Historical Society of Sarasota County
PO Box 1632
Sarasota FL 34230
The Mission of the Historical Society of Sarasota County is to
  • Foster public awareness of the rich historical heritage of Sarasota county and the state of Florida,
  • Encourage inquiry and research into this history,
  • Promote collection and preservation of memorabilia,
  • Develop broader appreciation of its historical communities, and
  • Protect its historic sites and structures.
CEO/Executive Director Howard Rosenthal
Board Chair Howard Rosenthal
Board Chair Affiliation Community Volunteer
General Info
Organization DBA
Supported Organization
Former Names
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Incorporation Year 1977
Awarded competitive grant from Community Foundation in the last 5 years? No
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes July 2016
State Registration 0
IRS Letter of Determination
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $46,500.00
Projected Expenses $43,650.00
Impact Statement
1. Site appropriate landscape improvements: In 2010 HSOSC was the recipient of a monetary grant from the Founders Garden Club of Sarasota to design and install a garden at the Bidwell-Wood House. This project linked Sarasota's oldest residence with Sarasota's oldest garden club. We made a garden with Florida native plants and Florida-friendly plants. The improvement in curb appeal yielded more people who visit the site and garden maintenance provides opportunities for volunteers. Since the garden is in Pioneer Park, a public space, community people use and enjoy the space. Wedding guests who use the Crocker Memorial Church appreciate photographic opportunities in our garden.
2. Development of an Oral Histories Program: We call it the Ordinary Historians project becase we are ordinary people interviewing other ordinary people who have lived for a long time and have a perspective and a bank of memories that we are eager to capture. Our question to those we interview is this: what was it like then? We have a committee of five people who gather names and do the interviews. A grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County allowed us to buy video equipment. The interviews are archived in the form of a CD and we make copies available to interview subjects, other historical groups, HSOSC Web site and we keep copies in our archives.
3. Educational Outreach Programs - Historic Downtown Trolley Tours and Narrated Historic Cruises: Additionally we organize panel discussions and lecture series throughout the year geared to increase awareness of Sarasota's past.
4. Increase in Docent Tours by trained volunteers: We have an active trained group of docents qualified to lead large and small groups of various ages (including elementary school children) through the buildings.
5. Dramatic increase in the adaptive use of the Crocker Memorial Church for weddings, civic and social gatherings, arts and crafts shows, musical and theatrical performances and community meetings. 
Needs Statement
1. Funding to preserve and maintain our two historical structures. In three to five years we will need to replace the roof on Bidwell-Wood roof. Estimated cost $50,000. 
2. Storage facility: Estimated cost $15,000. Currently, extra chairs, podium, tables, ladders, etc are stored in the church and have to be moved to the storage cottage in the stand alone kitchen every time there is an event in the church building.  We are constantly moving large amounts of gear from one place to another. We desperately need storage.
3. Heightened visibility in the community:  Public free events have helped. A new lecture series (in partnership with SARASOTA magazine) has increased visibility. Our Web site has heightened awareness considerably.
Background Statement
Supported primarily by individual memberships, grants and in-kind donations of labor and expertise, the Historical Society of Sarasota County creates public awareness of the history of Sarasota County and the State of Florida.
HSOSC was created in the late 1920s but became an official not-for-profit entity in 1977.We encourage inquiry and research into this history and promote the preservation of artifacts, photographs, printed materials and other historic memorabilia. Our education projects, community outreach, public events, docent-led tours, interactive exhibits, lectures and other initiatives develop an appreciation of local historical communities and provide the means to preserve historic sites and structures.
Our mission deepened and intensified when HSOSC agreed to protect and curate the Bidwell-Wood House and the Crocker Memorial Church when the two structures were moved to Pioneer Park in 2006. HSOSC headquarters is now in the Bidwell-Wood House and we now have a site manager. Now, besides being an archival resource, we are a tourist destination and a center for meetings, programs and other history-related activities. Additionally, we are responsible for maintaining the structures because, while the City of Sarasota officially owns the buildings, the City does not provide monetary support. Maintenance of the buildings and grounds falls to HSOSC. We are thus challenged with the day-to-day operation of a historical site with ongoing repairs and maintenance of fragile historic structures.  These responsibilities are a huge drain on resources and influences all our ongoing outreach decisions. It's challenging but rewarding to be able to offer to the community a living history of the county.
Areas Served
Areas Served
FL- Sarasota
FL- Manatee
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Arts,Culture & Humanities
Secondary Org Type Education
Tertiary Org Type
Sarasota History; Sarasota Historical Society - Historic Buildings - History Education
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President
Our greatest success has been the transformation of our organization from a small group of people who gathered to discuss issues of local history, to one which now maintains and operates two historic buildings - the oldest residence in the city of Sarasota (Bidwell-Wood House, 1882) and the oldest church building in the city of  Sarasota (Crocker Memorial Church, 1901).
In addition to preserving these buldings, and providing docent-led tours of them, we have made the deconsecrated church available to the community for weddings, concerts, plays, group meetings, and classes.  We also continue to hold our own meetings with speakers on topics related to local history.
Our challenge is to find people with the time, expertise, and funds to enable us to maintain these buildings while we produce events in support of our mission statement.
We sponsor several events throughout the year, such as narrated historical cruises on LeBarge and trolley tours of historic downtown Sarasota, which serve both to inform and entertain our guests and raise money for our building-related expenses.  We also seek grants from government agencies and charitable foundations, and contributions from private individuals.
To keep our members and the general public informed of our activities, we maintain a website and a Constant Contact mailing list, and publish a printed newsletter.
My own interest in the Historical Society of Sarasota County began shortly after my wife and I moved to Sarasota several years ago.  I attended a meeting, where I found the speaker interesting and the membership welcoming.  The historic buildings were still undergoing renovation then, and were expected to be opened to the public shortly.  As a result, the Historical Society was looking for docents to give tours of the buildings.  I had been a house museum docent before moving to Sarasota, an activity I had very much enjoyed, and leapt at the prospect of being a docent again.  I volunteered, and soon became coordinator of the docent program.  I organized a training program for the other volunteers, and gave tours myself as well.  Soon after that, I was elected to the Board of Directors and in May 2011, I was elected president.
Statement from the CEO/Executive Director
The Historical Society of Sarasota County is the curator of the oldest residence in the city of Sarasota and the oldest church in the city of Sarasota.  These two historical structures, the Bidwell-Wood House (1882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901), are treasures that have been saved from demolition. 
 The Bidwell-Wood house was built in 1882 by Alfred & Mary Bidwell who lived in the stand alone kitchen during construction.  They lived there for just a couple of years during which Alfred Bidwell, a member of the Sarasota Vigilance Society, was convicted of the murder of postmaster Charles Abbe.  His death sentence was commuted to life in prison and then he was released and died in Jacksonville.  The Luke Wood family lived in the house until 1966.  The school board then had the house moved to Hatton street in 1977 and it was cared for by the Women's Club. Veronica Morgan was the preservationist that saved the building and had it moved to her property on Florida Avenue in 1985.
The Crocker Memorial Church was built in 1901 by Peter Crocker.  It was later dismantled by Bay Haven Baptist and moved to Old Bradenton road and used by them until they outgrew it.  They had also added the front porch and steeple and the stage area.  Again Veronica Morgan saved the building and had it moved to Florida Avenue in 1985.
The Historical Society worked out an agreement with the City of Sarasota to move the buildings to Pioneer Park in 2006.  They had a three year restoration project and the buildings have been available for use since the fall of 2009. 
"Conversations at The Crocker" are held monthly to provide a forum for interactive panel discussions about diverse subjects related to the history of Sarasota County.  Past topics have included politics, integration, the visual arts, real estate and the Ringling Circus.  Programs will continue through next season covering additional subjects such as architecture and the performing arts.  These presentations are held at the Crocker Memorial Church on the second Tuesday evening of each month from October thru April at 7pm and include our monthly membership meetings.  They are free to members; guests donate $10 per meeting.  This program has helped increase our memberships and raised funds through guest fees. The audience is building as evidenced by recent standing room only attendance during the 2014-2015 season.
Budget $1,000
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other History & Historical Programs
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Families Adults General/Unspecified
Short Term Success
Immediate success is the new memberships.  Also community awareness of our mission to educate the public about Sarasota history.
Long Term Success
We keep records on the number of attendees, as well as new and renewal memberships at each program. 
This program has been well received and is helping to build awareness in the community for Sarasota history and the necessity of maintaining these two beautiful structures for continued adaptive use in the years to come.
Program Success Monitoring
Continuous tracking of attendance numbers and guest donations per meeting and the number of new members and renewal memberships at the meetings.
Program Success Examples
The moderators for the Mabel Ringling Program in April were Ron McCarty and Deborah Walk from the Ringling Museum.  They had the largest audience this season and had a very lively discussion from the audience.
The Historical Society of Sarasota County, for more than 20 years, has hosted 26 narrated, historical cruises on the LeBarge sight-seeing boat at Marina Jack Plaza.  Well-known local historian John McCarthy provides a two-hour commentary, during a Sunday morning brunch cruise.  These sold out cruises serve as a huge fund raiser for our operating funds.  We added a March cruise to our annual Calendar of Events, to provide educational entertainment for Sarasota's "snowbird" population.  Our former cruise schedule only had us on the bay in November.
Budget $1,500
Category Education, General/Other Education, General/Other
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Adults Families
Short Term Success
The dual success of these Cruises is that we provide a fascinating, fun educational event, which in turn garners much-needed funds for our operating expenses, while introducing the Historical Society's activities to a whole new cadre of residents and visitors to Sarasota.
Long Term Success
If we continue to see a growing attendance and popularity with our LeBarge history cruises, we will consider the possibility of again increasing the number of tours per season.  The repeat attendance on our November tours in the past proved that locals love these tours as much as the tourists, and they tend to bring their new neighbors and visiting family members when they return, year after year.  It's a very special, pleasing way to learn about the history of Sarasota, much of which is centered on the water.
Program Success Monitoring
The success of our Historic LeBarge Cruises is measured by the number of tickets that are sold, year after year.
Program Success Examples
We have experienced Sell Out cruises almost every time, even our first ever March Cruise, in 2011.  This success was in spite of the fact that we had to raise the cost of the tickets.
At least one Saturday per month, during Season, noted historian, Sue Blue has been narrating our Historic Downtown Trolley Tours, which allow our attendees a two-hour peek into our fascinating history.  The Tours begin and end at the Historical Society's headquarters in Pioneer Park, where the buildings are open for their pre-tour browsing.
Budget $400
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other History & Historical Programs
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Adults Families
Short Term Success
Participants will spread the word about the enjoyment of these trolley tours, we will gain new members and we will continue to raise funds for our operating expenses.
Long Term Success
We educate approximately 30 passengers on every trolley tour.  For many of these people this may be their first introduction to the people, places and reasons that Sarasota has grown to be the cultural capital that it is today.
Program Success Monitoring
Each time we post a "sold out" notice on our trolley tour schedule, we are reassured that they are a popular educational tool.  We could however do a post-tour survey at least once a year, to determine how the tours could be improved.  From the positive comments which we hear from the participants though, we feel the majority of them are extremely pleased with their tours.
Program Success Examples
We have increased the number of tours per season, and still have sold out nearly every tour all year.  We may need to add more tours next year to accommodate the interest of our members and guests.
Local designers support the Historical Society every other year in November by donating a wonderful array of valuable designer items for purchase by the public.  Funds raised by this sale support the ongoing maintenance of the Bidwell-Wood House (1882) and the Crocker Memorial Church (1901).  In the year that we do not have the Tag Sale we have had a Pioneer Day event.  In 2015 we plan to hold an Antique  Appraisal event. Depending on the success of this event we will alternate the Designer Tag Sale with the Antique Appraisal event. 
Budget $300
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other History & Historical Programs
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Families Families General/Unspecified
Short Term Success
The first three Tag Sales have raised over $10,000.  We are hopeful that the Antique Appraisal event in 2015 will raise $2,000 and become part of our annual events calendar. We hope to foster a growth in our membership and volunteer rolls with participants at these events.
Long Term Success
As we grow this event, we hope to continue creating awareness of the campus at Pioneer Park and gain new members.
Program Success Monitoring
We measure the success of the Tag Sale by the income received.  The November 2014 sale raised $6,000 of much needed funding for the continued maintenance for the two gems in Pioneer Park.
Program Success Examples
We have had a history of success for the 3 Tag Sales to date.  The number of donors and quality of goods has been steady and because it is not every year it continues to have great support. 
Begun just two years ago, this program is growing rapidly as we film interviews with some of our most fascinating elder citizens.  We have a collection of these films in our archives.  Once the films are edited and ready for distribution, we make them available to the interviewees and their families.  We hope eventually to make these films available for purchase as well as available for viewing on the Historical Society's premises.
Budget $200
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other History & Historical Programs
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Aging, Elderly, Senior Citizens Families General/Unspecified
Short Term Success
We've been able to ask pertinent, informative questions which have brought out fascinating stories and memories from some of our best historic sources in Sarasota, including Pete Esthus, Harriet Stieff (Owen Burns's daughter) and others. These interviews have been filmed, edited and preserved for future viewing by all interested audiences in the future.
Long Term Success
Eventually we will establish a large library of video interviews of many of our senior citizens who will give us a broad view of Sarasota's extensive history from several different viewpoints.
Program Success Monitoring
It's too soon to measure the success of this program, but all indications point to a growth in the number of interviews which can/will be done in the future.
Program Success Examples
The original videos have already been requested and purchased by several historians, not related to the interviewee's family members.
Program Comments by Organization
Program Comments by Foundation
CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director Howard Rosenthal
CEO Term Start May 2011
CEO/Executive Director Email hsosc1@gmail.com
Former CEOs/Executive Directors
Senior Staff
Linda Garcia Site Manager
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 0
Part Time Staff 1
Staff Retention Rate % N/A
Professional Development No
Contractors 0
Volunteers 150
Management Reports to Board Yes
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation N/A
Non-Management Formal Evaluation N/A
External Assessments and Accreditations
Awards & Recognition
Risk Management Provisions
Government Licenses
Organization Licensed by the Government No
Fundraising Plan No
Communication Plan No
Strategic Plan No
Strategic Plan Years 2
Strategic Plan Adopted Sept 2014
Management Succession Plan Yes
Policies and Procedures Yes
Continuity of Operations Plan No
Nondiscrimination Policy No
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
Management Comments by Organization
Management Comments by Foundation
Board Chair
Board Chair Howard Rosenthal
Company Affiliation Community Volunteer
Board Term May 2015 to Apr 2016
Board Chair Email rosesota@verizon.net
Board Members
Board Members
Deborah Bowers Retired
Greg Dickinson Community Volunteer
Meade Ferguson Community Volunteer
Marsha Fottler Community Volunteer
Lynn Harding Community Volunteer
BrendaLee Hickman Community Volunteer
Virginia Hoffman Community Volunteer
Bill Kleber Retired
Ron McCarty Ringling Museum
Howard Rosenthal Community Volunteer
JoRita Stevens Community Volunteer
William Watrous Community Volunteer
Student serving on the board through Community Youth Development? No
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 12
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 5
Female 7
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 3
Board Orientation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 8
Board Meeting Attendance % 76
Board Self-Evaluation No
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Written Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
% of Board Making Monetary Contributions 100
% of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Standing Committees
Board Governance
Program / Program Planning
Governance Comments by Organization
Governance Comments by Foundation
Fiscal Year Projections
Fiscal Year Begins 2015
Fiscal Year Ends 2016
Projected Revenue $46,500.00
Projected Expenses $43,650.00
Endowment Value
Endowment Spending Policy Income Only
Endowment Spending Policy %
Capital Campaign
In a Capital Campaign No
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Campaign Dates 0 to 0
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years?
Audit/Financial Documents
Historical Financial Review
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201420132012
Program Expense$55,115$3,500$45,356
Administration Expense$0$38,497$19,140
Fundraising Expense$0$0$973
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.871.160.49
Program Expense/Total Expenses100%8%69%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%6%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201420132012
Total Assets$11,878$21,406$271,889
Current Assets$11,878$21,406$14,579
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$2,700$141$0
Total Net Assets$9,178$21,265$271,889
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201420132012
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $20,487Contributions, gifts, grants $23,203Contributions, gifts, grants $9,218
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountMembership Dues $11,080Fundraising $11,220Fundraising $8,147
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountFundraising $9,738Membership Dues $8,240Membership $7,955
CEO/Executive Director Compensation N/A
Co-CEO/Executive Director Compensation
Tax Credits No
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities4.40151.82--
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Organization
Financial Comments by Foundation
Financials taken from IRS Form 990s. Individual contributions include foundation/ corporate support, as provided on 990s. Audits are not conducted for Historical Society of Sarasota County.
Nonprofit Historical Society of Sarasota County
Address PO Box 1632
Sarasota, FL 34230
Primary Phone 941 364-9076