Laurel Park was not always Laurel Park. The name is a recent addition. The nine city blocks of downtown Sarasota that make up the historic district were first platted in 1886 as Block G of the Florida Mortgage and Investment Company’s Town of Sarasota. One of the first homes constructed in the district in the 1880’s was Victorian in architecture.
In the early 1900’s the house was remodeled and a greenhouse was added to accommodate a bride’s love of flowers and plants. It became the residence for Sarasota’s 1st mayor, John Hamilton Gillespie and his wife Blanche. It was the second of three homes Mr. Gillespie would reside in in Sarasota before his death in 1923.
The 1920’s brought a flurry of land sales and development. The district was divided into a large number of subdivisions including Washington Park, Owen Burns Subdivision and the Marable Subdivision. Owen Burns was, without question the most significant developer of property within the district. He is credited with constructing the brick paved streets and the addition of sidewalks as well as building many of the distinctive houses in the Washington Park subdivision.
Residents of the district from the 1920’s on were apt to describe their home location in the town by the name of the particular subdivision their house was in or by its location relating to Little Five Points, the crossroads of Orange, Oak and Pineapple which is officially titled Owen Burns Square. It wasn’t until the 1980’s or 90’s that the residents of the district selected a name for the district – Laurel Park.