The Three Cities of Anna Maria Island
Ladle-shaped Anna Maria Island is just over seven miles of coast line and is actually three cities: Anna Maria to the north, Holmes Beach in the middle and Bradenton Beach to the south. Each of these Manatee County cities has a slightly different identity, but all share the same relaxed feel, and the same white sand beaches.
The infamous Rod & Reel and Anna Maria City Piers are located in Anna Maria, on the north end of the island. Anna Maria’s one of kind Main Street, Pine Avenue, is also located on the north end. It’s been the center of the city’s activity since the 1900s, and has been recently revamped with a commitment to sustainable green buildings. Down the road a bit is the Community Center, which has been a place to gather and play in the city since the early 60s.
Holmes Beach, the largest of the three cities, is located in the middle. It is home to the Island’s Elementary School and the ever popular and busy grocery store, Publix.
To the South, is Bradenton Beach. Here, Bridge Street is a popular destination for dining and shopping.
Temperatures average 84 degrees and we have about 361 days of sunshine per year. Even though magazines and news outlets are beginning to discover Anna Maria Island, character still wins out in all three island cities!
As part of a string of barrier islands along Florida’s West Coast, settlers have cast their nets on the sand flats and bountiful waters in and around Anna Maria Island for hundreds of years.
Our region was first the home to the native Calusa, a proud maritime nation who ruled the Gulf Coast from north of Tampa to the Florida Keys. The Spanish arrived in 1539, with Hernando DeSoto leading 600 conquistadors in an exploration of the interior of “La Florida.” Anna Maria started to become what it is today with the arrival of the first modern settler, George Emerson Bean, in 1892.
Bean’s son George Wilhem, together with Charles M. Roser, began development of Anna Maria Island in the early 1900s. Roser is the rumored to have invented the Fig Newton, and he came to Florida after his bakery was sold to Nabisco. Together, the two developed the island, creating streets, hotels and the famous Anna Maria City pier.
Anna Maria City Pier
When the Anna Maria City Pier opened in 1911, boats were the only form of transportation. The pier was used as a general store and loading dock for all the supplies to build the island. While so many historic Florida fishing piers have been lost to time, the City Pier and nearby Rod & Reel Pier have survived and both are still in use today.
Roser also built many of the Island’s other iconic buildings, which are still pillars of Pine Avenue. The Roser Memorial Church was built in honor of his mother in 1913 (the chapel is open to visitors weekdays). Roser’s old Community Center, brought to the island by barge in 1912 to be used as a pavilion when the town was founded, still houses community events as well as the local theater company, The Island Players. And the Roser cottage which housed the Island’s first real estate office, is still servicing residents and visitors alike.
In 1922, a bridge opened up from Cortez, the island began to grow even more, developing its character throughout the 20th century.
Anna Maria Island has always been a favorite vacation spot. Over the years, many historically notable people have recharged on Anna Maria, including James Agee, the novelist, and Walter Lippman, the famed journalist. While times have changed, the island is still hosting folks from all walks of life and providing a piece of paradise to unwind.
The First Real Estate Office
Today, you can step right into the Roser era with Sato Real Estate. Our offices are located in the Roser Cottage, Charles Roser’s original real estate sales spot, opened in 1912. As a tribute to the “Fig Newton King”, the cottage is now painted purple.
We’re proud to have the opportunity to continue the history and sense of community Roser started so many decades ago. Want to find your place in the history of Anna Maria Island? Contact Sato Real Estate, and you too can be a part of the story of this storied island.