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 Sarasota 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.
Lighthouse & Ship Homes
In 1900, a young teenager named Arthur Rowe ran away to sea and, as fortune would have it, found himself in Tampa. There he met John Ringling on his 95-foot yacht. The young man soon became “Captain” Rowe and found lifelong employment as Captain and Chief Mechanic to the circus legend. After Ringling’s death in 1936 and, as WWII came to a close, he became the Captain for William and Marie Selby’s yacht.
Back in 1921, Rowe had purchased this property and contracted Oliver Blackburn, a well-known ship builder, to design and build the ship and lighthouse. The homes reflected the love of the sea by both captain and boat builder. After completion in 1933, Rowe and his wife lived in the house until 1959. In 1984, the buildings were added to the National Register of Historic Places. Over the years, the Ship & Lighthouse have been used as a Bed & Breakfast.
The collapse of the real estate market of the late 1920’s and the onset of the depression left Sarasota with high unemployment and low tourism. One solution was to develop the Lido Beach area to revitalize tourism. The WPA – Works Progress Administration – a “New Deal” program provided funds for the Lido Casino. “Casino” from the Italian originally meant “summerhouse,” or a place for music and dancing. No gambling allowed! The land was purchased from the estate of the late John Ringling for $35,000. The architect, Paul Twitchell, used elements of Art Deco and other modern styles to complement its main theme: four 30-foot cast concrete seahorses overlooking the Gulf. The opening was in December 1940. Sadly, the facility came into disrepair and in 1967 the City made the decision to raze the Casino and replace it with the “Lido Pavilion.”
Landing of the Scots
Gulf Stream Avenue marks the original edge of the bay and was part of the original US Highway 41. This is where the Scottish immigrants, brought over by J. Hamilton Gillespie in December 1885, landed in a new world. Land was selling for $10 an acre. It was the coldest winter on record and reportedly snowed later that winter. Three-quarters of the Scots sailed home to Scotland never to return. A sandstone capitol from a Scottish church was given to Sarasota from the people of Glasgow, Scotland and dedicated in 1886. In 1959, Federal funds were used to reroute US Highway 41, the Tamiami Trail, around the bay and bypass downtown. The dredge-and-fill construction raised the roadway and created Island Park.
Photos courtesy Sarasota History Alive website.