Mary's Chapel Stained Glass

C Fi 9910

This stained glass is at Mary's Chapel at Historic Spanish Point. A bell that hangs on the steeple of Mary's Chapel at Historic Spanish Point is 100 years old. It arrived in Osprey on Sept. 25, 1895, as a gift from the class of 1891 from the New England Conservatory of Music to hang in the chapel built in memory of Mary Sherrill.

In "Edge of Wilderness: A Settlement History of Manatee River and Sarasota Bay," Janet Snyder Matthews details the connection between Mary Sherrill, Osprey and the chapel. Mary Sherrill and her mother came to Webb's Winter Resort on Little Sarasota Bay in 1892 from Louisville, hoping that the Florida sunshine would cure Mary's tuberculosis.

They were following the example of other Northern visitors who had been spending winters at the Spanish Point home of John and Eliza Webb since the early 1870s. The Sherrills' hopes were disappointed, however, for Mary died five weeks after arrival. Family and friends back home planned a memorial church and provided funds and furnishings for it. A New Yorker, who was a frequent winter visitor, designed the building and William Webb, son of John and Eliza, built it on a midden near the Webb family burial ground.

On the day the bell arrived, William Webb's wife gave birth to a baby girl. Mary Sherrill's mother requested that the baby be named Mary Bell. The baby's mother pre-ferred May Belle, and May Belle, when older, preferred Mabel. Mabel was married in the chapel in 1916 and was buried in the nearby cemetery in 1993.

When that building collapsed in the 1960s from the onslaught of weather and insects, the three pair of stained-glass windows, the two pulpit chairs and the bell were saved. They have been placed in the new chapel, which was dedicated in 1986.


Rita head

Rita Mann

Rita is a community artist - she enjoys the art of expression (storytelling, visual articulation). She was inspired to move to Sarasota this year because of its cultural richness and natural environment. She did not expect the people to be so warm and kind as well. At dusk during 2020, people in my downtown Denver neighborhood walked out onto their porches at dusk to howl like wolves. It brought the people together and was a comforting experience during the darker days of Covid. To pay homage to this practice, I organized a "Chalk & Howl" event. For six blocks, people walked quietly outside at the appointed hour and chalked on the sidewalk whatever was in their heart at the time. Support for essential workers, expressing hardships, and LOVE. This project reminded me of that. People coming together for the love of a place, time and one another. A stained glass window in Mary's Chapel at Historic Spanish Point. I love this place! Mary's is intimate and soulful. The bell rings clearly and the stained glass windows are magnificent. As with all things Sarasota, the church has a beautiful story.