The Sarasota County Centennial Committee has announced that Suncoast Empire: Bertha Honoré Palmer, Her Family, and the Rise of Sarasota by Frank A. Cassell has been chosen for Sarasota's 2021 One Book/One Community program. In conjunction with Sarasota County Libraries, the One Book/One Community program seeks to promote literacy and intergenerational discussion, as well as to foster a sense of community by bringing people together through reading.
Suncoast Empire explores the biography of Bertha Palmer, one of the best-known and wealthiest women in early 20th-century America. An art collector, social leader, businessperson, and owner of Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel, Bertha embarked on a personal mission in 1910 to develop real estate on the Florida frontier. She accomplished this through investment in cattle and farming, etching livable communities out of marshlands, pine forests, and tropical jungles. Bertha Palmer changed the Sarasota landscape socially and topographically, laying the framework for our region today. The book's author, Frank A. Cassell, is professor emeritus and president emeritus at the Univeristy of Pittsburgh at Greensburg; he is also president of the Centennial’s steering committee.