Let’s gloat a bit…

Well, it’s after Labor Day. That means, for folks Up North, the end of their beach time.

Ah, but for us lucky Sarasota Countians, we get to enjoy our beaches year-round.

Of course that means…

finding a parking spot year-round as well. This photo was taken (hold onto your sunhat!) FORTY YEARS ago, in 1981. (You’d think they’d have solved this problem by now…)

Of course, enjoying our beaches year-round means the quest for a beach-worthy body is perpetual. Here’s some bodies over the years to instill in us all, that all bodies are beautiful (even if all bathing suits aren’t necessarily.)

Okay, I cheated just a bit. Those ladies in 1885 attire were actually shelling Up North, but what they were wearing was what the Scottish settlers would have back in the day.

Okay, enough with the FUN. Here’s some history to enjoy:

Speaking of “History is FUN”… have you saved the dates for our new, mid-afternoon events in the Crocker Memorial Church? December 1, January 6, March 2. See all our upcoming events.

Timing is Everything

“Timing is everything,” is the mantra of many legendary comedians and actors who agree that when you drop that punch line or make that gesture can be the difference between a successful performance and one that is not. Lately, all of us have been reconsidering our timing. When to return to restaurants, when to have a dinner party, when to wear a mask, when to take a seat in the audience of a live theater production, when to see book club or bridge friends again. 

“Because of the recent surge in COVID cases we have had to reevaluate our timing at HSOSC.

“It is the consensus of our Boards that our timing is off for the start of public programming at the Crocker Memorial Church. Consequently, we are postponing the October Conversation at The Crocker. Our season will (hopefully) begin with the November Conversation on Tuesday, November 9, and we will also hope to see you all before the Conversation at our Welcome Back Reception the same evening. Stay tuned to our blog here, our Facebook page, and our website for details.

Be sure to get all our blog posts by adding your name to our mailing list on our website.

“Hopefully time will be on our side in November.”

— Marsha Fottler, President, & the Board of Directors & the Advisory Board

Our Summer Fundraising Challenge has been MET!

Imagine the excitement when our site manager, Linda Garcia, received a communication from one of our supporters saying that a matching $10,000 would be donated, if we could get just 10 more Historical Society lovers to give $1,000 each to help the Society continue its mission.

Imagine how our Board of Directors was so thrilled to realize that this anonymous donor was challenging others to donate a significant amount by offering to double their donations.

And finally, imagine not just those who stepped up with $1,000 to turn it into $2,000… but also the many many members who loved the idea, and whose contributions reflected their monetary ability to cheer us all on!

To all who heeded the call from a small nonprofit struggling in these times to keep the two historical Sarasota buildings we protect, preserve, and present… we are so proud to tell the world that

Our Summer Fundraising Challenge has been MET!

Thanking the donors whose generosity helped The Historical Society of Sarasota County meet its Summer Challenge Matching Grant!

Who’s been an American longer?

How esoteric can we get? A stumper!

Who’s been an American longer, a Pensacolan or a St. Augustinian?

If you guessed the folks in St. Augustine, you’d be right, but possibly for the wrong reason. St. Augustine officially became American on July 10 1821 along with the territory known as East Florida. Pensacola, in west Florida, became part of the U.S.A. a week later, on July 17 1821.

The Historical Society of Sarasota County has a stumper for you! Who's been an American longer....

Have you ANY idea how hard it was to keep those trousers white in 1821?

If you didn’t attend grade, middle, junior high or high school in Florida, you’re possibly mighty confused about what country claimed Florida when. Here’s a quick rundown.

Reference: https://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/map/map.html#FL

Centennial Celebration Video

As we celebrate the county’s centennial year, each historic group was tasked with creating something that would entertain and educate the public. Kathryn Chesley, member of the Board of Directors at the Historical Society, wrote and directed a play reading which was then video-taped for easy sharing. President Marsha Fottler says: “WKathryn Chesleye are ready with the production and our organization’s contribution to the Centennial celebration.” Here’s the details:
Title: The Roads We Took to Sarasota County
Run time: 1 hour
Available by: Contacting the Historical Society of Sarasota County
                     Available to any organization who plans to use it with a Centennial event
Cost: Donation to the Historical Society of Sarasota County, There is no set amount for the donation. It is whatever the organization wishes to donate
To use: Contact Linda Garcia, manager of Historical Society who will provide a way to unlock the link to the video. Organization can then use the video.
Contact phone number: 941-364-9076
In Addition:
The play will be shown on Tuesday, November 9, at 7:00pm at the Crocker Memorial Church, 1260 12th Street, Sarasota, Fl. The actors will be present as well as Kathryn Chesley, the writer and director along with Frank Cassell, from whose book the facts were taken.

Step into my parlor…

While the Crocker Memorial Church is being refreshed, our attention turns to the Bidwell-Wood House. If you haven’t had a chance to see it recently, stop by any Tuesday or Friday from 10 til 2 for a self-guided visit. We hope, in season, to have docent-guided tours of our campus. Interested in learning and sharing some 19th-century local lore? Email our Site Manager, Linda Garcia, at hsosc1@gmail.com to join our next regularly-scheduled docent class. Tell her Sara DeSota sent you!


Be sure to sign the guest book and join an international roster of history-lovers.
Light-weight chairs were always ready to seat visitors. Or plotters.
The Bidwell home was considered the finest south of Tampa when it was built in 1882.
The Historical Society of Sarasota County is fortunate to have a few pieces of the Ringling Hotel’s china on display.
There’s Dr. Joe and there’s Dr. Jack. Learn more as a member of HSoSC.
Our picturesque campus has inspired artists for years.
Come see all the Bidwell-Wood House has to offer you!

So thrilled!

Accessibility at the Historical Society of Sarasota CountyCelebrate! Thanks to you, our supporters, and almost-Eagle Scout Daron, we will be DOUBLING our handicap-accessible parking at the Historical Society this summer!

That means that when we are finally confident in our new season, starting in October 2021, it’ll be easier for our guests to attend our gatherings. Stay tuned for reportage on what the Events Committee has planned for the new season. And yes, we heard Continue reading

Happy July 4 1921, Sarasota!

4 flagWhile Sarasota was still excited about becoming its own county on July 1st 1921, and celebrating the 4th in grand style, here’s the world they lived in. Some of these 1921 events might surprise you and others amuse. Isn’t history fascinating?

On July 2, 1921, President Warren Harding signed a joint congressional resolution declaring an end to America’s state of war with Germany, Austria and Hungary. (Calvin Coolidge was Vice-President in case you were wondering.)

330px-Bessie_Coleman_in_1923Brave Bessie: Bessie Coleman was an early American civil aviator. She was the first African-American woman and first Native American to hold Continue reading

What is, and what isn’t, a “white elephant”?

The origin of catch phrases can be bite-size history lessons. I ran across “white elephant” in my reading and wondered how that came to mean something you’d rather not own. Here’s what I learned.


Although a white elephant used to be considered a sacred and tremendously valuable animal in Siam (modern-day Thailand), being given one Continue reading

Taking a ride on Mr. Ferris’ creation

This day in history June 21 1893, features the debut of a monumental contraption that our very own Bertha Palmer , before she became the Legendary Lady of Sarasota, got the first ride on:

The Ferris Wheel!

Built to one-up the Eiffel Tower of the previous World’s Fair: it’s big AND it moves!

It was big. Very big. Each car held 60 riders. It cost 50 cents to ride it. I’m guessing Bertha, as President of the Board of Lady Managers for the Columbian Exposition, Chicago’s World’s Fair, was comped.

Alas, it was dynamited and sold for scrap less than 15 years later. The mummies, next door, lasted a lot longer.

Learn more about Bertha Palmer, her life in Chicago and in Sarasota, by booking our very own Bertha Palmer to present this fascinating woman’s life story as a costumed first-person interpretation to your group or club by contacting our Site Manager Linda Garcia at hsosc1@gmail.com or 941-364-9076.

Read the June 22 1893 newspaper article.

Let it be remembered

Don’t you love that phrase? I came across it in the written minutes of old-time meetings and it’s so evocative, it made me look up some info on how YOU can let it be remembered by guiding someone to create an oral history to be remembered.

But I’ll be you have lots of questions on how to get started.

First up, how do I get someone to talk about their participation in past times? What on earth do I ask?

Continue reading

We have a wall!

The west wall of the church, with its custom-milled siding, is up! See that one white board?

It’s the only one that didn’t need replacing!

Since the above photo was taken, the wall’s been painted. Here’s an inside view. The window re-installation is next.

And here’s a poignant photo: our Conversations at the Crocker chairs, just waiting for our reopening. We’ll let you know soon as we can, so stay tuned.

To get an email when we post here on the blog, sign up over in the right margin (or below, if you’re on your phone right now).

To get our broadcast email news and announcements, click here.

If you’ve always said you’d become a member to keep Sarasota County history alive, click here.

And of course, you can follow us on Facebook if you click here.

Someday soon, we’ll be able to enjoy Conversations at the Crocker again.

A 1926 View of Florida

“A rapidly increasing number whom habit has taken year after year to the Mediterranean resorts are coming to know that here in Florida is to be found a natural loveliness that is incomparable, coupled with a magnificence of architectural development, a diversity of entertainment, and a catering to creature comforts unobtainable elsewhere

Published in the English magazine, Country Life, in 1926, this Ernest Clegg map is lovely. The typography! The sailing ships and denizens of the deep!

Look at the gorgeous, expansive Everglades… but notice: no Sarasota. Arcadia, yes, Punta Gorda, even Venice (“On June 10, 1926, the first street in Venice opened” as this Venice history says). My only possible explanation for this oversight is that Ernest held Sarasota so dear, he didn’t want anyone else to know about it…

Enjoy a close-up with a responsive view of this map.