Are you interested in the local history of the Englewood area? Although Englewood’s settlement history may not be as old as where you come from up north, it is certainly worth preserving and one group that has taken on this task is the Lemon Bay Historical Society. Made up of pioneer family descendants and others who enjoy local history, this volunteer group may be small but mighty.
Lemon Bay Historical Society is best associated with its heroic mission to save the historic Green Street Church. The restoration of the Green Street Church, Englewood’s first church built in 1928, was started in 1988 after years of deterioration. When the need arose to find a forever home site, they spearheaded the relocation project to next to the historic Lemon Bay Cemetery. This has been a major project for the past couple of years. Due to unexpected add-on expenses, the cost still requires an additional $30,000 to $40,000 to be paid off. Any donation you can contribute would be most welcome. Work-in-kind is also appreciated. Currently, they would love to see someone in the community step up and provide lawn mowing service which is an additional monthly expense.
The community also receives a special “gift” each year from the group. The Cracker Fair, a celebration of Englewood history that is held annually at the end of Lemon Bay Festival is an all-day free event that gives the community a day of food, lemon desserts, live music, pioneer demonstrations like whip cracking (from which Florida cowmen earned the nickname “Cracker”) and the chance to try foods such as swamp cabbage. This year it’s Saturday,, February 8.
Meetings are held monthly on the last Tuesday of the month featuring a program of historical interest to which the public is invited to attend. These meetings start at 7pm and are held at the Green Street Church, 501 S. Indiana Avenue.
The Green Street Church is available for community use such as weddings, vow renewals and meeting sites for a suggested donation. On the day I visited, the Lemon Bay Crew Club was preparing for an event. For more information on rentals, call 305•504•7220 and leave a message.
The concept for the Historical Society formed after the 1983 Pioneer Days celebration honoring Englewood’s first newspaper editor, Jo Cortes, author of “The History of Early Englewood” and Pioneer Day founder. The Lemon Bay Historical Society was officially incorporated in 1985 as a non-profit organization whose mission was “for the specific purposes of perpetuating the legacy of the past (and) honoring the pioneer settlers of the Lemon Bay area.”
Lemon Bay Historical Society is a member of the History & Preservation Coalition of Sarasota County. Sarasota County is celebrating its centennial in 2021 and next year’s programs and events will reflect the county’s 100-year history.
Although many pioneer families are represented in the organization’s membership, Lemon Bay Historical Society welcomes anyone with an interest in the local history of the Lemon Bay area, whether they are long time Englewood residents or new to the area. You don’t have to be a historian. They would love to see young adults join and continue their tradition of preserving the rich history of Englewood. Membership dues are $20 individual, $35 family, $10 student and $25 Corp./non-profit organization. Currently there are approximately 130 members and they would like to see that number increase. You can sign up online at lemonbayhistory.com or at a meeting or special event.
You can learn more by visiting lemonbayhistory.com and on their Facebook page. On the website you can find some books about Englewood history offered for sale: Englewood Then and Now, Englewood Directory 1959, History of Early Englewood by Jo Cortes, Reflections of the Life and Times of Joseph Daniel Anderson, and Recipes to Remember.