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The Edson Keith estate on the south bank of Phillippi Creek, typical of the grand estate houses erected by the extensive Chicago coterie of friends in Sarasota, reflects much of Sarasota’s most venerable history. The estate lies near the “rancho”, or seasonal fishing camp, on the creek named for Felipe Bermudez.
Part of public lands ceded to the state by the federal government upon admission to the Union, the Philippi parcel was a tiny portion of the 4,000,000 acres purchased by Hamilton Disston of Philadelphia in 1881 for $1,000,000. This purchase helped rescue Florida from bankruptcy after the Civil War.
In 1883, farmer and bee-keeper W.J. Drumwright purchased 40 acres of the parcel from Disston for $50, selling that and additional land in 1910 to George H. and C. Woodburn Matheny, who subdivided it as “Phillippi Park.” In 1911, Chicago socialite Mabel Linn purchased the estate property from the Mathenys and began development of a homesite.
Miss Linn sold the undeveloped property in 1915 for $7,000 to Edson Keith, Jr., president of a large millinery business and a member of Sarasota’s “Chicago Colony” which included the Field, Palmer, and other prominent families. In the summer of 1916, the Keiths began construction of their “Italian Renaissance” home on Phillippi Creek. The architects were William A. Otis and Edwin H. Clark of Chicago. Original out-buildings still standing include a two-story servants’ home, garden shed, and garage. Other buildings on the estate included a water tower, a chauffeur’s house, and various sheds for farm and citrus grove activities.
Keith died in the home in 1939 and his widow sold the property to Chicago doll clothing designer Mae Hansen Prodie, whose husband operated the home as a luxury inn in the 1950s. Mrs. Prodie retired to the home in the 1960s and upon her death in 1986, Sarasota County acquired the property as a park site through a bond referendum.
A beautiful Garden adorns the area.
Cupolas, popular in a time gone by, adorn the grounds.
A quaint walking path leads to Phillippi Creek
Growing up on a dairy farm in southeastern Indiana, Gary traveled very little until midlife, when the opportunity became available to him.
Grabbing his camera and a bag full of equipment, he began his vision quest traveling to most areas of the United States and several countries abroad.
Along the way he collected several thousand photographs that he wants to share with everyone.
Gary decided the best way to accomplish his goal was to publish photo documentaries on the various areas of the world he has visited.
What will follow will be several photography books, who knows how many will wind up in his collection.
To contact Gary: