Ruthmary Bauer


From 1922 to 1926, Sarasota experienced the top-of-the-world exhilaration of the great Florida land boom as it evolved from a frontier town into a modern city. During this crucial period Sarasotans debated the course of the city’s development. Some residents wanted the city to become a deepwater port while others, among them developers John Ringling and Owen Burns, envisioned Sarasota as a metropolitan resort for the moderately wealthy settler and the winter visitor. During the early and mid-1920s real estate developers embarked on a flurry of new construction that included plush resort hotels, skyscrapers, and upscale residential communities. The city’s first contemporary theater, the Edwards Theater, staged its grand opening in April 1925. The value of existing real estate skyrocketed. Belle Haven Inn, built in 1887, sold for $500,000, well above its 1914 purchase price of $35,000.