Newtown Historic Marker Listings
1. EARLY SETTLEMENT
Overtown became Sarasota’s first African American community in 1885. The name “Overtown” evolved from the phrase “over town.”
1912 North Orange Avenue, Orange Avenue Heights, Sarasota Housing Authority.
2. MAKING A LIVING
When the Civil War ended in 1865, some freed people migrated to Sarasota, Manatee and Hillsborough Counties from north and central Florida, Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas.
2500 North Orange Avenue, Newtown First Addition, City of Sarasota.
3. ACTIVISTS & ELECTED OFFICIALS
“Without activists, there would be no African American elected officials.” -Edward E. James II
2700 Orange Avenue North, Newtown Heights First Addition, Whitni Bryant Richardson and Calvin Bryant.
4. THE WRIGHT BUSH HOUSE
Wright Bush was born in Georgia in 1863. He moved to Sarasota and built a single-family home on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way (then 33rd Street) in 1920. Bush was an entrepreneur, owned land and sold tracts of real estate.
1723 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Wright and Sarah Bush Family.
5. BUSTLING BUSINESS DISTRICT (1)
“Make a way, find a way” was the mantra of Newtown strivers who worked long hours, exerting their bodies to exhaustion to provide for their families.
1742 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Newtown First Addition, Children First.
6. NEWTOWN REDEVELOPMENT
Newtown’s revitalization and redevelopment requires more than streetscapes and beautification. The physical solutions must be combined with social and economic changes in order for the community to survive.
1782 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Newtown Heights, City of Sarasota.
7. SEGREGATION, DESEGREGATION & INTEGRATION
Florida was a hotbed of racist activity during the Reconstruction after the Civil War. Race relations deteriorated as African Americans were run out of town, punished more severely for crimes, assaulted without reason, denied voting rights and stripped of any land they owned.
2730 Links Avenue, Newtown Heights, Greater Hurst Chapel A.M.E. Church.
8. CHURCH ARCHITECTURE
Places of worship have always been an important aspect of life in Newtown and one of the best locations to gauge the heartbeat of the community.
2504 Gillespie Avenue, Epstein Addition to Newtown, New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.
9. BUSTLING BUSINESS DISTRICT (2)
A thriving business district is the heartbeat of a community. Shops along the main thoroughfare in Newtown helped residents survive segregation by providing the necessities when Sarasota shops were off-limits.
2431 Washington Court, Fred ‘Glossie’ Atkins Park, City of Sarasota.
10. HISTORICAL ARCHITECTURE
Most of the historic buildings in Newtown can be described as “vernacular” architecture. Generally, vernacular buildings are constructed based on the traditions and experiences of local craftspersons whose works meets the community’s needs using locally sourced materials.
3014 Dixie Avenue, Newtown Heights, Truevine Missionary Baptist Church, (proposed Dixie Avenue Historic Neighborhood).
11. MILITARY SERVICE
Enlisting in the United States Military and swearing to protect the rights of all Americans is a high calling that requires sacrifice.
1845 34th Street, Newtown Park, City of Sarasota, Robert L. Taylor Community Complex.
Education was a cherished possession of free African Americans denied the privilege of reading and writing by slave owners.
3400 North Orange Avenue, Amaryllis Park, Sarasota County School Board.
13. MEDICAL HISTORY
For almost a third of Newtown’s 100 year history from 1914-2014, the African American community supplied most of their own medical care, using cobwebs, cotton balls, turpentine and castor oil as internal and external cure-alls. Churches and revivals provided spiritual healing.
1775 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Newtown Heights 1st Addition, Knights of Pythius.
After the Civil War ended slavery in the south, segregationist policies and Jim Crow laws still prevented access to healthcare, education and social services for African Americans.
Maple Avenue, Newtown, Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
15. AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCHES
The Newtown and Overtown communities were built on strong religious foundations.
1680 18th Street, HA Nichols Subdivision 1, Bethlehem Baptist Church.
Sarasota County markers are packed with more information
about African American history. Plan a visit to:
- Booker High School
- Helen Payne Day Nursery
- Lido Beach
- Woodlawn Cemetery
- Laurel Turpentine Camp
- Bee Ridge Turpentine Camp
- Woodmere Lumber Company
- Rosemary Cemetery
- Downtown Sarasota at Five Points
- Robert L. Taylor Community Complex
- Cultural Resource Center
Experience the vibrant history of Newtown by visiting some of its important landmarks and meeting its trailblazers. To find markers about topics such as education, medical care, military service and how residents made a living, check out this interactive map. Follow the numbers. To find marker locations, input the addresses into any GPS device or follow the path on the map to visit all of them!