Sarasota Then & Now: St. Armands Circle

Sarasota Then & Now: St. Armands Circle

A sparse St. Armands Circle, circa 1937. Named for Charles A. St. Amands, who received a homestead deed for the island in 1893, the island changed hands several times until John Ringling bought it prior to 1920. Plans for his development of St. Armands Key (the "r" was added) were started in 1924 and soon it was called Ringling Isles and then Ringling Estates. The European-like layout was the design of John J. Watson, "one of the most celebrated landscape architects in the country." This Week In Sarasota called Watson a genius when the key was opened in 1926.

The cars to the right belong to workmen constructing the Lewis Van Wezel home. The road at 4 o'clock, running off of the circle, was intended to connect with Otter Key but was never complete, and today Otter Key is a state preserve. Development around Harding Circle was started in earnest by Colin Brown who built seven stores including the popular Elbow Room and service station in 1950. The first supper club on the circle was The Colony, and the first established business was the G and S Grocery Store. Two of the most popular stores were Sylvia and Steve Lippe's The Basket Bazaar and Jane Hershey's Sea Shanty.

Source: Sarasota in Vintage Images by Jeff LaHurd

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