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.


Saturday, Novmeber 15, 2014

9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Crocker Memorial Church

1260 12th Street  (Pioneer Park)

One block east of N. Tamiami Trail at 12th Street


Presented by the Historical Society of Sarasota County in cooperation with area interior designers who have donated specialty items from their galleries and inventory.

Come and find custom toss pillows, lamps, occasional furniture, extraordinary designer fabric and wallpaper, tabletop sculpture, framed paintings and prints, mirrors, garden ornaments, silk flower and foliage arrangements and a special holiday section with gift items for the season.  Proceeds help maintain the historic Bidwell-Wood House (1882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901).

Shop for fun, amazing and gorgeous designer bargains and help support historic preservation in our town.  It only happens every other year so don’t miss out!

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.

Give me a tinkle…

Remember when people used to say “give me a tinkle” when they meant “call me on the phone”? Well, we’re asking you to

drop a dime

Give the Historical Society a call to join us for tours and more

Love this phone? Click to see where you can get it.

and call the Historical Society to reserve your spot on this fall’s exciting events. Call us at 941-364-9076 Tues.-Fri. between 10am and 2pm. Mastercard & VISA accepted!

  • There’s over a dozen Classes in the Park you can take, some of which are starting early October (click for the schedule)
  • and the traditional LeBarge Sarasota Bay History Cruise on Sunday November 3 (click to see past cruises)
  • and our special adults-only Pirates evening event on Friday November 15 (details forthcoming, but it involves rum punch, pirate nibbles, song and true pirate lore)
  • and the first Historic Downtown Trolley Tour on Saturday November 16 (click for info), the same day as Pirates & Pioneers Day
  • and the deadline is fast approaching for getting an historic brick dedicated for our Annual Unveiling which will be part of Pirates & Pioneers Day on Saturday November 16 (Buy a brick info and Pirates & Pioneer Day info)
  • High Tea with Art off the Easels will be Sunday January 12 (more info soon. It’s hard to think about watercress sandwiches when there are brigands and privateers wandering through our Pioneer Park campus.)
  • there’s just a few places left on the Ca’d’Zan Backstairs tour, Tuesday January 21, hosted by esteemed Keeper of the House Ron McCarty, who is also a Board Member here at the Historical Society. (See the details of this, and all our upcoming events, here.)

Call us at 941-364-9076 Tues.-Fri. between 10am and 2pm, and our Site Manager Linda Garcia will

get your dance card filled up.

It’s been a long time since phones tinkled instead of vibrated (and who in living memory had a dance card tied to her wrist?), but nonetheless, we’d love to hear from you before all the seats are taken!

(If you want that phone, it’s for sale here.)


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.

Painting and Planting: Winter Classes on the Back Porch*

Vintage Sarasota PostcardLook through our roster of classes for this winter season, then fill in our Sign- Up Sheet (click here) and mail it with your check. Reservations are limited, so to assure your place, call the HSOSC office at 941-364-9076 M-F 10am to 2pm with your credit card or email us at  HSOSC@yahoo.com  Reservations must be made in advance.


Create a one of a kind, illustrated, personal journal of your travels, or your own back yard. Beginners Welcome!
Each Tuesday in Feb. and March. First Class:  Feb.5th 10:00 – Noon.
Fee:  $35.00 per class or $100.00 for three.
Instructor: Nationally famous artist/author, Lucinda Hathaway
Supplies:  Bring your own OR available at Art and Frame Shop, or Blue Line Office Sup.
Mention Lucinda’s Class for 10% disc. Contact Lucinda:  941-383-0216
Lucindahathaway@comcast.net  http://www.LucindaHathaway.com


Maggie Nevens, back from her Cruise Ship Classes, has returned with her
“Let loose, have fun and paint like crazy!” Water Color Classes
Thursdays in Feb. and March 10:00 – Noon in the Crocker Church.
$35.00 per class or 4 for $100.00.
Blue Line Office Sup. offers a 10% Discount on supplies.
Call Maggie for list: 941-343-0430 mnevens@verizon.net http://www.maggienevens.com


New this year, we welcome the team of Laurel Schiller, Annie Schiller and Fran Palmeri, all Florida Nature lovers and educators, very involved in the gardening industry, right here in Sarasota County.
With many degrees and years of teaching experience among them, this team will be offering classes for adults and a Butterfly Gardening class for children as well, happily during Spring Break! Sign up soon, we’re sure we’ll have a full house for these classes AND participants will take home a small plant of their choice at the end of each class.

All classes will be held on Mondays, from 10:00 am to Noon, in the Crocker Church. Minimum 10 students.

Monday, March 4th: Gardening with Hardy Edibles – Eat What You Grow!
Introduction to a handful of hardy edibles, both native and tropical, that will thrive in your yard….from grapes to pumpkins!  Includes planting and harvesting instructions, health benefits, recipes and more.  Take home an edible plant of your choice.
Fee:  $10.00 per person

Monday, March 11th: Natural Butterfly Gardening for Kids
(For ALL ages, but especially ages 4 and up. What a great way to spend a Spring Break Day with your grandchild!) We will read the wonderful book, “On Meadowview Street” by Henry Cole and see a slide presentation on wildlife that you might see in YOUR yard, should you plant wildflowers.  Take home a wildflower plant.  Attendees will be invited to plant a plant in the Butterfly Garden at the Historical Society!
Fee:  Adults – $5.00, kids free!

For an in depth introduction to our valuable gardening instructors, please find their bios on http://www.floridanativeplants.com .  Their credentials are way too long to list here, but when they’re not instructing, you can find them at the Florida Native Plants Nursery, 730 Myakka Rd, Sarasota.


Tuesday, Feb. 26th: Leaf Embossing on Card Stock

Nature Printing has been a fascination for Beverly Blair, a retired lawyer who fills our Gift Shop with her gorgeous artwork on cards and fabrics.  She has studied with some of the best nature printers in the country and she will be sharing the methods of the art of Leaf Embossing.  You’ll come away with your own creations of this fascinating craft and a deeper appreciation for the beauty of leaves! All supplies will be provided. Class size limited to 8 students!
Fee:  $15.00 per person

* Actually, classes are held on the Back Porch, overlooking the beauty of Pioneer Park, when the weather is gorgeous. If the weather is less than spectacular or our instructors and students would be more comfortable, we move into the 1901 Crocker Church. So don’t let a few clouds stop you from attending… it’s always warm and sunny in our HSoSC classes!

Postcard image made available by the Boston Public Library.

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

From Renaissance to Ragtime: Concert in the Crocker Church

          The Historical Society of Sarasota County will host a concert performed by members of the Sarasota Earlye Musicke Consort, a group that performs music from Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras in the Crocker Memorial Church, located in Pioneer Park, at 1260 12th Street, on Tuesday, April 10th at 7:00 PM.

         The Program will include music from the 1500’s, Glen Miller’s era, as well as Glen Shannon’s timeframe, performed on recorders, viol and harpsichord.  This musical group, under the direction of Charlotte Trautwein, has been filling the church with their delightful music, every Tuesday during their rehearsals.  The concert is free and open to the public.  Donations are always greatly appreciated, of course.

         There will be guided tours of the Bidwell House (1882) and the Crocker Church (1901) at 6:00 PM, and the Gift Shop, filled with hand-crafted works by our local artisans, will also open at 6:00 PM. The historical complex is on 12th Street, between N. Trail and Cocoanut Ave.

Thank you to all our supporters!

What an incredible outpouring of support for our community!

Almost 11,000 donors to 107 nonprofits including the Historical Society of Sarasota County!

In 36 hours, almost 11,000 donors participated!

In 36 hours on March 27 and March 28, keyboards clicked and smartphones did whatever they do… and almost 11,000 responded to the 36-Hour Challenge. We were honored to be Continue reading

FAQs: How can my donation work hardest for HSOSC?

Confused about the 36-Hour Challenge, which starts Tuesday March 27 at 6am and goes through Wednesday at 6pm? Wondering what all the hype is about? And how you can help HSOSC?

Frequently-Asked Questions

What’s it all about? The 36-Hour Giving Challenge is an online giving event inspiring donors and citizen philanthropists to learn more about the nonprofits and causes in Southwest Florida they care about most.

How was HSOSC chosen Continue reading

Holiday Potluck with History-Loving Friends December 13

Historical Society of Sarasota County holiday pot luckJust got an email from our indefatigable Events Superhero, Jane, about our December get-together. Rather than a meeting with speaker, we opt for social flippancy and festive fun! Jane gives us all the details:

Pot Luck Supper… Tuesday, Dec.  13th At the DAR Headquarters on 12th Street, next door to the HSOSC ‘s buildings.  All Historical Society Members, Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation Members and D.A.R. Members are invited!!  Bring your favorite dish and your appetite! 

And, since we want to make your holiday gift-shopping green, local, easy, and supportive of the Historical Society, Jane adds:
Shop the HSOSC’s darling little Gift Shop, in the Bidwell House’s historic Kitchen from 5 to 6PM, then stroll next door for a delicious holiday meal at 6PM, with your history-minded friends.
The DAR building has plenty of room for all of us, so there’s no need to RSVP… just don’t forget to put this on your calendar. See you there, I hope!