What Makes Sarasota So Very Special? Story 8 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 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.
In post Civil War times, southern towns often had district neighborhoods for whites and blacks. The black community in Sarasota originally clustered in the area that was bordered by 3rd Street to 10th Street. The official name for the district was then “Overtown.” Movie theaters, restaurants and businesses prospered. In the roaring 1920’s, which folks nicknamed it “Black Bottom,” after a jazz tune and dance that was all the rage. After WWII, the black community moved further north into the area we now call “Newtown” and the old district is now known as “Rosemary,” the name derived from the oldest cemetery in the City – Rosemary Cemetery. As the Main Street corridor moves north, the district has become revitalized with new businesses. The area has now become a mecca for young creative types building a new city.
Ringling Isles & St. Armands
In 1885, Charles St. Armand homesteaded 130 acres of land on Lido Key for $13. On the deed his name was misspelled and today we still refer to “Saint Armands.” John Ringling, was a partner Owen Burns, began purchasing land in 1917. By 1923 they owned it all! Ringling had a vision that was inspired by his trips to the cities of Renaissance Italy, its sculpture and landscaping. Ringling Isles, with all the streets named for U.S. presidents, would showcase elegant Mediterranean Revival homes while Harding Circle would feature upscale shops and restaurants. By the 1930’s, after Ringling’s death and the devastation of the depression, the whole project fell fallow. It would take 30 more years for Ringling’s vision to become a reality. Today St. Armands is a mecca for international tourism. Charles St. Armand would probably be astonished to know that $13 would hardly buy one square foot of St. Armands real estate today!
The Murray Homes building on the corner of Osprey and Main exemplifies the Sarasota Modern style of architecture that came into fashion in the post-war era, from the late 1940’s through the early 1960’s. The building was designed by celebrated American Modernist architect Victor Lundy in 1957 for Joe Barth Insurance. In the Sarasota Modern style, Lundy utilized natural elements of light and air: the building’s glass façade maximizes sunlight and street exposure for the business and is joined by design elements such as breezy, ventilated spaces with shady overhangs and tropical landscaping. Most notably, buildings in the iconic Sarasota Modern style blur the line between indoors and outdoors.
Photos courtesy Sarasota History Alive website.