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Sarasota historic home to be moved to new location

The Leonard Reid house
The Leonard Reid house(City of Sarasota)
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 4:10 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The City of Sarasota has announced that the historic Leonard Reid house will be relocated this week to City-owned property in North Sarasota.

There, the structure will become the first home for a new Sarasota African American cultural arts center.

The Leonard Reid house is named for the highly respected early pioneer who helped establish Sarasota’s first Black community, Overtown, now known as the Rosemary District. The single-story frame vernacular style house completed in 1926 is locally historically designated and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The house will be moved from its current location at 1435 7th St. in the Rosemary District to 2529 N. Orange Ave. in Newtown Friday, May 27.

Crews plan to transport the home on a flatbed trailer on a 2.6 mile route that may cause some impacts to traffic along the way.

The moving process will include temporarily disassembling traffic signal heads at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way – North Orange Avenue intersection to accommodate the oversized load.

The SAAC will celebrate the milestone with pre-move festivities at the Leonard Reid house, 1435 7th St., on Thursday, May 26:

  • 10 a.m. News conference (speakers will include Mayor Erik Arroyo, Vice Mayor Kyle Battie and Newtown resident Mary Mack, a descendent of Leonard Reid)
  • 5:30 p.m. Send-off celebration with live traditional African music, community speakers and a symbolic ritual for prosperity and protection. The event is open to the public. Please register to attend.

“The City is partnering to preserve this important structure and take a giant step toward fulfilling the SAACC’s goal of opening Sarasota’s very first African American cultural center,” said Stevie Freeman-Montes, Governmental Relations Manager. “The house will be open for all to come together and learn about the events, culture, and contributions of our historic Black community to the Sarasota we see today, all in the very house where one of Overtown’s most beloved pioneers lived.”

Leonard Reid was considered the “right hand man” to Sarasota’s first mayor and lived much of his life in the house with his wife and their two daughters, Ethel Reid Hayes and Viola Reid, who also contributed greatly to the community. Both women were educated in Sarasota and went on to obtain higher educations, noted Dr. Cliff Smith, Senior Planner with the City’s historic preservation program. They spent most of their adult lives teaching in Sarasota schools and investing in children.

“The Reid family residence is a special place where books were handed out to Overtown’s children and the family’s parrot perched in its cage on the screened porch talked to passersby,” said Oldham. “The house will be loved and cared for just as the Reid family loved and cared for us.”

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