LWRWC Takes Historic Sarasota Trolley Tour
LWRWC members took a historic tour of downtown Sarasota on Wednesday, June 8, 2016, from 1:30 – 4:30 pm. The ladies boarded the trolley at LWR Town Hall and traveled on the Tampa to Miami trail, better known as the Tamiami Trail, that was completed 1920.
Tours are an easy way to get acquainted with a city, but sometimes they can seem a little dry and routine. This, however, was not the case when Sarasota Historical Society Tour Guide and Historian, Sue Blue, narrated a fascinating tour of historic downtown Sarasota. The Trolley Tour provided a comprehensive, easy-to-follow tour of the heart of downtown Sarasota’s artsy and historical markers throughout the city including information about Sarasota’s development in the early twentieth century, when many iconic landmarks were erected.
Sue discussed the history and architecture of many buildings seen from the trolley including the world renowned Van Wesel Performing Arts Hall, completed in 1969 and designed in shape and color of shells. The lavender and purple color scheme selected by Wright’s widow, Olgivanna Lloyd Wright and the seashell form has helped to make the building a Sarasota architectural bayside landmark.
Other famous landmarks discussed included Bidwell House, Crocker Church, Broadway Bar, Chibsey Library, Sarasota Garden Club, The Belle Tower, Sarasota City Court House, Federal Building, Terrace Hotel, City Hall, Selby Library, Opera House, Francis Carlton Apartments, FS Theater, Kress Dime Store, FSU College of Medicine building, Whitacre Family (Sarasota’s first settlers) home and cemetery.
Among other interesting facts, Sue told the ladies about the Scottish developer, John Hamilton Gillespie, a Scottish aristocrat, lawyer and member of the Royal Company of Archers, Queen’s Bodyguard for Scotland, who built what is believed to be America’s first golf course in Sarasota. Gillespie also built the DeSoto Hotel on Main Street for tourists and prospective investors. In 1902, he was elected as Sarasota’s first mayor.
She also explained that the Rosemary District cemetery is named after the herb Rosemary “for remembrance.” Sue is an excellent narrator who is very entertaining, professional and knowledgeable about local history. The tour was a great learning experience for both newer and long-time residents alike and provided a unique and interactive way to experience some of the best sights and the most interesting historical facts about Sarasota in creative and engaging manners.
Prior to the Trolley Tour, many of the ladies met at MacAllisters Restaurant on Main St in Lakewood Ranch to attend the LWRWC June Monthly Luncheon, where they enjoyed a delightful meal while socializing with old and new friends.