The Holiday Party!

If you weren’t able to join us in the Crocker Memorial Church on Tuesday evening December 14 for our annual Holiday party, here’s some photos to enjoy, sent with our best wishes for a joyful season and a happy new year. Stay tuned: we have THREE events coming up in January, and even more in February!

First, the Church was decked out by volunteers, ready for its guests:

And then there was the fabulous food and drink and OH! those desserts from our Events Committee members:

Good fellowship and many friends not seen in waaayyyy too long:

And of course, what would the holidays be without music? The Four Winds, a quartet from the Sarasota Earlye Musicke Consort, who have used the Crocker Memorial Church for their sessions due to the outstanding acoustics, entertained us not just with their music but with the rich history of medieval and Baroque recorders.

We are sorry if you couldn’t make it to the Historical Society of Sarasota County’s annual holiday gathering, and we look forward to sharing the many events planned in January and beyond!

Holiday Happiness

Holiday cheer from the Historical Society

Don’t forget our Members-Only Holiday Bash on Tuesday December 14 from 6-8pm in the Crocker Memorial Church. We’re all decked out for the celebration, and it will be Supper-by-the-Bite with incredible homemade desserts to finish off with!
It’s Members-Only, but you CAN join at the door… and that’ll save you money on all our other events, such as the upcoming History is Fun Weekday Afternoon on January 6, which promises to be great fun.

Happy Holidays from the Historical Society of Sarasota County

The Perfect Holiday Gift

Do you have someone on your holiday gift list who’s hard to buy for? Give them something they don’t have:

A Brick!

Yes, thanks to HSoSC, you can have your message etched on a genuine old Sarasota brick for all to see and admire, while helping us preserve an actual part of our past!

These bricks were originally laid in the dawn

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New, an afternoon event at the Historical Society!

Not everyone can attend our traditional 7pm Conversations at the Crocker, but we don’t want to make it hard to have fun and learn a little with us. So we’ve added “History is Fun!” afternoon events to our educational line-up.

Our premiere event, our “Grand Opening” as it were, of these afternoon events will be Wednesday December 1 2021 at 2pm in the Crocker Memorial Church. It’s entitled “Sarasota: Art Inspired By The Past” and

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Our 2020 AND 2021 Hero of History

The longest-reigning, as-yet-uncrowned Hero of History at the Historical Society of Sarasota County has been Jon Thaxton. We look forward to finally being able to gather together at Michael’s On East on November 18 to acknowledge Jon’s vast contributions to our regional history. Please join us at this, our traditional luncheon.

Jon Thaxton is the designated Hero of History for 2020. An official celebration of his achievements and the presentation of his award should have happened in March 2020 at a grand luncheon with speakers attesting to the many accomplishments of this activist in the cause of preservation and conservation, especially of Florida’s natural spaces. But the HSoSC Hero of History recipients are not only recipients for one year. They are heroes for all time. So, we look forward to celebrating Jon Thaxton’s life in government, the non-profit sector and his private life through affiliation with history, preservation and conservation organizations on Thursday, November 18, 2021.

A worldwide pandemic has delayed our public recognition of Jon Thaxton’s work in Sarasota County, but not diminished his contribution one bit.

Reservation information below.

Contact Linda Garcia, Site Manager, at 941-364-9076, or email her at for more information and sponsor opportunities.

All previous reservations and payments still apply, and it will be doubly exciting to finally be able to cheer all our Heroes of History on! All Covid19 precautions will be strictly adhered to on November 18 2021. Would love to attend but the date doesn’t work? Chat with Linda… she has ways you can participate even without being there!

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!

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 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!

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?

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Traditionally, summer in the US runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Here are some things you can do in an American summer. Well, no, let’s get specific: in a Sarasota County summer:

Wear white shoes. Up North they get excited about this.
Take a drive after dinner to get an ice-cream cone. Everyone gets excited about this.

But this summer, 2021, we at HSoSC have something even more exciting going on! The Summer Challenge!

It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? At HSoSC we have been fortunate that our unexpected financial challenges have been answered in part with several successful fundraising challenges. We are truly grateful for the support that you as a history lover have shown us. Your donations have helped us with everything from the preservation of our buildings, to paying the electric bill and planning new presentations for the upcoming 2021-2022 season.

And now, such exciting news! An anonymous supporter has stepped forward with a $10,000 challenge. This person believes in us and is casting their vote of confidence in the Historical Society’s ongoing participation in our county. Yes, our donor will match every donation of $1,000 or more with another $1,000 of their own, up to $10,000!

Donations of any size help HSoSC, of course, but this donor wants to encourage those who can, to step up with a substantial gift. They have issued their challenge for the summer season, “the giving season”. To receive these matching funds, we must receive the full $10,000 in amounts of $1,000 or more. That’s just ten people out of the thousands who support us… or fewer, if some wish to give more!

While a gift in any amount is always welcome, if you can participate in the Summer Challenge to double your impact, your donation must be $1,000 or more to qualify. We realize that not everyone is able to make a major donation today. We certainly appreciate that all supporters are excited to participate by giving any amount they are comfortable with, to assist us with keeping the Historical Society of Sarasota County open and operating.

Donations are gratefully accepted in whatever manner is best for you: using a credit card online at ; by calling our office Tuesdays or Fridays from 10 to 2 to have Linda Garcia, Site Manager, personally assist you; or at any time, leave a phone message or email And of course, we welcome personal checks, made out to the Historical Society of Sarasota County and mailed to HSoSC, PO Box 1632, Sarasota FL 34230

Help make the summer season, a giving season, as our generous Challenger says!

Help an Eagle Scout help history.

Did you know that out of all the Boy Scouts in the USA, only 6% of them accomplish the highest level of Eagle Scout? Some people who did: Jim Lovell, commander of Apollo 13; Bill Gates; Sam Walton; and Mike Rowe of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs.

Daron Nouri of Sarasota is looking forward to being the next Eagle Scout, and he loves history. Maybe we can help him on his life’s journey a bit. The Historical Society directors are honored that out of all the places in Sarasota, Daron has chosen us to be the potential recipient of his project. Here, let Daron tell you his story:

My name is Daron Nouri and I am a boy scout with Troop 895 in Sarasota, Florida. I have recently partnered with the Historical Society of Sarasota to complete a community service project required for my final Boy Scout rank. As a scout, I have spent many years pursuing advancements in outdoor skills and leadership experiences through merit badges and rank advancements. Only a small percentage of boy scouts ever achieve the rank of Eagle. I plan on being in that percentage.

The Historical Society of Sarasota has given me the opportunity to complete my service project. This project will be the final step to become an Eagle scout, and requires me to supervise and oversee an important service to my community. Personally, I have always loved history and so it made sense for me to approach HSoSC back in November in hopes they would have a need that I could help accomplish to meet this requirement.

The Historical Society only has one handicap parking space available for their patrons to use. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.3% of all adults in Florida have a physical handicap. With your donation I can give people with physical handicaps an opportunity to visit and learn more about the history of Sarasota, which I feel very passionate about. The money you contribute will be used to pay for the concrete pouring, permitting, plants, paint materials, and other tools needed to carry out the final project. I am expected to supervise a team of scout volunteers to stripe, paint, and add decorative shrubbery around the parking spot. 

I would like to personally thank the Historical Society for allowing me this great opportunity to work with them on this important project and look forward to seeing it finished. If you would like to contribute, I have created a GoFundMe account here. Thank you to everyone who has already contributed to helping me complete this project. 

I hope you will consider contributing today to make this important project a reality. Thank you.


Daron Nouri

“We are not the makers of history. We are made by history.” – Martin Luther King Jr. 

P.S. from your Blog Editor: Attaining the rank of Eagle Scout is a VERY big deal. I hear that college admissions and scholarship committees look for that on a student’s application, that the armed forces admit Eagle Scouts at a higher rank, and that employers rank having been an Eagle Scout as a prime attribute when hiring executive-level staff. We’re so thrilled to help Daron raise funds so that his project can be completed by its July deadline. If you can, please help.

PPS: Yes, girls can be Eagle Scouts. What used to be called Boy Scouts is, as of 2019, now called Scouts BSA and girls can earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Younger girls were able to join Cub Scouts starting around 2018, and more than 77,000 joined just the first year. Now, older girls 11-17 have a path to earn the organization’s highest rank.

With a lot of help from our friends…

For a large, seemingly stolid and stationary building such as our beloved Crocker Memorial Church, there sure seems to be a lot of moving parts, that is, people, contributing to this restoration of the west wall project! These folks are just the visible parts of many, many people working together.

Betsy Lingenheld is our Director providing project oversight. Betsy’s background in contracting, historic preservation, and managing projects has been truly treasured by all at the Historical Society.

(> Left to right Betsy Lingenheld, Portapotty, HSoSC President Marsha Fottler)

Structural engineer Tony Wilson of Wilson Structural Engineering, not only went to Sarasota High School, but contributed greatly to turning that historic building into today’s Sarasota Art Museum.

Nick Olson of Specialized Property Services is our Project Manager.

Linda Stevenson of Stevenson Architects, Inc. drew up and donated her professional services for the design and specifications for this aspect of the Crocker Memorial Church restoration.

And a salute to all the gentlemen in fluorescent shirts who have been digging, cutting, measuring and replacing the underpinnings of the Crocker!

Betsy is pleased with our progress, but wants us all to be fully aware that this is just one of many steps we must take to keep this piece of Sarasota’s past in good shape for the next 100 years.

She notes, “This will be a multi year project to get the other three sides of the building restored” and points out that we must all expect ongoing costs and be ready to fund-raise and donate as we can.

Next up, the steeple. Protecting and preserving a century-old wooden building in our climate is an ongoing challenge.

Adaptive reuse is just one of the “re’s” we are vigilant about: reuse, rehabilitation, revitalizing our past, present, and future. We invite you to watch this project and help the Society stay on top of the welfare of both our historic buildings.

Sparkly Saturday Shebang March 27 2021

The Historical Society of Sarasota County's Annual Sparkly Saturday now on March 27 2021
Originally scheduled in February; now the last Saturday in March

Sparkly Saturday Shebang, Sat. March 27

Our Annual Sparkly Saturday, with incredible jewelry in conjunction with Jewelry to the Rescue, is a Shebang this year, with a tag sale on the Bidwell-Wood House open-air porches and a lawn full of artists, crafters, and authors on our breezy campus in beautiful Pioneer Park.

Don’t miss this chance to stroll in the sunshine, greet friends you’ve missed, and shop to help HSoSC survive in these fiscal-challenging days. If you’re not in the market for more material goods, that’s okay… come anyway, enjoy the companionship, and bring a few bucks for the donations jars. Remember, it costs the Society $128 a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks+ since this pandemic shut our doors, just to keep our historic buildings safe. 

Bring your mad money and wear your mask!

How to Save a Hundred-year-old Wooden Building

There are five crucial steps to saving this building. And five good reasons for doing so.

The Crocker Memorial Church has withstood hurricanes, scorching sun and high winds, termites, and the wear and tear of an old wooden building in constant use. The Crocker has been moved three times to elude demolition and in 2006 this historic building came to rest in Pioneer Park under the curatorship of HSOSC. We are stewards of living history and are honored to protect and maintain this link with Florida’s past.

We have raised half the cost of the needed repairs but nothing can start until we have it all at hand. Even with the pandemic forcing us to make difficult financial decisions, and eliminating the ability to raise funds through rental fees, meeting admissions and in-person donations, we have kept those funds sacrosanct and are asking for the community to help us obtain the full cost of keeping this building from ruin.

Here’s what we are looking at:

The 5 Crucial Steps

1. Replace the foundation retaining wall and perimeter beam supporting the west side of the building. This also includes re-grading from the west wall to the parking lot to ensure proper drainage. This foundation project is the most complex, costly and crucial part of the entire rescue project and must be done before anything else.
2. Repair or replace all damaged floor joists.
3. Repair or replace all wood siding as needed.
4. Paint exterior west side of the Crocker Memorial Church.
5. Repair and re-install the six windows on the west side of the building.

Why would we care to protect, preserve, and present a 100-year-old building in Sarasota County?

The 5 Good Reasons

1. The Crocker Memorial Church is a heritage building. Peter Crocker built his home here. Shortly thereafter, he built a church as a meeting place, hand-constructing the pews we still use for seating.
2. This building is so important that it was moved a number of times as our community grew, to save it from destruction. It now rests comfortably in Pioneer Park, giving a glimpse of another time to our 21st-century residents and visitors.
3. This building tells the tale of the importance of gathering together even when the community numbered less than a thousand people.
4. Our community uses this building for gatherings, meetings, and celebrations year-round.
5. This building helps the Historical Society receive income to keep both it and the Bidwell-Wood House safe for future generations.

Update January 9 2021: We are thrilled to announce that our goal is almost met! If you’ve hesitated because it seems like we’ll never be able to Save the Crocker, take us over the top with your participation. Click here and be PROUD it was your dollars that saved Sarasota history.

Please demonstrate your support for this massive renewal of the Crocker Memorial Church so that it can continue to serve our community for another century and beyond. We’ve highlighted the priority items above, but it’s not the whole story. A detailed list of what this massive rescue project entails is available at HSOSC. Construction and materials costs rise every day that we delay. 

Remember, we have already raised half of the $100,000 needed to preserve our heritage as a community. Your donation will absolutely make a difference in a rescue mission that is within our reach. You can donate via check to us at 1260 12th Street, Sarasota FL 34230, call our Site Manager Linda Garcia during her covid-curtailed office hours of 10-2 Tuesdays and Fridays to use a credit card, or use Paypal right now. You can even pledge a comfortable monthly donation there if you like.