John Hamilton Gillespie

C Fi 9916

It was John Hamilton Gillespie who first brought golf to Sarasota. But Gillespie did a lot more for our city than introducing its residents to the game sometimes called “a good walk spoiled.”

Hamilton arrived in Sarasota from Edinburgh, Scotland in 1886 at the behest of his father. His mission was to assist a failing company that owned 50,000 acres of land in and around what is now the City of Sarasota. (Gillespie’s father held a significant interest in the enterprise.) Although the company went bankrupt and many of the Scottish colonists who had settled in Sarasota left, Gillespie stayed and helped develop our city. He went on to serve as the first mayor of Sarasota in 1902, a post he held for six terms. It’s no surprise Gillespie is sometimes referred to as the “Father of Sarasota.”

As to Gillespie’s golfing contributions, shortly after arriving in Sarasota, he laid out two golf holes and a fairway on his property. It was the first golf course (using the term loosely) in Florida and only the second in the United States. People were initially baffled, but interest in the game picked up over time. In 1905, he built a nine-hole course on what is now Main Street, just east of the aptly named Links Avenue. Over the years, Gillespie went on to design six other Florida golf courses and one in Havana, Cuba.

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Luther Rosebaro

Luther was born and raised in Michigan, but has been in Florida since 1989. He never went to art school. He learning how to draw by looking, and asking. "I've loved to draw since I was a kid, couldn't afford paints, but always had a pencil, a #2 and a sheet of paper, later color. Color pencils taught me about color blending, now, painting, it all has just transformed. I have to add, Denise Kowal, the Chalk Festival, I love, I've been helped and inspired, to step out of the box. A person, an organization that are truly special to me, and one day we will all prosper because of it. No borders, no boundaries. Lastly, Sarasota, my home for decades, I didn't realize the length and breath of the trials and tribulations for people like me, having grown up in the North. But things are a changing, with folks like Denise, and myself. Lets make the change for the best! The story of black folks in Sarasota, their hard work to build this city, with no recognition, but I felt I would do my part. My part to bring history to the present and the future. Because it took all of us to do so, so lets give credit to where credit is do."

Written By

Nanette Crist

Nanette Crist is a retired lawyer who began blogging when she moved to Florida. It was an online diary of sorts, a way to keep track of her new life. It was also a good way to share her discoveries with friends and family outside the area. Over time, Nanette realized her writing makes her experience the world differently. She keeps an eye out for interesting things to write about and then delves more deeply into them as she crafts her words. It's all about telling the story. Nanette's blog can be found at

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Bridget Lyons

Bridget has been an artist and volunteer with the Chalk Festival for over 10 years. She was one of three Artist in Residents during the Ice House '3D Illusion Museum' dedicating months to the project. She dedicated a few weekends to the Avenue of Art event creating over 6 sidewalk paintings. In addition she donated supplies and a much needed tent for artists to work easier under the hot hot Florida sun. We thank you for her continued dedication to the Chalk Festival not-for-profit.