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The History of Anna Maria Island...

Anna Maria Island is a 7-mile long barrier reef island on the West Coast of Florida that features unspoiled white sand beaches, crystal clear Gulf waters, and is adored by many for it's "Old Florida" charm. Today it is comprised of three different municipalities that include Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, and the City of Anna Maria. Although once only accessible by boat, today there are two bridges connecting the island to the mainland of Bradenton.

fiercetimucn indians anna maria island history

Early Settlers

Before our quaint little island became what it's known for today-a vacationers paradise-it was used primarily for fishing and hunting by the Caloosan and Timucan American Indian Tribes. It was later discovered by Spanish explorers including Ponce de Leon around 1521 and again by Hernando DeSoto around 1539.

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roser church modern history anna maria island

First Residents

The first permanent resident, George Emerson Bean, didn't settle until 1892 and was soon followed by John Roser. You'll still hear these names used on the island today when you visit Bean Point Beach or pay a visit to the Roser Church on Pine Avenue. The development of the island started in the early 1900s through a collective effort by George and Charles Roser, John's son who was a successful businessman. It is said that Charles' fortune and success came from selling his recipe as the creator of Fig Newtons to Nabisco. Together they formed the Anna Maria Beach Company and built-out streets, sidewalks, a working water system and this eventually led to the construction of homes. As more people inhabited the island the development continued with a school and local businesses emerging.

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anna maria city pier history

Anna Maria City Pier

The island began to develop quickly and with no bridges connecting to the mainland, the Anna Maria City Pier was built in 1911 to carry supplies and new visitors. Although it has been damaged with passing hurricanes over the years, each time it has been rebuilt to keep its original appearance. This is still true today after Hurricane Irma in the fall of 2017 severely damaged the structure. The City Pier has been rebuilt and re-opened in the summer of 2020.

Belle Haven and The City Jail

In 1920 a cottage was built on the pier which fell into the water just 6 years later. After it was retrieved it was saved and used as a family home for nearly 50 years before it was moved in 2001. You can see the "Belle Haven" at the Historical Park on Pine Avenue, located next to the Anna Maria City Jail. Once a functioning jail built in 1927 for the disorderly, now it serves as one of the main visitor attractions and photo-ops after a fire in the late 40s burnt off the roof but left the structure standing.

old anna maria isalnd city jail

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