Lookin’ good!

Our pretty campus in Pioneer Park got some extra lovin’ recently. Linda Garcia, our Site Manager, writes:

We stacked up 32 bags during our few hours’ work on Saturday and they were all picked up on Monday!  There will be a wedding in the Crocker Memorial Church on Saturday, so we made an all-hands-on-deck effort to clear out the storm debris. Sue Padden is working on the flower boxes on the front porch.  What a CREW and what great work we accomplished.  Thanks so much.  Linda

Take a look at these avid volunteers:

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What’s a penny, after all?

“Your penny at work.” That’s the slogan of the campaign asking voters to approve, on Election Day 2022, a continuation of the county 1% sales tax. Many wonderful things have been financed by this income since it was first authorized in 1989, but never before has the history of our county been addressed. 

And what’s a penny after all? Pennies in the US have been around since the 18th century… although, of course just like us, a penny isn’t what it used to be. Did you know Benjamin Franklin designed the first penny, seen here? (Wasn’t he the BUSIEST man you’ve ever imagined!)

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Hot History Part THREE!

We keep finding local history-related things for you to do. (Here’s the first installment, and Part Two…) It’s too hot to go traipsing about graveyards and boardwalks right now, but it’s always cool to learn a bit more about our local area.

Up at the top there’s gotta be a breeze!

One of our favorite supporters, Liz Coursen, is giving a talk at Gulf Gate Library on Florida Lighthouses. Info here. You probably have visited this one. If not, do! We’re sure Liz will give you directions.

Not as picturesque as some, but easy driving distance! Courtesy of Lighthouse Friends.

Learn about some cool art

Take a peek into the art collection at the Van Wezel, our on-the-bay performance venue that folks are afraid will be history soon. The best way to show your love for local history is to participate. Here’s your chance, by joining the Art and Backstage Tour. The tour features features works from the Arts Advocates’ Sarasota Colony artist collection as well as noted Florida artists, including pieces by Robert Chase, William Hartman, Eugene White, Ben Stahl, Julio de Diego, Thornton Utz, Frank Colson, and Dean Mitchell, to name a few. The backstage tour provides a peek at the dressing rooms, green room, back hallway, and the Van Wezel stage.

Tours are offered to the public August 8 and September 12 from 1:30-3:00 pm. Tours begin in the Main Lobby and cost $15 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office or by calling (941) 263-6799. More info.

Prefer music and a cool beverage?

More the outdoors, drink and hum along type? Here’s another Van Wezel event you’ll love, and it’s free. The Friday Fest. Future dates for Friday Fest are August 12 and September 16.

Help create future art history

Or maybe you’d like to help fellow Sarasotans CREATE history? After all, history is not fixed in stone; it’s made every day by folks like you. Our tradition of art is strong here, and you can build on that to make art even stronger as time marches on. For example, by participating in and supporting local artists. Your grandchildren will thank you for becoming patrons of the arts in accessible venues like Creative Liberties, Ligon Arts, ArtUptown, and of course Art Center Sarasota.

Read more in The Observer about this capitalistic venue for the arts.

Wouldn’t a new History Center be WONDERFUL?!

“Your penny at work.” That’s the slogan of the campaign asking voters to approve, in November 2022, a continuation of the county 1% sales tax. Many wonderful things have been financed by this income since it was first authorized in 1989, but never before has the history of our county been addressed. Understandably, we history lovers would be thrilled if some of that tax income could give a state-of-the-art home to not just the actual history archives (which is part of the county library system), but public space for gatherings and perhaps even exhibits. While the vote is not on how the funds will be spent… we need to vote for the “penny tax” to be renewed so that funds are available. Continue reading for a message from the President of the Historical Society of Sarasota County:

A “Common Cents” initiative that all friends of history can endorse

Since 1989 when it was first adopted by voters of Sarasota County, the 1% sales tax has improved the quality of life for everyone. The tax has been used to invest in schools, libraries, parks, water, the environment and more. 

The tax is up for a vote again in November of 2022 and all friends of history are excited about it because one of the priority investments is a new 30,000 square-foot History Center, which will be the repository for all our precious documents, maps, photographs and objects that are central to understanding and honoring the history of our county.  This is the first time that our history has been directly addressed with the one-cent surtax. 

 At the Historical Society of Sarasota County, we say it’s about time. Anyone who has recently visited  our center for archival material, realizes that it’s been too small for too long. It’s time we treated our history with the respect it has always deserved. 

We support the extension of the one-cent surtax and are looking forward to a new History Center. 

Marsha Fottler, President

For complete information from the county government on the penny surtax and how it could be spent, including FAQs and other projects being considered, see https://www.sarasotacountysurtax.net/

Last Gathering this Season… a great one!

Our Sunday Afternoon Socials at 2 pm are casual, cafe-style events complete with wine and refreshments, and feature some of the most interesting people around. This month we welcome two historical writers who have turned their research into fish ranchos and early development into a fascinating tale of the 1840s-1900 Manatee and Sarasota areas.

Peggy Donoho and Ron Prouty will be telling the true tale of everyday settlers who populated our area.

They are the authors of Miguel’s Bay, about the people who lived in the Terra Ceia Bay area (that area you are in when you cross the Sunshine Skyway Bridge), the Manatee River towns Bradenton and Palmetto, and the Sarasota Bay area.

Miguel was a fisherman from Menorca who fished the waters from the bay now named after him all the way to Sarasota. He courted a Bavarian immigant who worked on the Manatee River and married her, despite

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Recycling… the Historic way!

We’re very excited to be joining forces with Historical Resources and Archives, commonly called The History Center, to offer our county an easy way to donate ephemera that you may have lying around, and never dreamed anyone would value it.

Ephemera! Stuff published once, meant for the moment… only now YOU

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What the “Real Florida” looks (and feels) like

If you want to experience what this area looked like before you got here, try an EcoWalk.

Book yourself into some nature walks with knowledgable guides from UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County. They provide “practical education you can trust, to help people, businesses and communities solve problems, develop skills and build a better future. This service is a partnership between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Sarasota County.”

Click the pic to see Eventbrite’s listings (tours are free but space-limited.)

Note that the tours pause in summer and begin again the fall. Yup. It’s too dang hot to be out in the sun in the summer. There’s a history lesson right there.

2022 Giving Challenge: Why Help?

Every two years, our community comes together for 24 hours to donate what we can to charitable organizations serving Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. 

Last time, in 2020, with the pandemic raging and our future unknown, the Historical Society thought the need for human services was more pressing than the need to save the very fabric of our history. We could wait for the help: people couldn’t. So two years ago we asked our supporters to think People First Then Buildings.

Now, in 2022, we come to ask history-lovers, our members, and our supporters to join us in the effort to save the Crocker Memorial Church. Many of you have followed, and participated in, the saving of the west wall of the Church, and for that we are most thankful.

But a building, of course, has four walls (and in this case, a steeple, a portico with columns, a flight of stairs and handicap ramp) which are in ongoing need for preservation. We now face the daunting task of raising funds for the east wall. The window sills are rotting and need to be replaced so that the original windows can be saved.

The Historical Society is proud to have been one of the original charities invited to join the Giving Challenge in its first year, and happy to join the over 700 area nonprofits participating in this year’s Giving Challenge, a 24-hour online event between noon Tuesday April 26 and noon Wednesday April 27. During this time, your gift of $25 to $100 will be doubled by The Patterson Foundation.

Since 2012, the Giving Challenge has acted as a catalyst for connection and provided more than $59 million in unrestricted funding in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties.

Watch the complete 2020 video from HSoSC

Explore how we refreshed our west wall, learn why it needed it, and how we even managed to help an Eagle Scout give us a second handicap space!

In 2020, we published an appeal to the public to think “People First Then Buildings.” Here’s what Treasurer Deborah Bowers, head of our Finance Committee, said: “…HSoSC feels that in these perilous times, people must come before preserving historic buildings.
Therefore we ask of you, think people first as you decide where your donations will go during the Giving Challenge …
“Please, if you are able to participate in the 2020 Giving Challenge, look first for those charities that help people.
Historic buildings are wonderful… we love them, and we love local history, but buildings are nothing without people to enjoy them in good health and prosperity.
“If you are moved to also donate to the Historical Society we would be grateful …
“In years to come this pandemic and how it has impacted local history is going to be the subject of Conversation at The Crocker and many of you will have important knowledge and personal stories to contribute that will illuminate how we live in the future. Right now we are all historians and we are in this together.”

Everything you were afraid to ask about David

Word is, Sarasota city employees are thinking of replacing David on the city logo. And spending, according to that article, $25,000 for “design services” to do so.

While it’s true, the original logo (still, apparently, the city seal) is rather, well, dated… is David dated? Them folks over in Italy don’t think so!

If you’re not quite sure how a replica statue (and one not even in the original size) might be a symbol of The City of Sarasota, here’s some historic background.

First off, David’s the only one in the Western Hemisphere. And we’re the only Sarasota. That’s worth mentioning. Second, David was created by a 26-year-old dude. That’s rad, right? Like our art and college students. Third, the marble Michelangelo carved into had been sitting around for decades as a “failed project”, rather like, um, the campaign to replace the logo? Here’s some more info on the original.

“Our” David was bought by John Ringling to adorn his never-completed, torn down Ritz-Carlton hotel, and later was repurposed to inspire the art school which didn’t end up being where Ringling thought it should be, so it’s a great example of how Sarasota flows with the times, in my opinion. Here’s the detes.

And finally, David, like the city of Sarasota, always needs to be polished up and conserved. Here’s what the Ringling had to say about that back in the 2020 Giving Challenge season.

BTW, the Historical Society’s hoping you’ll consider our restoration project when you’re choosing your favorite nonprofits during the 2022 Giving Challenge on April 26 and 27.

So, what do you think? Should the city logo change? Back in 2021, 2013, and even 2011, apparently folks thought so. But you know, he’s still standing tall. Like we hope you’ll help us keep the Crocker Memorial Church standing tall and proud as a symbol of our Sarasota community.

If you couldn’t join us, you missed a treat!

Oh, if you weren’t there, #youshouldhavebeen! For our 37th Historic Sarasota Bay Cruise, the weather was glorious, narrator John McCarthy was awesome, and Capt. Eric of LeBarge took us to places we’ve never been before!

How John knows all that stuff, how the valued volunteers Norma Kwenski and Sue Padden and board members Brenda Lee Hickman and Jon Stone and our Site Manager Linda Garcia manage to keep even our 37th Historic Sarasota Bay Cruise fresh and not-to-be-missed is a wonder! Join HSoSC to keep up with all the goings on at the Society! https://hsosc.com/be-a-part-of-history/membership/

Above: The VIP Boarders waiting to, well, board, LeBarge for our 37th Sarasota Bay Cruise… some for their first time (Hello Australia and Norway visitors!), some for repeat trips. They don’t know it yet but they’r’e in for a treat… Captain Eric took a fresh route, and we saw things you wouldn’t have expected! Ospreys diving, dolphins herding their Sunday brunch into the shallows, and… a SHIPWRECK!
N.B: The trash can declined to participate so it was left dockside. Its loss!

Above: Jon Stone, incognito in his shades and straw hat, entertaining the waiting hordes. He also became an impromptu server as he passed around snacks several times during the cruise… we were all too busy seeking out what John McCarthy was pointing out to us (Shell Beach! Bay Island! Sailing prams and sandbars where they used to swim au naturel!) to actually visit the buffet table!

Above: Our long-time friend, past President, Guide to All That Works, John McCarthy, moments before he took the mic to send us on a 2-hour voyage to the past, regaling us with what went before (all the way back to the 1500s!) and how it relates to what’s happening today in Sarasota.

What went before and how it influences today… sounds like the topic for our upcoming Conversation at the Crocker on Tuesday March 8 at 7pm…. read about THAT here.

March is for Lovers!

March is definitely for lovers. Lovers of local history that is. After so long apart, we’re thrilled to welcome you back on campus in Pioneer Park.

Yes, the Historical Society is holding events in March. And not only are you welcome, you’re encouraged to attend! Come as you are. The only event requiring pre-registration is the Historical Bay Cruise, so check with Linda Garcia, our Site Manager, to see if space is still available on Le Barge. Other events, walk-ins welcome; admission fees (if any) noted, and of course, you are welcome to come masked.

Join history buffs at the newly-refreshed and -researched Crocker Memorial Church in March.

Wednesday March 2, 2022: History Is Fun.  In the Crocker Memorial Church at 2 p.m. Free for members, $10 for those who haven’t gotten around to becoming members yet. It’s the last of this season’s presentations, and we’re welcoming the Sarasota County Historical Resources folks. They’re the people who guard and catalog our county’s past, from mastodon bones to Bertha Palmer’s rowing machine. Come learn, come ask, come get acquainted with Historical Resources.

Sunday March 6, 2022:  Historical Sarasota Bay Cruise. Our favorite narrator, John McCarthy, takes the mic on Le Barge as you glade on Sarasota Bay. Watch history unfold before your eyes. Sip a beverage, nibble on snacks and enjoy the open air and gentle breezes. The boat leaves from Marina Jack at 11 a.m. (loading at 10:30!) and returns around 1 p.m. This is the boat ride you will always remember. There are still some tickets left at the time of writing. $75 per person. Call HSoSC Site Manager, Linda Garcia, at 941-364-9076 for availability. 

Tuesday March 8, 2022: Conversations at The Crocker. 7 p.m in the Crocker Memorial Church. The Crocker Church, Lost And Found Years. A fresh look at the revised history of the Crocker Memorial Church. Read more. Presenters are Deborah Walk, Jon Stone and Betsy Lingenheld, board members at HSoSC. Docent tours of the Bidwell-Wood House are available at 6 p.mbefore the show. Free to members; $10 at the door for guests.

Sunday March 20, 2022: Sunday Afternoon Social: 2 p.m. in the Crocker Memorial Church. The Last Lustron. Tom McArdle is a board member at the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation and owner of the last Lustron, a piece of post WWII Americana, in Sarasota. Read about these unusual homes here. Refreshments included in this relaxed, cafe-style event. $5 for members and $10 for guests at the door.