Thursday, July 12, 2012

Those Places Thursday - Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island Gulf Beach

Located at the southern tip of Tampa Bay, Anna Maria Island has a rich history. First settled in the 1890s by George Emerson Bean, the Island has transformed itself over the years serving as home for the many residents and a home-away-from-home for winter folks.  

75th Street beach circa 1950s
I remember in the mid-1950s, there were few houses, few businesses, and a spring fed lake that could be seen as you drove along Palm Drive.  But then more houses were built; single family homes and duplexes. My family purchased a duplex located on the 100 block of 75th street.  For three months each winter my grandparents lived in one side, and we lived in the other.  Families could afford to live on the Island and a school was built to accommodate the children.  Winter residents were welcomed because they brought an influx of funds to support the local shops, restaurants, and churches.

Agard and Nunn Winter Home on 75th Street Holmes Beach, FL

Due to intervention by the federal government in the 1970s it was mandated that new construction had to have living areas one floor above ground. This created an unfortunate adjustment in the architecture on the Island. Houses on stilts appeared. 

Then developers got creative and greedy; they bought up the residences, tore them down and because many of the lots were zoned “duplex,” they got away with building two three-story houses, connected underground, where one once stood.

Now the cities of Anna Maria and Holmes Beach are challenged with stopping this out of control high-density building. I applaud the Island residents who are standing up against further development and doing their best to maintain the integrity of this beautiful Island. 

The Anna Maria Historical Society ( has a wealth of information and artifacts. They, too, are trying desperately to preserve the beauty of Anna Maria.  And when the museum director asked me if I had photos of our 1950s duplex, I realized that we are now part of Anna Maria’s history! 

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