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A Place We call Home: Laurel

Each week, we feature a community here on the Suncoast in a series called, "A place We Call Home."

Laurel community was established in 1903. In 1911 the railroad came through. And in 1919, a saw mill was built. Then a turpentine mill arrive arrived, to harvest terpentine from the pine forest. A small city grew up around it.

"There was a store over there there was a whole city. It had a store they had a school they had a graveyard."

Around 100 homes were built for the mostly black workers. In 1918, an asphalt highway was built through laurel.

"My grandfather helped dig up palmettos out here when they did the street the first time."

That street became a part of the Tamiami Trail. The terpentine company went up in smoke.

"It caught fire in the early 40s and the whole thing burned, of course you had terpintine for fuel."

The black workers stayed and found jobs around the area and they gathered often at Casperson, Sarasota County's black beach at the time. Years past and many of the homes belonging to older people needed repairs."

"They were old they couldn't work they couldn't get a loan."

Sandra terry found a program to help them get loans and fix up their homes. The Laurel Civic Association was formed in 1969 to bring in street lights and other improvements.

"We got the street paved we got the sidewalks put got the water line put in."

They started a community clean up that spread to the entire county and they built this amazing community center."

"We have after school programs, homework assistance."

They also offer sports, and classes and just about any thing else you can think of.

Lots of businesses and some very affluent homes have now been built in the Laurel.

"Everybody wants to be here now we're close to the beach we have some of the best schools in the county."

And lifetime resident Sandra Terry says Laurel is a great place to call home.

"You can be what ever you want to be or live however you want to live it's just great it's a great place to be."

Here are two very important books any of these people could tell you why Laurel is a great place to call home