Celebrate our History
Immerse yourself in our island history. There is so much to uncover!
Anna Maria Island, is rich with history and many landmarks and buildings can still be found on the island today. George Emerson Bean was the first permanent resident on Anna Maria Island, in 1892, settling with his family at the North end of the Island. George and his son George ‘Will’ Wilhelm, are the persons most responsible for developing much of what is now the City of Anna Maria.
In the early 1900’s, Will formed the Anna Maria Beach Company alongside Charles Roser, who made his money selling the ‘Fig Newton’ recipe to the company that became Nabisco. And, together, they developed Anna Maria Island to become the finest resort on the west coast of Florida, responsible for building a dock at the end of Pine Avenue and a bathing pavilion where the Sandbar restaurant sits today as well as many other historic landmarks, which can still be found. You will find lots of buildings that have been renovated over time, 3 significant ones at the Historic Green Village. So go take a look. And look out for these plaques dotted around the island, that tell you more about an historic landmark.
The Anna Maria Historical Society is a great place to start and learn all about our island history. Located on Pine Avenue, the museum building was constructed in 1920 as an ice house. It went on to be an automotive garage, a sea turtle hatchery, and a public administration building before becoming the Historical Society Museum in 1992.
The awesome team there have created and preserved some exceptional pieces of our history in their exhibit, dating back to those first settlers. Discover who they were. Look at what they wore, and browse hundreds of images showing how the island developed over time. And one of the Society teams will be able to talk you through so much. They even have lots of events over the year, so there might be something on to enjoy while you are on the island.
You can also take a peak inside Belle Haven, an historical cottage that was originally built on the City Pier in 1920. In 1926, disaster struck, and the cottage fell into the bay but it was pulled from the waters and became a family home on the Island for almost 50 years. In 2001, the cottage was moved to the Historical Park to save it from demolition and was lovingly restored in 2006 with money raised through the local community and is now furnished with heirlooms and antiques showing what island like would have been like all those years ago.
And, if you tire of the kids, you can always put them in the AMI City Jail. However, we can’t promise they won’t escape easily….there are no windows, doors or roof!
The AMI City Jail was built in 1927, composed of a wooden roof and windowless bars, to “quarter the rowdies” who had had a bit too much to drink at the local tavern and dance hall. Being so open the jail would get very hot and humid and with that and the mosquitoes, it acted as a good deterrent, and visitors became fewer. The jail was used up until the 1940s, when sadly it caught fire due to a wind storm and the wooden roof burned away. It was never re-built but now stands as a fun place to check out, and makes a great photo opportunity!