The winters in Utica, New York must’ve been fierce back in 1867 for that’s when John and Eliza Webb decided to take their five children and move to Florida permanently. They had met a Spanish trader in Key West earlier who had mentioned of a place where the land was extended into Sarasota bay and was high enough to protect it from flooding during the seasonal rains.
Grateful for the sound advice of their friend from Key West, John and Eliza named their new ten acre homestead “Spanish Point” and for the next forty years grew citrus, sugar cane, and many other various vegetables.
Being the so far from the nearest town, they built their own packing house.
The main markets for their crops of citrus were in in Cedar Key and Key West, so the Webb’s built their own ten ton schooner called “Vision”. Later they would refit a schooner into a motor boat and name her “Magic”.
Wishing for company, the Webb family encouraged tourism by creating a winter resort and dormitory, now called the White Cottage. Here visitors would come and relax in the mild winter temperatures while enjoying fishing, hunting, and sailing. Today the White Cottage displays various pieces of art and makes for a wonderful mid-point resting place.
Not everything was happy though; a young lady, Mary Sherrill, died while staying at the winter resort. Heartbroken by the event, the Webb family named the family chapel after her. Beside the chapel is a small cemetery where members of the Webb family and other pioneers rest. Years of heavy storms and hot summers took their toll on the chapel and in1986 it was reconstructed while containing the six stained glass windows of the original building.
As much as the land and the people influenced the Webbs, the family decided that their opportunities would be greater if they sold the homestead and focused on future endeavors. Luckily, they found Bertha Palmer.