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History flows from the Manatee Mineral Spring. Bubbling, fresh water is a source of life for people and for their animals and crops. So, over many, many centuries, everyone who traveled or hunted or settled along this section of the Manatee River took water from this spring at 14th Street East and 2nd Avenue in Bradenton. The non-profit Reflections of Manatee is hard at work preserving history of the many various people that have called Manatee home, from the mound building Natives, the Seminoles, the Spanish fishing camps, the African-American settlement of Angola, the first settlement of Manatee, Civil War era settlers and 20th century descendants. Interpretive signs near the spring tell these stories and Reflections is restoring three historic homes to create a museum dedicated to the heritage of this area.

The Curry Houses Historic District was designated by the National Register of Historic Places in September, 2015. This designation recognizes the significant contributions made by Captain John Curry and Samuel G. Curry to history. Reflections is hard at work preserving the three Curry houses, two are Civil War era and one was built in 1925. When the restorations are complete they will be opened as a museum complex.


  • Open the Samuel G. Curry house as a docent-guided historic house museum
  • Restore the Amelia Curry house and open it as a museum with exhibits about all the peoples who lived along this strip of the Manatee River
  • Restore the Theodosia Curry Lloyd house and open it as an education center with space for workshops, lectures, and community meetings

Community Heritage Awareness and Management Program (CHAMP) at Phillippi Estate Park

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CHAMP is a partnership, inaugurated by Uzi Baram and Ryan Murphy and in order to sustain the collaboration between the New College Public Archaeology Lab and Sarasota County Historic Resources. Building on a tradition of projects between Professor Baram and the Sarasota County archaeologists that led to the survey of the Rosemary Cemetery, the excavations at the Venice Train Depot, and exhibits at the Sarasota County History Center, CHAMP makes the goals of the partnership clear to all: raising awareness of the rich material heritage of Sarasota County and surrounding areas and helping to ensure a management that preserves the past and inspires the present. The first CHAMP is at Phillippi Estate Park and managed by Interim County Archaeologist, Steve Koski.

CHAMP at Phillippi Estate Park began with a June 2014 discussion of heritage at Phillippi Estate Park with Sarasota County representatives. Excavations at the park in 1988 located three sites: and area of Archaic period lithic scatter, a Manasota culture midden, and a site of historic refuse. The reports and two follow-up surveys (in 1995 and 1998) and monitoring of a trench in 2015 for an electric line are available at the Sarasota County History Center but not presented at the park.  The previous excavations identified the three archaeological sites on the property, offered their time period, and provided a sampling of artifacts. But the materials do not give a clear sense of the peoples who lived by Phillippi Creek. New excavations (January 4-5, 2016) sought to determine the extent of the sites and their delineation. Recovered artifacts offered a more complete view of lifeways on Sarasota coast. As public archaeology, the small-scale excavations were performed in the sunshine (i.e., the public is invited to see the research in action) and with community support (thanks to Sarasota County, Time Sifters Archaeology Society, and the Florida Public Archaeology Network). The response from the media and the public was overwhelming - 500 visitors over the two days.

On June 25, 2016, "500 BCE at Phillippi" a free public event at Phillippi Estate Park, was held to celebrate the archaeological investigations and findings. Analysis of the materials is on-going, but the public was invited to see and help sort the excavated items. It was well attended, and brought more than 125 community members to the Edson Keith Mansion to see the archaeologists identifying, classifying, and inventorying the finds from the January excavations. Thanks to the Florida Public Archaeology Network - West Central Region, the public handled artifact replicas and learned about the process of archaeology. Inside the mansion, they engaged the archaeologists working through the materials, explaining the significance of the shells, shell tools, and ceramic sherds.
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Commemorating the Bicentennial of Tragedy and Survival - Virtual Landscapes of 19th Century Gulf Coast Maroons


On July 27, 1816 US Naval forces destroyed the fort at Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola River, which was a refuge of African Seminoles, self-emancipated people of African heritage, and runaway slaves (referred to as Maroons). Survivors fled to the Suwannee River, but the 1818 Battle of Suwannee pushed some of them further south, to the Tampa Bay area on the Manatee River where they formed a settlement called Angola. In 1821, the Maroon communities were attacked again, this time survivors fled inland, or to Cape Florida, or to the British Bahamas where their descendants lived in freedom.

In recognition of the bicentennial of the tragic loss of hundreds of lives, a Florida Humanities Council supported project titled, "Tragedy and Survival: Bicentennial of the Southward Movement of Black Seminoles on the Gulf Coast" hopes to create digital reconstructions of the Black Seminole/Maroon landscape for two of the historic locations; Prospect Bluff and Angola. The reconstruction of these landscapes grows out of an expanding scholarship on the Maroons of Second Spanish Period Florida. The project's central goal is to inspire further interest, study, and research into the history and heritage of early 19th century Florida people and places.

Excavations recently revealed traces of Angola, an early 19th century Maroon community on the Manatee River. Angola is a chapter in a decades-long history for peoples of African heritage that stretches from the Apalachicola River to Tampa Bay at the end of the Second Spanish Period (1783-1821). For the Black Seminoles, also known as exiles, runaway slaves and free blacks, African Seminoles, and freedom-seeking people, the period from 1816-1821, which is less well-known than than the earlier Fort Mosé and the later Second Seminole War eras, includes several locations on the Gulf Coast. This project uses the opportunities of new digital heritage technologies to represent two of the locations for the saga: the fort at Prospect Bluffs, known as the Negro Fort, which was destroyed in 1816 and Angola, which was overrun in 1821. Two hundred years ago, people struggled for freedom and their descendants continued the fight, in the Second Seminole War (1835-1842) or by falling back and finding a haven in the Bahamas. The scholars involved will discuss the history and explain the reconstructions at public lectures at or near the two locations: Apalachicola/Fort Gadsden and Bradenton/Sarasota.


Looking For Angola



The “Looking for Angola” project began to take seed in the early 1990s after Vickie Oldham, a Sarasota resident and producer of local historical documentaries, saw a mention of Angola while she was working on a documentary about African Americans in Sarasota. Cuban fishermen referred to the area as Angola. The Angola settlement is named after the region in West Africa that is home to some of the residents. Oldham has raised more than $92,000 in state grants and in-kind donations for the project. “To know about this local story of people who lived right in my community, to know of their courage, the risks they took, how determined they were to survive on their own with nothing but what they could carry on their back, that to me was just incredibly empowering,” she said.  The Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation and the Florida Humanities Council is supporting part of the Angola project. [revised text from]

The Cuban Fishing Industry Ranchos Learning Game


From the late 18th century through the mid-19th century, fishermen from Cuba set up camps on the shores of the Florida Gulf Coast, including Sarasota Bay, to fish its mullet, pompano, sea trout, red drum, sharks, and other marine resources. Known as the rancho fishing industry, Cuban fishermen sailed between Havana and the Florida Gulf Coast, with the industry expanding during British rule (1763-1783) and ending during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842). The legacy of the 1770-1840s Cuban Fishing Industry is found in names across the geography of Sarasota and Manatee county. Phillippi Creek, Perico Island, Bunce's Pass are testimony to the imprint, seemingly forgotten, of fishermen who worked the waters of Sarasota Bay and Tampa Bay for the Havana market. Today, archaeology and archival research are retrieving this important chapter in the history of the region.

The Sarasota Bay Rancho video games were developed by the New College Public Archaeology Lab as part of its endeavor to preserving regional heritage.