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 foundation for his vision — an island estate named New Edzell Castle after his wife's ancestral home. Sadly, Davie Worcester died before her palace was completed. However, Davie wrote a letter from Sarasota describing in detail the birds, fish and vegetation that could be seen on the approach to Bird Key.
A couple of years after Davie's death, her husband opened New Edzell Castle with a formal reception and visitors exclaimed about the electric and gas lighting, steam heat and hot & cold water.
Soon Thomas Worcester left Sarasota. John Ringling, the circus magnate who envisioned so much of what became Sarasota, bought Bird Key, Otter Key, Wolf Key and other mangrove islands to own all the keys west of the City of Sarasota. The mid-1920s charted the Florida Land Boom and John Ringling dived right in. The circus impresario wanted to turn New Edzell Castle into the summer White House for then-President Warren Harding, who died before his friend could make that happen. Instead the mansion was where Ida Ringling North, John Ringling's sister, lived until she died in 1950.
John Ringling built the first bridges and roads from downtown Sarasota to St Armands Key and began developing Ringling Estates, which opened in 1926 just as the Florida Boom ended.
By 1936, John Ringling had died, and it took 10 years for his estate to clear probate. During that year, Bird Key remained undeveloped. Finally in 1959, Arvida Realty began developing Bird Key as the jewel set in the waters of Sarasota Bay.
Photo courtesy of the Sarasota History Center
Find Your Romantic Place on Bird Key
For your private tour of residences available on Bird Key, please contact Louis Wery.
6 Bed • 8 Bath • 7,047 Sf
675 Mourning Dove Drive, SARASOTA
Better Than New, This 6 Year Young Home, Is Located On Historic Bird Key. Wake Up To A Direct View Of Big Pass And The Gulf From Your Master Suite....View Listing
5 Bed • 7 Bath • 7,200 Sf • 1 Acres
614 S Owl Drive, SARASOTA
This Incredibly Elegant Bayfront Estate On Bird Key Is A Yachtsman’s Paradise. 150ft Of Frontage On Some Of Sarasota’s Deepest Waters And No Bridge...View Listing
4 Bed • 5 Bath • 6,449 Sf • 1 Acres
682 Mourning Dove Drive, SARASOTA
One Of The Most Desirable Locations In Bird Key, This Home Has Amazing Views Of Sarasota Bay And 233 Feet Of Seawall. With Four-bedrooms, Five-bat...View Listing
4 Bed • 6 Bath • 5,172 Sf
639 Mourning Dove Drive, SARASOTA
Fall In Love With The Direct-bay Location Of This Four-bedroom Bird Key Residence, Offering Sprawling Views Of Sarasota Bay, John Ringling Bridge A...View Listing
3 Bed • 4 Bath • 4,310 Sf
670 Mourning Dove Drive, SARASOTA
Fabulous Features Abound Throughout This More Than 4,000-square-foot Designer Residence In The Exclusive Community Of Bird Key. Ideally Situated Ju...View Listing
For more information about Sarasota & Her Islands, please contact Louis Wery.
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Listing information last updated on April 23rd, 2018 at 11:04am EDT.