Herald-Tribune Staff Photo/Thomas Bender

Newtown historical markers aim to shed light on community’s history

As part of a largely city-funded project, Sarasota’s historically black community, Newtown, will have 15 historical markers going up starting Feb. 18. Here are the details on the project:

What: These 15 historical markers detail topics like Newtown’s medical history, educational history, the jobs held by its residents and the neighborhood’s legacy of political activism and elected officials, such as Mayor Willie Shaw and former Mayor Fredd Atkins.

Where: Many of the markers will go up in locations that are already significant in the community, such as outside Booker High School and by the incoming Sarasota Memorial Internal Medicine complex in Newtown. A full interactive map of the markers is available here.

When: The first marker will be unveiled on Feb. 18 at 10:30 a.m. at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex. At this event, all fifteen markers will be shown, but they will be placed in the ground in a series of installations expected to end in late February or early March.

Why? The Newtown community has historically not had its stories included in the well-known history of Sarasota. This project–headed by the largely city-funded Newtown Conservation Historic District–aims to set that right. These markers will educate people on the legacy of this important community.

Anything else? The markers will showcase archival photographs and real people who lived and worked in Newtown. Vickie Oldham, the lead consultant for the historic district, hopes to train docents to lead tours around the markers, and there will eventually be a one-day event with trolley tours.

Still interested? The full story has more information on Oldham’s background and offers two stories of Newtown’s residents–a builder and public health nurse–who experienced racial prejudice as they began their careers.




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