October 20, 2021

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Sarasota County Centennial: Begin of county was contentious | Sarasota

Far more 100 a long time back today, Sarasota residents faced concerns that would appear to be really popular to 21st century inhabitants:

  • Some landowners required to retain the area rural even though other individuals required to build a bustling metropolis.
  • Business enterprise operators were seeking to find ways to catch the attention of new buyers.
  • Lots of taxpayers complained their pounds had been becoming collected without having any rewards. Of training course, the taxes then were sent to Manatee County due to the fact there was no Sarasota County. 

It was that annoyance with their neighbors to the north that drove group leaders of the period — John Hamilton Gillespie, Bertha Palmer, Owen Burns and Charles and John Ringling, to identify a few — to consider issues into their personal hands. 

It was their aspiration to spin off from Manatee County and come to be their possess county. And on July 1, 1921, it transpired, largely above an additional challenge familiar to present day-day inhabitants. 


The Ringling Causeway used to be a flat bridge. Photograph courtesy Sarasota County Libraries & Historical Methods.

“The difficulty, I imagine, can be known as existential in the feeling that if your local community is not on a main road, which itself connects to other key streets, then you will wither on the vine and die economically,”  said Historian Frank Cassell, who wrote the book “Creating Sarasota County.” 

As the vehicle took keep, and roads became a indicates of attracting commerce, condition and Manatee leaders started scheduling early routes, such as what is now U.S. 41 and Interstate 75. Generally, those routes took a really hard turn into Bradenton as a substitute of continuing south, successfully cutting off economic enterprise from Sarasota.

Browse Much more CENTENNIAL Coverage: Renowned figures support the new county appear to fruition

In fact, during a mass meeting in favor of the separation, Joseph Halton in 1920 reported the county have to break up to get a “square offer.”

“The objective of this meeting, as I realize it, is to band jointly to execute a objective for the advantage of the individual, the metropolis, the county and the state,” Halton stated. “To a cause of development that we experience is getting observed and fettered by the negligence of our section by other areas of this county to our most crying require — excellent roads.”

St. Armands Circle in its earliest phases of development. Photograph courtesy Sarasota County Libraries & Historic Sources.

Spurred on, Sarasota citizens began hosting far more meetings to figure out how to grow to be their own county, ensuing in snowballing public impression. A committee, chaired by lawyer John Burket, was shaped in 1920 to propose how a separation could be achieved, finally petitioning the Legislature.

In May perhaps 1921, the two Florida properties accredited laws to generate Sarasota County. Then-Gov. Cary Hardee signed it the future working day, placing up a referendum for June 15.

Committee users began rallying citizens to vote. At the identical time, Rose Phillips Wilson, the publisher of The Sarasota Moments and a suffragette, held conferences to push women to convey that proper in a June 1921 ballot.

6 precincts were being associated in the vote: Sarasota, Osprey, Venice Englewood, Miakka and Manasota. The proposal was ratified with 518 in favor and 154 versus.

On July 1, 1921, the Florida governing administration officially regarded Sarasota as its possess county. 

Infrastructure experienced to be created, including properties, railroads and roadways, none of which would have been possible with out the contributions of Black people, said Rob Bendus, the supervisor of the county’s Historic Resources Section.

This 1937 graphic reveals Southside Elementary University surrounded by farmland and a several houses. Photograph courtesy Sarasota County Libraries & Historic Sources.

“One issue that gets missed all the time is the contribution of Black Individuals,” Bendus mentioned. “We really do not typically assume about how Sarasota obtained constructed. How did the streets and railroads get crafted? In which did the timber appear from? How did the farming get done? That was all finished on the backs of Black Individuals, and they never get sufficient credit history for that.”

The new county also had to elect leaders, which it did a year afterwards in 1922. That government then experienced to not only navigate functioning a new government but also deal with a Manatee County that was absolutely emotion bitter.

Cassell reported there have been reports of Manatee not releasing info that was due to the new county. The Manatee County decide would not release court docket filings, and the Manatee tax collector wouldn’t launch taxes that were thanks to Sarasota.

A.B. Edwards, the town of Sarasota’s very first mayor, poses on top rated of a fireplace engine. Photo courtesy Sarasota County Libraries & Historical Methods.

“I don’t know what they ended up seeking to do, but they absolutely produced on their own as obnoxious as doable,” he stated.

Although there ended up hardships, the county prospered, which Cassell mentioned wouldn’t have been possible with out a civic-minded elite. 

By means of architecture, arts, ecological and financial ventures, Bendus reported people have always been attracted to the region — some thing he does not anticipate will conclude anytime soon.

“People have been coming to Sarasota for 14,000 many years,” Bendus mentioned. “People have been captivated to Sarasota for a actually prolonged time. I think people today come listed here mainly because it’s a wonderful position to stay, the high-quality of life is exceptional, and we have this sort of a loaded heritage.”