The Historical Society of Sarasota County

Creating an awareness of the rich historical heritage of Sarasota County, Florida

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Too busy to join in on the Giving Challenge?

The Historical Society of Srasota County hopes you'll participate in The Giving Challenge in Sarasota County!The Giving Challenge is a wonderful opportunity for us all to join together in support of our favorite non-profits that make life so great here in Sarasota County.

And it’s nice to be part of the crowd… but what if you’ll be busy from noon on Tuesday Sept 1 to noon the next day, and unable to take the time to dig out your credit card, go online, find the link to HSoSC, and decide on a donation amount (tip: if you didn’t donate last year, your gift will be DOUBLED thanks to the Patterson Foundation so your gift means twice as much to the Historical Society!)?

The Historical Society' of Sarasota Countys Site ManagerAs usual, our charming Site Manager, Linda, can help you participate in the Giving Challenge! Just call our office at  941-364-9076 Tu-Fr 10 to 2, or email Linda directly 24/7 at and she can help you help us!

UPDATE: The link to go directly the HSoSC’s page in the Giving Challenge is It will only be operational between noon Tuesday Sept 1 and noon Weds, but you can bookmark it now!


Growing up in the Circus: Sarasota native tells all

Join Sarasota native, Sarah Wheeler Chapman, on April 15 at the Brown Bag Book Luncheon at the Historical Society of Sarasota County.

Chapman is the author of two books. Simply Sarah, her cookbook, is a light-hearted story done in a circus format with anecdotes of her circus family and their travels. It blends photos and 180 yummy recipes.

balancing act sarah wheeler chapmanChapman’s memoir, Balancing Act Memoir of a Florida Youth,  describes her five-acre home on Worrington Street and the Trail, her marriage to Danny Chapman, and her notable family: sister a beauty queen; aging dad who operated the Off Shore Bar on Bay Road; drop-dead gorgeous brother; strange mom; and herself, the quiet one busy with church, 4-H, and getting molested on Turtle Beach, at a time (1960), when kids were good.

Sarah kept secrets well…until she published her memoir in 2014. Determination and a keen sense of balance piloted her through her teens, the circus, parenting, and furthering her education. She shares insights from Ringling Circus, Clown College, and the perils of aerial work. The circus provides a backdrop to the deep topic of the memoir—abuse.

Don’t miss this chance to meet Sarah Wheeler Chapman at the last Brown Bag Book Lunch this season on April 15. No reservations needed. See you at 11:30 in the Crocker Memorial Church, and remember to pack a lunch! Beverages provided by the Historical Society. BBBLs are free to members and $5 for guests. Both of Chapman’s books will be available for purchase and autographing at the luncheon.

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113 years of hard sitting is coming to an end….

When the Crocker Memorial Church was just 12 years old, in 1913, 63 of Sarasota’s women came together and formed The Woman’s Club of Sarasota. Their service to our community can be summed up by this quote on their brochure:

The good works of life consist of many small units.

We are delighted to announce that The Woman’s Club has taken on a “small unit” for the Crocker Church: they are Continue reading

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What makes a community, a community? Lessons from 100+ years

Ever since 1882 (the year Alfred Bidwell built his home in Sarasota, now known as the Bidwell-Wood House, the oldest remaining residence in Sarasota County) and 1901, when Peter Crocker built the Crocker Church for his Bee Ridge community, our two preserved buildings have been places to gather, to meet and help neighbors, and to celebrate the many aspects of life.Read the history of our two buildings in our Museum Booklet.

When the Historical Society moved the house and the church to its campus in Pioneer Park, this tradition of community events gained speed and depth.

Recently, Continue reading