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Sarasota Florida History

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Known for its beautiful, sprawling, white sand beaches, its wonderfully mild winters and balmy summers, Sarasota, is home to much history. With its many challenging and gorgeous golf courses, great marinas, museums, shopping districts, and more, Sarasota is a terrific place to live.


Strolling along the beaches and touring downtown, as well as inland, it’s difficult to believe Sarasota was so different in the early to mid-nineteenth century. Once known as Zara Zote, eventually, it became Sara Sota, until the name morphed into its modern carnation.


Sarasota Florida History


Sarasota saw its first real visitors with the arrival of the Spanish in the early 1500’s. In 1539, Spanish Conquistador Hernando de Soto arrived in “ZaraSota,” a name meaning "Radiance of Soto." The peninsula became a territory of the United States in 1819 and later earned its statehood in 1845. Fort Armistead became the first Army military installation. For many years, Spanish, European, Cuban, Mexican, South American, and eventually, Americans traded in the area. The arrival of William H. Whitaker of Savannah, became one the very first settlers, establishing a residence on Whitaker Bayou in the 1840's.


Sarasota, County Seat of Sarasota County, is most noted as the artistic and literary center of the Florida West Coast due to its large number of theaters, the famous Ringling Art Museum, and a large artist and literary community. A stroll around downtown reveals a large number of theatres, bookstores, and art galleries. --Florida History.org
Then, in 1888, Sir John Gillespie of Edinburgh, Scotland, established the first financial business in Sarasota, known as the Florida Mortgage and Investment Company. Gillespie promoted Sarasota land, particularly to people in the North, Northeast, and Europe, as well. Gillespie built the first golf course in the area, originally located where downtown thrives today. Other notable residents around the time include the Webb family, Browning family, and Lewis Colson.


Owen Burns of Fredericktown, Maryland, is also considered one of the most prolific developers to establish Sarasota as a great place to live and fish. Burns partnered with John Ringling to develop the barrier islands, but this venture overextended the developer, forcing him into bankruptcy. Ringling would later experience the same financial disaster, after the stock market crashed in 1929. During the early 1920's the area experienced a huge real estate boom, but the whole state was also hit hard by the Great Crash, starting in 1926.


The Sunshine State, unfortunately, was the first in the country, to be affected by the problems which led to the Great Depression. This would not be the only time in the area's history it experienced hardship. Sarasota became a starting point for the housing bust in 2008. Today, it's a thriving real estate market, with plenty of new developments. Master planned communities are cropping up everywhere, offering some wonderful resident amenities.


Modern Sarasota


Currently, Sarasota is home to many elementary schools, several high schools, and colleges and universities. Tourism is a massive part of the local economy, but residents and visitors alike enjoy its many theaters, museums, golf courses, beaches, trails, and so much more. Sarasota County currently has over 400,000 permanent residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.


New construction over the past decade and a half continues to boom in Sarasota. In 1997, 63 new single family home building permits were issued, with an average cost of $156,400. This continued, with scores of more building permits of single family properties being issued. In the latest data available of 2015, there were, "more than 8,000 construction permits were processed in a 12-month period, and it totaled 1,200 more than the previous record set in fiscal 2014," according to the Herald-Tribune.


Currently, there are approximately 3,000 homes listed for sale in Sarasota. These range in price from under $100,000 to $1.5 million and much higher, up to $8.7 million, $7.9 million, and $6.99 million. Neighborhoods include Turtle Rock, Silver Oak, Laurel Oak, Misty Creek, Harbor Acres, Village Walk, Bird Key, The Hammocks, Laurel Lakes, and Deer Creek. The average home value in these ten neighborhoods are as follows:


Turtle Rock $445,581
Silver Oak $742,560
Laurel Oak $716,071
Misty Creek $478,853
Harbor Acres $2,445,689
Village Walk $351,782
Bird Key $1,913,568
The Hammocks $561,468
Laurel Lakes $431,679
Deer Creek $481,407



Types of residential homes in Sarasota is quite diverse. Here, you'll find single family property homes, condos, townhouses, and villas. Floor plans also range greatly, from one bedroom, one bath to more than 6 bedroom, 5 and 6 bath and more. Square footage likewise is just as wide-ranging, from under 1,000 square feet to more than 10,000 square feet. There are golf course homes, beach homes, rural properties, urban properties, and everything in between.


For more information about living in Sarasota, Florida and the real estate market, whether you are buying or selling, please do not hesitate to contact us. We serve the whole, two-county, Sarasota and Manatee area, and are happy to be of assistance to you. We have helped buyers and sellers for many years to find and market homes throughout Sarasota County, within the city, and across the area. Go ahead, and contact us today to get started.