Historic Spanish Point
337 North Tamiami Trail
$12 per adult
Kids 5 & under are free!
If you like hiking, photography, or are a history buff, you should check out Historic Spanish Point nestled just south of Sarasota.
Spanish Point boasts a walking tour of a 30 acre living museum, including historic structures, artifacts and archaeological exhibits.
Originally 120 acres were given to the Webb family in the late 1800’s in exchange that they begin constructing boats. Over the years between marriages and deals the land was owned and operated by Mrs. Palmer, a widow, who turned the water-front acreage into a working thriving agricultural farm including cattle and citrus.
What remains today was a gift of the estate of Mrs. Palmer, are several guest houses, a church and the citrus packaging building. (Mrs. Palmer’s mansion was torn down unfortunately due to poor conditions.) The houses that remain though are a throwback to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and all of them have amazing views of the water.
The Guptill house was the first stop on our tour. Lizzie Webb married to Frank Guptill a boat builder and proceeded to build their winter house on the edge of their property with a boat workshop right there. Both the house and boat workshop are in working original condition and are a great stop on this tour. When Mrs. Palmer acquired the land she renamed the house “Hill Cottage” and used it as a guest residence for friends and family visiting.
The aqueduct that Mrs. Palmer created next to Hill Cottage was unfortunately under reconstruction when we were there, but the sheer size of it was impressive to think that it survived over one hundred years.
The “White Cottage” is worth stopping and spending some time at as well. Originally built by Jack Webb the home and grounds are absolutely beautiful!
One interesting thing I noted on the tour, the “White House” sits on a shell midden which was constructed by native Americans. By placing the house on the shell midden it actually provided amazing elevated views of the entire bay as well as raised the house above sea level which allowed cool breezes to flow through the house long before air conditioning.
Mrs. Palmer never lived in this house, but she gifted it to her grandson & his wife. She did however build the sunken gardens and verandas that surround the house. My kids found gardens and archways particularly fun to run around, as it still remains today. I could just imagine the parties they had at that house with those amazing views & beautiful gardens. Weddings in face are still held here today. Actually, had I known about this place ten years ago, I would have begged to have my wedding and ceremony here: on the water, outside, but a house nearby for restrooms and food, plenty of space of dancing and the band…..ahhhh, one can dream.
The last stop we made on our walking tour was the church, known as “Mary’s Chapel.” A guest of the Webb’s winter home died while on vacation and in her honor they built this chapel. It has 6 beautiful Stained Glass windows and a working bell. It was reconstructed in 1986 and is a popular venue for weddings as well.
I love hidden places like these particularly when I can see the advent of progress in Florida; how the railway, citrus and cattle industries brought new families and new development into Florida and made the cities flourish. Had we not taken a camping trip to Oscar Scherer State Park, I would have never known it existed!
Pros: Since this is a walking tour and it is spread out significantly, it is nice that most of the buildings have restrooms available.
Cons: This is a walking tour. If you go in the heat of the summer bring lots of water, Walking stick, wear a hat and sunblock.
Insider tip: Eat before you go- there is no place to eat on property. And bring a camera! It’s beautiful!