History Heroes

Check Out the 2023 Sarasota Heritage Award Winners

The awards honor the work of people and organizations committed to preserving Sarasota County's historical resources.

By Kim Doleatto March 31, 2023

The McCulloch Pavilion on Orange Avenue in Sarasota.

Image: Ryan Gamma

One might say historic preservation is more challenging than ever amid a building boom that's seeing older buildings razed and new high-rises on the skyline thanks to a relentless demand for new housing. 

"As many people share concerns about the rate of change in our communities, I like to tell them organizations and people are working toward preservation and bringing attention to historic resources in the community. It relies on people in allied fields like archives, anthropology and communication, and we all work together toward a common goal," says Lorrie Muldowney, president of the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation (SAHP). 

SAHP, in collaboration with the History & Preservation Coalition of Sarasota County, recently recognized people and organizations dedicated to the preservation and understanding of the county's historical resources with The Heritage Awards. Along with nominations from the public, a jury of local architecture and history experts and advocates helped decide the 2023 winners.

"These awards recognize the interdisciplinary nature of historic preservation," says Muldowney, who's also chair of the awards committee.

There were four winners of the Gregory A. and Alaina Najmy Hall Historic Structure Preservation awards.

McCulloch Pavilion

Interior of the McCulloch Pavilion.

The first award was for the adaptive reuse of the McCulloch Pavilion at 265 S. Orange Ave. in Sarasota, now home to Architecture Sarasota.

Designed in 1959 by William Rupp and Joe Farrell, the former Scott Building is among the few surviving commercial examples of the Sarasota School of Architecture. Architect Guy Peterson, in consultation with Farrell and in collaboration with contractor Michael Walker, helped to restore the original architectural features and repurpose it. Peterson's wife, Cindy, an archivist who is the director of operations of the Elling O. Eide Charitable Foundation, was among those who helped acquire the Scott Building and spearhead its renovation. 

The Eagle House

The Eagle House

The Eagle House, at 2516 Mulberry Terrace in Sarasota, was recognized for historic rehabilitation. 

Nate Eagle dedicated his career to the circus; his involvement with the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey included being the ringmaster and a sideshow barker in the '30s. In 1949, Nate and his wife Muriel constructed this house that's an example of Art Moderne architecture. Not only did the current homeowners rehabilitate and preserve it, but they're also in the final stages of seeing the building historically designated by the City of Sarasota.

George Smart

The founder of USModernist, George Smart, was awarded for his work on historical research.

USModernist is an educational nonprofit archive for the documentation, preservation, and promotion of modernist residential design. Its online Masters Gallery provides detail on more than 15,000 modernist homes. The “Sarasota FL” section of the gallery represents the most comprehensive online archive of the residential works of the Sarasota School of Architecture, providing an educational treasure trove for the uninitiated.

Ana McGrath, Jane Bancroft Cook Library at New College of Florida

Ana McGrath 

Ana McGrath of the Jane Bankcroft Cook Library at New College of Florida was awarded for her historic collections preservation work.

She preserved collections significant not only to the college but also to the region. Her work includes describing physical collections, as well as creating digital collections. Last year, McGrath partnered with Architecture Sarasota to increase access to materials created by Philip Hiss, one of the founders of New College and a promoter of the Sarasota School of Architecture. She arranged and described Hiss’ manuscripts, and created a record for the public. 

Don Bayley

Don Bayley of Englewood received the Lilian Burns Individual Achievement Award for creating the app-guided historic Sarasota County Auto Tours. He also compiled and published Monty's Stories, a collection of nonfiction anecdotes of Englewood native Monty Birdsey, who he met on the Facebook page called "Remember in Englewood When." The book was compiled before Birdsey passed away due to cancer, and proceeds benefit the Englewood Museum.

Venice Area Historical Society

The Venice Area Historical Society received an Organizational Achievement Award for its rehabilitation and preservation of all things Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which wintered in Venice from 1960 to 1992. Among the items are an original circus car, arena seats and residences showing how performers lived on the circus train

The Time Sifters Archaeological Society

The Time Sifters Archaeological Society was awarded for archaeological conservancy. Since its founding in 1986, members have spearheaded excavations across the county.

Edwina Nelon and Karen Jensen of Time Sifters, processing artifacts from Phillippi Estate Park at New College.

More recently, Time Sifters’ members volunteered on excavations at Phillippi Estate Park, an archaic midden site, and in Bradenton at the Manatee Mineral Spring excavations of the Angola maroon community. They have helped clean artifacts at the New College Public Archaeology Lab, and map the
Woodlawn/Galilee cemetery.

Other honorable mentions by the Heritage award judges include retired Herald-Tribune reporter Harold Bubil and activist Becky Ayech, among others. Click here for the full list of awards, and check out last year's winners here.

The 2023 Heritage Awards ceremony is May 6, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, located at 77 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. Click here for tickets.

Filed under
Show Comments