The historic marker at the school reads:
The Osprey School served the Osprey and Vamo communities from 1927 through June 1976. It was one of four boom-time schools which were designed by Tampa architect M. Leo Elliot and built along the Tamiami Trail between 1926 and 1928.
The land on which the school was built was part of the 145-acre homestead of John and Eliza Webb, originally from Utica, New York, who settled Spanish Point in 1867. Mabel Webb Johnson, granddaughter of John and Eliza Webb, and her husband Ernest recognized that a new school was needed. They sold the plot of land to the school board for $10 0n December 28, 1926.
Architect Elliot's plans for the Spanish Colonial Revival-style building recognized the importance of cross-ventilation in a hot and humid climate. Construction of the school was awarded to the firm of Becchetti and Romersa for $19,600. The one-story, six-classroom school initially served grades one through nine.
By the time the school opened in1927, the real estate boom had gone bust and the population of Osprey had declined. With a dwindling tax base, Osprey School and virtually all of the other Sarasota County schools closed for several months in 1933 because of a lack of revenue.
Osprey School during hard economic times. Families helped by making many necessary repairs to the building and by providing picnic lunches for outings. Teachers donated supplies and purchased vegetables and fruits for school lunches.
After World War II, when the county experienced renewed economic growth, the soaring population required massive improvements and expansion of school facilities. Osprey School was the last of the county schools to be improved during the post-war period. It finally was rewired in 1959, which, among other repairs, allowed for air conditioning and heating units.
Osprey School survived without further improvements until June 1976, when it closed. Students who lived in Osprey transferred to schools to the north or south of the community. The School Board used the building as a Teacher Education Center until 1989.
Gulf Coast Heritage Association, Inc. acquired and rehabilitated the former school for use as a Visitors Center for Historic Spanish Point. In 1994, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The historic marker at Spanish Point reads:
Historic Spanish Point
This 30-acre preserve includes prehistoric shell middens and a burial mound dating from 3,000 B.C. to 1,000 A.D., buildings from the homestead of John Greene Webb, and gardens from the winter estate of Mrs. Potter Palmer. In 1975, it became the first nomination in Sarasota County to the National Register of Historic Places. Five years later the heirs of Mrs. Palmer donated the historic site to Gulf Coast Heritage Association, Inc., which today operates Historic Spanish Point as an accredited museum.
Archaeological excavations by Ripley P. and Adelaide K. Bullen and others document this place as one of the largest preserved prehistoric Indian villages sites on Florida's west coast. The early Floridians harvested huge quantities of seafood, hunted deer and raccoon, collected native fruits and berries, made tools from shell, bone, and wood, and lived in thatched huts. They abandoned the village around 1000 A.D.
In 1867, John and Eliza Webb and their five children, Anna, Will, Lizzie, Jack, and Ginnie, arrived here from Utica, New York, claiming 145 acres under the Federal Homestead Act.
The Webbs named their homestead "Spanish Point," because a Spanish trader in Key West had told them about a high point of land extending out into the bay. Over the next 43 years, three generations of the Webb Family cultivated citrus groves, sugar cane, and vegetable crops, built and maintained boats for transportation, and ran the region's first tourist operation known as "Webb Winter Resort." In 1884 the Osprey post office opened. John Webb, the community's first postmaster, chose its name.
In 1910, Mrs. Potter (Bertha Honore) Palmer of Chicago purchased the site as part of her Osprey Point estate. Over the next eight years, Mrs. Palmer and her two sons, Honore and Potter II, acquired some 90,000 acres in today's Sarasota County for agriculture, farming, and real estate development. Adjacent to her winter home, The Oaks, Mrs. Palmer created beautiful gardens among the prehistoric middens and pioneer-era buildings. She died at her Osprey Point estate in 1918. Her grandson Gordon operated Palmer Nurseries at the site and sponsored the archaeological work done by the Bullens in the early 1960s.
RATES: Adults $10.00, Seniors 65+ $9.00, Kids 5-12 $5.00, Kids under 5 free, Historic Spanish Point Members free, Member Guests $5.00
North of North Jetty Park, all you will find are huge mansions with private access to the beaches. The average house on Casey Key is worth about $1 million. The average house in the beach side might be valued at $2 million or more. Zillow.com shows houses in the range of $13 million. Both Stephen King and Oprah Winfrey have homes on this small island, along with just 500 other residents, most of whom are filthy rich.
This locally owned restaurant is located right on the bay. You can sit right on the water's edge or outside by a firepit. My wife and I first tried the steamed pot. You had your choice of two items - 24 shrimp, 24 oysters, 2 lobster tails (I can't remember the other choices). We had the lobster tail and shrimp. Both were delicious. It also included red potatoes, onions, celery, and corn on the cob. Their menu says it is enough for two and it certainly was. The service was good and the food was delicious. Pop's Grill is more of a local rustic place. The food was so good we went back a second time for lunch. My wife ordered their fish tacos and I had their fish and chips. The fish tacos were some of the best I had eaten. The fish and chips were also very good. We will make this restaurant one of regular stops when we visit Casey Key each year.
Favorite Dish: Pop's Steamed Pot
Casey Key Fish House is a wonderful secluded and rustic waterfront restaurant and tiki bar. They offer great seafood in a very relaxed environment. The Fish House has only been in existence since 2000, and it was shut down for a time in 2004 after a fire, but it has established itself as a local favorite eatery and watering hole. Even some of the rich bastards who have huge mansions on Casey Key, like author Steven King, stop in for an occasional bite to eat.
We arrived in time for a late lunch, and the restaurant was pretty quiet. We walked to the back of the patio along the docks to enjoy some sunshine, and there were a few other diners in the area. I ordered a Yuengling, which arrived in a cheapo plastic cup, and Laura had a Coke. For lunch I had a grilled grouper sandwich for a reasonable $11. Laura had the fish tacos, also for $11. Plastics cups of Yuengling were just $2.75. This was a great meal, the service was good, and the environment very laid back and comfortable along the water, boats, and nearby mansions.
Two bridges provide access to Casey Key: a one-lane pivot or swing bridge in the north that was built in the 1920's and a drawbridge in the south of the island. The bridge to the north--the swing bridge-- is one of the oldest bridges of this type in the US. The traditional drawbridge to the south was constructed in the 1960s.
The US has just 83 operational swing bridges, and only 9 in Florida. This swing bridge, carrying Blackburn Road over the Intracoastal Waterway, was built in 1925. It stretches 145 feet over the waterway, stand just 8 feet above the water, and the entire bridge rotates sideways to open. The bridge was refurbished in 1995 and is listed on the national register of historic places.
"… I knew nothing about the history of Duma Key. I only knew one reached it by crossing a WPA-era drawbridge from Casey Key.”
-- Steven King