Summer Heats Up and Members Step Up!

Summer Heats Up & our Members Step Up!!!

Many thanks to our members who have stepped up this summer to help the Historical Society of Sarasota County.

The Historical Society's Landscape Chair, Sue PaddenSue Padden has volunteered to head up the landscaping committee and has planted our herb garden – she comes often to check on “her garden”. She has also elected to do a monthly donation to HSOSC with our pay pal monthly donation key on our website. Please join her in this by checking the button on the website. This is a tremendous help with the funding for the maintenance and upkeep for the two historic gems in Pioneer Park – the Bidwell-Wood House (1882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901).

 Paul Morrisroe volunteered his time and labor to repair the irrigation systems sprinkler heads and connections. This is a great help for the maintenance of the yards.

 Jon Moore and Linda Garcia accepting an antique steeple bell from Jack Helm of Helm VaultJon Moore located an antique church bell at the Helm Vault company and coaxed them into making a donation to HSOSC.

We thank him and Jack Helm and are looking forward to our “Ring the Bell” party in September (details coming: stay tuned!).

Gloria Nepstead has stepped up to replace Margret Bering as our volunteer plant lady taking care of the flower boxes on the front porch of both the church and the house.


Have a seat… thanks to philanthropy

HSoSC gets chairs for more seating at our Conversations at the Crocker in Sarasota!

They may not look like much to you, but they’re a dream come true for the Historical Society!

A grant from the Frances T. Bourne Fund at The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has provided for the purchase of chairs to expand our seating capacity in the Crocker Memorial Church (1901) and in the Bidwell-Wood House (1882). More seating for members meetings, for weddings, seminars, music and theatrical rehearsals, for local club meetings and for community-wide events, such as Conversations at The Crocker.

“We have never been able to accommodate as many people as come to our programs. ” said Site Manager Linda Garcia. “We use, of course, the original wooden pews made by early Sarasota settler Peter Crocker and the stackable chairs we already own, but we have had standing-room-only occasions and that led to our submitting a proposal to the Community Foundation. We are so grateful that they acknowledged our need and approved the funds for additional chairs. Our members and the whole community will benefit.”

The Historical Society of Sarasota County Vic-=President Marsha Fottlerworks hard, even in pink shorts!

Our Vice-President, Marsha Fottler, came dressed to work,  the day the chairs arrived via semi!

Besides serving the needs of the Historical Society, the Crocker Memorial Church building is available for rental and is equipped with a sound system, projector, black-out shades and now seating for 150. The historic structure is a popular destination for weddings and other celebratory events. The Historical Society considers the Crocker a model of adaptive use. Since 1901 it has been in constant use, first as a house of worship and now as a place that HSOSC and the Sarasota community use for a variety of programs and events. The Crocker has been preserved by being useful over a long span of time.

Funding for these chairs provided by the Frances T. Bourne Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.


History lives on in antiques, art and collectibles

We’re so excited to present this FUN and FUND-RAISING event on our Pioneer Park campus. Gather up your personal pieces of history: four expert companies are donating the talents of their appraisers to assist us in this enjoyable way to raise funds for the oldest residence in Sarasota County and the Crocker Memorial Church. Every dollar goes directly to the Historical Society.

Admire treasures, collect some up for the future, and enjoy the natural ambiance of one of the prettiest parks in the county. You can even take a Trolley Tour of Historic Downtown Sarasota!* And don’t miss the Back Porch Treasure Trove, where collectibles old and new can become yours!

Historical Society's Antiques Art & Collectibles Fair

HSOSC is very excited to bring you our first Antiques, Art & Collectible Fair on Saturday November 14 from 10a to 4p.

Appraisers available from 11a to 2p courtesy of Appraisals and Sales by Julie McClure, Crissy Galleries, Elder’s Fine Art and Antiques, Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers.  Appraisals are $10 each or 3 for $25.

*An optional Historic Downtown Sarasota Trolley Tour, leaving at 10a and returning to the festivities at noon, is available, with advance reservations a must since seating is limited. Contact Linda, our Site Manager, at 941-364-9076 between 10a and 2p, Mondays thru Fridays.

Crafters and collectibles welcome you in the yard and food and drink will be available for purchase. Demonstrations and deals on the porches.

At noon, we honor those who have donated a brick to our walk, with the annual historic brick dedications ceremony. Pass the word and join us for the festivities!!!


Put a “reserved” sign on your seat.

Reserve your spot on our tours & events at the Historical Society of Sarasota CountyThe Calendar is set and the reservation sheets are ready! Call the office to reserve your spots for fun events this season. Remember, events with limited seating sell out, so don’t be left high and dry, on the sidelines, behind…

Linda’s ready to take your reservations, so call her at 941-364-9076 between 10a and 2p Monday through Friday.

First up, our beloved 28th Historical LeBarge Cruise with John McCarthy is Sunday November 1, 2015 from 11am to 1pm.

Next, our traditional historical narrated Trolley Tours begin on Saturday November 14. Other dates are December 5 / January 9 / January 30 / February 20 / March 12 / April 2 / April 30.

NEW this season – “Artists in the Park” Sunday January 17, 2016 from 2p – 5p. OUTSIDE: Plein Air Painters from local chapter Light Chasers with paintings for sale off the easel. INSIDE: Local musicians led by Sal Garcia and Jack Dowd playing for your listening and dancing pleasure. Nibbles and beverages included. $20 and $15 for HSOSC members.

Click for details and to see and print the complete Calendar of Events

UPDATE FEBRUARY 2016: Every one of our space-limited events this season has sold out! While, of course, this helps the Society share Sarasota history with residents and visitors, we hate to disappoint folks. Rest assured that our next season, Oct 2016- May 2017, will be full of wonderful events. To be sure you get early notification of what’s available before the general public does, join our mailing list now.

Graphic borrowed with thanks from here.


We’re a part of Sarasota’s Premier Event, The Giving Challenge, Sept 1 & 2

We’re a part of Sarasota’s Premier Event, The Giving Challenge, Sept 1 & 2

The Giving Challenge allows the Historical Society of Sarasota County to rise to new heights!

The Giving Challenge allows the Historical Society of Sarasota County to rise to new heights!

The Historical Society of Sarasota County, as an inaugural partner with the Giving Challenge, looks forward to your participation in the Giving Challenge, now in its fourth year. And this year, you don’t have to set your alarm to help HSoSC before dawn, because the Challenge runs from 24 hours, from Tuesday September 1 at 12 noon through Wednesday September 2 ending at 12noon.

UPDATE: The link to go directly the HSoSC’s page in the Giving Challenge is It will only be operational between noon Tuesday Sept 1 and noon Weds, but you can bookmark it now!

Did you miss us last year? If so, you can help us TWICE as much! The Patterson Foundation is Will you be busy during The Giving Challenge? You can still participate. Just call our Site Manager Linda at 941-364-9076 Tu-Fr 10 to 2, or email her 24/7 at and she can help you help us!
matching donations, up to $250 per new donor. Your donation, large or small, will be worth double the donation. If you’ve been a loyal supporter, we love you and your continuing participation, and would be thrilled if you would consider asking a family member, friend or neighbor to join us in this Challenge, letting them know how valuable their gift can be! New donors are donors who did not give to HSoSC in the 2014 Giving Challenge (May 6 & 7, 2014).

We will be posting the link for you to use during the Challenge.  It will not work until it is turned on at Noon on September 1, 2015.  Thanks so much for your past participation and we look forward to a generous family of friends and supporters during the event this year!!

Rather send a check? That’s lovely too, and will free you up from the time restrictions on Tuesday September 1 at 12 noon through Wednesday September 2 ending at 12noon.  Perfect solution if you’ll be traveling or otherwise occupied on those dates! The Society’s mailing address is  PO Box 1632, Sarasota FL 34230.

For more information, stay in touch here on the HSoSC blog, or contact Site Manager Linda Garcia at or chat with her, 941-364-9076, Tues-Fri 10 to 2.

The 2015 Giving Challenge is made possible by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation with support from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation and the Herald-Tribune Media Group.

UPDATE: The link to go directly the HSoSC’s page in the Giving Challenge is It will only be operational between noon Tuesday Sept 1 and noon Weds, but you can bookmark it now!

25th Historical LeBarge Cruise

The Historical Society celebrated its 25th Historical LeBarge Cruise early in November, and were delighted to offer commentary courtesy of famed local historian John McCarthy.

If you couldn’t make the November tour with us, make plans now to join us in March! Email Linda Garcia, our Site Manager, at for your reservations now.

Historical Bay Cruise by the Historical Society of Sarasota County

Our newest board member Virginia Hoffman (second from left) enjoyed her birthday celebration on the cruise with other board members (l. to r.) BrendaLee Hickman , Bill Kleber, and Meade Ferguson.

Funds raised help the private non-profit Society preserve and protect two of the oldest historic buildings in Sarasota County. Visit the Bidwell-Wood House (1882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901) Monday-Friday 10am to 2pm, or during any of our special events on our Calendar of Events.  Pioneer Park is located just east of 41 at 12th Street.

Love to read? Love history? Join us with our new programs

The Historical Society of Sarasota County has two new programs beginning in December.

BBBL – Brown Bag Book Lunch!

This series of four get-togethers starts on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 from 11:30am to 1:30pm.  Local authors will discuss their books and offer insights in the Crocker Memorial Church starting at 11:30am followed by a question and answer period.  Then the group will have their BYOB brown-bag lunch on our serene Back Porch with beverages supplied by HSOSC.

On December 17 Bea Hartman will illustrate chapter sites from her “Florida Treasures – 55 Great Sites on the National Register of Historic Places“.  You will be able to purchase an autographed copy at the meeting.

The series continues with

  • January 21, 2015 – Charles Sobczak “The Living Gulf Coast“;
  • February 18, 2015 – Liz Coursen “Shade in the Sunshine State
  • March 18, 2015 – Henry Duggan “Silver’s Odyssey: Florida Wilderness Survival From the 1622 Atocha Shipwreck

These events are free for HSOSC members and $5 for guests.

The History Book Club

Jeff LaHurd's Sarasota: A HistoryAlso new beginning in January, HSOSC is starting a History Book Club headed up by president Howard Rosenthal and new member Anita Palladino.

First book reading is “Sarasota A History” by Jeff LaHurd.

These meetings will take place on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 1pm from January thru April in the Crocker Memorial Church.


Saturday, Novmeber 15, 2014

9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Crocker Memorial Church

1260 12th Street  (Pioneer Park)

One block east of N. Tamiami Trail at 12th Street


Presented by the Historical Society of Sarasota County in cooperation with area interior designers who have donated specialty items from their galleries and inventory.

Come and find custom toss pillows, lamps, occasional furniture, extraordinary designer fabric and wallpaper, tabletop sculpture, framed paintings and prints, mirrors, garden ornaments, silk flower and foliage arrangements and a special holiday section with gift items for the season.  Proceeds help maintain the historic Bidwell-Wood House (1882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901).

Shop for fun, amazing and gorgeous designer bargains and help support historic preservation in our town.  It only happens every other year so don’t miss out!

Memorial Bricks Dedication on November 15, 2014

You still have time to order a brick for the front walkway in time for the dedication inlay for this year on Saturday November 15, 2014.  This is the day for the Tag Sale in the Crocker Memorial Church and the Historical Trolley Tour that morning….returning in time for the dedication.

The Historical Society of Sarasota County salvaged the bricks from Main Street and Lemon Avenue when the station depot was being demolished.  We have them laid as the walkway into the 1882 Bidwell-Wood House, Sarasota County’s oldest surviving residence, for a lasting memorial.

Bricks at Bidwell-Wood HouseYou can honor anyone including yourself, or an event (marriage? Birth? Anniversary? Memorial?)  with an etched historic brick.  A donation of $100 or more creates a permanent reminder of your loved one and participation in Sarasota History.  Each year the new etched bricks are laid in November to honor those who support Sarasota history with a dedicated brick in the walkway.

To have a brick etched for you, your family, or a loved one, simply contact Linda Garcia, our Site Manger, via phone at 941-364-9076 Mon-Fri 10 to 2, or 24/7 via email at Mastercard and Visa accepted, as are those old-fashioned things, checks in the mail! You’ll receive a personal invitation to our ceremony on our campus at 1260 12th Street (1/2 block east of Tamiami Trail), Sarasota, in Pioneer Park on Saturday November 15.

One Month til 25th Historical LeBarge Cruise !!


The Historical Society of Sarasota County (HSOSC) is hosting its 25th Historical Cruise and Tour of Sarasota Bay on the LeBarge tour boat on Sunday, November 2, 2014 from 11am to 1pm. The cruise will feature narration by popular local historian John McCarthy.  Guests can expect a complimentary continental breakfast and a cash bar at noon.

John McCarthy - Norma Kwenski

Norma Kwenski, Volunteer Extraordinaire, grabs the catbird seat on LeBarge, next to our commentator, always-captivating John McCarthy, one of Sarasota’s leading historians.

This specialty cruise tour has been a favorite with residents and tourists alike who want to learn more about the bygone people and places that have impacted the development of Sarasota County. Guests cruise along the shoreline of Sarasota Bay and enjoy the sunshine and refreshments while John McCarthy paints a picture of the formative years in Sarasota’s growth.

Historical Cruise Guests should be at the LeBarge slip, south of Marina Jack in Sarasota’s Bayfront Park by 10:15am, rain or shine. Proceeds benefit preservation projects and community outreach programs at the Historical Society of Sarasota County.

To reserve your seats, contact Linda Garcia at HSOSC Monday-Friday from 10a – 2p at 941-364-9076 or anytime by email:


JDeal Pump Organ – Returns in Top Shape!

Photo from Pump Organ Before Repair July 2014Before repair pump organPump Organ Inspection by Robert SensemanRobert Senseman and Son haul it offThe pump organ repairman angel arrived this summer!!

Mr. Robert Senseman visited the Bidwell-Wood House in June when his mother Lois Ann Senseman arrived to film her Ordinary Historian video. Her grandfather, his great grandfather, was the yacht captain for John and Mabel Ringling. While touring the house we mentioned that the JDeal pump organ in the parlor was in need of a strap repair on one of the pedals.

Mr. Senseman offered to do the repair. Amazingly he took the organ and did a full refurbishment and repair and brought it back better than ever. We cannot thank him enough.

The early 1800’s organ was donated to the  Historical Society of Sarasota County by Mike Lesnick of Bradenton.

See the pump organ in action in the MySuncoast tv coverage of our building. Linda has hidden talents!