Historic Markers Across Florida

The Edson Keith Estate

Marker ID:  
Location: in Phillippi Estate Park west of US 41, Sarasota, FL
County: Sarasota
Coordinates: N 27° 16.269    W 082° 31.956
  27.27115    -82.5326
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMRH9D


The Edson Keith Estate

Side 1
The Edson Keith estate on the south bank of Phillippi Creek, typical of the grand estate houses erected by the extensive Chicago coterie of friends in Sarasota, reflects much of Sarasota's most venerable history. The estate encompasses prehistoric Indian sites and lies near the "rancho", or seasonal fishing camp, on the creek named for Felipe Bermudez. This rancho was first recorded by government survey in 1847. The Sarasota area was dotted with such Spanish camps, supplying fish to Cuba and the West Indies in the early 1800s during Spain's rule.

Part of public lands ceded to the state by the federal government upon admission to the Union, the Philippi parcel was a tiny portion of the 4,000,000 acres purchased by Hamilton Disston of Philadelphia in 1881 for $1,000,000. This purchase helped rescue Florida from bankruptcy after the Civil War.

In 1883, farmer and bee-keeper W.J. Drumwright purchased 40 acres of the parcel from Disston for $50, selling that and additional land in 1910 to George H. and C. Woodburn Matheny, who subdivided the property and named it "Phillippi Park." In 1911, Chicago socialite Mabel Linn purchased eight lots from the Mathenys and began development of a homesite.

Side 2
Miss Mabel Linn sold the property in 1915 for $7,000 to Edson Keith, Jr., president of a large millinery business and a member of Sarasota's "Chicago Colony" which included the Field, Palmer, and other prominent families. In the summer of 1916, the Keiths began construction of their Italian Renaissance home on Phillippi Creek. The architects were William A. Otis and Edwin H. Clark of Chicago. Original out-buildings included a two-story servants' home, garden shed, garage, water tower, chauffeur's house, and various sheds for farm and citrus grove activities.

Keith died in the home in 1939 and his widow sold the property to Chicago doll clothing designer Mae Hansen Prodie, whose husband operated the home as a luxury inn in the 1950s. Mrs. Prodie retired to the home in the 1960s and upon her death in 1986, Sarasota County acquired the property as a park site through a bond referendum.

The property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Sarasota County Historical Commission