Join us at our Ring the Bell party!

Will you be participating in #GivingChallenge16? We sure hope so…

“We”, in this case, being not just your Board at the Historical Society, but the great folks over at as well.

Not only will GS be giving free mini-concerts/lectures in the Crocker Memorial Church this coming season but we are partnering for the Community Foundation’s popular 2016 Giving Challenge on September 20-21 from noon to noon.
“Our organizations’ partnership is the perfect example of non-profit collaboration and includes a multifaceted new non-profit partnership,” says Thomas Koch of GS. “And, joining forces for the 2016 Giving Challenge gives both organizations the exciting opportunity to engage our boards and cross-promote to both organizations’ supporters,” he says.
Linda Garcia, Site Manager of HSoSC, is equally pleased by the new partnership. “We have a creative campaign planned that was born out of a good old fashioned brainstorming session between both organizations. I love it when collaboration results in creativity,” she says.

One of the creative ideas when we brainstormed was that sometimes, people want to donate, but the online, credit-card-only structure of Giving Challenge is, well, a bit challenging. The solution to that obstacle? Throw a party and have ambassadors available to make supporters’ donations for them!

So! We’re throwing a “Ring The Bell Party” on September 20, 2016 from 4-7pm.

Everyone who donates gets to ring the bell, our newest addition to our campus… and we’ll even, if you like, take a photo of you doing so!

Join HSoSC & Guitarsarasota to celebrate #GivingChallenge16

The bell, normally off-limits to freelance ringing, will ring out your support of either or both nonprofits.

There will be ambassadors from both organizations to assist attendees in donating online, in “real-time”, to the 2016 Giving Challenge. Remember that your donation will be matched or even tripled by The Patterson Foundation so your generosity will be truly effective for both groups.

So much going on Tuesday, September 20 from 4-7pm

  • Crocker Memorial Church and the Bidwell-Wood House, 1260 12th Street in Sarasota’s Pioneer Park
  • Tour the Crocker Memorial Church (1901) and the Bidwell-Wood House (1882) as well as our ever-growing gardens in Pioneer Park
  • enjoy live classical guitar music by Thomas Koch
  • dance to live music by Sal Garcia, founder of OMNI
  • ambassadors available to assist you in donating online, real-time, to the #Giving Challenge16
  • watch as our historic demonstrators weave fabric and create boondoggles
  • complimentary refreshments
  • donations generously matched by The Patterson Foundation, 1:1 or even 2:1, making your contribution doubly or triply more valuable!
  • historical cast-iron church steeple bell on display
  • photo station for your social media fun!
  • donors are invited to #BeTheOne and Ring The Bell to celebrate their participation in supporting these two non-profit organizations








Spiffing up for Season at the Historical Society

In the lull between our Annual Meeting in May and the beginning of Conversations at the Crocker in October, you might think the Bidwell-Wood House and the Crocker Memorial Church slumber in the heat. Not so! We’ve been organizing three wonderful events, two of which are BRAND NEW, and one a returning favorite.

Well sure, it’s hot, but that doesn’t stop volunteer gardens overseer, Sue Padden, and site manager Linda Garcia, from plotting the… well, the plot: our native plantings, herb garden, and flower pots and boxes.

1605 sue padden and linda
A sure way to beat the heat of the summer is to play in the sprinkler… err, wield the pressure hose and clean off the access ramp to our campus.
cleaning the railings 7-2016
Thanks to our volunteers and a gift from the parents of a Crocker bride, our plantings look better every season, don’t they?
hsosc garden-bromeliadsAnd the House has a new coat of paint, the decks a protective sealant. And wait until you try out the new park benches in our front yard!park benchIf you’ve entered the Crocker from our ramp, you know how user-UNfriendly that step right there was… well, we’ve had a “stage-ectomy” as Linda calls it: it’s no longer a feat to maneuver in, as these folks had to do at our Annual meeting!
stageWe thank our members, Conversations attendees, and donors for the funds that let us keep improving these historic buildings for contemporary use…

and we look forward to seeing your name on the list of #GivingChallenge16 donors on Sept. 20 and 21, so we can continue to make the Historical Society a true gem in Pioneer Park! Here’s info on how your contribution will be doubled or even TRIPLED!

Help the Historical Society of Sarasota County Preserve History




#BeTheOne: You can preserve history!

Help the Historical Society of Sarasota County Preserve History

Lost: The Bispham-Wilson Home stood until recently near the corner of Tamiami Trail and Proctor Road. The Bispham Dairy served the Sarasota area for 65 years. Razed 2014-2015. More.

Lost: El Vernona Hotel> John Ringling Hotel> John Ringling Towers. Built in the 1920s as the El Vernona Hotel by Owens Burns, and named after his wife, Vernona, the hotel was the center of glamour and activity in Sarasota. Razed 1998. More.

Saved: The Bidwell-Wood House was built in 1882. It is now revitalized as the centerpiece of the Historical Society of Sarasota County, located in its new home in Pioneer Park at 1260 12th Street, Sarasota. 

Saved: Crocker Memorial Church, built in 1901 as a place of worship and gathering spot, continues into the 21st century repurposed as a community amenity next to the Bidwell-Wood House in Pioneer Park.

You too can #BeTheOne to help preserve our county history, by participating in the upcoming Giving Challenge 2016.

If you miss the Giving Challenge, we always welcome your membership and participation in the Society.

Photo credits: Bispham-Wilson Historic District, By Ebyabe – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
El Vernona Hotel> John Ringling Hotel> John Ringling Towers, as seen on
Bidwell-Wood House, Greg Wilson Photography
Crocker Memorial Church, Historical Society Archive




The heavens are smiling on our new season!

Historical Society of Sarasota County's Events Committee 2016
L to R: Deborah Bowers, Kate Holmes, Linda Garcia, Brenda Lee Hickman, Marsha Fottler, Lynn Harding, Diane Esthus, Meade Ferguson, Marie Rowe. Behind the camera: Terrance Leaser

The heavens were shining upon the Historical Society of Sarasota County’s Pioneer Park campus when our Events Committee met to plan an active, engaging 2016-2017 season for our members and guests. We can’t WAIT to show off our newly-freshened Bidwell-Wood House (1882) and Crocker Memorial Church (1901) to everyone!

In addition to our monthly Conversations at the Crocker events (which are often SRO!) on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, our Welcome Back Reception for members in October, our Members’ Holiday Gala in December and of course, the never-to-be-missed Annual Meeting & Potluck in May, we have to present to the community:

  • Our Trolley Tours of Historic Downtown Sarasota, presented by the famous Sue Blue, this year’s Hero of History (Sept 17 and March 11 are already sold out, so get your reservations in!);
  • Our traditional Historic Sarasota Bay Cruise on the LeBarge, narrated by the talented John McCarthy (Reservations coming in fast, and space is getting limited, so claim your seat now!);
  • A Private Tour of Ca’ d’ Zan hosted by Keeper of the House Ron McCarty, with lunch (Members only event, reservations now being accepted for this intimate event);
  • And Artists in the Park on Sunday in collaboration with Light Chasers Plein Air Artists (keep an eye on our Calendar for more info as this develops!)

Also, we’re having three opportunities for you to participate, donate, and re-house some wonderful possessions. We’d love for you to donate, shop, and spread the word to the community in general about:

  • The Pop-Up History Book Swap: Available at every Conversation at the Crocker, and probably a few other places as well
  • Our popular and anticipated Bi-Annual Designer Tag Sale on Saturday November 12
  • and our newest partnership, Sparkling Saturday, a gently-used, heirloom and estate costume jewelry sale with Jewelry to the Rescue on Saturday November 26.

As you can imagine, there are volunteer tasks and jobs aplenty! Call our Site Manager, Linda Garcia, at 941-364-9076, or email her at, and she’ll help you match up your interests and availabilities with some fun way to help HSoSC keep on shining!





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.


Pinning your way through Sarasota County History

1908 bathing beauties and Pinterest
Click to visit our very own Pinterest at the Historical Society of Sarasota County

Are you a Pinner? No, we’re not asking if you wear pinafores… but if you’ve explored Pinterest! For the visually-oriented, the researcher, or even just the curious, it’s a veritable treasure trove of images and links.

I am all of the above, so here’s a few Pinterest Boards I enjoy and follow:

First up, of course, our HSoSC Pinterest page.

Some photos I have not seen before and which set me researching, here. His photos, alas, are not always credited or commentated. This fellow also pins other interesting things, like vintage automobiles!

Ever wonder what Fruitville Road used to look like? This Pin Board shows you!

A local Realtor has her own curated Sarasota History Pin Board. Her other boards, covering the area, are interesting as well.

Expanding our historical interest: If you have a rainy week to fill, surf through the 41 boards that Florida Memory maintains. Everything from vintage maps to vintage fashions!

New to Pinterest? Learn how to use it with this complete and free tutorial. If you want to browse Pinterest on your phone, here’s info on the app you’ll use.

Image originally found at



Every church deserves a bell…

Jon Moore and Linda Garcia accepting an antique steeple bell from Jack Helm of Helm Vault
Jon Moore and Linda Garcia accepting an antique steeple bell from Jack Helm of Helm Vault.

Jack Helm, owner of Helm Vault Service in Bradenton has presented the Historical Society with a restored 14” antique steeple bell for use when the Crocker Memorial Church is active with community events.  The building, built in 1901, has been in continuous use ever since and is the meeting space for the Historical Society as well as other civic and social groups.

Additionally, the church is a site for small weddings which makes this donation of a bell so lovely. Helm Vault Service also supports the Historical Society with the personalized engraving of the bricks saved from the Airline Seaboard Railway Depot which are purchased by Society supporters with a donation, and laid in front of the Bidwell-Wood House (1882) each November.

Directors and supporters of the Historical Society of Sarasota County accept the gracious donation of a church bell from Jack Helm.

Members of the Historical Society Board of Directors gathered to accept the wonderful donation. They’re excited to ring the bell at the Crocker Memorial Church for events and meetings such as Conversations at The Crocker in the future.

We’ve set the 2016-2017 Calendar of Events for next season and are ready to accept reservations for the narrated Sue Blue Historical Trolley Tours and the Historical LeBarge Cruise narrated by John McCarthy for the first Sunday in November and again in March 2017. Don’t get shut out of these wildly-popular historic events. Call our Site Manager, Linda Garcia, Tues-Fri from 10am to 2pm to grab your reservations! 941-364-9076. Or email her 24/7 at