Before returning to Venice, I headed west to Historic Spanish Point, Palmer’s former home and a wealth of prehistoric and more recent history. The 30-acre site sits on Sarasota Bay in Osprey, nine miles north of Venice, and also has been home to Native Americans and 19th-century pioneers. In a lush setting, visitors can view Palmer’s gardens and plantings, though her residence no longer remains. Before Palmer arrived, the land was homesteaded by the Webb family, who ran the area’s first tourist resort. Several of their buildings have been restored and can be toured. The most fascinating sight here is an exhibit inside a cutaway of a 15-foot-high shell midden filled with shells, tools, bones, and pottery shards dating to about 1500 BC and used until 1100 AD.
Before leaving the area, I followed one final piece of advice from Dempsey: Don’t miss the sunset from Sharky’s on the Pier, the town’s only beachside bar and restaurant. With margarita in hand, I toasted Nolen for a job well done.
Diane Daniel can be reached at email@example.com.