#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, whose predecessor was 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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11911031
El Vernona Hotel> John Ringling Hotel> John Ringling Towers, as seen on SarasotaHistoryAlive.com
Bidwell-Wood House, Greg Wilson Photography
Crocker Memorial Church, Historical Society Archive




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

What’s your treasure worth?

Expert appraisals at the Collecibles Celebration at the Historical Society of Sarasota County

The Historical Society of Sarasota County is presenting an appraisal clinic on Saturday, November 14, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Crocker Memorial Church, 1260 12th Street, Sarasota. The Crocker Memorial Church is in Pioneer Park one block in from N. Tamiami Trail at 12th Street.


People are invited to bring their treasures and have them appraised by certified professionals. The cost is Continue reading

25th Historical LeBarge Cruise

The Historical Society celebrated its 25th Historical LeBarge Cruise early in November, and were delighted to offer commentary courtesy of famed local historian John McCarthy.

If you couldn’t make the November tour with us, make plans now to join us in March! Email Linda Garcia, our Site Manager, at hsosc1@gmail.com for your reservations now.

Historical Bay Cruise by the Historical Society of Sarasota County

Our newest board member Virginia Hoffman (second from left) enjoyed her birthday celebration on the cruise with other board members (l. to r.) BrendaLee Hickman , Bill Kleber, and Meade Ferguson.

Funds raised help the private non-profit Society preserve and protect two of the oldest historic buildings in Sarasota County. Visit the Bidwell-Wood House (1882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901) Monday-Friday 10am to 2pm, or during any of our special events on our Calendar of Events.  Pioneer Park is located just east of 41 at 12th Street.

What makes a community, a community? Lessons from 100+ years

Ever since 1882 (the year Alfred Bidwell built his home in Sarasota, now known as the Bidwell-Wood House, the oldest remaining residence in Sarasota County) and 1901, when Peter Crocker built the Crocker Church for his Bee Ridge community, our two preserved buildings have been places to gather, to meet and help neighbors, and to celebrate the many aspects of life.Read the history of our two buildings in our Museum Booklet.

When the Historical Society moved the house and the church to its campus in Pioneer Park, this tradition of community events gained speed and depth.

Recently, hundreds of people have joined the Society for its Conversations at the Crocker, a monthly get-together from October to April featuring panel/ audience dialogs on everything from historic neighborhoods to government to baseball. The parlor, dining room and Back Porch of the house have been venues for classes on topics ranging from mosaics to watercolor, pine needle basket weaving to… iPhones (hey, just ’cause we’re historical doesn’t mean we’re not up-to-date!)!

We’ve had the honor of providing community space for events ranging from the Cinderella Project (high-schoolers from the community can choose, from an elegant “pop-up boutique”, their prom attire) to the history-educational History Fair. We’ve also been the chosen venue for teas, weddings, book clubs, art classes, musical rehearsals and recitals, art exhibits and crafts demonstrations, Florida-friendly gardening, luncheon groups and antique car destinations. We’ve even had a baptism!

We also love participating in community outreach such as the Holiday Wreath event at Westfield Sarasota Square, providing hosts for the historical homes tours during season, and showcasing our gardens with Florida-Friendly plantings.

But… all this community involvement is in danger.

We are the caretakers of the two buildings, and as such, we must pay every penny of their upkeep. If you’ve ever lived in an historic home, you know what’s involved there! Right now, we are looking at over $50,000 in work that must be done asap… just to keep the buildings dry and protected from the Florida climate. The Church roof needs coating (done! thanks to an Arts and Cultural Award) , and the beautiful wooden shakes of the House roof need complete replacement. (done! thanks to the Selby Foundation)

Update December 2019: The Crocker Memorial Church is needing community support now. Our lovely climate is not so lovely to old wooden buildings, and we are now facing the considerable expense of replacing a major support beam to keep the Church bright and beautiful. Read what’s happening and how you can help keep this Sarasota icon in pristine shape. Details are here.

If you think that this historic treasure, which has served as a community-gathering space for over 100 years, deserves to continue to make Sarasota a true community, won’t you  help? A modest $25 or $50 donation, multiplied by the thousands of folks who love vintage buildings and the peaceful ambiance of Pioneer Park, can do it! You can donate today with your credit card or e-check by clicking the “Donate” button here on our right sidebar, or you can do the “old-fashioned thing” of dropping by our beautiful buildings in Pioneer Park, any M-F 10a to 2p, with a check. Heck, you could even put a check in the mail!

Thanks for being a part of the Sarasota community!

What type of pirate will you dress up as?

  • Be a Pirate for the evening or for the day or for both! at the Historical Society of Sarasota County's Pirates & Pioners Day November 16 (and the evening before, adults only)We’re SO looking forward to the adults-only Pirates Eve on Friday evening, November 15 (tales and tasty libations for the over-21 group) to the family-oriented Pirates and Pioneers Day on Saturday November 16 (admission, a few canned goods for the Mayors Feed the Hungry Campaign) at the Historical Society of Sarasota County… for the fun, yes, but also because

who doesn’t want to dress up as a pirate?

Inspiration from cheap and cheerful to “too sexy for my hook” ideas here, from Pinterest.

Get ready to learn something NEW at the OLDest residence in Sarasota County!

Artists enjoy the Bidwell-Wood House at the Historical Society of Sarasota CountyWe’re excited to announce that the 2013-2014 Classes at the Park Schedule is now online!

Our traditional Classes on the Back Porch have been renamed Classes at the Park, reflecting our involvement in the wider community of Pioneer Park in Sarasota, this year’s syllabus starts with Yoga and ends with birdwatching… and you won’t believe the variety of classes in between!

While our Conversations at the Crocker focus monthly on historical info and interests, and our special events such as the Bay Cruise and Trolley Tours put residents and visitors alike in touch with Sarasota’s journey to 2013, our classes are focused on the here-and-now with up-to-date topics and education.

As far as non-members are concerned, class registration opens in September. But members not only get preferred pricing, but if you call our competent and just-plain-adorable Site Manager, Linda Garcia (who’s “standing by” in the Historical Society office Tues-Fri, 10 to 2), I’m sure she’ll let you snap up the limited enrollment spots now! (Tip: there are some one-session classes that your card club, Red Hat Ladies, neighbor group could turn into a private girls’ day out!)

Our Classes in the Park are a major source of operating funds for the non-profit Historical Society, so learn something and help us preserve, protect, and polish the Bidwell-Wood House and the Crocker Memorial Church at the same time.

Can’t wait for a French Quarter Cuban

Sarasota’s first seasonal residents were Cuban fishermen, who set up “fish rancheros” on the coast to catch and preserve the fish that teemed in the bays here. And it was a mark of distinction to 19th century Sarasotans to import their fine furnishings from the elegant shops of New Orleans.

So a French Quarter Cuban sandwich on Saturday, at Continue reading

Turn your gently-used treasures into shingles!

Bidwell-Wood House in WinterThe Bidwell-Wood House, our county’s oldest residence, is in danger from the challenging Florida climate. Without a new roof, we could lose this 1882 home, built when this area was a sandy wilderness. The Historical Society of Sarasota County, located in Pioneer Park at 1260 12th Street (between Tamiami Trail and Cocoanut Avenue), curates and protects both the Crocker Memorial Church and the House, two of Sarasota’s most historic buildings.
One of our fund-raisers that is easy to support is our upcoming

Designer Tag Sale on Saturday Nov. 17, starting at 8am.

This sale, held in Continue reading

Join us in honoring tradition at our Annual Meeting

dinner on the groundsOnce a year, the Historical Society has a pot-luck “dinner on the grounds,” just as our forebears did. At the same time, we come together to elect our public servants, as did our grandparents and great-grandparents.

And so we Continue reading

For the Mother who has Everything – a BRICK!!

Brick Grid at Bidwell-Wood HouseMother’s Day (or any other gift-giving occasion) is always a conundrum: she seems to have everything and need nothing (but your love and devotion of course). But fortunately, the Historical Society of Sarasota County has the perfect solution to your gift-giving problem: a brick!

That’s right! Whether Mom lives in, loves, or simply enjoys visiting Sarasota County, you can commemorate her affection with something that will last for decades, even centuries. And this is no ordinary brick, just like Mom’s no ordinary mother.

How about a historic brick from Sarasota’s Seaboard Airline Railroad!!!

Bricks at Bidwell-Wood House

Nothing says loving like a brick.

The Historical Society of Sarasota County salvaged the bricks from Main Street and Lemon Avenue when the station depot was being demolished.  We have them laid as the walkway into the 1882 Bidwell-Wood House, Sarasota County’s oldest surviving residence, for a lasting memorial.  Each year the new etched bricks are laid on Pioneer Day with a celebration for new brick owners.

You can honor anyone including yourself with an etched historic brick.  A donation of $100 or more creates a permanent reminder of your loved one and participation in Sarasota History.  Each year the new etched bricks are laid on Pioneer Day to honor those who support Sarasota history with a dedicated brick in the walkway.

To honor your mother in front of this historic home, or to inscribe a brick for yourself, your loved ones, or a special occasion, simply print out this form and send it in: Brick Reservation Form. Prefer to do it by phone? Call Linda, Site Manager, any weekday between 10 and 2 at 941-364-9076 or email us at hsosc1@gmail.com