These sea horses never appeared in Laurel Park however residents of the neighborhood frequented Lido Beach and the Casino complex during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s and knew them well.
The majestic eight-foot tall sea horses first appeared in Sarasota at the Lido Beach Casino. They were the design of the building’s architect, Ralph Twitchell. The sea horses were cast of concrete in molds created from full-sized, hand drawn templates. They were then attached to the façade of the casino to create an eye-catching motif on the second story promenade of the building. For almost 30 years they stood as sentinels casting an eye out to sea and affording the perfect backdrop for a magical photo portrait in paradise.
The Lido Casino was demolished in 1969. Before it was completely razed a number of the sea horses were carefully removed. They are privately owned. The building is gone, the sea horses disappeared from sight but the memory of them remained for all who enjoyed the marvelous Lido Casino complex.
A cherished photograph is of Esther Williams hanging off one of the marvelous horses at the Casino. She was in Sarasota taking a break from shooting a Tarzan movie in Florida.
In the 1980’s the developer of the Quay project on Sarasota’s bayfront brought the delightful iconic figure back to the community. The majestic sea horses were again cast in concrete, from the original design and attached to the Sarasota Quay. The Quay opened in 1987 with eleven sea horses adorning its entryway and main plaza.
Once again these magical statues became the backdrop for photographic portraits. Visitors and residents, young and old came to the Quay and posed for a picture with them.
History has a way of repeating itself. The sea horses again lost their home after 20 years. The Quay was demolished in 2007. This time the horses were rescued by citizens interested in seeing the icons returned to the community.
In 2009 two sea horses were installed at Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium in celebration of the opening of a new and fascinating exhibit on sea horses and to recognize the value Mote contributes to defining Sarasota as a unique and exceptional community. The year 2009 marked the third time the sea horses made a welcome appearance.
Thanks to a generous donor another sea horse has reappeared and is permanently installed for all to enjoy at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s home on Fruitville Road.
Another sea horse is now on temporary display along Palm Avenue, in front of the William Hartman Gallery. It is becoming a popular photo backdrop for shoppers and strollers on the street.
Sarasota’s majestic horses
75 years old!