A multi-faceted history awaits you at Historic Spanish Point.
While Historic Spanish Point is a complex museum with many layers and facets, there are four main elements to the overall story. To help our visitors understand them, we refer to them as the “4 Ps of Historic Spanish Point.” Prehistory, Pioneers, Palmer, and Plants. Take time to explore these elements.
With an archaeological record that encompasses approximately 5,000 years of Florida prehistory, this National Register of Historic Places museum is referred to as one of the largest intact actively preserved archaeological sites of the prehistoric period on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
The museum’s “A Window to the Past” exhibition is the only place in the country where visitors go inside a prehistoric shell midden and are surrounded on three sides by evidence of the past.
The rich heritage of human habitation at Historic Spanish Point entered a new phase in 1867 when John Greene Webb and his family from Utica, New York, established a homestead on the shores of Little Sarasota Bay. Florida owes its success to people like John Webb and his intrepid family, who braved heat, humidity, insects, illness, fires, and risk of hurricanes to settle and build up the Gulf Coast region.
To experience the 140 year old pioneer heritage preserved and interpreted at Historic Spanish Point, visitors may tour the carefully maintained 1901 Guptill House, the reconstructed Mary’s Chapel, and a reconstruction of the Webb Citrus Packing House.
In 1910, Bertha Palmer made her first impact on Sarasota history and on the Spanish Point homestead. The Chicago socialite and widow of Potter Palmer came to Sarasota to establish a Winter estate. The Webb homestead was part of the land she chose for her 350-acre estate, which she named “Osprey Point.” She preserved the pioneer buildings and connected them with lavish formal gardens and lawns.
Three of the gardens of Mrs. Potter Palmer – the Sunken Garden, Duchene Lawn, and Jungle Walk – are enjoyed by visitors today. The classical styled Pergola overlooking Little Sarasota Bay was restored in the 1980s and is the site of wedding ceremonies and living history drama performances.
Historic Spanish Point is a significant environmental site, and its location on the shores of Little Sarasota Bay offers the unique opportunity to view different habitats as well as plant and tree combinations. Native plants representing over 50% of the species found in the county can be enjoyed along the nature trails and boardwalks, including a pristine mangrove shoreline. The Butterfly Garden, one of the largest in Florida, attracts not only avid photographers, but many species of insects and birds.