Neighborhood Spotlight, originally posted in the November issue of ELEVATE Magazine.
By: Tammy Hauser, Founder & CEO, Discover Sarasota Tours

If you’ve ever wondered how golf came to Florida, you might appreciate the efforts of John Hamilton Gillespie, the Father of Sarasota, who brought his beloved game with him when he arrived from Scotland in 1886. Gillespie had been dispatched by his father on behalf of the Florida Mortgage and Investment Company, to develop amenities for Sarasota’s first tourists, who were wealthy travelers from the north.

Gillespie Park, named for John, is a small eclectic neighborhood that borders Orange/Fruitville Avenues east to 301 and north to 10th Street. It includes a tranquil park with tennis courts and a duck pond, the West Coast Black Theatre Troupe, The Breakfast House, the Children’s Garden, and the Gallery of Patriots Public Art Exhibit. The Gallery’s two dozen busts were a gift from the Hispanic American Civic Association to commemorate many political leaders from the western hemisphere.

Today, Gillespie Park has 11,453 housing units with a median price of $554,000. The homes are interspersed with condo buildings. They differ from block to block as new mid-century modern designs are being built alongside 1920s American Craftsman, Bungalow-style cottages with a few Spanish Mediterranean-style homes sprinkled in.

This is a changing neighborhood known for its walkability and proximity to downtown Sarasota. At the Osprey and Fruitville intersection, you will find the Historic Village once known as the “Painted Ladies.” These colorful cottages boast several health and beauty businesses, a yoga studio, gift shops, and a variety of global restaurants with outdoor seating.

Discover Sarasota Tours at 1826 4th Street leads daily sightseeing trolley tours of the downtown area from their Trolley Cottage Gift Shop. Around the corner is the Visit Sarasota Visitor Center in the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce building, boasting a Centennial Mural featuring our very own John Hamilton Gillespie, for whom this charming and historic neighborhood is named.

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