In 2005, the Friends Of the Sarasota County History Center (FOSCHC) was formed by the late Pete Esthus to promote programs and services on behalf of the Sarasota County Historical Resources (formerly the History Center) and further its efforts to assemble historical exhibits and preserve a growing collection of artifacts. These collections are housed at the Sarasota County Historical Resources on Porter Way, where they are made available for public research. Additionally, FOSCHC is dedicated to increasing the reach and awareness of SCHR by funding books by local authors, promoting historical markers which increase public awareness of local history, and participating in events such as the opening of rotating exhibits such as Theodore Morris’s “Florida’s Lost Tribes”. Now that we are custodians of the Historical Exhibits and Education Center located in the historic Chidsey Library Building, there is no limit to our potential for growth. The wonders of the artifacts housed at the Sarasota County Historical Resources have been unavailable from the public for far too long. We now have the opportunity to bring them out of storage and put them on display for residents and visitors to enjoy. FOSCHC is a non-profit organization that depends on donations and grants. In the past, our revenues have more than met our expenses, but with this new endeavor, it is necessary to work very diligently and creatively to attract visitors and donors alike to our new exhibits, lectures, and activities.
Our primary goals are to assist in promoting the use and enjoyment of the SCHR facilities and services, further efforts to assemble historical exhibits, preserve a constantly growing collection of artifacts and materials from our past, promote research for our future, based on the heritage of Sarasota County, actively direct activities that will develop funding for the facilities, and to design and implement policies and procedures to ensure its vision in perpetuity.
Friends Of the Sarasota County History Center (FOSCHC) has collaborated with the following individuals or agencies to fund exhibits, receptions, and books on Sarasota County history, and to provide materials and expertise:
- Jeff LaHurd, Author – partial funding of six books on the history of Sarasota
- Virginia Hoffman, Photographer- partial funding and support of the Florida in Context Photography Exhibit
- Joe King, Architect – partial funding of the Jack West Archive and Exhibit at the Historic Chidsey Library Building and funding and support a reception to introduce the exhibit; funding of the Paul Rudolph exhibit featuring Rudolph’s Florida Home and reception
- Historical Marker Project – funding of receptions for the dedications and support of the Sarasota County Historical Commission
- History Center Manager – supporting the Sarasota County Historical Resources to display their collections of historical archives to the general public.
- Historical Resources staff: Heidi Connor, Archivist; Steve Koski, Archaeologist
- Sarasota County Historical Commission – a steering committee has been formed to meld our members’ efforts and preserve and promote the historical treasures housed in the SCHR.
- Center for Architecture Foundation – hosting a joint reception to promote a video biography of noted architect, Tim Seibert.
- The Sarasota Architectural Foundation worked closely with the Friends to promote the opening of the “Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses” exhibit in November 2015.
- Sarasota History Alive – The Friends provides Jeff LaHurd’s books for prizes when people enter the “Where am I?” contest.
- Theodore Morris, artist – funded the exhibit “Florida’s Lost Tribes” featuring his original artwork; funded opening reception
- Florida Humanities Council – received grant to sponsor four Florida renown speakers
As current managers of the Historical Exhibits and Educational Center at the Historic Chidsey Library Building, FOSCHC plans to continue having rotating exhibitions (approximately every four months), educational lectures, children activities, student research opportunities, and fundraising events. The Friends continue to support SCHR activities, and work closely with volunteers from the History and Preservation Coalition of Sarasota County.