October 24 - 30, 2011

October 24 - 30, 2011
John Hamilton Gillespie Celebration Week

The week-long party
celebrating the Father of Sarasota…and golf was a big success! From O'Leary's Kick-off Party, Jeff LaHurd's New Book, Jacobites Bagpipers, Trolley Tours, Kiwanis Golf Tournament, and Hartman Gallery Photography Exhibition, to the Palm Avenue Street Party, The Macallan VIP Scotch Tasting, Lunch in Rosemary Cemetery, and Walking Tour of the Gillespie Park Neighborhood - every special event was a wonderful way to honor Sarasota's history.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Today in 1905

Today in 1905, Colonel John Hamilton Gillespie married his second wife, Judge Richard Pruitt McDaniel’s daughter Blanche (pictured here). Gillespie’s first wife Mary never came back from their trip to Scotland in 1901, and no one seemed to know for sure whatever became of her.
Photo credit: Sarasota County History Center

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pete Esthus 1929 - 2012

Pete and Diane at an Owen Burns Celebration event in 2010
George Irving "Pete" Esthus, the biggest supporter and inspiration behind the Owen Burns and John Hamilton Gillespie celebrations, died at the age of 82 on May 3, 2012 after a sudden illness. Pete was a special treasure, dedicating his energy and time to enthusiastically educate citizens and visitors about Sarasota's rich and interesting history.

Esthus, a Sarasota original, kept city's history alive
By Jeff LaHurd 
Herald Tribune, May 4, 2012
click for article

During a lifetime in Sarasota, George Irving "Pete" Esthus was the man who had the answers about Sarasota history. Born in Sarasota on Oct. 10, 1929, he left home for college and to serve in the Coast Guard, and then spent most of his life at the downtown Sarasota business his father once owned.

For 43 years, Pete and his wife, Diane, owned and operated the popular Sarasota Lock & Key Shop on State Street which he had bought as the Sarasota Cycle & Key Shop from his father, Arthur Esthus, a former city commissioner.

Their business evolved into a veritable Sarasota history museum, its walls lined with photographs showcasing the community from its earliest days, file folders stuffed with news clippings of important events that he had photocopied at the library, and glass cases filled with all manner of Sarasota memorabilia including every Sarasota High School yearbook.

Sarasota Lock & Key was a gathering place where old-timers rekindled memories of an earlier Sarasota, and where newcomers had a chance to see what it was like here in "the good old days." 

But Pete was much more than a collector of the "stuff" of Sarasota. He willingly shared his encyclopedic knowledge of the city's history and was the go-to guy for local historians and newspaper reporters as they did their fact checking.

His expertise has been acknowledged in a dozen history books about Sarasota, and the photographs he gathered over the years have illustrated videos, a dozen Sarasota books and numerous newspaper and magazine articles.

After Pete and Diane sold their business, the collection was donated to the Sarasota County History Center.

He was a member of the Sarasota High School class of 1946, treasurer of the Sarasota Historical Society and president of the Friends of the Sarasota County History Center. He was active in the annual Pioneer Day picnic, and was a board member of the Sarasota County Fair Association, for which he was the historian and wrote the definitive account of that organization.

Pete is survived by Diane, his wife of 57 years; children Pamela McLeod and Kenneth P. Esthus, five grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and thousands of Sarasotans who were captivated by this gentle man. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to the Friends of the Sarasota County History Center, 6062 Porter Way, Sarasota FL 34232 or the Historical Society of Sarasota County, HSOSC, P.O. Box 1632, Sarasota, FL 34230.

Photo shown below, L-R: Pete Esthus, Jeff LaHurd, Deborah Dart, John Hamilton Gillespie, Scott Proffitt, Diane Esthus and Janet Minker.
Gillespie Celebration Kick-Off 2011


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