Herald-Tribune Born Amid Sarasota’s First Great Housing Boom

The timing of such an undertaking turned out to be fortuitous. The land boom was in full swing and many full-page advertisements were the lucrative norm.

On the morning of October 4, 1925, when the real estate market was at its strongest, the first edition of the Sarasota Herald rolled off the presses and quickly became Sarasota’s flagship newspaper, a position maintained today as the Sarasota Herald-Tribune .

The former factory of the Sarasota Herald on Orange Avenue is now the site of the Exchange, a longtime thrift and consignment store.

More Sarasota History

The title of the first edition’s banner, “SENATOR FLETCHER INJURED IN ACCIDENT,” reported that the state legislator was in an elevator that plunged nine stories into the basement of a Jacksonville hotel. . Fortunately, he only suffered bruises and was confined to his room.

Nationally, the ongoing trial of popular General Billy Mitchell has gripped the country and grabbed headlines. Mrs. Mitchell was to speak on behalf of her husband. Ultimately, Mitchell was found guilty of insubordination for advocating air power too strongly and demoted to private rank. He resigned in 1926.

Three Stories – “Tampa Youth Kills Sister and Brother”; from nearby Clearwater, “the man kills his wife then himself in a jealous rage”; and from Rockingham, North Carolina, “DEFENSE SAYS SLAYER INSANE” – could be the subject of a newspaper today.

Front-page local news included the women’s drive to raise funds to equip the much-needed Sarasota Hospital to serve the burgeoning population. The public response was described as “very encouraging”. For the same “enormous growth”, the post office would have had to be expanded, and with 1,700 more children in the area, the school proved inadequate.

The telephone company added a large extension and built a dormitory on the third floor to house employees who had difficulty finding housing.

A front-page description of the new plant in the Sarasota Herald dubbed it “one of the best in the south and equipped for a city several times the size of Sarasota”. (Superlatives were commonly used to describe grand openings and virtually anything newly built in the city.)

The optimism reflecting the general mood of the county was palpable throughout the 72 pages.

George Lindsay, left, first editor of the Sarasota Herald.

To serve the paper, George Lindsay moved to Sarasota to become the paper’s editor, a position he maintained until the time of his death in 1946. (His responsibilities were taken over in turn by David Lindsay Sr., and David Lindsay Jr., Poynter and Naugle partners who had been bought out years before.)

Its first editorial noted the reason for the Herald’s birth: “SERVICE…to expend all resources…to produce for the people of Sarasota…a newspaper which will not only bring the news of the day each morning but contribute in all possible ways to the civic, social and commercial development of the territory in which it circulates.

Advertisements for newly established banks, housing estates, insurance companies, real estate agencies, and retail outlets featured prominently. The newly created First Bank and Trust, “The Big Bank at Five Points”, promised to offer the “Five Points of Success: Reliability, Efficiency, Courtesy, Resources and Personal Service”.

The US National Bank countered with its own full-page ad offering, “A BANK WHERE YOU WILL FEEL AT HOME” and promised “In this bank there is no coldness, formality and solemnity at times associated with other financial institutions.. No unnecessary paperwork, no stiffness…”

A full-page advertisement for Bank of Sarasota in an early issue of the Sarasota Herald.

Founded in 1911, John Ringling’s Bank of Sarasota, “Where Banking is a Pleasure,” noted Sarasota as the city of opportunity. “It is always a pleasure to give quick and interested protection to all financial matters that come before us.”

The newly created Board of Realtors, noting “It is a privilege to live in Florida – and a distinction to live in Sarasota”, placed an advertisement promising honesty in all business dealings, stating: “If a man is honest , he can enter the real estate profession in Sarasota, otherwise he better continue because there is no place for him here.

The council promised that if a real estate transaction was misrepresented, fraudulent or unethical, the buyer would receive $100 upon proof.

On page 3, the first of many full-page advertisements for a housing estate highlighted the Bay Point section of Venice-Nokomis, “A place of divine enchantment.”

Full-page advertisements for housing estates were common in early editions of the Sarasota Herald.

A full two-page ad with an endorsement from Charles Ringling prompted Morningside. “When you buy at MORNINGSIDE, you are buying in a location…at prices significantly lower than you would pay for equally well located and improved land anywhere. TAKE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE.”

Between Bradenton and Sarasota, lots at MIDWAY were for sale. Tagged The Orange Tree Subdivision: “Amid the orange blossoms where dreams come true, there is HOME, a real HOME waiting for you.”

The West Coast gem, Emerald Isle, was donated by real estate organization Davis, Reuters and Flory.

E. Beeler Realty Company offered free transportation to anyone, anywhere in the United States, who purchased land on Enchanted Isles, “Florida’s Finest Residential Sites,” in Englewood.

And so on throughout the first edition of the journal, indeed through the remainder of the boom, proposed new real estate developments announced, health, wealth and happiness available to fast-acting investors.

Illustrating Sarasota’s unprecedented growth, the newspaper reports, “CITY Building For September Breaks Record. We were ranked third on the West Coast of Florida in number of permits, $1,006,680, 5 times the August figures. The newspaper boasted up to that date the amount “was almost two and a half times greater than the figure for the whole of 1924”.

Police Chief Davis, fourth from right, was featured in the first edition of the Sarasota Herald.

Several city officials were introduced: Chief of Police Tilden Davis was a pioneer member of the community. He arrived in 1902. Having been in the force for 4 years, he had developed a “reputation for his tireless efforts toward the prevention of crime which is known throughout the State”. In an interview he said that “Police and detective work has always been my greatest hobby as a young man…I have made a close study of the method of crime and the detection of crime .”

Multi-year Mayor Everett J. Bacon was featured, noting that he lets his department heads make major decisions, such as hiring and firing. It served throughout the decade of growth.

In addition to the inviting soft-sand beaches, “Sarasota’s Beaches Offer the Best Lure,” fishing was also a major tourist draw with catches regularly reported. Walter B. Olson was credited with catching 29 tarpons in 12 hours. He was photographed standing in front of one of the larger tarpons. The catch was believed to have set a world record.

The first edition offered a brief history of the young community – “City Traces Foundation Back To Old World Colonists” – and focused on the efforts of John Hamilton Gillespie, Sarasota’s father, who introduced golf to Florida. The hotel he built was photographed with the title “Local Landmark Doomed”. It was to be razed to make way for the American National Bank, which would go bankrupt with the housing crash.

During this raucous jazz era, many bands passed through Sarasota to blast the music of the era to the dancing crowds of Charleston.

One of them, Dale Troy, a famous bandleader who owned several bands in various parts of the state, reportedly planned to bring his best 9-piece ensemble to Sarasota for the third time.

The Auburn Collegians promised everything would be “Hotsy Totsy” at their Armistice Day Ball.

The newspaper reported that not everyone was happy with the wild events on the dance floor. Minister Dr. EJ Bulgin called “Jazzmania” nothing but “Bolshevik fun”.

Throughout the good times when the paper was born, in the woes of the Great Depression and World War II, the Lindsay family’s Sarasota Herald (The Sarasota Herald-Tribune 1938) was Sarasota’s most ardent promoter . This is largely the reason for Sarasota County’s popularity.

Jeff LaHurd grew up in Sarasota and is an award-winning historian.

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