Gulf Coast Florida History: Spanish Point

 After enjoying the water and wildlife of Lido Beach, we toured historic Spanish Point.

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Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Spanish Point is an “old Florida oasis”.   Many people think of Florida as Disney, Orlando, and beach front condominiums, but a walk through Spanish Point reveals what Florida was like before it became a tourist/ retirement destination.

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There are four main elements to the overall story of Spanish Point: Prehistory, Pioneer, Palmer and Plants, and we enjoyed a walking tour through all of those elements.  An archaeological record exists on the site from approximately 5,000 years of Florida prehistory.

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I loved learning about Bertha Honore Palmer.  “The Chicago socialite and widow of Potter Palmer came to Sarasota to establish a winter estate. She purchased thousands of acres for cattle ranching, citrus groves, and real estate development.  She named her 350-acre estate “Osprey Point” and preserved the pioneer buildings and connected them with lavish formal gardens and lawns.

She also had vision, and she used her influence to elevate the status of women.  She was quoted as saying that “women have no desire to be helpless and dependent.  Having full use of their faculties, they rejoice in using them”.

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photo credit HistoricSpanishPoint.org

Bertha Honoree Palmer also said “Freedom and justice for all are infinitely more to be desired than a pedestal for a few”.  What a progressive woman!

The Guptill house, built in 1901 and originally rented to winter boarders, is now furnished to reflect the Florida pioneer era.

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Mary’s Chapel was built in 1901 in memory of a young woman who died while staying at the winter resort.  Mary’s parents provided the funding for the Chapel, and it’s six stained glass windows.

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Those six stained glass windows were salvaged when the Chapel was reconstructed in 1986.

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This Gumbo Limbo tree is known as the “tourist tree” because the bark is red and peeling like a sunburn.

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Visitors to Spanish Point can “explore 30 historical, environmental, and archaeological acres at this irreplaceable outdoor museum on Little Sarasota Bay in Osprey, Florida”.  I urge you to visit if  you are in the Sarasota area.

After all the walking and exploring, it was time for a cold beer, and where better to have one than in a Tiki Hut.

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Mother Nature and the local birding wildlife offered a beautiful end of the day show!

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Nest Post: Siesta Beach and the Museum of Art & Whimsy

19 thoughts on “Gulf Coast Florida History: Spanish Point

  1. Gorgeous images and great post Laurie 🙂 I think when you retire from your current profession you should work for each states tourism departments. You would be such a natural at it.

    • Thank you, Lynn. I’ve still got photos to share … how I manage to come home from a short, 3 day visit with so many photos, I’ll never know 🙂

    • We thought so, too. How poignant that the family provided the funding for this Chapel so their daughter could be memorialized. Spanish Point is such a neat outdoor museum

  2. Go, Bertha: “women have no desire to be helpless and dependent. Having full use of their faculties, they rejoice in using them”.

    Laurie, what an extraordinary collection of photos to memorialize your trip. I would love to visit there one day. Ah, the list of travel destinations is long and getting longer.

  3. Sounds like my kind of place. I also dig the name Sarasota, it sounds nostalgic to me. I love wandering through historical homes that are staged as they used to be. Especially if they’re lucky enough to retain original furniture and/or personal effects. What a fantastic town to live and work. I’m rather envious of those who call it ‘home’. Did you bike down? It’s wild to see the really dark Pelicans too. We had Peli’s at the lake I lived at but they were the white ones. I love watching them swim in big groups. It was like piles of Dream Whip floating around the lake 😀 xo K

Because Boomdee dared me: Lay a little sugar on me :-)

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