Murals paint a picture of Sarasota’s past

The Rosemary Arts and Design District (RADD) recruits artists from across the country to paint murals of early settlers in the historic Overtown district of Sarasota, Sarasota’s first black community.

“Since this area was developed in the Rosemary District, the history of what was originally here, which was Overtown, has all but disappeared.” shared Walter Gilbert, director of community engagement with the Rosemary Arts and Design District. “These people are very important people and people who deserve to be honored and remembered.”

The county has installed a historic marker to commemorate Overtown on Central Avenue and Arts Boulevard, but the murals will paint a bigger picture of the 20-acre area.

The first mural to go up is that of Willie Rogers, who was one of the first residents of Overtown. The image shows Rogers leaning on a car outside the Ace Theater.

“We found this image in our historical archive and decided to put this one first,” Gilbert explained.

Another fresco will be dedicated to Lewis Colton who arrived in the area in 1884. He was a surveyor who helped demarcate the land for the city of Sarasota.

“Knowing your history is always important. Not for some people, but for everyone. To know how you got to where you are, you have to know where you came from,” he said.

RADD is looking for artists from across the country to paint the murals, and you can even sponsor one.

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About Edward Weddle

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