Owned and managed by the non-profit Gulf Coast Heritage Association, Historic Spanish Point is an outstanding open-air museum capturing over 5,000 years of local history. Located on North Tamiami Trail in Osprey, the attraction welcomes visitors of all ages from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and Sundays from noon to 5pm. Homeschoolers are particularly welcome to this educational site.
The Development of Historic Spanish Point
Situated on Little Sarasota Bay in South Sarasota, the museum cover 30 acres, packing in environmental, archaeological and historical sites and exhibits on land generously deeded by Mrs Potter Palmer in 1980. This early Sarasota County settler arrived in the area in 1910.
A huge program of restoration was needed to start the museum, involving 135 volunteers and raising $4 million to restore the buildings and gardens. The Master Plan involved archaeologists, historians, architects and many other professionals to preserve and create the outstanding historical attraction that attracts over 30,000 visitors every year.
What you’ll find at Historic Spanish Point
The extensive history of the area is demonstrated inside the historic shell mound, the only archaeological exhibition in the USA to be so originally sited. This “Window in the Past” shows how our predecessors lived in the area with clues uncovered by archaeologists picking through what was the refuse dump of those early American Indians!
The Spanish Point project also undertook the renovation of the 1927 Spanish Colonial Revival-style building known as Osprey School which is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. It is now used as the Visitor Center with an orientation theater for visitors, a lecture hall, meeting rooms, offices and the Museum Store.
More exhibit galleries and a research center can be found in the renovated White Cottage which dates back to 1885. Visitors can learn about Florida’s early pioneer settlers at the old packing house and visit the simple chapel and pioneer cemetery.
The lovely Guptill House was built in 1901 and is fascinating to tour, along with Guptill Boat Yard right on the bay where entertaining maritime tales are shared. Garden lovers can enjoy walking through Mrs Potter Palmer’s Jungle Walk, the Sunken Garden and the Butterfly Garden – one of the largest on the Gulf Coast.
The site has many more historic displays best discovered by joining a walking tour, so check the times and make a reservation by phoning ahead on (941) 966-5214. There is also a docent-led Tram Tour around the historic site which is good in the heat of summer or for those who find walking difficult.
Special Events at Historic Spanish Point
Historic Spanish Point maintains a busy calendar of special events throughout the year so it’s always worth checking what’s happening when planning your visit.
The Fairy House Festival takes place in late March and includes a display of tiny Fairy Houses made from natural materials such as twigs, pebbles, dry grass and shells. The grounds are filled with fashion-challenged individuals during the Scarecrow Festival in October, which also includes a Barbecue and Pig Roast during the Sunset Scarecrow Stroll.
Other fundraising fun events include musical concerts, art displays, historical lectures and fall gala events such as the Cuban-themed Havana Nights Party.
Finally, dogs on leashes are welcome to Historic Spanish Point, so every member of the family can enjoy visiting this educational and entertaining museum all year long.