January Local History Events

I’m feeling bad about leaving you in the lurch here at the Historical Society of Sarasota County, what with our two upcoming events (Conversation on Jan 11 and Sunday Afternoon Social on Jan 16) being cancelled, so here’s some substitutes to keep you and your brain occupied until we meet again.

Exercise your

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January 11 Conversation at the Crocker

EDIT Jan 7 2022: Alas and alack… the January Convo and the January Sunday Afternoon Social have been cancelled due to folks’ wariness with the covid variation.The Board hopes to find another time to present these 2 great topics, but for now, bookmark our Events Page where you will find the most up-to-date info on gatherings at HSoSC.

The January 11 Conversation at The Crocker is an information-rich celebration of the recent project undertaken by HSOSC and the community to rescue the historic Crocker Memorial Church. Three HSOSC board members will present an illustrated three-part program.

Deborah Walk, a professional archivist, writer and former curator of the Ringling Museum of the Circus, will trace the far-back history of a humble wooden worship center that started out with property deeded to Peter Crocker in 1901. She will also talk about the Crocker family, which attempted to establish a named settlement in Sarasota that could have grown into a town except for the death of its namesake.

Jon Stone, a retired architect and avid researcher, will discuss how adaptive re-use has saved this building and made it into a welcoming place for the community to come for public programming organized by the HSOSC, meetings, weddings, memorial services, art classes, musical recitals, play rehearsals and much more. Adaptive re-use for the Crocker started in the 1980s when preservationist Veronica Morgan owned the Crocker. It was located in the Rosemary district at the time. Jon will also discuss how the Crocker and the Bidwell-Wood House came to be curated by our Historical Society.

Betsy Lingenheld will talk about the engineering-construction rescue mission that saved the entire west side of the building. A contractor who has specialized in preservation work, Betsy came to the Historical Society as a member a few years ago and subsequently agreed to join the advisory board and then the board of directors to be the project manager of the huge rescue project, which got started around the time that COVID did. She will talk about the special challenges in working on a historically designated building.  

After the three speak, there will be time for audience input with a question and answer segment. 

  • Conversation at The Crocker
  • Tuesday, January 11, 2022 at 7 p.m.
  • Crocker Memorial Church, Pioneer Park
  • Free to Members
  • Guests: $10 at the door

Submitted by Marsha Fottler

Please Note: Deb Walk has graciously agreed to review the topic of this Conversation at the Crocker at our February Sunday Afternoon Social on Sunday February 13 at 2pm, for those who prefer a daytime event. Please note that there is a charge for the Social: $5 for members and $10 for not-yet-members, to cover the light refreshments we offer at the event. For our complete Calendar of Events, please visit our Events Page.

Come see our play!

On Tuesday November 9 at 7 pm in the Crocker Memorial Church, the Historical Society will be gathering at its first Conversation at the Crocker since the pandemic.

To mark the county centennial, the filmed reading of “The Roads We Traveled to Sarasota County“, written and produced by our own Kathryn Chesley will be presented. This November 2021 Conversation at the Crocker is eagerly awaited by members (free) and not-yet- members ($10) alike.

A Welcome Back Party on the Back Porch begins at 6 pm, the program starts at 7 pm, and we hope to see you there!

News of our new afternoon event on Weds. Dec. 1, “History is FUN!”, will be available as well. “The Past Inspires the Arts” with spotlight guest artist Marlane Wurzbach will our first presentation.

Centennial Presentations from the Historical Society

To mark the centennial year of Sarasota County, the Historical Society produced several educational events. These have had to be translated from in-person appearances to online presentations for use during the pandemic. The filmed reading of the play, The Roads We Traveled to Sarasota County, written and produced by Board member Kathryn Chesley, is available on loan for group showings with an appropriate honorarium. Please contact our office for more information. We will also be presenting the video with in-person commentary by Ms. Chesley and actors, as our November Conversation at the Crocker.

Kathryn Chesley, Author, Producer, Director, and Actor
Kate Holmes costumed as Lizzie Guptill

The slide show, From Wilderness to County, was originally created for our Speakers’ Bureau to take on the road to clubs, groups, and other gatherings. Kate Holmes, a volunteer with HSoSC, wrote, created, and presented this event while costumed as and in the persona of Lizzie Webb Guptill, a real-life pioneer who arrived in this area as a 12-year-old in 1867. Lizzie’s viewpoint of Sarasota’s journey from an unpopulated wilderness to a 20th-century county, can be viewed here.

It’s a journey to 1921, and we hope you enjoy it.

From Wilderness to County, a presentation from The Historical Society of Sarasota County

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

Food, glorious Florida Food

Ah, a topic we can all get behind for our February Conversation at the Crocker. Florida food!

A Cuban sandwich is Florida food

Your author’s favorite Florida food: A hot pressed Cuban (photo, floridadailypost.com)

What ten foods would you say are uniquely, specially Floridian? Come see if you agree, as our panelists, Dr. Gary Mormino and celebrity chef and food writer Judi Gallagher pique our appetites and tell us all the foodie news on Tuesday February 11 at 7 pm in the Crocker Memorial Church.

Seating is limited for “Follow Our Food”, so come early! And eat first so your tummy won’t growl.

Members are free, not-yet members are $10. Join at the door for a year’s membership (click to get the form to fill out ahead of time) and free admission for $35 single, $60 family.

The Historical Society of Sarasota County loves Key Lime Pie.

… and your author has never been known to turn down a slice of Key lime pie.

 

Sarasota’s Mennonites: A Conversation at the Crocker

Who are the Mennonites and how did they get to Sarasota?

Our presenter on Tuesday evening, January 14 2020 (Please Note: the incorrect date went out to some of our subscribers. The correct date for this presentation is Tuesday January 14. Our apologies.) at 7pm is J.B. Miller. He is a lifelong Mennonite who lives in Sarasota and teaches about Mennonites and Amish.

Mennonites in Sarasota“Many people have limited knowledge of Mennonites and Amish,” said Miller. “Often their only contact is them pedaling around on three-wheelers or visiting one of the restaurants located in Pinecraft, an enclave home to primarily Amish and conservative Mennonites.”

This Conversation at the Crocker is all about the Mennonites – who they are, why they came to Sarasota, why they dress the way they do, and what their influence has been on the shaping of our community. We are lucky to have a speaker who can answer all your questions.

Doors open at 6pm – program begins at 7pm. Free to HSoSC Members – $10 for future members.

CONVERSATIONS AT THE CROCKER:  Our most popular gatherings. A series of interactive discussions on events that shaped Sarasota County’s past and continue to exert influence on its present and probably the future. These monthly events run from October through April. Explore our past Conversations.

These events start at 7pm in the Crocker Memorial Church. They are FREE to Historical Society members and $10 at the door for not-yet members. Bring your friends and participate in lively and informative discussions.  Bidwell-Wood House is open beginning at 6pm for touring before the meetings.

Conversations at the Crocker 11/12 at 7:00pm

Three Women who Shaped Sarasota History: 

A Conversation at The Crocker

The Historical Society of Sarasota County (HSOSC) presents a program about three women who shaped Sarasota History onTuesday, November 12 starting at 7 p.m. at the Crocker Memorial Church at 1260 12th Street, (Pioneer Park) Sarasota. The program, which is part of the Society’s Conversations at The Crocker series, is free to HSOSC members and students and $10 at the door for guests. Proceeds from Conversations at The Crocker are used to maintain the historic Crocker Memorial Church (1901) and the Bidwell-Wood House (1882). The three women who are the subject of the November Conversation are: Bertha Palmer, Mable Ringling and Marie Selby. Following three illustrated lectures, there will be a question and answer session with the presenters.

 

Presenting the life, times and achievements of Bertha Palmer is Frank Cassell, the award-winning author of Suncoast Empire: Bertha Honore Palmer, Her Family and The Rise of Sarasota. Cassell is President Emeritus and Professor Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. He is an officer of the Sarasota County Historical Commission and the History and Preservation Coalition of Sarasota County. Cassell’s book will be available for purchase at the Conversation and the author will sign copies after the program.
Bertha Palmer (1849-1918) was one of the best-known and wealthiest women in America. She was an art collector, women’s rights advocate, businesswoman, owner of Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel, and she had homes in Chicago, Paris, and London. In 1910 she traveled to the small settlement of Sarasota. Charmed with the rough place, she ultimately spent much of each year for the rest of her life on one of America’s last frontiers, investing in cattle and farming, creating communities out of marshlands, pine forests, and tropical jungles.

 

Talking about the life and times of Mable Ringling (1875-1929) will be Deborah Walk, a nationally respected archivist, writer, lecturer and the former curator of the Ringling Museum of the Circus. After her marriage to circus impresario John Ringling in 1905 Mable Burton Ringling, a farm girl from the midwest, became a great traveler and travel became her education. In 1923, the Ringlings commissioned the architect Dwight James Baum to build their dream home in Sarasota, modeled on the Doge’s Palace and the Cá d’Oro in Venice. Mable oversaw every aspect of the construction, from the glazing of the tiles to the mixing of the terra cotta. She designed much of the original landscaping on the grounds of the estate, including her Rose Garden and Secret Garden. Mable was the founder in 1927 of the Sarasota Garden Club. Thousands of people from all over the world visit her extravagant mansion on Sarasota Bay annually to experience for a few hours how the wealthiest lived in another time.

 

Presenting the life and times of Marie Selby will be Jeannie Perales, Vice President for Museum Exhibitions, Learning & Engagement at Selby Gardens and the co-author of a book on Selby Gardens. She has been with The Gardens since 2010 where she oversees educational programming, exhibitions, interpretation, and volunteers.

 

Marie Selby (1885-1971) started coming to Sarasota with her wealthy oilman husband William in the early 1920s. They built a home here and indulged their love of the outdoors by buying and working a cattle ranch and by boating. Marie was the first woman in America to cross the country by car and she was an award-winner sailor. She loved camping and gardening and she designed the landscaping for her own property. In 1955 the couple founded the Selby Foundation, that through its generous grants, has enhanced the lives of those who live and visit here.

 

When she died in 1971 Marie Selby left a personal legacy to Sarasota. She left her home and five acres of landscaped grounds for the development of a public botanical garden which opened in 1975. Organized seven years ago by HSOSC, Conversations at The Crocker is a series of interactive discussions that focus on the people, issues and events that have molded Sarasota County and Florida from earliest days. The Historical Society of Sarasota is a membership organization. Dues start at $35 for an annual membership. The Society is guided by a volunteer board of directors. President is Marsha Fottler. For more information, please call Site Manager, Linda Garcia at 364-9076.

April Conversations at The Crocker

APRIL CONVERSATIONS AT THE CROCKER – TUESDAY APRIL 9, 2019 AT 7PM

 

Who are the Florida Highwaymen and why are they important in the history of American art?

The Florida Highwaymen is the topic that historian (and collector of Highwaymen art) John McCarthy will discuss at a Conversation at The Crocker on Tuesday, April 9, starting at 7 p.m. at the Crocker Memorial Church, Pioneer Park, Sarasota. The program is presented by the Historical Society of Sarasota County (HSOSC) as part of its Conversations at The Crocker series now in its seventh year.

In a richly illustrated presentation, McCarthy illuminates a strange and fascinating African-American art movement. It began in the 1950s with landscape folk-art painters who sold work from the trunks of their cars on Florida’s major highways. It ended with art gallery and museum distinction for about two dozen of these artists who worked under the official art-world radar. These outsiders used oils and painted on Upson board (roof sheeting) and often framed their artwork with cheap hardware store crown molding.

They had no studios or agents and they painted from memory in carports or sheds taking their subjects from what they had seen working in agricultural fields or other jobs of manual labor. Sometimes their paintings were lush imaginative scenes of what they wished their surroundings were. These Highwaymen worked quickly and sold their art cheaply. They sold directly to the public (sometimes from door-to-door) at prices that were usually not in excess of $25.

These traveling Florida Highwaymen mentored and supported one another since most had no formal training in art. None of them achieved fame or success during their most productive days. Today, it’s a different story. The Highwaymen are celebrated and their work is highly collectible. The Florida Highwaymen are considered to be perhaps the last great art movement of the 20th Century.

 

Come and hear all about them when the story of the Highwaymen and examples of their art comes to the Crocker Memorial Church on April 9. HSOSC members and students admitted free; guests $10 at the door. For more information, contact Linda Garcia, Site Manager, at 941-364-9076.

LeBarge and Conversations at The Crocker Guest Larry Thompson

Pat and Larry Thompson were onboard when the LeBarge History Cruise set sail last week with John McCarthy narrating. Thompson, who is the head of Ringling School and Design, is the speaker at The Crocker Memorial Church on Tuesday, November 13. In an illustrated lecture, he’ll tell the history of the famed art school from John Ringling dream in the 1920s to what the institution is today. Don’t miss this inter-active community conversation. It starts at 7 p.m. at The Crocker, 1260 12th Street (Pioneer Park). Historical Society members and students free. Guests, $10 at the door.

Larry & Pat Thompson

March Conversations at The Crocker

Gulf Coast Trade with Cuba and Fishing Ranchos

The Conversations at the Crocker series takes look at our long trading traditions with Cuba with emphasis on ranchos when an anthropologist and an archeologist present their research

It might surprise a lot of people in Manatee and Sarasota counties to know that there has been an active Florida trading commerce with Cuba since the 1600s. Mostly it’s been smoked mullet, but also citrus, cattle, and other commodities. At the Historical Society of Sarasota County’s popular series Conversations at The Crocker, an archaeologist and an anthropologist take an in-depth look at Florida’s trade with Cuba. They will focus particular attention on the Cuban fishing ranchos and the origins of modern Sarasota and Manatee. For more than 100 years, Cuban fishermen set up seasonal fishing camps along our coast where they would catch fish, salt them and send them back to Cuba to sell.

This Conversation takes place on Tuesday, March 13 starting at 7 p.m. at the Crocker Memorial Church, 1260 12th Street (Pioneer Park) in Sarasota. Free to members of the Historical Society and students; guests, $10 at the door. 

Leading the Cuba Conversation are archaeologist Jeffrey Moates, and Professor Uzi Baram, a professor of anthropology at New College.  

Three Cuban fisherman are credited with showing Josiah Gates and his brother-in-law fields near a spring on the south side of the Manatee River,” said Jeffrey Moates.  “Gates would use the land to settle a homestead that became the center of the Village of Manatee, today’s eastern part of Bradenton.” And that’s only a tiny part of the story. Using maps, historical photographs and documents, Moates and Baram will draw you into a time and a place of ancient peoples who have left clues to thriving waterside communities. 

Jeffrey Moates is Regional Director for the Florida Public Archaeology Network, and he is based at the University of South Florida (USF). In 2010, Moates and USF staff developed and coordinated Rancho Regattas, public programming to celebrate Cuban fishing rancho history and archaeology in Florida.

Uzi Baram is a Professor of Anthropology at New College of Florida and founding director of the New College Public Archaeology Lab. In his experiments with public outreach and community engagement, Prof Baram has commissioned two video games that teach the history and geography of the Cuban fishing ranchos of Sarasota Bay.  

Archaeologist Jeffrey Moates

Priofessor Uzi Batam

Established five years ago by the Historical Society of Sarasota County, Conversations at the Crocker is a series of interactive conversations that explore the people, places and events that have shaped this part of Florida. Before each Conversation, the Historical Society offers docent-led tours of the two heritage properties at Pioneer Park that the society curates, The Bidwell-Wood House (l882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901). Annual membership at the Historical Society is $35. For more information, contact Linda Garcia, Site Manager, at 941-364-9076

October is Here – Conversations at The Crocker are Back!!

Sarasota’s Waters – Changes in Our Lifetimes

Join the conversation when three experts on water and how Floridians have used waterways in the past have a lively Conversation at The Crocker.

Presented by the Historical Society of Sarasota County, the first of this season’s Conversations at the Crocker takes place on Tuesday, October 10 starting at 7 p.m. at the historic Crocker Memorial Church at 1260 12th Street (Pioneer Park). The topic is Sarasota Waters – Changes in our Lifetimes and leading the Conversation is John Ryan, a water expert and founding member of Sarasota Bay Watch. 

This lively interactive community conversation (with PowerPoint presentation) is free to Historical Society members and $10 for guests at the door. Joining Ryan on the stage of the Crocker for in this timely conversation about Sarasota’s waterways and how they’ve changed are Rodney Potter and Rob Wright. 

Organized six years ago, the Conversations at The Crocker series highlights specific aspects of Sarasota’s past and examines pivotal events and people who have influenced today’s Sarasota.  

John Ryan is an Environmental Manager with Sarasota County Stormwater where he handles water quality monitoring and pollution regulatory matters. He is a 30-year resident of Sarasota who has had a long career with the County after a short stint with Mote Marine Lab. Ryan helped start the oral history project with New College of Florida that can be seen on the Sarasota Water Atlas website. He was a founding member of Sarasota Bay Watch. 

Rob Wright, who grew up in Nokomis, is currently the Conservation Chair for Sarasota Audubon Society (SAS) and a leading voice on environmental issues. Previously he was the Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team (NEST) Coordinator for Sarasota County from 2003 – 2016. Wright has been involved in the administration and implementation of environmental management programs in the public and private sector for more than 34 years. 

A lifelong resident of Manatee County, Rodney Potter has worked in the timber industry and in agriculture. He has constructed greenhouses for nurseries and he owned and operated a lettuce farm in the 1950s. He has been a member of the Manatee County Historical Commission for more than 20 years and is an active in hunter and fisherman. As an outdoorsman, his connection with the area’s waterways, is thus both personal and professional and his insights and memories promise to be impressive.

All Conversations take place at The Crocker Memorial Church and proceeds help to maintain the Historical Society’s two heritage properties at Pioneer Park – the Bidwell-Wood House (1882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901). Docent-led tours of both buildings are available an hour before each of the Conversations at The Crocker events. The Historical Society is a membership organization ($35 annually) led by a volunteer board of directors. Co-chairs of Conversations at The Crocker are Lynn Harding and Marsha Fottler. For more information contact Linda Garcia, Site Manager, 941-364-9076.

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April Converstations at The Crocker

Manatee Village Courthouse

This community event, organized by the Historical Society of Sarasota County, takes place on Tuesday, April 11 starting at 7 p.m. at the Crocker Memorial Church, 1260 12th Street (Pioneer Park), Sarasota. The event is free to students and to members of the Historical Society; $10 for guests. Proceeds help to maintain the Bidwell-Wood House (1882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901). Tours of both vintage structures are available an hour before the start of the program.
Participants in the small museums program are: Cathy Slusser, Director of Historical Resources, Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court; Diane Ingram, Museum Supervisor, Manatee County Agricultural Museum; Mandy Polson, Museum Supervisor, Palmetto Historical Park; Phaedra Carter, Museum Supervisor, Manatee Village Historical Park and Kristin Sweeting, Museum Supervisor, Florida Maritime Museum, which is in Cortez. Sarasota was originally part of Manatee County, which extended from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Okeechobee, was 60 miles wide north and south, and contained 5,000 square miles. Sarasota County was created in 1921.
The conversation among these museum professionals about their museums and the impact they have on community residents and Florida tourism will be augmented by a PowerPoint program that will transport the audience to each of these heritage sites. Question and answer period too.
For more information about this Historical Society outreach program, contact Linda Garcia, Site Manager at 941-364-9076.

November 2016 Conversations at the Crocker

 

2015 Hero of History Jeff LaHurd

Hero of History Jeff LaHurd

 

History author indulges his nostalgia for the way things were

Popular author Jeff LaHurd presents an illustrated program on Sarasota’s “charming”past at the Crocker Memorial Church. A community event organized by the Historical Society of Sarasota County

The author of 15 books about the history of Sarasota and Florida and a child of Sarasota since 1950, Jeff LaHurd comes to the Crocker Memorial Church on Tuesday, November 15 to present an illustrated program that is half history and half nostalgia when he takes a loving look at Sarasota’s not too distant past. The fun starts at 7 p.m. Historical Society members, free; guests, $10. All proceeds go to maintaining the Bidwell-Wood House (1882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901), both located at 1260 12th Street (Pioneer Park), one half block off N. Tamiami Trail at 12th Street.
If you know practically nothing about Sarasota history, this event will be an eye-opener. If you think you are pretty well versed in how and why this sleepy little fishing village and sunny small-town refuge from northern winters evolved, you may be surprised by what you’ll learn from Jeff LaHurd’s amusing and timely perspective.
“When Arvida first announced that they were coming to Sarasota in 1959,” said LaHurd, “they indicated, ‘Very few places have one iota of the charm of Sarasota,’ so my presentation is a look at the places many long-time residents remember when “charm” not “overdevelopment” was the operative word.”
This Historical Society event is part of Conversations at The Crocker, a series of interactive conversations about the people, places and events that have influenced the growth and development of Sarasota County. President of the Historical Society is Howard Rosenthal. Co-chairs of Conversations at The Crocker are Lynn Harding and Marsha Fottler.
Jeff LaHurd is a two-time winner of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation’s Individual Distinguished Service Award and he is a recipient of the Hero of History Award, presented by the Historical Society of Sarasota County. He is regular contributor to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune daily newspaper and he is a contributor to STYLE Magazine. A speaker known for his humorous take on some aspects of local history,

is a sought-after speaker and whenever he appears at Conversations at The Crocker, it’s a sold-out house for the Historical Society, where he is a Life Member.

Secrets of an American Palace: April’s Conversation at the Crocker

Ron McCarty, Keeper and Curator of Ca’ d’Zan, Leads a Conversation and Shows Rare Photos of the Famous Mansion he calls “Mable’s House.”

No one is more aware of the importance of a great house museum to a specific community and to the wider world than Ron McCarty, the Keeper and Curator of Ca’ d’Zan, the fabulous American palace John and Mable Ringling built on Sarasota’s bayfront in the late 1920s. McCarty has been employed by the Ringling Museum longer than anyone in the history of the museum and will share Continue reading