The Historical Society of Sarasota County

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


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Happy Birthday, Owen… and thanks from all of us!

Owen Burns, courtesy of scgov.net, on HSoSC blogIf you’ve even admired Burns Court, or visited Woman’s Exchange in a building built by Owens to house the local newspaper, or used the Historical Resources archives, much of which was donated by daughter Lillian Burns, or had the pleasure to meet his younger daughter Harriet Burns Stieff who holds a Distinguished Service Award for the Historical Society, you have Continue reading


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Historic Treasures Lost and Preserved by Jeff LaHurd: Conversation at the Crocker

One of the threads that ties old Sarasota County to the new is the continuing struggle concerning which historical buildings and properties should be preserved and which ones demolished as a necessary sacrifice to progress, modernization and growth. Award-winning author and historian Jeff LaHurd considers both sides of the issue when he Continue reading


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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 HSoSC1@gmail.com and she can help you help us!

UPDATE: The link to go directly the HSoSC’s page in the Giving Challenge is https://www.givingpartnerchallenge.org/#npo/historical-society-of-sarasota-county It will only be operational between noon Tuesday Sept 1 and noon Weds, but you can bookmark it now!

The Historical Society is a partner with The Giving Challenge


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We’re a part of Sarasota’s Premier Event, The Giving Challenge, Sept 1 & 2

The Giving Challenge allows the Historical Society of Sarasota County to rise to new heights!

The Giving Challenge allows the Historical Society of Sarasota County to rise to new heights!

The Historical Society of Sarasota County, as an inaugural partner with the Giving Challenge, looks forward to your participation in the Giving Challenge, now in its fourth year. And this year, you don’t have to set your alarm to help HSoSC before dawn, because the Challenge runs from 24 hours, from Tuesday September 1 at 12 noon through Wednesday September 2 ending at 12noon.

UPDATE: The link to go directly the HSoSC’s page in the Giving Challenge is https://www.givingpartnerchallenge.org/#npo/historical-society-of-sarasota-county It will only be operational between noon Tuesday Sept 1 and noon Weds, but you can bookmark it now!

Did you miss us last year? If so, you can help us TWICE as much! The Patterson Foundation is Will you be busy during The Giving Challenge? You can still participate. Just call our Site Manager Linda at 941-364-9076 Tu-Fr 10 to 2, or email her 24/7 at HSoSC1@gmail.com and she can help you help us!
matching donations, up to $250 per new donor. Your donation, large or small, will be worth double the donation. If you’ve been a loyal supporter, we love you and your continuing participation, and would be thrilled if you would consider asking a family member, friend or neighbor to join us in this Challenge, letting them know how valuable their gift can be! New donors are donors who did not give to HSoSC in the 2014 Giving Challenge (May 6 & 7, 2014).

We will be posting the link for you to use during the Challenge.  It will not work until it is turned on at Noon on September 1, 2015.  Thanks so much for your past participation and we look forward to a generous family of friends and supporters during the event this year!!

Rather send a check? That’s lovely too, and will free you up from the time restrictions on Tuesday September 1 at 12 noon through Wednesday September 2 ending at 12noon.  Perfect solution if you’ll be traveling or otherwise occupied on those dates! The Society’s mailing address is  PO Box 1632, Sarasota FL 34230.

For more information, stay in touch here on the HSoSC blog, or contact Site Manager Linda Garcia at hsosc1@gmail.com or chat with her, 941-364-9076, Tues-Fri 10 to 2.

The 2015 Giving Challenge is made possible by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation with support from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation and the Herald-Tribune Media Group.

UPDATE: The link to go directly the HSoSC’s page in the Giving Challenge is https://www.givingpartnerchallenge.org/#npo/historical-society-of-sarasota-county It will only be operational between noon Tuesday Sept 1 and noon Weds, but you can bookmark it now!


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Old Greets New: Historical Society welcomes the Premiere Tour de SRQ

The oldest residence in Sarasota County was visited by the newest addition to our social scene, Tour de SRQ!

Jenny Townsend began her first Tour de SRQ series in May with a visit to the Historical Society in Pioneer Park.

As you can see, our Continue reading


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Hero of History Award Presented; Distinguished Award Goes to Two

The Historical Society of Sarasota County was delighted to present awards to three recipients at its Annual Meeting.

2015 Hero of History Jeff LaHurd

Hero of History Jeff LaHurd

At its 2015 annual meeting on May 2 in the historic Crocker Memorial Church (1901), the Historical Society of Sarasota County presented three awards to community people who have made significant contributions to history education, preservation, research and programming.

Receiving the 2015 Hero of History award is Jeff LaHurd, historian, author and lecturer, who through his writings and public presentations continually educates the public about the history of Sarasota and Florida.

2015 Harriet Stieff Distinguished Service Award

Harriet Stieff Distinguished Service Award

Receiving awards for Distinguished Service were two Historical Society members with long records of service to the Society and to Sarasota County. They are: Viola Goldberg, a past president of the Historical Society and a current member of the Advisory Board and Harriet Burns Stieff, a past board member and current member of the Advisory Board. Mrs. Stieff is the youngest daughter of Owen Burns, a Sarasota history maker and one of Sarasota’s legendary early developers. Both of these women have been the subjects of video oral histories, and their memories about Sarasota in days gone by are available on CD in the library of the Historical Society.

Viola Goldberg Distinguished Service Award

Viola Goldberg Distinguished Service Award

In presenting the awards, Howard Rosenthal, President of the Historical Society, said

“We are extremely proud of and grateful for the accomplishments of all three of this year’s award recipients. Each one demonstrates how much individuals can do to keep the history of Sarasota County alive, not only for their own generation but for those generations yet to come.”


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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.