What Makes Sarasota So Very Special? Story 3 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.

DeMarcay Hotel

Groundbreaking was in 1922 after the hurricane of 1921. Andrew McAnsh was a Scottish immigrant turned developer who came to Sarasota by way of Chicago. The City wanted a hotel to replace the damaged property. He asked for free water and free electrical and got it. Workers worked around the clock in three shifts. McAnsh completed the hotel in 60 days meeting the requirements established by the City. They met the deadline! The building is in the Mission Revival Style: shaped parapets, exposed rafters and arched windows. It was later renamed the Palms Hotel in 1936. Now it is retail stores with apartments on the second floor. It was sold to developers recently.

“Cracker” House

Most houses built in the earliest days of Sarasota were of wood, raised off the ground on pilings with long, wide porches facing the south. Roofs were made of metal sheeting and heating was provided by fireplaces. In the heat of the summer, the large porch was the only shade to be found. In winter, the sun was low on the horizon, slipping under the porch and warming the façade of the house. The raised floor created ventilation on the ground floor. An early example of passive solar heating and cooling! The original settlers were cattle ranchers – the “crack” of the cowboy’s whip gave the style of the home its name. The current owners of these century-old homes are rehabbing them and recreating the original color schemes that were popular then. In other parts of the old south, this style of the house is often called a “Shot Gun” house.

Bird Key

This island was originally owned by a retired industrialist from Cincinnati named Thomas Worcester. He built his home there in 1914 and named it the “New Edzell Castle” after his ancestral home in Scotland. Worcester intended the house to be used by President Warren G. Harding for a southern White House. Neither Worcester nor Harding lived to see that happen. John Ringling later bought the property. In the mid 1920s, with the completion of the causeway, the Key was joined to the roadway. After the war, it was acquired by Arthur Vining Davis, the retired CEO of Alcoa. His newly formed corporation, ARVIDA, expanded the size of the development with seawalls and renamed the property “Bird Key.”

Photos courtesy of pxhere.com and Sarasota History Alive website.

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2020-10-29