While St. Armands Key is world renowned for its boutique shopping and fine dining, it is also home to almost 7,000 households from all different walks of life. Many of them have direct access to the canals that run between the keys, and all of them are within walking distance to the beach and shops of the Circle. It’s hard to believe that a hundred years ago, it was just a little island filled with mangroves.
The island’s first resident was a Frenchman by the name of Charles St. Amand, who bought 131.89 acres for $21.71 in 1893. His name was misspelled on a land deed, and the area has since been called “St. Armands.” When John Ringling bought the property in 1917, he used a steamboat to get laborers to the island, dredging the canals, building seawalls, adding Greek and Roman statues, and installing the sidewalks that people still use today.
The first John Ringling Causeway opened in 1926, and it is rumored that he sold over a million dollars worth of property in the first day alone. But the real estate boomed was short lived due to the Depression, and St. Armands Key sat largely dormant for several decades. It wasn’t until the mid-fifties that stores started to open on St. Amand Circle and the area increased in popularity. Since then, St. Armands Circle has grown to feature roughly 130 shops and restaurants that draw people to the area year round.
The park in the center of the Circle pays homage to Ringling’s legacy with both a statue of the man himself and a Ring of Fame that honors world famous circus performers. Started in 1987, new honorees are added to the ring every year with a bronze wagon wheel plaque, recognizing their particular skills and addition to the circus community. And in 2007, 21 new statues were added to Ringling’s collection, making St. Armands Circle a veritable art museum in itself.
Which brings us to where we are now.
Today, St. Armands Circle is not only a showcase of Sarasota’s history and culture, but also an incredible place to live. While you can no longer buy property for the price St. Amand originally paid, there is still a huge variety of places to live. Quite a number of condos have been added to the island, and a simple drive down the lushly landscaped streets offers a diverse collection of architectural styles from single family homes to luxurious mansions, ranging in price from a several hundred thousand to a few million. And, of course, there is also nearby Lido Key, Longboat Key, and Downtown Sarasota, giving anyone who wants to live in the area a number of options for how they want to celebrate life in the Sarasota sunshine.
If you’re ready to look for your new home, contact me today and let me show you the possibilities.