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.

November LeBarge Historical Cruise Rescheduled

Norma Kwenski, Volunteer Extraordinaire, grabs the catbird seat on LeBarge, next to our commentator, always-captivating John McCarthy, one of Sarasota’s leading historians.

Norma Kwenski, Volunteer Extraordinaire, grabs the catbird seat on LeBarge, next to our commentator, always-captivating John McCarthy, one of Sarasota’s leading historians.

Our 29th Historical LeBarge Cruise was postponed two weeks due to mechanical repairs being done to the boat. We are rescheduled for Sunday November 20 – same time same station!! Sunday morning cruise from 11a – 1p. We had to do some rearrangements for guests that could not make the date change and we now have a few more spaces available. The VIP tickets are $75 (includes early boarding with two drink coupons and a thank you gift) and regular tickets are $50. Please call the office at 941-364-9076 if you would like to join us for our fall LeBarge cruise.

Join us at our Ring the Bell party!

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

Thank you, Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation!

The Historical Society of Sarasota Cpunty's campus in Pioneer Park, captured by Greg WilsonA $5,000 grant has been received to help fund improvements to the interior of the historic Crocker Memorial Church (1901). The grant comes from the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation.

“This grant will help bring Crocker Church back to what it looked like in 1901 when Peter Crocker built it as a community gathering place and for worship,” said Howard Rosenthal, President of the Historical Society.

“Preservation architects Greg Hall and Linda Stevenson did an analysis of the Crocker interior and suggested ways that we could improve and stabilize the building. We are following those recommendations with the Alliance grant.

“One of the best things about this grant is that it demonstrates how the Alliance fulfills its mission to preserve historic structures in Sarasota County and it certainly furthers our mission as we curate the Crocker Memorial Church building and the Bidwell-Wood House (1882) for educational outreach and as gathering places for community events that celebrate history.”

Events are held in both buildings on the Historical Society’s campus in Pioneer Park. Civic meetings, book clubs, theatrical performances, monthly history-oriented programs organized by HSOSC, art shows and much more keep our locale active and engaging. Both buildings were moved from other locations to Pioneer Park by the City of Sarasota in 2006 and placed under the protection of the Historical Society of Sarasota County, a 450-member organization.

Over the past few years the Crocker Memorial Church has become a destination for small country weddings with the reception on the front and back porches of the Bidwell-Wood House. With the structural improvements made possible by the Alliance grant of $5,000, the Crocker Church building (which was decommissioned as a church in 2006) will become even more accessible to the community.


Preserving the Past with Paint

There are two (possibly more, even) ways to preserve history with paint, and this month, we present these to you:

A. Preserve the Past with Paint, Method One:

Painting the Bidwell-Wood House, Historical Society of Sarasota CountyThe first method of preserving history with paint involves hydraulic lifts and ladders and professional house painters. Thanks to YOUR support, the Bidwell-Wood House, the oldest residence in Sarasota County, is getting its “spa treatment” to keep it going strong in its third century. This would not have been possible without your participation and donations, and the House and the Society thank you! Stop by soon and see how “young” we look with the repairs and paint job!

B: Preserve the Past with Paint, Method


Continue reading

Saluting our Award Winners!

The highlight of the Annual Meeting (well, besides Linda’s Spanish Rice, which we wait for all year) is the announcement of the recipients of our two honors, the Hero of History and the Distinguished Service awards. The announcement this year was made by Marsha Fottler, Vice-President of the Board of Directors, standing in for Howard Rosenthal, President, who was unable to attend.

The winners for 2016 are, for the Hero of History, Suzette Jennings Blue, and for the Distinguished Service Award, Norma Kwenski. Their accomplishments are set forth below; click their names to enjoy.


Historical Society of Sarasota County's 2016 award recipients: Sue Blue (standing) and Norma Kwenski (seated.)

Historical Society of Sarasota County’s 2016 award recipients: Sue Blue (standing) and Norma Kwenski (seated) in the parlor of the Bidwell-Wood House, the oldest residence in Sarasota County. Photograph courtesy of Society Director Virginia Hoffman.

Hero of History 2016

Suzette Jennings Blue

Most of us associate Sue Blue with the Saturday morning historic trolley tours that she’s been doing for our historical society since about 2004. It’s a volunteer passion and all the proceeds come directly to this organization. But, Sue’s devotion to history and education as an author, researcher, and actress goes back a lot farther than that. In many ways Sue holds the institutional memory for this historical society and it’s her we often turn to when we need clarification on some aspect of these two buildings or events that are important to the evolution of this organization.

Sue attended Southside Elementary and is a graduate of Sarasota High School, class of 1946. Her  name is actually Suzette and it’s what her classmate Pete Esthus always called her. While a senior Suzette portrayed the role of Sara de Soto in The Legend of Sara de Soto at the Municipal Auditorium. After college and a career as an actress and theater teacher, Sue returned to her hometown, Sarasota, in 1994.

She restored the childhood home built by her grandfather, Aaron E. Scarborough, in 1925. Sue became a member of the historical society in 1996 and a year later was on the board serving as program chairman. She later served as served as Vice-President of the Board. Today she is a member of the Advisory Board and was a subject for an Ordinary Historian video interview. We have copies here if you want to view it and you should because she’s had quite a life.

During her years on the this board, Sue worked on preservation projects such as the Lido Pool, Sarasota High School, the Van Wezel home, the Municipal Auditorium, the Bidwell-Wood  House and Crocker Church. She wrote our brochures and was editor of our monthly newsletter. And she authored a series of 20 articles on Sarasota history that appeared in Scene magazine. Additionally, Sue wrote and directed a staged reading of “Mr. Bidwell,” and we’re hoping for a revival of that next year.  Sue served on Sarasota County Historical Commission from 2008 – 2012.

Sue still lives in her childhood home built by her grandfather.  Her work on behalf of the Historical Society would be enough to quality her as a Hero of History, but her preservation activism in the wider community has been so outstanding for so many years, that it is time indeed for us to declare with great pride and admiration that Suzette Jennings Blue is the 2016 recipient of the Hero of History award.

Distinguished Service Award 2016

Norma Kwenski

Norma Kwenski is the volunteer that every organization wants to call their own. She’s the one who arrives early, stays late and will do anything that needs attention from weeding the garden, to taking ticket money at Conversations, ironing tablecloths, washing dishes, to hostessing at the Holiday Party and bringing homemade deserts with her. Norma is always so “on the job”  that if I arrive at Pioneer Park for an event and don’t see Norma, I assume I’ve made a mistake and come on the wrong day.

Norma and Brad Kwenski moved to Sarasota from Illinois in 1969 when their children were young. Kay was 9 and sons Brent was 7 and Kendell just 5. They moved into a 1927 Mediterranean Revival home in beautiful Sapphire Shores that had no air conditioning or heat, but plenty of vintage charm. Brad got involved with the Ringling Museum, volunteering for the Medieval Fair. And he worked with Veronica Morgan when these two buildings were in the Rosemary District. They lived in their Sapphire Shores dream neighborhood until Brad became ill and encouraged Norma to make the move to a no-maintenance condominium in Longwood Run. Brad passed away in 2007.

Norma says Jane Kirschner, who had already pulled son Brent into her community service orb, was responsible for Norma becoming a member of the Historical Society. Later Jane made sure Norma got actively involved.

“I never thought I had any special talent,” says Norma, “I just thought I’d be quiet and help where help was needed.” And that’s what she did. But, volunteering so widely and so often, has given Norma a unique perspective on our organization.  She always shrewdly observes and reports on the successes of an event and tactfully points out where we could improve things. For instance, when she was collecting money on the Crocker porch for Conversations at the Crocker a couple years ago, Norma noticed that the lack of handrails was inconvenient and downright dangerous for many people coming up and down the steps. So, she talked it over with her children and the Historical Society board and the Kwenski Krew decided to donate money in Brad Kwenski’s name for handrails. People coming to the Crocker Church bless her every day for being so vigilant and so generous.
This morning we members of the Historical Society are so happy to let Norma know that she is appreciated, not just today but every day of the year. Norma Kwenski is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for 2016.

Mucking about in Pioneer Park

Sue Padden, the new chair of the Historical Society’s landscape committee, organized a garden beautification day on Saturday, April 30. About a dozen volunteers answered her call to weed, prune, rake, plant and spread mulch. Sue is particularly interested in restoring the herb garden.

The Historical Society's Landscape Chair, Sue Padden

If there’s a call for volunteers, you can be sure Norma Kwenski will show up. She’s here weeding the brick memorial pavilion in front of the Bidwell-Wood House. She wants it to look perfect for the annual meeting and potluck luncheon, as well as the brick ceremony where people who have purchased bricks in a loved one’s name will see the bricks installed on May 14.

norma kwenski

Bob Fottler came dressed for the tasks at hand. He brought several bags of mulch and spread them in the garden in front of the Bidwell-Wood House. The garden can always use mulch and donations are appreciated.

bob fottler

Sara King cleaned out the bromeliad beds on the west side of the Crocker Church and planted new specimens. Lots of weeding and pruning too.

 sue king

Bill Whetzel, who has maintained the Crocker Cemetery on Bee Ridge Road for 25 years, was on hand for the HSOSC garden beautification day on Saturday, April 30. This man knows a lot about yard maintenance and garden care.

bill whetzel

Gwen Whetzel did it all – weeding, pruning, raking, weed pulling. She was an inspiration to everyone.

gwen whetzel

Board member Meade Ferguson has participated in these garden clean up days before, so she knew enough to wear heavy gloves and long pants.

meade ferguson

All our members thank these hearty volunteers, and look forward to the Annual Meeting coming up on Saturday May 14 at 11am, with Pot Luck Picnic immediately following.

The Highwaymen give, they don’t take…

If you’ve not heard the story of Florida’s Highwaymen (and one Highwaywoman), it’s a fascinating one…

Their palette included vibrant colors of verdant greens, sunset oranges – and blues and grays that often featured the sun or moon backlighting the scene. The Highwaymen often painted from memory as they captured scenes of the natural Florida they had grown up with, one that was yielding to the development brought on by the state’s mid-Twentieth Century growth.

By necessity, the men (and one woman) painted as an alternative to the backbreaking work of picking and packing Florida citrus – a typical job for African Americans in the 1950’s. Those days were still part of a racially segregated “Jim Crow” South, and painting, then selling their art, gave them an opportunity to succeed in a whole new way.

Their palette included vibrant colors of verdant greens, sunset oranges - and blues and grays that often featured the sun or moon backlighting the scene. The Highwaymen often painted from memory as they captured scenes of the natural Florida they had grown up with, one that was yielding to the development brought on by the state’s mid-Twentieth Century growth.  By necessity, the men (and one woman) painted as an alternative to the backbreaking work of picking and packing Florida citrus – a typical job for African Americans in the 1950’s. Those days were still part of a racially segregated “Jim Crow” South, and painting, then selling their art, gave them an opportunity to succeed in a whole new way.

(Rumor has it, a great supporter of HSoSC collects Highwaymen art. Perhaps one day, we could borrow some for an exhibit in the Crocker Church?)

Read the article here.

The Florida Highwaymen web site.

Highwaymen art photo borrowed from Authentic Florida.

An Historic Evening on the North Trail

By Averette - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

An arts district streetscape in Miami.

Artspace Sarasota is a group of citizens who are focusing on North Tamiami Trail, past and present, and its untapped potential for arts-related development. The North Trail corridor is the proposed location for an affordable housing initiative for artists and the creative sector.

This initiative addresses our mission at HSoSC, which is to foster public awareness of our rich historical heritage, encourage inquiry and research into this history, develop a broader appreciation of its historical communities, and protect its historic sites and structures. We welcome ArtspaceSRQ’s meeting in the historic Crocker Church.

This ArtSpaceSRQ fund-raising event will be moderated by Lorrie Muldowney, preservation consultant and former manager of the Sarasota County History Center, on Monday, March 21, and promises a stimulating exchange.

Chicago-based Martin Treu, renowned architect and urban designer, will present The North Trail, Historic Gateway to Sarasota. His recent book, Signs, Streets, and Storefronts, showcases his multi-disciplinary approach to documenting and critiquing streetscapes. Treu has lectured nationally about signs and architectural history and recently launched Eye on Main Street, an organization formed to showcase, interpret, and nurture historic and contemporary Main Street urbanism.

On the same program, Megan McLaughlin, with notable governmental planning experience in Florida, will present Preserving MiMo as a Revitalization Strategy: Success and Contradiction in Miami. The Mimo district shares strong parallels with Sarasota’s North Tamiami Trail.

The event will be held at the historic Crocker Church, 1260 Twelfth Street in Sarasota. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the program begins at 7. A reception and book signing will follow at the adjacent Bidwell-Wood House. A minimum donation of $10.00 is requested. For more information, visit ArtspaceSRQ or contact Veronica Morgan.

Photo by Averette – Own work, CC BY 3.0,