St. Amands - They added an "r" by mistake
Up until the 1920's St. Armands was only accessible by boat. The first homesteader was Charles A. St. Amand who came to the key in the late 1880's. He filed a government claim for 131 acres in 1893 and was granted a homestead deed for a $13.00 fee. The land exchanged hands several times over the years and along the way the "r" was added to St. Amand by mistake. Eventually the key was sold to John Ringling who would develop Lido Key and St. Armands.
The Ritz Carlton Hotel that no one stayed in
The areas first Ritz Carlton was built in the late 1920's on the south end of Longboat Key. It was rumored that John Ringling used the Lido Key development for collateral to finance the Ritz Carlton project which eventually got caught up in the great depression of the late 1920's. It was never finished and eventually torn down by the General Development in the 1960's.
The Rudy Bundy speakeasy
Band Leader and clarinetist Rudy Bundy came to Sarasota in 1940 and with his 12 piece band was a mainstay at the glamorous M’ToTo Room at the John Ringling Hotel and the Lido Casino on Lido Key. Rudy lived just down the street from the Lido Casino at 226 Garfield Drive and the art deco inspired house still stands today. Many musicians and entertainers passed through the house over the years and the front room was set up like a speakeasy. It's rumored that when Sinatra visited the cars lined the roads for blocks. You can see the handprinted interior doors of the house at Bobs Train. The house is available for rent.
We have our own version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame
The circle at St. Armand's was inspired by the circus and what better spot to honor the many circus performers with their own Walk of Fame. Next time you're at the circle be sure to check out the plaques honoring the many circus performers around the inner circle of the circle. You can read more about it here.
Need a Back Adjustment - Check out the BJ Palmer House
I walk all over the island and see some pretty interesting houses along the way. One that I've walked by hundreds of time has a reflecting pool and bust of B J Palmer in the front yard. He added his footprints and initials to the finished work and it's now part of the memorial out front. It's located at 342 North Washington Drive on St. Armand's Key. Turns out that BJ Palmer was the "The Developer of Chiropractic" and spent the last ten years of his life here. He was a circus buff and the house was painted in bright colors both inside and out. The circus theme was continued through out the house and today many of his mementos and furniture pieces are on display and are seasonally rotated.
The first swimming pool built on Lido is still there at the Van Wezel House
Constructed in 1937 at 535 South Boulevard of the Presidents the estate belonged to Lewis and Eugenia Van Wezel. It was one of the first homes to be built on Lido Key and included a pool that exists to this day. The Van Wezel's left behind a $400,000 contribution to the arts in Sarasota and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center is named after them. Notables such as Albert Einstein, Brigitte Bardot and John Ringling have passed through the house. The daughter of the family, was married to Nobel from the Nobel Peace Prize. The house was designated a historical landmark by the City of Sarasota in 1998.