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THE MYSTERY OF THE BURIED SARASOTA TIME CAPSULE

The City of Sarasota, Florida celebrated a year long centennial, ending on April 27, 1986 that featured entertainment and a fireworks display at Centennial Park. The 10 hour long finale included a 15-vendor food tent, performances by members of the Florida Studio Theatre, an historic slide presentation by the county historian, and, a performance by a team of skydivers.

The time capsule was on display, and anyone could place a message inside it for the price of one dollar.

It couldn’t have been a celebration of the arrival of William (Bill) H. Whitaker, Sarasota’s first white settler. That event occurred on December 14, 1842.

Nor could it have been the incorporation of Sarasota as a town. This happened on November 14, 1902. Sarasota was incorporated as a "city" on May 16, 1913. Another shutout.

On December 28, 1885, 23 families totaling 68 people landed in Sarasota and looked for the bustling town and the properties they had paid 100 pounds sterling for, ($500 U.S. dollars), before leaving Scotland. The promised bustling town did not exist, there were no homes for them to live in, and it snowed (IN SARASOTA) on January 9, 1886. By May 1, 1886, the colony ceased to exist.

In the "Story of Sarasota", Karl Hiram Grismer wrote that construction of a dock and rooming house was started in January 1886.

Research of archival material indicates that this was the start of a boom in construction. That spring a general store, a hotel, and a meat market opened in "town." John Hamilton Gillespie, a Scottsman, laid out Sarasota’s first golf course on what is now known as Main Street, a long fairway with a tee/green at each end. These events must be the "cause celebre" for the celebration.

That is only half of the mystery, however. What happened to the time capsule?

Photos of the 4-foot long, 30-inch diameter time capsule appeared in the April 28, 1986 edition of the Sarasota Herald Tribune. The property upon which the celebration was held, an 8-acre parcel at the corner of US 41 and 10th Street was named Centennial Park.

The article stated that the fiberglass time capsule was to be buried in cement under a statue of a pioneer couple when the park officially opened in the fall of that year. An interview with one of the officials of the ceremony reveiled that that never happened, and there is no statue of a pioneer couple in Centennial Park.

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