Dearborn Street gained its name when the Nichols brothers of Englewood, Illinois, platted the new town of Englewood, Florida in 1896. The street was based on a trail worn by Englewood's first known white settler family, William and Mary Goff.
The Goff family moved to the shore of Lemon Bay in 1878 and lived in a tent before building a log cabin. Their 60 acres provided an isolated homesite. The nearest neighbors were in the regions of present day Nokomis, Punta Gorda, and Boca Grande. The trail worn by their travel by horseback, then horse and wagon, became the southernmost street named in the new town.
The Nicholses planned to promote Englewood as a major lemon producing community. Two severe freezes in the mid-1890s, however killed most of the fledgling lemon trees and the developers abandoned their marketing strategy.
Their activity in Englewood diminished and in 1912, they sold the only supply business in town, along with the rights to the post office, to Peter and Florence Buchan for the sum of $315. Since the sale did not include the building, the Yale Street land on which it sat, or the adjacent dock, the Buchans also had to pay an additional $10 monthly rental fee.
Not wanting to pay the monthly rental, Peter Buchan purchased a parcel of land on the corner of Dearborn Street and Olive Street (later known as Old Englewood Road) for $100 in 1913. The Buchans built a large, two-story building with the store and post office on the first floor and the family's living quarters above. They also built a dock that extended 250 feet into Lemon Bay.
Since there were still no roads connecting Englewood with other communities, the entire store's merchandise arrived by sailboat. Almost immediately, the property became known as Buchan's Landing.
Some thought it risky business for Buchan to move his store several long blocks away from Yale Street, which was then the commercial center of the tiny town. Other merchants soon followed his lead, however, and Dearborn Street became the new commercial center of Englewood. When the construction of the Tamiami Trail began in 1923, all towns along the way wanted to be included on its route from Tampa to Miami. Englewood was no exception.
In 1925 the town incorporated. With incorporation of 13 square miles, Englewood became the second largest town in acreage in Sarasota County, thereby strengthening its case for the Trail to be routed through the town. As originally designed, the Tamiami Trail entered Englewood on Olive Street, turned east on Dearborn Street and exited via River Road.
As part of the celebration to mark the opening of the Trail, the governor's motor arcade paused in Englewood on April 25, 1928. Speeches were given on the front porch of Ziegler's Store on Dearborn Street.
Although the route was revised to omit Englewood in the 1930s, Dearborn Street remained the commercial center of the historic Englewood community. It was the location of many "firsts" for the town, including newspaper, medical doctor, dentist, bakery, 5&10 store, barber, modern bank, drug store, auto garage, flower shop, shoe store, funeral home, appliance store and community theater.
Special thanks to Ann Shank, former Sarasota County Historian, for her time and research in writing this article. Brought to you by Sarasota History Alive - Where History Happens Everyday - www.sarasotahistoryalive.com