What Makes Sarasota So Very Special? Story 5 of 12

We’re highlighting some very interesting historical places including Sarasota’s Civic Center and Theatre Arts District. We all love Sarasota, no doubt; now, learning about the fascinating architecture and landmarks will make our piece of paradise even more special. Check-in next week for more history! We hope you enjoy the tour!

These wonderful snippets were given to us by Paul Thorpe (Mr. Downtown) who died in the summer of 2017. He left an amazing legacy of love for family, friends and his beloved Sarasota home and we miss him.

Five Points Park

After the Civil War, all of Florida was engaged in either fishing or cattle ranching. At Five Points, a primitive artesian well was available for watering horses and cattle. The early 1900’s saw the coming of the automobile and paved roads. On the northeast corner, the Palmer Family from Chicago built a bank that became a landmark of decades. The bank survived the Great Depression but succumbed to the recession of 1974. At the end of “The Great War”, returning soldiers marched down Main Street on the first Armistice Day Celebration 1919 and were greeted with the phrase “Welcome Buddies” painted on the street. A roundabout was completed recently and the phrase was added to the brick wall.

Frances-Carlton Apartments

The Frances-Carlton Apartments were built in 1924 by Tampa architects Francis James and Alex Browning. Browning came to Sarasota from Scotland as a young man in 1885 as one of the original settlers of what was then called the Ormiston Colony. Browning designed the home of Ormiston Colony leader John Hamilton Gillespie, who became Sarasota’s first mayor in 1902. The Frances-Carlton Apartments were named for the owner’s wife and son, Frances and Carlton. The Mediterranean Revival style dwellings were originally advertised as furnished apartments. In 1952, the Frances-Carlton became Florida’s first cooperative apartment building. At the time, a 700-square foot apartment could be purchased for $8,000. The Frances-Carlton is currently managed as a condominium.

Florida Studio Theatre

The Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is the cornerstone of contemporary American theatre in Sarasota. Originally built in a home for the Sarasota Women’s Club in 1915, the Keating Theatre at the corner of Cocoanut and Palm is FST’s most historic building. FST’s Hegner Wing at the corner of Cocoanut Avenue and 1st Street includes the Goldstein Cabaret and historic Gompertz Theatre, where during renovations workers found receipts and playbills dating back to the 1920’s. Throughout its history, the Gompertz space has been home to almost every performing arts group in Sarasota.

Photos courtesy of Facebook and Sarasota History Alive website.

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2020-11-12