to make way for condos, retail and hotel space on the 15-acre gateway property. Today the grassy waterfront parcel Photo at left) at the intersection of Tamiami Trail (US 41) and Fruitville Road (SR 780) fills the space between the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota and the Hyatt Regency Sarasota.

Now the Irish government has cleared the legal hurdles to repossess the vacant bayfront property and established its new ownership as National Asset Sarasota, LLC. The intial asking price will be $40 million, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Given the post-recession resurgence in Southwest Florida, the time seems right for development of this desirable downtown location.

Please contact me for more

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For all you history buffs out there, I assure you that Sarasota culture dates back to forever. I enjoy discovering the backstory for places that I find intriguing, and I found a story about Bird Key that mimics the love story behind the Taj Mahal. It all happened an exclusive island nestled between Downtown Sarasota and St Armands Circle.

In the early 1900s, a 12-acre island named Bird Key peeked a few feet above the shallows of Sarasota Bay. Thomas Martin Worcester, purchased the island in 1906, and he and his Scottish wife, Davie Lindsay Worcester, wintered in Sarasota.

In 1911, Worcester began work to build a mansion on the island, a first for Southwest Florida. He dredged a channel through grass flats and used dredged material to create a

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