Historical Society of Sarasota County
The Bidwell-Wood House and the Crocker Memorial Church are lovingly protected and preserved by the volunteer-run Historical Society of Sarasota County.
The Bidwell-Wood House was built in 1882 by Buffalo, New York transplant Alfred Bidwell and his second wife Mary. This residence was considered elegant during its time - the showy homestead of a prosperous merchant. While the house was under construction the couple lived in the detached kitchen (now the Gift Shop) and slept in a loft above the cooking area. A scandal involving an assassination plot engineered by Alfred Bidwell and his subsequent arrest for the murder of Charles Abbe (postmaster, a rival shop keeper and U.S. Land Commissioner), forced the Bidwells from their home and from the community in 1885. In 1896 Luke and Annie Wood of Rhode Island purchased the house as a vacation home. Their youngest daughter, Ethel Wood subsequently moved to Sarasota and lived in the house for 70 years. The Bidwell-Wood home has been moved three times, but came to rest in 2006 at Pioneer Park where it is maintained by the Historical Society of Sarasota County.
"The Crocker Memorial Church" was built in 1901 as St. John's Chapel Church by Peter Crocker a native of New York state and Civil War veteran. Crocker, his wife Sophia and their children came to Sarasota in 1873 from Key West where Peter Crocker had been the lighthouse keeper. In Sarasota he was a postmaster and respected civic leader who promoted and helped establish a local school. Peter Crocker died in 1911 but the church continued to be used by other congregations until 2004 when it was officially decommissioned. It was moved three times and came to Pioneer Park under the protection of the Historical Society in 2006. Today the Crocker Memorial Church is a popular wedding venue. It is also used for civic meetings and social gatherings.