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New Sarasota African American Art Center

Sarasota’s new African American Art Center and History Museum has a home.

Can you imagine documenting 100 years of African American community history? Sometimes the thought of finishing Phase 1 of the Newtown Alive project was overwhelming. But exceptional scholars, volunteer researchers, a citizens’ task force, and community partners lightened the load. This week, two milestones confirmed that the work was well worth it.

Recently, we asked for your support in building the foundation for a groundbreaking project on Florida’s Gulf Coast: an African American Art Center and History Museum. It will be a special place to host programs, showcase exhibitions by Black artists, and jumpstart difficult conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition (SAACC) and Newtown Alive, in partnership with the City of Sarasota are working together. We have found a location and a building!

Sarasota’s Museum of African American History and Culture will be housed inside a single family frame vernacular residence built in 1926 – the historic Leonard Reid House.

The home, located at 7th St. and Cohen Way in the Rosemary District (formerly, the thriving Black neighborhood of Overtown) will be moved to a nearly two acre property on the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and North Orange Avenue in Newtown.
Pictured: Leonard Reid was Col. John Gillespie’s coach driver, butler and caretaker of his home. John Gillespie was Sarasota’s first mayor.

Milestone #2: The National Park Service selected the Newtown Conservation Historic District as one of 18 recipients in its Underrepresented Community Grant Program. Read about this prestigious $50,000 award here, as plans to submit a nomination for a listing in the National Register of Historic Places get underway.

Can you feel the rhythm? A body of work about Sarasota’s Black history that didn’t exist before will be left for generations to come. And we need your help to continue the momentum.

Please consider making a fully tax-deductible contribution to the SAACC today to assist in opening our first home at the Leonard Reid House. Experts and artisans will transform the historic landmark into an art center and museum as soon as possible. We hope to begin essential programming six months from now.
Donate Today

Tell a friend, colleague, or neighbor! Help us spread the good news about this historic work.

Learn more about the SAACC by reviewing our new website. You can also view the Newtown Alive website and learn more about some of Newtown’s key history.

With your help, a new diverse and inclusive vision for our city’s future will become a reality.


Vickie Oldham
President, Chief Executive Officer
Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition, Inc.
Founder, Newtown Alive
Visit Sarasota County 2020 Voice of Tourism

Washington C. Hill, M.D.
Chair, Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition, Inc.
Pictured: From top, Leonard Reid in front of Col. Gillespie’s home; Leonard Reid’s wife Eddye Coleman and daughter Ethel Reid; Leonard Reid driving a carriage. All photos courtesy of Sarasota County Historical Resources.
Newtown Alive and the Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition, Inc. (SAACC) were created to continue historic preservation in one of Sarasota’s oldest neighborhoods.

SAACC’s mission is to preserve, celebrate and share the cultural, artistic, and historical heritage of African Americans in Sarasota and beyond.

Thank you for your support.

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