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.
The Edwards Theater
Built by A.B. Edwards, a former mayor of Sarasota, cost $350,000 and was completed in 1926. Featured acts of the period were Will Rogers, the Ziegfeld Follies, and The Chicago Opera. It had its own pipe organ, standard equipment for upscale entertainment houses of the 1920’s. In 1936, with times changing, it became a movie theater and was renamed “The Florida Theater.” In 1956, a traveling country & western show featured a new up-and-coming star – his name was Elvis Presley! In 1982, a committee headed by Dean Allyn secured funding, upwards of $20 million, to renovate and expand the building. It is now home to the Sarasota Opera. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
William Selby, originally from Ohio, became wealthy as a Texan oilman. He moved to Sarasota with Marie, his wife, in 1910 and built a home on Sarasota Bay. That home is now the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, known worldwide for their extensive orchid collection and botanical research. Selby Oil Company merged with Texaco in 1947 and he became the first CEO. The couple had no children, but they knew the value of education. The Selby Foundation was founded after William’s death in 1961. The Foundation was instrumental in the founding of New College located at the Charles Ringling estate in 1965. The Selby Library was a gift to Sarasota and the building was completed in 2002.
The Crisp Building
The Crisp Building is located in the east Main Street Courthouse Subdivision platted by circus magnate and Sarasota developer Charles Ringling. It was built in 1925 by the T.H. Crisp Company and provided a valuable space for retail as well as fraternal activity. The Crisp Building was the home for the Royal Order of the Moose, Sarasota Chapter, until 1938. It is one of the best surviving examples of the Boom-era Mediterranean Revival style.
Photos courtesy Sarasota History Alive