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It’s hard to live in Sarasota and not have heard of Owen Burns, the man for whom Burns Court (and by extension Burns Court Cinema) is named, and the honoree of the week-long Owen Burns Week fete November 8-14, 2010. But how much do you know about one of our town’s founding fathers? Here’s a bit from the Owen Burns Historical Marker at the intersection of Orange and Pineapple to bring you up to speed:

Owen Burns was one of Sarasota’s most distinguished citizens and connected with virtually every early development of the city. He first came to Sarasota on vacation from Chicago in 1910 and decided to make it his home. He purchased more than 75% of the land area of the city, making him the largest landowner.

Burns helped organize the Sarasota Board of Trade in 1911, was instrumental in founding the first locally owned bank, and was a leader in the push to divide Sarasota County from Manatee County in 1921.

His other activities included the effort to have the city’s first streets paved and the construction of Sarasota’s first seawalls. He oversaw the development of the bayfront subdivisions of Cedar Point and Sunset Park and of Washington Park, just east of this site. His Burns Construction Company built the Ringling causeways connecting Sarasota to St. Armands Key, and Lido Key. At one time, he owned all of Lido Key. He was initially involved with John Ringling in the development of St. Armands and John Ringling Estates. During the 1920s, his construction firm was responsible for the construction of some of Sarasota’s most notable buildings, including John and Mable Ringling’s home, Ca’d’Zan.

Owen Burns was a dreamer and a visionary who laid the foundation for Sarasota today. His cottages at Burns Court, in particular, are the epitome of walkable urbanism. Speaking of walkable, Burns Court and the events surrounding Owen Burns week are easily reached by foot or bike from any of Laurel Park Management’s Laurel Park or Gillespie Park apartments. The following is from the event organizers:

The City of Sarasota has officially proclaimed the week of November 8-14, 2010 Owen Burns week in celebration of the city’s most significant developer and civic leader 100 years ago. Commemorative signs will be posted at the Owen Burns properties, from Cà d’Zan, throughout downtown and on Lido and Longboat Keys.

Don’t miss the community-wide events featuring a Kick-off Party at Mattison’s™ City Grill, Jeff LaHurd’s New Book Release, Historic Trolley Tours, and a Burns Court Street Party with special appearance by Jimmie Fadden’s “Suitcase Full of Blues” Band. Join us!

For a full listing of all events, check out Hope to see you all there!