“Hurray for Sarasota County”

bildePhoto courtesy of the Sarasota County Dept. of Historical Resources

Laurel Park in 1920 was mostly undeveloped land.  John Hamilton Gillespie’s home, Roseburn stood alone on Morrill Street.  A few vernacular frame homes were scattered among the streets.  The newly formed Sarasota County housed their administrative offices and court house on Oak Street in the 20′s but it was not until the mid 1920′s that construction truly escalated in the neighborhood.

In 1920 Sarasota’s leaders saw their tax dollars going to Manatee County with little return to Sarasota.  A movement was afoot to break from Manatee and form Sarasota County.  To the dismay of  Venice, the City of Sarasota was chosen as the county seat.

Read Jeff LaHurd’s latest article .

National Realtors’ Survey – Walkable mixed-use neighborhoods desired…..

When asked to choose between a neighborhood that “has a mix of houses and stores and other businesses that are easy to walk to” versus a neighborhood that “has houses only and you have to drive to stores and other businesses,” the walkable neighborhood was preferred 60 percent to 35 percent…… News Release


Laurel Park’s Washington Park Subdivison……

The plat of the subdivision named Washington Park.  The plat was recorded in February 1925.

Washington ParkThis subdivision was owned and developed by Owen Burns.  Mr. Burns arrived in Sarasota in 1910.  His businesses, real estate developments and his extraordinary service to the community forever changed Sarasota from a small fishing village into a city.

Sarasota 1913………

1913Plat-LPinsertSarasota 1913 – The year Sarasota became a City.

RoseburnIn 1913 John Hamilton Gillespie, the town of Sarasota’s first mayor, resided in what is today’s Laurel Park historic district.  His home, built in 1880 was named Roseburn.

 Early Sarasota Yacht ClubThe Sarasota Yacht and Automobile Club while not in Laurel Park, was located at the bayfront on Gulfstream Avenue.  It was one of many multi-story buildings beginning to crop up in Sarasota in the teens.

Sarasota Yacht ClubThe club was a center of activity.  In 1913 a banquet was held for Colonel Gillespie to celebrate his vision and his part in developing Sarasota.  He was made an honorary member of the yacht club and the date of March 10th was set as  “Gillespie Day” to duly remember his contributions.  This photo of a woman’s tea was taken in 1914 in front of the club.

Contemporary Design in Historic Districts……..

“…The evolution of architecture hasn’t ended, and that’s why preservation professionals strongly support integrating “modern” design into historic districts………the richness of the layers will continue to appreciate as our own generation adds to the mix while respecting what went before.” Myrick Howard

602822_546080445427964_466147288_nContemporary home in Laurel Park

Here is a great article by a well regarded preservation professional as to why modern architecture is both welcome and “fits” in our historic districts: Oakwood controversy over ‘contemporary’ house disturbing on many levels

“Raleigh’s historic districts were built over a period of decades – house-by-house, owner-by-owner. Unlike modern subdivisions, they contain numerous styles and sizes, and it is this richness that gives them their character. They are mosaics, made up of many distinctive parts. No one style predominates, so it makes no sense whatsoever to prescribe stylistic limitations.” Myrick Howard


Raleigh’s Oakwood Historic District has the distinction of being both a National Register District and a locally designated district.  Laurel Park is only  a National Register District.  The districts are similar in that they have no one year of significance or style of architecture.  Development of the Laurel Park neighborhood began at the turn of the twentieth century, flourished in the 1920′s and experienced another “growth spurt” in the 40′s and early 50′s.   The district is generally associated with events that were important to the early development of Sarasota from 1920-1957.  The architectural styles are all over the place.

The lack of understanding of historic preservation has led some Laurel Park residents to believe that replicating the architectural style, maintaining a vintage, historic appearance is necessary to the preservation of a district.  This tells me that preservation professionals and advocates need to do a better job of educating our community.  Some of Laurel Park’s best new homes are those that define this decade in time by introducing architectural diversity into the fabric of the neighborhood.

1723 Oak StreetLaurel Park – New construction in a flood zone