Have a drink. It’s legal again.

This Day in History: On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified. The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment of January 16, 1919, commonly called the Volstead Act ending the increasingly unpopular nationwide prohibition of alcohol.


Why did Prohibition start?

By the turn of the 20th century, temperance societies were prevalent in the United States. Concerned citizens had begun warning others about

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This Day in History: September 19, 1559

Just a little something to ponder as we enter the peak of the hurricane season, here in 2022.

Pensacola was the scene of a massive hurricane that changed the history of North America forever, illustrating the pivotal role that such storms played and continue to play in human affairs. A weeks-old settlement of over 1000 people, who had begun to clear land and even plat out residential lots, lost

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This Day in History: August 4 1842 The Armed Occupation Act

1842 – The Armed Occupation Act was passed by Congress on this date. Each settler who would settle and cultivate five acres or more of land in eastern and southern Florida for a period of five years would receive 160 acres of land and one year’s rations from the Federal government. Settlers were expected also to provide militia service, if needed, to control the activities of the warring Seminole Indians. This was the prelude to the official declaration of the end of the Second Seminole War on August 14, 1842.

My Florida History

This was an important date for two figures in Sarasota history. Read on…

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This Day in History is very moving….

In the wee small hours of October 18 2006, you could have seen two historic buildings moving slowly, oh so slowly, through the streets of Sarasota.

That was the day in history when the Historical Society moved its buildings to Pioneer Park. Here’s the local news item:

SARASOTA October 16 2006– The 1882 Bidwell-Wood House had been scheduled to be moved from Florida Avenue to Pioneer Park early Thursday morning.
But mover R.E. Johnson and Son will transport the building 24 hours earlier. Sometime between 2 and 3 a.m. on Wednesday, the Bidwell-Wood House — and the Crocker Church — will be moved from Florida Avenue, south of 10th Street, to Pioneer Park, at 12th Street and Cocoanut. The Historical Society of Sarasota County and the city of Sarasota are coordinating the project.
The buildings have been up on trucks and ready to go for several days.The public is invited to follow the three-block move behind the trucks — in bathrobes and pajamas, for those who wish.
Once the buildings are in place, piers will be built into the footings, which have already been poured on a high spot in the park, and then the structures will be lowered into place.
The move will be videotaped for a documentary to be shown on the Discovery Channel and the National Geographic Channel.

And once the buildings were safe in Pioneer Park, all of us were walking on air.

Photo courtesy of Harold Bubil through the Herald-Tribune.

It had been a long journey, even though it was actually only a few blocks… and it would be several years before we could use the buildings to present local history, but this was a momentous day not just for HSoSC but for the entire county: two buildings saved from the wrecking ball, so that residents can understand what came before today.

Help the Historical Society of Sarasota County Preserve History

Swept by a conflagration…

This Day in History: On October 8, 1871… 150 years ago… the tragedy of the Great Chicago Fire happened.

“This city has been swept by a conflagration which has no parallel in the annals of history” wrote the Chicago papers… after they were able to start printing papers again.

“The Chicago fire has so absorbed public attention

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Happy July 4 1921, Sarasota!

4 flagWhile Sarasota was still excited about becoming its own county on July 1st 1921, and celebrating the 4th in grand style, here’s the world they lived in. Some of these 1921 events might surprise you and others amuse. Isn’t history fascinating?

On July 2, 1921, President Warren Harding signed a joint congressional resolution declaring an end to America’s state of war with Germany, Austria and Hungary. (Calvin Coolidge was Vice-President in case you were wondering.)

330px-Bessie_Coleman_in_1923Brave Bessie: Bessie Coleman was an early American civil aviator. She was the first African-American woman and first Native American to hold Continue reading

Taking a ride on Mr. Ferris’ creation

This day in history June 21 1893, features the debut of a monumental contraption that our very own Bertha Palmer , before she became the Legendary Lady of Sarasota, got the first ride on:

The Ferris Wheel!

Built to one-up the Eiffel Tower of the previous World’s Fair: it’s big AND it moves!

It was big. Very big. Each car held 60 riders. It cost 50 cents to ride it. I’m guessing Bertha, as President of the Board of Lady Managers for the Columbian Exposition, Chicago’s World’s Fair, was comped.

Alas, it was dynamited and sold for scrap less than 15 years later. The mummies, next door, lasted a lot longer.

Learn more about Bertha Palmer, her life in Chicago and in Sarasota, by booking our very own Bertha Palmer to present this fascinating woman’s life story as a costumed first-person interpretation to your group or club by contacting our Site Manager Linda Garcia at hsosc1@gmail.com or 941-364-9076.

Read the June 22 1893 newspaper article.

It’s a Centennial CROWD!

Sarasota County is celebrating its Centennial in 2021. But we’re not the only ones.

The spring of 1921 was a busy one up in Tallahassee. The General Assembly approved the creation of 6 new counties out of what had been 2…

Manatee County got carved into two, thereby creating Sarasota County.

But poor Desoto County? It became 6 separate counties in 1921

  • Charlotte
  • Desoto
  • Hardee
  • Highlands
  • Glades

Let’s just be thankful they

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There’s always one.

This Day in History, March 6 1917: Sarasota voters passed a bond issue by 59 to 1 to raise $40,000 to buy the Hover Arcade and Dock for the City of Sarasota. No one ‘fessed up to being the sole dissenter, but we know for sure it was a man. (Think about it.)

“Okay, now guys, be sure to stand six feet apart…”

Let’s discuss downtown property values, shall we? The original dock was

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So the plans got put on ice

This Day in History: January 11 1886

         Sarasota’s days as a great cassava center were put on ice. Hamilton Disston (you know, the man who bought 4 million acres of Florida at a quarter an acre?) met with Frank Higel (you know, the guy with a vested interest in the land that would become, 35+ years later, Venice) to talk about investing in Frank’s brain child, cassava (you know, the stuff they make tapioca— and bubble tea— out of).
          But as Disston shivered through a 23-degree (you know, Fahrenheit not Celsius) night in an unheated hotel, he decided Higel was crazy, trying to grow a tropical crop in the arctic Sarasota District. Bye-bye Disston, adios cassava.
Cassava didn't become a Sarasota cropWith thanks to J. Whitcomb Rylee’s Yesterday’s Sarasota calendar.

Want to grow some cassava?

There goes the neighborhood.

Boatload of fish

After all, this much fish is way too much for dinner tonight. (Photo from Florida Memory.)

On this day in history, December 12, 1902, the Sarasota Ice, Fish, and Power Company was granted the first permit to construct a commercial plant smack dab in town. (It was located, according to one source, near Lemon Avenue and State Street.) Sarasota had been a town for less than 2 months at that point.

SIFP generated electricity to make ice to keep the catch fresh. It wasn’t for seven more years that Sarasota got street lights (2, count ’em, 2) and from that point on, there was nothing but progress progress progress. (Well, except for the Bust. Another tale to tell.)

We’re happy to announce that this fishy Day in History is dedicated to Elisabeth Waters,

who was gifted with a “Claim Your Day” by Alexandra Jupin in our effort to keep our head above water in this economically-challenging pandemic time. If you’d like us to find an appropriate Day in History for you to claim, you can get the details here.


“Is it for me?” comes to Sarasota

Sarasota FL gets its first telephone exchange, 1904This Day in History: “1904– With a crank and a jingle, 48 subscribers entered the telephone age as Sarasota got its first telephone exchange. Miss Woodruff was the town’s first operator. The owners had expected only 25 customers or so.” — from Yesterday’s Sarasota 1993 Calendar by J Whitcomb Rylee in conjunction with HSoSC. (The photo’s from a book for sale on eBay; if you’re quick you can get it!)

And so Sarasota County begins….

Today in History, July 3, 1921:
The day before the United States’ Independence Day, having declared its independence from Manatee County, the first meeting of the Sarasota County Commission was held.
Warren Day's sketch of Hover Arcade, Sarasota FL, in the 1920's

Renting space from the city in Hover Arcade, the commission set about the ordering of such essentials as equipment and record books. Taxes would follow.”

.             . from Yesterday’s Sarasota Calendar, as published by J. Whitcomb Ryylee in conjunction with the Historical Society of Sarasota County.

The sketch of Hover Arcade is by Warren Day, a Sarasota artist represented by Pixels.com. You can order this and other local scenes as wall art, tote bags, even a phone case here.

Today in History: The Chidsey Library Dedication, 1941!

The books of Sarasota finally get their own home as the Chidsey Library was dedicated. The cost of the building was $18,500, and was a gift of John Chidsey. The building served as our library until 1976.  — from “Yesterday’s Sarasota The Calendar for 1993” by J. Whitcomb Rylee, in conjunction with the Historical Society of Sarasota County

Historic Chidsey Library

Since then, the building has been Sarasota County’s Historical Resources Center, the Visitor Center, and left vacant. Recently, the Friends of the History Center are keeping it and its exhibits public with the help of volunteers from a dozen or so local historical groups, including, of course, the Historical Society of Sarasota County. It’s, for now at least, the Historical Exhibits and Educational Center located at the Historic Chidsey Library Building.  701 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.