Ken Thompson and the Making of Modern Sarasota: Conversation at the Crocker

Anyone intrigued by the recent and turbulent history of Sarasota will want to be in the audience at the Crocker Memorial Church on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 when historian Jeff LaHurd and real estate/architecture expert Harold Bubil engage one another in a lively conversation about Ken Thompson, Sarasota’s longest-serving city manager and the man responsible for moving Sarasota into the modern era.

This non-elected public servant had an unorthodox style achieving progress and it will all be revealed at this Conversation at The Crocker which starts at 7 p.m. The event is free to members of the Historical Society and $10 for guests.

“Ken Thompson was appointed city manager in 1950 and guided the community for the next 38 years,”

said LaHurd, whose latest book is about Thompson and his influence on the development of Sarasota. “It would be difficult to find anyone in Sarasota’s history who exerted such an influence on this community. Waldo Profit called him the architect of modern Sarasota and Bruce Franklin, president of the ADP Group once remarked when Thompson was city manager, it did not take 10 years to get a project completed.”

LaHurd’s research found Thompson to be a man of integrity and above reproach in all his business dealings. “He was a brilliant Renaissance man who enjoyed flying, sailing, and creating art,” continued LaHurd. “With Ken Thompson, the buck stopped on his desk and he was capable of making far reaching decisions. At a time when segregation was the “law” of the land, Thompson de-segregated the public library and Bobby Jones Golf Course with a telephone call to the manager of each. As an important person in Sarasota’s history I rank Ken Thompson with John Hamilton Gillespie, Owen Burns, Bertha Palmer and John Ringling.” You’ll want to know more, so be in the audience on Tuesday, April 8 at the Crocker Memorial Church. Bring your questions and any memories you have of Ken Thompson to share.

Conversations take place at The Crocker Memorial Church and proceeds help to maintain the Bidwell-Wood House (1882, Sarasota’s oldest private residence) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901). The Crocker Memorial Church is located at 1260 12th Street in Pioneer Park, Sarasota, one block off North Tamiami Trail at 12th Street. Chairs of Conversations at The Crocker are Lynn Harding and Marsha Fottler. Docent-led tours of the two buildings are available and the gift shop is open before each Conversation event. For more information call  364-9076.