HISTORIC VENICE (Sarasota County)
NO LONGER A RAILROAD
The area north of Venice
Bay was settled by the 1860's by
homesteaders like Jesse Knight, a Methodist preacher from Georgia, and
was known as Horse and Chaise. In 1882 chemist Frank Higel,
who once lived in Venice, Italy, arrived and promoted the
region to Northerners like lawyer Joseph H. Lord and Lord's friend Mrs. Potter
Palmer whose purchase of thousands of acres influenced area development for
In 1925 the Brotherhood of Locomotive
Engineers obtained 50,000 acres from surgeon Dr. Fred Albee, and hired Boston architect John
Nolen to design a farming and retirement city, complete with resort hotels,
wide avenues, a residential area (Gulf View), and waterways.
WHERE TO START: EXIT
BUSINESS US41 and drive East on VENICE AVENUE to
downtown area. This area east to Nokomis
Avenue and south to Miami Street was part of Joseph Land's
On your left is the five story ALBERT
BLACKMURN BUILDING (Schoolcraft Building)
(1926), 201 Venice Avenue,
a business block which featured a pharmacy with upstairs apartments. At 229 Venice Avenue
is the EL PATIO HOTEL
(Valencia Hotel) (1926), a fine Mediterranean
Revival hotel that has greeted winter tourist and circus people for
decades. Stanton Ennes of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers designed
the neat arcade and even a post office.
Also part of this historic commercial block
at 247 Venice is the 1927 HOWARD ELECTRIC
One block over is the 1940 ESTES
You’ll want to cross the beautiful
greenway northward to the huge complex of buildings on Tampa Avenue. Around the corner at 200 North Nassau is the HOTEL VENICE
(1926), built by the George Fuller Company as a three story resort. John Nolen
designed the Northern Italian structure complete with campanile. He hired
Charles Kane of San Francisco's St. Francis
Hotel as first manager. Thomas Edison, Ty Cobb, and William J. Burns stayed here in the Land Boom.
Kentucky Military Institute obtained the place as a student dorm in 1932 and
now it is a 78 room retirement center.
Next door on the wide Center Mall is the SAN MARCO HOTEL
(1927), third of the large Venice
resorts. Designed by Tampan Franklin O. Adams and
constructed by R. W. Wishart, who did the hotels on Davis Islands
Marco was utilized from 1932 to 1970 as the winter home of Kentucky Military
Institute before its condo/shop restoration.
Before TURNING RIGHT ON NOKOMIS, notice at 140 West Tampa Avenue,
the VENICE LITTLE THEATER (1927), a converted garage to movie
house, then gym of K.M.I. This fine drama group started in 1950 in a World War
II quonset hut at the airport.
201 Venice Avenue
Hotel Venice Courtyard
Marco Hotel Building
DRIVE SOUTH ON
NOKOMIS ACROSS VENICE AVENUE. At the right apex of Miami
and Ponce de Leon is the (6) HOLLYWOOD
APARTMENTS (BURGUNDY SQUARE),
a 1926 two story Italian Renaissance boom hotel. Two structures on Miami
to note is the 1925 H.N. “BUD” WINNERS REALTY
at 221 Miami
– it’s a neat Mediterranean Revival with arched windows, and the
1926 L..M. TEAL
225 West Miami.
Two blocks south on the right are some
indications of Venice's strong cultural
community: THE VENICE LIBRARY, 300 South
Nokomis, with a collection of historical and architectural
materials. Two of the library's benefactors are Rosemary and Walter Farley who
wrote The Black Stallion. Nearby is the Venice Community
Center and the Venice Art League.
TURN RIGHT ON TURN, RIGHT ON PENSACOLA, and LEFT ON VALENCIA to reach Harbor
Drive. TURN RIGHT (north) on HARBOR DRIVE toward
South Harbor Drive is the GEORGE YOUNGBERG
HOUSE (1926), the Italian Mediterranean home of the engineer of the
Venice Project, and later Mayor James T. Blalock. At 519 South Harbor is a
wonderful bed and breakfast THE BANYAN HOUSE, a 1926 stucco mansion
built for archaeologist Dr S. M. Thomas.
PASS GRANADA where you'll see the VENICE CITY HALL
(1925), 401 West Venice Avenue,
designed by John
TURN LEFT ON VENICE AVENUE toward the Gulf of Mexico,
passing many 1920's houses. The Avenue ends at Venice Beach
and the VENICE BEACH PAVILION (1963), by David Hamilton.
TURN RIGHT UP
TARPON CENTER. Here condo row has hit the beach since 1959. If you turn up Apalachicola, you reach the VENICE YACHT CLUB,
Drive, started in 1927 by Dr. James Hall, Teddy
Cap Circle is the FRANK
PARK, on Roberts
Bay, named for the Philadelphia
publisher who boosted Venice.
The harborside spot has restrooms, picnic tables, and
a boating viewpoint. AT THE TIP OF TARPON CENTER is the popular SOUTH
JETTIES PARK where two acres of huge rocks fill with fishermen and
Parking is limited but taking a beach visit
is popular. RETURN TO HARBOR DRIVE (see map) and DRIVE
SOUTHWARD if you wish to visit other beach areas. Off Beach Boulevard is GOLDEN BEACH,
famous for its black shark teeth.
If you turn left
on Shore Drive
and continue on Airport Avenue,
you will see VENICE AIR FIELD (1939), started by the P.W.A. and
later serving as an Army Air base, complete with 200 German prisoners. At the
end was the RINGLING BROTHERS
& BARNUM & BAILEY CIRCUS WINTER HEADQUARTERS now
RETURN TO HARBOR DRIVE if you
wish to travel south past the 700 foot VENICE PIER to CASPERSON
BEACH COUNTY PARK, 113
acres of dunes and palmetto woods. There are full facilities in this park,
named after Finn Casperson who pioneered the Venice Aviation
Club. Popular Sharkey's On The Pier is a good stop to
view the sunset and have food.
OTHER BUILDINGS TO SEE:
TRIANGLE INN (1926), Nassau Street at Pensacola Road, is
a two story Italian Renaissance building designed by Walker and Gillette, with a
notable round turret. The building now houses the City of Venice Archives.
FRANK NIGEL HOUSE, 808
LaGuna Street, was the
last home of the family that founded Horse and Chaise, the original Venice town. 616 LaGuna is a fine Boom Time Spanish-Mediterranean home.