Historic Spanish Point's Sunken Gardens and pergola.

The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Board of Trustees has announced that Historic Spanish Point will join Selby Gardens as a "companion campus," effective May 1, 2020. Situated on 30 acres on Little Sarasota Bay in Osprey, Historic Spanish Point is one of the largest waterfront preserves showcasing native Florida plants in the state. With an archaeological record that encompasses approximately 5,000 years of Florida history, it is one of the largest intact and actively preserved archaeological sites on the Gulf Coast of Florida. 

Despite concerted efforts, Historic Spanish Point has not been able to grow sustainable revenue streams to cover its operating budget. In seeking a way forward that would keep it as a natural site that honors Florida’s history, Historic Spanish Point—through Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s Invest in Incredible program—approached leaders at Selby Gardens to explore possibilities. While conversations began in February, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting financial challenges at HSP made the situation more urgent.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will now be an umbrella organization with two distinct campuses: its downtown Sarasota location and Historic Spanish Point. The Gulf Coast Heritage Association, which has run Historic Spanish Point, has now been adopted as a supporting organization to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Some ideas the team plans to implement as soon as possible include creating joint summer camps and children’s education programs; creating joint adult education programs; expanding the butterfly garden to include an interactive butterfly house; and creating connectivity between both campuses by boat. All staff at Historic Spanish Point will be retained, and current executive director John McCarthy will become vice president of the new Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Historic Spanish Point campus. Additionally, two members of the former Gulf Coast Heritage Association Board of Directors will join the Selby Gardens Board of Trustees.

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