Calvin Park

higel-2As you come across Siesta Drive heading west, it makes a sharp left turn onto Higel Avenue. At that corner on the right hidden behind vegetation is Calvin Park.  Its a nice little place to sit and chill.  There’s a park bench with a babbling spring behind it.higel-3higel-4higel1

An historical marker describes some of the history of Siesta Key and Harry Higel’s influence.  We drove down the road that parallels the park and ended up finding the Higel House.higel-11

Siesta Key’s mystery solved

I’ve lived on Siesta Key for almost a year.  One of the first things I noticed is that if you go to any Google map, mapquest or for the local radar there’s a town on the north end of the Key by the name of Bailey Hall.  Of course I said to myself, “what is Bailey Hall?”

I googled “Bailey Hall”.  There are a lot of Bailey Halls in the country as well as just in Florida.  They’re mostly connected to a University (Cornell has one as well as Broward College).  I found Bailey Hall on and  These are just place-listing websites.  After zooming in on the map and finding the exact location on the Key, I rode my bike there (less than a mile of fun) and found new homes.  So I emailed the Siesta Key Association.  They had no idea.  Then, I contacted the US Post Office to find out if they had any history on Bailey Hall (since it appears to be a town of some kind) and if they had had a separate zip code at one time and if so why was it changed.  Nothing.  I was thinking maybe Siesta Key was once called Bailey Hall, just like Casey Key was once Treasure Island.  But who was Bailey?  Sarasota is rich in circus history so I thought it might be the one-time home of the Bailey’s.  Wrong.  The only other Bailey I could find, in the local history books, was a banker in Miami.

My search continued and continued.  Nothing was found in the indexes of any book I could locate.  I finally found the Sarasota County History Center located just east of Cattleman Rd near Proctor.  The Sarasota County History Center is like a library full of books and reports and papers on local history.  You can stop by during regular business hours to do your own research.  Be aware though that there may be a meeting going on in the main room and you’ll have to go back another time.  The address is 6062 Porter Way and their research hours are Monday-Thursday 10am to 3pm.

Anyway, I was greeted by Jeff LeHurd, who knew immediately what I was talking about because he had included information on Bailey Hall in his books.  He found several sources of information for me including pages from the Sarasota Visitor’s Guides of 1942 and 1946, a page from his own book called Sarasota…A Sentimental Journey, and an article from the Sarasota Herald, the “Mail-It-Away” Edition of the Venice Section dated December 2, 1934.

So here goes…

Bailey Hall was a private school for “over-active, slow or retarded boys”.  One ad called it “A special place for boys” while another ad heading read “For ‘Unusual’ Boys Bailey Hall”.  

Bailey Hall was a school started in Katonah, N.Y., by Dr. Rudolph Fried of Czechoslovakia.  It was first known as the Florence Nightingale School.  (I looked this up and you can find stories online about the remaining abandoned buildings in Katonah).  According to the Sarasota Herald article he had just moved 25 selected students and staff to FL for the winter.  He believed that Sarasota offered the students “the needed opportunity … to learn the knack of relaxing and doing nothing.”  How cool of a school!  

Bailey Hall was first located on Treasure Island (now Casey Key) in the former Inlet Inn property owned by Dr. Fred Albee and later moved to the area near Ocean Blvd. and Givens Street on Siesta Key situated on the Gulf front.  The enrollment in 1942 was limited to 35 residents and 10 day students. 

The name Florence Nightingale School was changed to Bailey Hall to honor Dr. Pearce Bailey who founded the Neurological Institute and the Children’s Classification Clinic of Vanderbilt Hospital.

Mystery solved…or maybe only half solved.  I still want to know: when and why it closed, where did it go and why is it a town location on mapquest?  

I’m guessing it shut down permanently since its sister school in N.Y. is no longer around, either.  As to when and why, maybe I can find out.  And maybe City Hall can help with the “town” question.  That will all be a later blog.  For now, there are residences on the Gulf front where I imagine Bailey Hall had been.  Ah….progress.

October events in and around Siesta Key FL

Here are some more October events for the Siesta Key area.  Check back in a week and I’ll have November events posted.  I’ll try to keep you busy while you’re here, although I know that the number one thing you’ll do is hang at the beach.  

Farmers Market on Siesta Key  Every Sunday 7am-noon, Siesta Village at the Davidson parking lot.

Moonlight Movies Moonlight Movies at G.WIZ  Produced by the Sarasota Film Festival, Moonlight Movies take place every Friday Night from October 17 – November 21 at 6 pm. On the beautiful bayfront at G.WIZ. Bring picnics, pillows & blankets, or low chairs. FREE!  Check out other activities at

REMINDER:  14th Annual Sarasota Craft Festival  Saturday, October 18 10am to 5pm.  For the past 12 years, it has also become popular for this Annual Craft Festival which garners crowds of fine craft lovers each year. From paintings, to woodwork, visitors will find it at this well organized show. The Sarasota Craft Festival takes place along Main Street from Selby Park to Orange Avenue in downtown Sarasota.   Crafts include folk art, pottery, handmade jewelry and paintings, handmade clothing and scented soaps and body products. For more information, call (954) 472-3755. For more info: 

Sarasota Orchestra presents Beethoven, the Angry Revolutionary October 18 at 8pm at the Sarasota Opera House.  Call 941-953-3434 for ticket info.

And just so you can get tickets in time I want to let you know about the opera performance in early November.  We’ll be there as it is The Barber of Seville which is my boys’ favorite opera thanks to Bug Bunny and his Looney Tunes friends.

Sarasota Opera presents: Barber of Seville.  Several nights during early November starting the 7th.

What To Do in the Rain on Siesta Key

Updated July 27, 2015

Its one of those rainy days on the Key.  As a resident of Siesta Key there’s plenty to do around the house but for the visitors of our Key who don’t have home improvements to work on, errands to run, friends to visit or other stuff going on, I put together a little list of things to do when it rains on Siesta Key.

The obvious, for a relaxing rainy day at the beach, especially if you’re staying in a condo/house is to be prepared.  Bring books, puzzles, board games, video games and DVDs with you to anticipate a not-so-perfect day at the beach.  That’s harder to do if you have a hotel room because you’ll likely get cabin fever quicker.  But for real excitement here are some ideas:  if there’s no thunder in the area, and your condo/hotel has a pool and you don’t care about getting wet (that’s a joke, ha) go swimming in the rain.  If you have a poncho/slicker/umbrella and don’t care about dodging rain drops just do what you’d normally do…shop at our cool stores in the Village or walk on the beach.  Otherwise, we have a great many restaurants to dine in so take a board game and some money for dessert and hang out at one of them.

Leaving the Key, just over the south bridge (Stickney Point) you’ll find Books-A-Million (we love visiting bookstores when we travel), and going south on Tamiami Trail, there’s the bowling alley, and a mall with a movie theatre.  A bit further south is the Tervis retail store.  Tervis is a Florida company and the entire collection of available cup designs is there for purchase.

Off the north bridge (Siesta Drive) you’ll find Barnes and Noble.  There’s also a mall on the east side of the Trail just north of Barnes and Noble.  If you go south on 41 you’ll come to the Landings shopping center on the right and Phillippi Creek shops on the left.

If it’s just a small, annoying rain that’s keeping you off the beach, don your rain coats or umbrellas and shop around St. Armand’s Circle.  Better yet, hop in the car to drive to Anna Maria Island.  It’s a nice drive up the Key (start on Long Boat and drive north), stop at Holmes Beach for a little shopping and great ice cream, go across the bridge to Cortez and visit the Sea Hag on the left. It’s an awesome indoor-outdoor shop of nautical decor and nick-nacks. While in the area, have lunch at Star Fish.  It’s one of our favorites.  Go back over the bridge and head north to Anna Maria Island. There is a little shopping area that we love as well.  Stop in, have some fun, talk to the parrots caged at one of the stores.  If you missed StarFish and you’re hungry, eat at Beach House Restaurant or Rod and Reel.  On your way back to Siesta Key, just over the bridge to Longboat Key, turn left.  Drive back into the neighborhood and if your lucky, you’ll see the peacocks roaming the neighborhood.  I don’t know if they are still there but according the latest report I could find, they may. Unfortunately, they are a nuisance for the residents as they take over every free space to roam, nest and make noise.  But for the visitor, it’s cool to see.  Just be respectful driving slowly through the neighborhood; people live there.

Annoying little rains that keep you off of the beach are still great times to throw on that poncho, grab a little bag and go beach combing.  Since the water may be churned up from a storm, and people generally stay away from the surf at that time, you may be able to find some cool finds.  South on Casey Key, stop at the public beach and collect some sharks teeth.  They’re everywhere.

Take a Marina Jack cruise.

Our totally indoor museums are:

South Florida Museum in Bradenton has a museum, planetarium and aquarium.  They also host family nights and Friday matinees.

Classic Car Museum ( – We went their on a field trip with some other homeschoolers and had a blast.  The tour was excellent and thorough.  My boys (huge Beatles fans) loved seeing John Lennon’s Mercedes Roadster and Paul McCartney’s Mini Cooper.  I don’t know if those cars are still on exhibit. Call before you go, if you want to, but the museum is really worth visiting regardless.

Ringling Museum of Art and their circus museums ( – we went with the grandparents.  The circus museum was incredible.  It took us several hours to get through the circus stuff, gardens and only part of the art museum.  We were set on the Grandma Moses exhibit which is all we saw so we’re planning a trip back.  I understand Monday afternoons are free.  If you’re a teacher, check out their educator’s page on the website for discounts.  I recommend the Ca d’Zan (the mansion), also.  My husband and I had an abbreviated tour of the building which is amazing.  He had worked for the Cincinnati Reds and we were blessed that they held one of their family/staff dinners at the mansion during Spring Training one year, when  so we got to go in.  We mostly enjoyed the back veranda.  What a view!  What a sunset!  Hope they choose their dinner there again this year.  Take an umbrella because on a rainy day you’ll get wet going from building to building.

The Reds have moved but the Orioles are in town now.  On a good day in March you can catch a game.  You can still go when it rains, unless the game is called. Check out the gift shop but call first to see if it is open.

The Suncoast Science Center is open to the public and you can pay for a day  pass to tinker scientifically.  Call for information: 941-840-4394

The Ringling College of Art and Design has an art gallery. It is located just north of town along Tamiami Trail.

MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium ( – they have a lot of events going on so check out their website.

Need a great place to eat?  Our website,, has a complete and up-to-date listing of great dining places we’ve tried.  It includes wonderful restaurants and bakeries in Sarasota.

I have since moved away (why???, job related) but on a recent vacation back to the area we encountered a few very rainy moments. We used this time to go thrifting. The Sarasota/Bradenton area is home to some of the finest Goodwill stores we have found in the South. It was a lot of fun rummaging through pre-owned stuff. All of the stores are a little different. If you only go to one, check out the large one located off Hwy 30 between Sarasota and Bradenton.

There are a ton of other things to do in Sarasota: shop on Main Street, check out the aquarium in the kids section at the Selby public library, visit the art galleries.  We also like the bakery and the bookstore.  There is a movie theatre there, too.  Look into the concert schedules at the Florida Studio Theatre (, the Sarasota Symphony (, Van Wezel ( as there may be a daytime event.  During the fall/winter months there is always something going on at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, mostly on the weekends.  They host flea markets, stamp shows, coin shows, shell shows.  Here’s their link:, but if it doesn’t work just Google “sarasota municipal auditorium”.

Here is the Sarasota calendar of events.

There’s still more I could list but this should keep you busy on a rainy day.  You could always just sit on your balcony and look out at the Gulf.

Things to do on and around Siesta Key

Ever notice how once September arrives there is something to do every weekend? Summers in FL, I’ve noticed, are dull if you’re looking for festivals, parties, or special events. Then the weather starts getting perfect and the northern visitors start arriving and then the calendar gets double-full. I’ve noticed this with our school calendar. Of course, lots of things don’t happen during the summer…4-H, boy scouts, Audubon events (of course I still watch for birds). So now that September is here, and today the first day of fall, I thought I’d post some events for the next month. I’ll include the last weekend of September in the mix.
Downtown Sarasota Farmers Market
Downtown Association
every Saturday – rain or shine
7:00 Am – Noon
Lemon Avenue and Main Street
Buy Fresh – Buy Local – a Sarasota tradition for over 28 years OLD RECORD NIGHT
Canvas Cafe Gallery
every Wednesday night
8 p.m-1 a.m.
1912 Adams Lane
enjoy old records and new friends at the Canvas Cafe Gallery
Tai Chi on Siesta Beach
through – Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008
Every Monday
15 min. before sunset
Siesta Beach in Siesta Village
Siesta Key
A free half-hour practice of T’ai Chi Chih, easy-to-do movement exercise. No experience needed.

Second Saturday Family Program
Mote Marine Laboratory
Saturday, Jul. 12, 2008 – Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008
Second Saturday of each month year round
Mote’s Marine Education Resource Center, 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy
941-388-4441, ext. 369
Mote’s Second Saturday Family Programs are intimate, hands-on experiences designed for children ages 6-12 and their favorite adult

20th Annual “St. Armands Art Festival”
St. Armands Association
Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008 – Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008
10 – 5 pm, Sunday Sidewalk Sale noon – 5 pm
St. Armands Circle, St. Armands Circle
Art Festival with Live Entertainment plus Sidewalk Sale

Mote Island Quest: Talking Trash
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008 – Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008
Three consecutive Saturdays
1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy.
941-388-4441, ext. 229
Mote’s newest hands-on offering for kids ages 8-11

“Mingling not Mixing” with Anne Abgott
Art Center Sarasota
Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Art Center Sarasota, 707 North Tamiami Trail
Learn from one of the leading watercolor artists in our area. She was the president of the watercolor society in 2006.

Cocktails at the Cà d’Zan October 16th. There is a $5 cover charge, cash bar, and food vendors. Free parking at Florida State University Center for Performing Arts. No advance reservations required. Limited seating available. For more info:  

14th Annual Sarasota Craft Festival October 18th and 19th. This Annual Craft Festival takes place at Orange and Main Street in Downtown Sarasota.

Pineapple Scare Haunted House
October 25th from 7pm – 11pm. Take the family to the Pineapple Scare Haunted House hosted by the Sarasota Firefighters Benevolent Fund on the corner of State and Pineapple Streets.


Trick or Treat in Siesta Village
October 31st from 3pm to 6pm
I’m sure there’s a lot more to do. But this is what I found. In addition to 4H, homeschool outings and the usual trip to the beach every Saturday and Sunday I know this family will be busy. How about you?




My car conched out!

My car was so stinky when I got into it yesterday to drive to a meeting.  The whole way I kept thinking “what died in here”.  Wracking my brain I thought of maybe a small lizard got in the car and shriveled up, or worse a snake (we have them on our property) or maybe something I brought from the beach and left in the car.  So I got out and went to my meeting.  Two hours later I got into the car and nearly threw up. 

Seashells!  Maybe there’s a dead clam in the kid’s beach toy bag.  Travis likes finding clams and bringing them home, so that’s got to be it.  So I opened the back door and looked through all the bags, and then found, in the crate where we place our beach buckets when they have shells in them, a Florida Fighting Conch shell that was left behind.  As soon as I picked it up juice/water started dripping out and then as I held it over the parking lot the dead conch slid out with all its dead gooey-ness. 

Oh, you could probably smell it in the next county.  I moved the crate and threw baby powder on the carpet to soak up any ick that might have dripped on it.  I had to drive home (from east of I-75 to Siesta Key) with the windows down which is really one of my pet peeves because it blows my hair in my face and its annoying (my hair is in that in-between stage of growing out, and its bothersome in the wind) but I managed and was able to breathe fresher air with the windows down.

I did get the smell out.  I left the back door and one of the side doors open all day today. 

We had gone to Turtle Beach this past Saturday and found this shell.  I remember it because it was so perfectly polished and colorful.  I also remember placing it on top of my bucket because I showed it to my husband before we drove home that day.  The critter must have crawled off the bucket and landed at the bottom of the crate until I found it dead.

Moral of the story: make sure when you’re beachcombing that every shell you find ends up out of your car when you get home.

A Walk on the Beach

A couple times I have tried walking from Turtle Beach to Casey Key.  Each time I have good intentions of getting there and getting the exercise I need walking through that soft sand.  Each time I just can’t wait to see what it looks like along the way.  And each time I look forward to saying, “I did it!”

That was the plan today.  Siesta Key beach was flying a double red flag so we decided it wasn’t a good idea to try to swim or float.  So, we packed the four of us in the Windstar with a bag of towels and headed to Turtle Beach.  The parking lot was not even half full of cars.  We got a spot easily.  Just for the sake of it I brought along 2 buckets and, of course, my little bag I carry my keys, drivers license and phone in.  It’s big enough that I can fit a few shells in it if I need to.

We headed south.  The surf was not as angry as it had been all week but you could still tell there had been a storm.  We passed the condos and a few houses.  A shell here, a shell there…they we’re hugh, though.  Some of the largest cockles you may have ever seen, but they were also broken.  We saw a storm damaged home (the pink house, we call it).  Looks like the sea just burst through the dune separating it from the house.  I quickly spotted the mound of shells. 

A shell fanatic’s dream come true.  Mounds and mounds of shells washing up and down with the tide.  More than I had seen in Sanibel.  More than I had seen the other time I tried walking from Turtle Beach to Casey Key.  We couldn’t resist but to stop and start picking.  Good thing I brought the buckets!  Olives, welks, fighting conchs, an apple murex or two.  There were a ton of clams, scallops and of course the largest cockles you’ve ever seen, unbroken.  We filled our buckets, my little bag, pockets and then the boys tucked some in the front of their shirts to carry. 

As you figured we never made it to Casey Key.  We couldn’t go any farther south…the buckets were too heavy, so our only option was to go home.  Casey Key will have to wait for another day…again.