The Historical Society of Sarasota County

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


25th Historical LeBarge Cruise

The Historical Society celebrated its 25th Historical LeBarge Cruise early in November, and were delighted to offer commentary courtesy of famed local historian John McCarthy.

If you couldn’t make the November tour with us, make plans now to join us in March! Email Linda Garcia, our Site Manager, at for your reservations now.

Historical Bay Cruise by the Historical Society of Sarasota County

Our newest board member Virginia Hoffman (second from left) enjoyed her birthday celebration on the cruise with other board members (l. to r.) BrendaLee Hickman , Bill Kleber, and Meade Ferguson.

Funds raised help the private non-profit Society preserve and protect two of the oldest historic buildings in Sarasota County. Visit the Bidwell-Wood House (1882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901) Monday-Friday 10am to 2pm, or during any of our special events on our Calendar of Events.  Pioneer Park is located just east of 41 at 12th Street.

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Planning the 2014-2015 events at HSoSC

Souvenir of Sarasota FLYour board and interested members are currently planning the upcoming season’s events. Be sure to sign up for email notification of our blog posts (top of the right-hand column on this page, where it says “Get us by email”) so you stay abreast of all the great talks, gatherings, events and openings they have planned for you!

Here’s some tentative plans, in addition to the wonderful roster of Conversations at the Crocker that we present the second Tuesday of each month, from October 2014 through April 2015. Topics and participants will be announced as soon as all our wonderful speakers commit!

UPDATE 9-10-14 Here’s our complete Calendar of Events for the 2014-2015 season. Mark your calendars, and call us at 941-364-9076 Mon-Fri 10a to 2p or email to reserve your seats (if required for your chosen events)

Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014  11a – 1p. Narrated Historic Sarasota Bay Annual Le Barge Cruise narrated by John McCarthy, noted Sarasota Historian. $40.00 per person.  $50.00 VIP Reservations a must! (Again in March for your visitors)

Saturday, Nov. 15th Our very popular Designer Tag Sale!  Donated items from local designers available for purchase in the Crocker Memorial Church from 10a – 3p. (And of course, we’ll be looking for donations to this sale from members and supporters, so start your pile of donations now! Here’s what we can and cannot use, from our last sale.)

Sunday, Jan. 11th   2-4p.  High Tea & Paintings Off Easel – Plein Air Artists will be painting outside while we sip tea inside. Artwork may be purchased off the walls or “off the easel” directly from the artist. Reservations a Must !!  $25

Tuesday, January 20, 2015Private Tour of Ca’d’Zan with Ron McCarty.  Available to HSOSC members only – $75 includes lunch at Treviso. This is always a sell-out, so be sure to get your reservations in early.

BROWN BAG BOOK LUNCHES – New this season – bring your lunch and enjoy local authors on Wednesdays from 11a – 2p  December  17 – Bea Hartman,  January 21 – Charles Sobchzak,  February 18 – Liz Coursen,  March 18 – Henry Duggan

Sue Blue’s HISTORIC TROLLEY TOURS, Two hour Saturday Downtown Historic Tour 10a – Noon  Depart from the Crocker Memorial Church.  Reservations Required. Tours offered on Oct 25th, Nov 15th, Dec 6th, and in 2015: Jan 3rd, Jan 24th, Feb 14th, Mar 7th, Mar 28th and Apr 18th  $25 Per Person

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Nothing like an Earlye Musicke Consort

Sarasota Earlye Musicke Consort to serenade us in the Crocker Church Tuesday April 1 at 7pm

Nothing like an Earlye Musicke Consort to start off the beautiful month of April!

An early musical instrument

This is a viol de gamba!

The Sarasota Earlye Musicke Consort is a group of musicians which have been in existence since 1993. The musicians gather to practice in the Crocker Memorial Church and praise its fine acoustics.

Members of the Consort are seniors who have many years of experience playing all the different sizes of recorders. Also included in the group, is a viol de gamba player.

The Consort has graciously invited us to attend a melodious, costumed thank-you concert for the members of the Historical Society on Tuesday, April 1, at 7pm and hope all can come!

The literature played represents music from the 1300s to music currently being composed for recorder groups. Charlotte Trautwein is the music director and is a retired music professor from North Dakota State University.

Programs presented by the Consort are varied and descriptions of the instruments and commentary about the music played are shared at each performance. This year’s theme is “Exploring 800 years of Music.” The Consort will be wearing Renaissance costumes to enhance the presentation.

Please come to this thank-you concert for the members of the Historical Society on Tuesday, April 1, at 7pm. Members free; $5 donation requested of guests.

For more information about the Consort, contact Charlotte Trautwein at

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2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning Author Gilbert King to Speak

The Sarasota Authors Connection, the Historical Society of Sarasota County, and the Friends of Selby Public Library will host an author talk/book signing by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King on Monday, February 24, 5:45 p.m., at the Selby Library, 1331 First St., Sarasota.

Devil in the Grove by Gilbert KingMr. King won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for his second book, Devil in the Grove, an account of the infamous 1949 “Groveland Boys” case in Groveland, Florida.

“Mr. King has an amazing story to tell about this book, a story every author should hear,” says Sarasota Authors Connection member Liz Coursen. “When I learned he was coming to Sarasota in February, I decided we should host an event for him, and he was kind enough to say yes to the invitation.”

Liz asked the Friends of the Selby Public Library and the Historical Society of Sarasota County to be co-hosts for the program. “It is a natural fit. It’s Florida history, it’s books, it’s the Pulitzer Prize going to a very nice, very hard-working author. Plus, former Supreme Court Judge Thurgood Marshall plays a pivotal role in Devil in the Grove, and right now the Florida Studio Theatre is offering the one-man play Thurgood as part of its winter repertoire—it’s perfect! This will be a community effort and we will have a great event!”

For more information, contact Liz Coursen at 941-706-2463 or

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Speaking to God in Different Voices: Conversation at the Crocker

How did diverse religious groups influence the early growth and character of Sarasota?

Sarasota Methodist Episcopal Church in Sarasota, 1893

The village of Sarasota’s earliest church was chartered in 1891 as the Sarasota Methodist Episcopal Church. Manatee Village circuit rider Rev. E. F. Gates brought recently ordained Rev. William B. Tresca to be founding minister.

The congregations that pioneers of the Sarasota area established became civic and social centers in addition to places of worship and their importance increased as the little villages evolved into organized towns, cities and counties. People looked to their churches for spiritual support that also enriched social lives and fostered educational advancement.

Four experts in church history gather on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at the Crocker Memorial Church (1260 12th Street, Pioneer Park) to engage the audience in a guided conversation about the historically significant churches that had a major impact on the development of Sarasota before 1930.

Speaking to God in Different Voices is part of a series of community dialogues called Conversations at The Crocker. Organized by the Historical Society of Sarasota County and sponsored by SARASOTA Magazine, Conversations at The Crocker events highlight specific aspects of Sarasota’s past and examines pivotal events and people.

Crocker Memorial Church dates from the first days of the 20th century

Crocker Memorial Church, where our Conversation will take place, dates from 1901 and was originally located at what is now Tamiami Trail and Bee Ridge Road. It served a minimum of three different congregations and continues, in the 21st century, as a community meeting place, a locale for wedding and other celebrations, and a venue for classes, clubs, and public and private events.

Leading this conversation is Kim Sheintal, author of the book Jews of Sarasota-Manatee. Sheintal came to Sarasota in 1971 and has served as president of five local Jewish organizations. She is president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Southwest Florida  and serves on the board at Temple Emanu-El.
“There are upwards of 200 churches just in Sarasota and our collective church heritage is impressive,” said Sheintal. “There is too much information for a single Conversation so we are focusing on churches and synagogues established before 1930. We will cover as much as we can and what we don’t get to will be another Conversation next year. I hope people in the audience will share memories about churches and synagogues in Sarasota because that is the way that history is accumulated and documented. Each time I present a lecture on my book, I learn something from the audience and I’m sure that will be the case with this Conversation.”
Joining Sheintal on the stage will be Ohio native Ted Cover. He moved to Sarasota in 2000. Cover is the Historian/Archivist for St. Martha’s Church and his other avocations include model railroading, history of technology and history of the Sarasota area.
Also on the stage will be Treva Robinson who moved to Sarasota in 1964 and joined First United Methodist a year later. After several volunteer assignments, she joined the staff in 1970 as membership secretary and later church secretary. She retired last year with a vast storehouse of knowledge.
Also contributing to the Conversation will be Dr. Carl Stockton, Professor of History and Academic Dean emeritus, University of Indianapolis. He is active with the National  Episcopal Historians and Archivists, the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church and the Ecclesiastical Historical Society. He is a writer and reviewer for historical journals and is President of the Sarasota Association of Campus Ministry.

Conversations take place at The Crocker Memorial Church and proceeds help to maintain the Bidwell-Wood House (1882, Sarasota’s oldest private residence) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901). This event begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday February 11  and is free to Historical Society members; $10 for guests. Chairs of Conversations at The Crocker are Lynn Harding and Marsha Fottler. At 6pm, join us for docent-led tours of our campus and to shop at the gift shop before each Conversation event. For additional information, contact Linda Garcia, Site Manager, at 364-9076.

Historic photo from the Sarasota County Archives.


Learn about Sarasota’s history from the water.

Nothin’s more fun than messin’ around on someone else’s boat, while learning history!

le barge and passengers

Grab a seat, enjoy the Bay, hear some local stories, and help the Historical Society preserve Sarasota’s past!

The Historical Society of Sarasota County is hosting our 23rd Cruise and Tour of Sarasota Bay on the LeBarge tour boat on Sunday, March 9, 2014 from 11 am to 1 pm. The cruise will feature narration by Harold Bubil, Real Estate Editor of the Sarasota Herald Tribune and a Sarasotan Extraordinaire, for the past 56 years. He will focus on Continue reading


On the Street where you Live: Conversation at the Crocker

Bob Plunkett to moderate January's Conversation at the Crocker on Jan. 14 2014sion at the Historical Society of Sarasota County

Author and real estate junkie Bob Plunket leads a Conversation at The Crocker about how various neighborhoods developed in Sarasota on Tuesday, January 14 at 7 p.m. at The Crocker Memorial Church, 1260 12th Street in Pioneer Park, Sarasota.

A lively and informative discussion about the history and development of significant neighborhoods in Sarasota. You’ll learn a lot and get to voice your own opinion on places to live – then and now.

Sarasota officially became a real estate destination in1885 when 60 people from Scotland, who had purchased land in this area from the Edinburgh-based Florida Mortgage and Investment Company, arrived on an uncharacteristically chilly December day at what is now lower Main Street excited to establish neighborhoods and a town. They were soon disappointed with the mud road and wood huts they saw.

Then it snowed…

… Want to know what happened next? Then be sure to be in the audience at the Crocker Memorial Church (1260 12th Street, Pioneer Park) on Tuesday, January 14 when a small group of gabby researchers talk to one another and to you about the development of significant neighborhoods in Sarasota. The event is part of the series Conversations at The Crocker and is presented by the Historical Society of Sarasota County (HSOSC). The event is free to Historical Society members and $10 for the general public. The fun starts at 7 p.m.

Conversation leader is Bob Plunket, who has been writing about Sarasota’s people and places for over 30 years. His articles currently appear regularly in SARASOTA Magazine and The Observer, plus national publications such as Barron’s.  “After owning eight different houses in Sarasota over the years,” he said, “I’m obsessed about all the amazing neighborhoods in Sarasota where you can own, rent, and be foreclosed in. And the history of all of these neighborhoods is entirely fascinating from the street names to the famous people who lived in them. For instance, do you know why there’s an Ocean Boulevard on Siesta Key when the city isn’t near any ocean? Turns out the street was named after Captain Louis Roberts’s wife, whose given name was Ocean Hansen. Roberts was an early developer of Siesta Key and had a hotel on the island that he expanded from his house.”

Joining Bob Plunket will be  Dr. Clifford Smith, Senior Planner, Historic Preservation, City of Sarasota.  Also on the stage will be Margi Baskerwille Nanny. Along with her former husband Jerry King, they developed Centergate. King was one of the Sarasota’s top real estate developers of the 1960s to 1980s and with his family developed Southgate, and several and several other neighborhoods that will be discussed.

On The Street Where You Live is the fourth event  this season in Conversations at The Crocker, a series now in its second successful year. Conversations at The Crocker events are organized and produced by the Historical Society of Sarasota County (HSOSC) with support from SARASOTA Magazine. Conversations at The Crocker events highlight specific aspects of Sarasota’s past and examine pivotal events and people who have influenced Sarasota today.

All Conversations take place at The Crocker Memorial Church and proceeds from this panel discussion series help to maintain the Historical Society’s two heritage properties at Pioneer Park – the Bidwell-Wood House (1882, Sarasota’s oldest private residence) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901). Docent-led tours of both buildings are available an hour before each of the Conversations at The Crocker events. The Gift shop is also open prior to Conversation events.  Chairs of Conversations at The Crocker are Lynn Harding and Marsha Fottler. President of the Historical Society of Sarasota County is Howard Rosenthal. Site Manager is Linda Garcia.  For additional information about Conversations at Crocker,  contact Linda Garcia at 364-9076