H I S T O R I C S P A N I S H P O I N T
In the News
John McCarthy receives Hero of History Award 2017 from the Historical Society of Sarasota County for a life that is dedicated to the study and sharing of Florida history.
At the recent annual meeting of the Historical Society of Sarasota County (HSOSC) at the historic Crocker Memorial Church, John McCarthy was honored with the Hero of History award for his personal passion for history and for his long career in County Government in the service of history education, research, and leadership. He served as Sarasota County’s second official historian (beginning at the age of 19) and went on to have a 32-year-career inCounty Government, where he was most well-known for his work as General Manager of Parks and Recreation.
In that role McCarthy encouraged the re-use of several historic structures including the turpentine log cabin at the T. Mabry Carlton Jr., Memorial Reserve, the C.B. Wilson Residence at Urfer Family Park and the Keith Farmhouse at Phillippi Estate Park. He worked with the County Commissioners to restore the Nokomis Beach Plaza and engaged its original architect Jack West to head the project. He led the County’s efforts to develop iconic modern beach facilities at Manasota, North Jetty, Caspersen, South Lido and Siesta all architecturally inspired by the Sarasota School of Architecture style. Prior to retirement, McCarthy commissioned a study for a future county history museum.
After he retired from County service in 2012, McCarthy led SCOPE (Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence) as its executive director and is now Director of Advancement at Historic Spanish Point. Throughout his career, John McCarthy has engaged with local history projects and education, including the New College of Florida Oral History Program. His span of knowledge is both deep and wide-ranging and he has been involved in local history projects from North Port to Newtown and everywhere in between.
McCarthy joined the Historical Society board in 1982 and subsequently served three terms as president. He offered the first HSOSC historical walking tour program in 1984 and a few years later began narrating the Society’s hugely popular LeBarge floating history tours which occur in November and March. He has contributed in many ways to the Historical Society of Sarasota County and to historical awareness in the community at large.
On the Saturday afternoon in May when McCarthy was being presented by President Howard Rosenthal with his award from the Historical Society, he was a bit late to the annual meeting. He walked into the Crocker Memorial Church at Pioneer Park a little out of breath and in his trekking clothes. He’d been out all morning conducting a guided walking tour of historic places in Sarasota. He is a man who never stops celebrating local history and educating residents and seasonal visitors about this part of Florida and its rich heritage.
McCarthy: Students preserve local memories (Herald-Tribute, January 2018)
Harriet Stieff recently shared her precious Sarasota memories with third-year New College of Florida student Bianca Persechino. As the daughter of civic leader and developer Owen Burns, Harriet grew up on Sarasota’s downtown bayfront, not far from where she lives today.
In her interview, Harriet describes small-town life in early Sarasota and tells tales of moonlit explorations as one of the first students of Siesta Key’s Out of Door School. Bianca was fascinated by the stories and found Harriet to be “super-sweet and selfless — she talked about everyone but herself.”
This new oral-history interview sheds light on a time and place now long gone, and yet preserved in Harriet’s memory and now shared through New College of Florida’s Sarasota Oral History Project.
In its ninth year, the project has inspired over 50 students to reach beyond the boundaries of the campus to document a wide spectrum of collective community history.
Spanish Point offers a host of holiday events (North Port Sun, October 2017)
If there aren’t enough reasons already to take in Historic Spanish Point, the wondrous outdoor museum on Little Sarasota Bay has added more — a series of fall and winter events guaranteed to please visitors of all ages.
Aside from the stimulating art history lunches, lectures and tours thathave become a staple of Historic Spanish Point, the museum plans to augment its recent anniversary of the arrival of the Webb family on the property with “Halloween Happenings” in October.
The Happenings will comprise ghost hunting and ghost story tours.
There will also be a Victorian era funeral reenactment, which will mirror the funerary customs of that era.
It will be fascinating … and spooky.
Spanish Point’s annual fundraiser gala, “Dancing Through the Decades,” will be Nov. 17. Tickets are $200 and will include dinner, dancing and live entertainment. The event will serve as a fundraiser for the museum.
Nothing Spanish about Historic Spanish Point (North Port Sun, June 2017)
First off, let’s get one thing straight: Historic Spanish Point, in Osprey, did not derive its name from the Spaniards who settled there — because they never did.
In spite of having visited this beautiful site many times while chaperoning school field trips with my three sons, for some reason I had completely forgotten that fact. But I was reminded of it when I took a guided tour with the Spanish Point associate director, Kara Morgan.
“There is nothing Spanish here,” she said.
Apparently, in 1867, pioneers John and Eliza Webb were looking for a warm spot where they could move to escape the harsh New York winters. While in Key West, they met a “Spanish” (probably Cuban) trader who told them about an elevated, beautiful point of land that jutted out into the water in a safe harbor. The Webbs decided to sail up the coast and look for it.
After overshooting their mark and ending up in what is now Manatee County, they headed down south a little bit and found what they were looking for. They decided to settle there and farm their 160 acres of land that was promised to them as part of the Civil War reconstruction. But they were by no means the first to live on the land. More than 5,000 years ago, the original Floridians fished, hunted, lived and died there.
Annual Lifelong Learning Showcase set
The SunCoast Alliance for Lifelong Learning (SCALL) will present the third annual Lifelong Learning Showcase, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., at Temple Beth Sholom, 1050 S. Tuttle Ave., Bldg. 1, Sarasota. Registration opened Aug. 7.
SCALL is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting and enhancing the region’s lifelong learning opportunities.
The showcase, which is a fundraiser for SCALL, provides a sampling of the region’s diversity of lifelong learning opportunities. Experts will discuss history, literature, health, science, philosophy and more.