The nonprofit Hermitage Artist Retreat on Manasota Beach is usually closed to the public in order to preserve the privacy of the hundreds of notable working artists from around the country—authors, playwrights, composers, musicians, painters and sculptors—who are invited to participate in residencies there.
But on three Fridays in September—the 7th and 14th at 10 a.m., and the 21st at 6 p.m.—the 106-year-old Hermitage House and the historic cottages surrounding it that comprise its campus will be open for one-hour tours.
The campus has an interesting history, starting with the Calusa Indians (a midden on the property confirms this), to its time as a nudist colony—yes, really—to the founding of the artist retreat in 2000 by the then Sarasota County Arts Council, now the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County. Among the many important artists who have spent time here are playwrights John Guare and Craig Lucas, former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Tretheway, and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra music director Robert Spano.
The history tours are free, but reservations are required; email [email protected].