Lido Key History
Sarasota, Florida

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History of Lido Key FL

Lido Key history goes back to the Paleo and Calusa Indians, who made Lido Key and the surrounding area their home for 4,000 years. They enjoyed the area's abundant food sources, fishing, hunting and living in small groups. Archaeological discoveries suggest that part of their religious ceremonies included worshiping the sun. These people left or disappeared from Lido Key and Sarasota. In the 1500's Spanish Explorers Ponce de Leon, Hernando de Soto and Panfilo Narvaez arrived on the Gulf Coast in search of gold and silver but did not stay. In 1821 the United States acquired the territory of Florida and in 1824 allowed settlers to own land. The few settlers that came fought the Indians, wild animals and pests and did not have a strong presence. 

Lido Key Scottish History

In 1885, a Scotland group, the Florida Mortgage and Investment Company purchased about 50,000 acres in the Sarasota area and surveyed and plotted the town of Sarasota in Edinburgh, Scotland. The first land sales were made in Scotland and England in the summer of 1885. The families that arrived did not see fruit groves, vegetable gardens and quality homes and many did not stay. John Hamilton Gillespie, a Scottish aristocrat and lawyer, came to fix the problems for the Florida Mortgage and Investment Company. He built the DeSoto Hotel on Main St, arranged for homes and city buildings to be built and is credited with building what is believed to be the first golf course in the U.S. in Sarasota. Gillespie Park is named for him and the Scottish influence is still evident with the Riverview High Kiltie Band that wear authentic kilts, play bagpipes and feature Highland dancers. At this time, Lido Key was a small island that fishermen would stay on but it did not have permanent residents. 

Bertha Palmer Blazes a Trail

 Bertha Potter Palmer, wealthy widow of Chicago developer Potter Palmer, arrived in Sarasota in 1910 and purchased over 30,000 acres on the south side of town. She had a beautiful bay front residence built and employed over 200 workers for cattle ranching and farming. With her lead, wealthy northerners discovered Sarasota. Still, Lido Key was a little island campground with a nice beach.

Ringling Influence

John and Mabel Ringling arrived in Sarasota in the 1920's and Lido Key was very interesting to John. He purchased Lido, Bird, St. Armands and a great deal of Longboat Key and built bridges to connect them. He started a Ritz Carlton on Longboat Key and made Sarasota the winter home of the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus. 

John Ringling had a vision for St. Armands to be an international shopping destination and started creating this on St Armands Circle. Bird Key came with an existing mansion that he hoped  would serve as the winter White House for President Warren G. Harding. He believed this would help advertise his development, Ringling Isles, and boost sales there. Ringling named the streets on adjoining Lido Key in honor of American presidents. The pool he had built is still there, next to the Radisson. Currently plans are being drawn up to repair the pool and re-open it. 

There's No Place Like Lido

The island charm, shopping, restaurants and unhurried tropical lifestyle on Lido Key and St. Armands is appealing. Are you interested in viewing properties or do you have specific questions about Lido Key? 


Your time is valuable so we do whatever it takes to assist you with complete information. We will preview, photograph and obtain specific details for you with the views from the land as well as the water.


If we only live once, why not live where you can see this... every day...


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