Flashback: Texas Jim Mitchell Reptile Farm, 1949

The reptile farm and tourist attraction was located at Fruitville Road and Tuttle Avenue from 1935 to 1965.

By Kay Kipling October 8, 2021 Published in the October-November 2021 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Joseph Janney Steinmetz was a renowned commercial photographer whose work appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look and Time, among other publications. After he moved to Sarasota in the 1940s, he pointed his camera at local subjects of interest. So it’s no wonder he took this shot of Texas Jim Mitchell at Mitchell’s reptile farm tourist attraction, located at Fruitville and Tuttle from 1935 to 1965. Mitchell was the kind of character who would have fascinated Steinmetz, with a life story that allegedly included being raised by Native Americans, selling patent medicines, performing snake dances, and capturing alligators and snakes in the Everglades for his Sarasota farm. They don’t make them like that anymore.

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