South Side School


South Side School

 
Location: Webber Street between U.S. 41 and Osprey Avenue
Southside School opened its doors to 170 students January 11, 1926, one of several schools built in Sarasota County's land boom of the 1920's. These schools included two richly ornamented Mediterranean Revival style elementary schools along the new Tamiami Trail, Southside and Bay Haven. They were inspired by Italian and Spanish Renaissance architecture and both were the work of Tampa Architect M. Leo Elliott, who also designed the Gothic Revival style Sarasota High School. Southside featured open hallways around an interior courtyard, a barrel tile roof, and separate arched portals to boys' and girls' playgrounds. On opening day, Southside School was located south of the city limits in the center of what was called "South Side School Subdivision" created in 1925 by the Board of Public Instruction. Doris Brownell was Southside's first principal. During her administration, the school's first PRA was organized and the school lunch program was started.

Sarasota's land boom was short lived. Within months of Southside's completion, land values dropped, Sarasota's economic base rapidly declined and the population dwindled. During the Great Depression which followed, Sarasota schools suffered. By 1933, Southside and the rest of the city's schools were closed for lack of money. Only those students who could afford tuition were allowed to return. Enterprising students developed money-making schemes. Coat hangers and cola bottles were collected and odd jobs were sought. During these hard times elementary students were permitted to attend classes barefooted. After World War II, Sarasota experienced renewed economic vitality and dynamic growth. By 1952 the population soared to 22,000 and Southside underwent the first of many expansions and improvements to meet continuing growth and changing needs. The school facilities later expanded to include a student-designed playground, a one-quarter mile track, a botanical garden, an outside stage, and a media center.