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ANNA MARIA ISLAND
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About: Anna Maria's history begins in 1513 with a man and a tale familiar to us all - Ponce de Leon's quest for the Fountain of Youth. This mythical spring was reputed to have the powers to cure illness and to give eternal youth. As an added incentive to discovery, the fountain was supposedly surrounded with gold and silver.
Juan Ponce de Leon had accompanied Columbus on his second trip to America in 1493. In 1506 he discovered Puerto Rico and later became its governor. Still, he thirsted for more power and finally convinced King Ferdinand of Spain to finance galleons and men so he could seek the Fountain of Youth.
king granted his request and Ponce began his quest for the Fountain of
Youth. In that journey, he discovered Florida itself on Easter Sunday,
naming it "Pascua de Florida" which means "Feast of Flowers", the Spanish
name for this holy day. His quest continued as he journeyed up the Gulf
Coast of Florida nearly five hundred years ago and named our small island
Ana-Maria-Cay to honor the Virgin Mary and her mother Anne.
In 1539, the Spaniards returned. Hernando De Soto landed just across the bay from Anna Maria at Shaw's Point in Bradenton and started a settlement. De Soto, by the way, wasn't fooled by that old myth of the Fountain of Youth. He was looking for El Dorado the City of Gold. His passion for plunder led him to explore thousands of miles of the New World but eventually De Soto became sick and died. When he did, his disheartened men soon returned to Mexico.
Things stayed quiet for a few hundred years . . .
Mr. Bean passed away in 1898 but just after the turn of the century his son,
George Wilhelm Bean, teamed up with a financier named Charles Roser.
Together, they formed the Anna Maria Beach Company, laid out the streets and
started developing the town of Anna Maria.
In 1911, the company built a 678-foot long pier at the end of Pine Avenue enabling ships full of visitors and supplies to dock. Despite numerous hurricanes, the pier still stands at the end of our block, the favorite rendezvous for tourists, fishermen and locals alike.
In 1913, Charles Roser built our island's first church; the Roser Memorial Community Church. Its oil lit cross served as a beacon for fishermen returning from the Gulf of Mexico.
Starting in 1921 visitors could finally drive onto the island using a rickety wooden bridge that connected at the fishing village of Cortez. It also came in handy for mackerel fishing, a delicacy that has largely been replaced with fresh Florida grouper, stone crab claws and smoked mullet.
1957, the county opened the modern drawbridges on Manatee and Cortez
Roads. The wining and dining continues but the town of Anna Maria remains
charming, dignified and unspoiled. If anything, perhaps it's a little
quieter now than it was 50 or even 80 years ago!
Historical information provided by siamgardenresort.com
As of 12/18/03, This page has been viewed times.