BRADENTON (Manatee County)


BRADENTON and the surrounding Manatee River area has a rich history starting with large Indian settlements (see the MADIRA BICKEL INDIAN MOUNDS on Terra Ceia) to the arrival in 1539 of Spanish explorer Hernndo DeSoto (see DESOTO NATIONAL MEMORIAL).

By the 1850's sugar plantations lined the River (see the GAMBLE MANSION and BRADEN CASTLE) (shown in 1933 postcard by John Ludwig) and homesteaders like Josiah Gates started a town of Manatee. The Civil War could not curtail the agricultural benefits of the region and the coming of the railroad boomed the port town.

WHERE TO START: To best understand Bradenton's roots travel west from I-75 on FL 64 (Manatee Avenue) or east from US41 or US301 on FL 64 to the:

(A) MANATEE VILLAGE HISTORICAL PARK (749-1765), at 604 15th Street East off Manatee Avenue. Open weekdays and Sunday afternoons (EXCEPT in July and August), the Park is adjacent to the 1850 Manatee Cemetery near the original settlement and contains the FIRST MANATEE COURTHOUSE (1860), designed by Ezekiel Glazier, the oldest structure of its kind in Florida. Across the mall is the OLD METHODIST CHURCH (1887), a fine restored church with a vaulted ceiling and "Star of Creation" window. There is the 1912 SETTLERS COTTAGE, home of Will Stephens' pioneer family, and the WIGGINS STORE.

CONTINUE WEST ON MANATEE AVENUE past 15th Street East, the first downtown district when the 1902 Railroad Bridge opened here.
One half mile west on MANATEE AVENUE (FL64) you will pass the ATLANTIC COASTLINE RAILROAD DEPOT (1920), built on the site of the 1867 Fulmore House. You have reached the later downtown district.

TURN RIGHT ON TENTH STREET and drive toward the Manatee River. On your right is the massive NEW MANATEE RIVER HOTEL (1925), 309 10th Street, built by the Van Sweringer Company of Cleveland for $850,000 in the Land Boom. The pyramidal roofed corner towers are a city landmark. Across the street by the telephone company Dizzy Dean operated a gas station in the 1930's.

CONTINUE NORTH ON 10TH STREET by the: SOUTH FLORIDA MUSEUM AND BISHOP'S PLANETARIUM (746-4131), 201 10th Street, an outstanding historical museum with replicas of Timucuan villages, DeSoto's Spanish home, and early Bradenton. A 200 seat planetarium with a Spitz star projector puts on special shows. Parking is nearby. ADMISSION TO BOTH BUILDINGS. Across the way is the CITY AUDITORIUM, 200 10th Street, a modern, glass structure.

TURN LEFT ON FIRST AVENUE. On your right is the busy yacht basin and the: CITY PIER (1927), a two story Mediterranean Revival arcade with restaurant on the site of Riggins Wharf where the Tampa steamboats stopped as early as 1879.

You may wish to PARK HERE to walk up OLD MAIN STREET (12th Street West) or by FOLLOWING YOUR MAP visit the: CARNEGIE LIBRARY (1918), 1405 4th Avenue West, designed by T. W. Hullinger, and housing the State of Florida's first COUNTY HISTORICAL RECORDS LIBRARY.

DRIVE SOUTH ON 12TH STREET WEST. CROSS THIRD AVENUE. On your right is the long HENRY L. COE BUILDING (1897), 302-18 12th Street, three structures joined in 1914, including the servant section of the lost St. James Hotel.

Across the street stood the 1887 Palmer-Gaar House destroyed for parking leaving only the 1925 Peninsular Telephone Building. At 320 12th Street is the BAKERY BUILDING (1910), a two story vernacular once housing the Bradenton Board of Trade and Union Bus Station.

CROSS 4TH AVENUE onto the main block of Old Main Street. On your right at 400 12th Street is the TRI-CITY TRUST BUILDING (1925), a Mediterranean Revival with ceramic tile where the Sunnyland Restaurant was housed.

Next door is the two story PALMER BUILDING, once Paul Duckwall Grocery. The WYMAN & GREEN BUILDING (1923) shows the hounds tooth course around the parapet reflecting its Boom Era style.
Across the street at 413 12th Street is the wonderful F. M. JENNINGS ARCADE (1926), with an original balustrade and iron grill work. At 421-427 12th Street is the long ANDERSON-FINKHAM BUILDING (1901), actually two structures put together by Mrs. S. A. Reasoner to form the Juplinor Hotel and its 1912 addition.

The tall three-story building across the way is the LEON HARVEY BUILDING (1910), with the Cecil Hotel the original upstairs tenant. At 436 12th Street is the BARER-CLIFTON BUILDING (1909). The next door edifice with the chamfered entrance was the BRADENTON PUBLISHING BUILDING (1910), later the eventful Western Union Office.

The last building on the right is the important FULLER BUILDING (1905), 450 12th Street, a three story Renaissance Revival structure with native yellow rock and a decorative tiled parapet. For years, it was the Manatee River National Bank. The backside,  known as the CLIFTON ADDITION (1906) added offices.
CROSS MANATEE AVENUE, the main street. On your left beyond the historic plaza is the massive) MANATEE COUNTY COURTHOUSE (1913), a Neoclassical building by Tampa's McGucken & Hyer. It is a "little larger" than the wooden one at the Manatee Village Historical Park.

On your right is the two story SINGLETARY-CUMMINGS BUILDING (1922), 520 12th Street, a blond brick structure, once Lloyd's Drug Store. Next door is the delightful Beaux-Arts style UNITED ABSTRACT BUILDING (1925), 526 12th Street.
Restored now at 530 12th Street is the IRON BLOCK BUILDING (1896), its pressed metal facades moved from Manatee Avenue - a real gem for preservationists! The last structure on your right is WHITNEY CURRY'S GARAGE (1913), the first in the city's history.

TURN LEFT ON SIXTH AVENUE. Immediately on your right is the WASHINGTON SQUARE BUILDING (1925), a rectangular seven unit office complex. Next door is the WALCAID ARCADE (1924), a good Mediterranean Revival design, once home of the Bradenton Electric Company.

At 603 11th Street is the imposing Neoclassical  FIRST METHODIST CHURCH (1922) featuring Ionic columns.
TURN LEFT ON 10TH STREET and THEN LEFT ON MANATEE AVENUE to swing along the main esplanade. On the right, opposite the Court House, is a block of old commercial buildings. The one with the flat wooden awning and iron rods is the 1925 C. H. EWING BUILDING.

Next door is the R. M. BEALL BUILDING, beginnings of a West Coast department store chain. Next comes the   ALICE MARTIN BUILDING (1914), first a drug store then W. E. Payne Jewelry. Next to the seven story N.C.N.B. Building is the long MURPHY-STEVENS BUILDING (1916), where the local Woolworth opened in 1925.

TWO BLOCKS WEST ON MANATEE on the right is the: OLD FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH (1912), 430 13th Street, an Eclectic Romanesque Revival started by T. J. Sparkman. Next door is the new church.

If you turn right in the next two blocks, you'll return to the waterfront along one of the oldest residential areas. The Riverview District west of downtown contains dozens of large houses of the 1920's. E. E. BISHOP HOUSE (1929), Riverview and 26th Street, is a large estate of the father of the President of Standard Oil. Note BORDELEAU at 3400 Riverview Boulevard.

3200 Riverview Boulevard (1899) is a huge Dutch Colonial estate on sixty acres. 


MANATEE BURYING GROUND, 15th Street East and just east of the Manatee Historical Museum, contains many Seminole War veterans, three members of the Florida Secessionist Convention, and Brigadeer General John Riggin.
DR. JOSEPH ADDISON BRADEN CASTLE RUINS (1850), north of FL 64 in Braden Castle Village, is a 900 acre sugar mill on the south bank of the Manatee River until hit by Seminoles in 1856 and a forest fire in 1903.
BRADEN CASTLE VILLAGE (1924), set up by the Camping Tourists of America, contains 209 wonderful frame bungalows, many of Craftsman style, built from 1924 to 1929, for winter tourists. The community has a post office, meeting office, and docks. It is a delightfully quiet trip into the 1920's.
WILLIAM SHAW TABBY HOUSE (1845), off 75th Street NW in the DeSoto National Memorial Park, was destroyed during the Seminole attacks of the 1850's. It is located on the nature trail at the site.
HISTORICAL RECORDS COLLECTION LIBRARY (1918), 1405 Fourth Avenue West, is in the Old Carnegie Library mentioned earlier. This is an archive of documents and records.
MANATEE COUNTY CENTRAL LIBRARY, EATON ROOM, 1301 Barcarrota Boulevard West, contains a collection of books and materials on Manatee and Florida history.