Took advantage of the sunshine this past Monday and wandered through the Manatee Village Historical Park in downtown Bradenton. Thanks to the foresight of Manatee County back in the 1980s, this site preserves 14 historic buildings along a stretch of brick-paved Manatee Road.
Only the visitor center, which occupies the old Wiggins Store/Hotel Dixie Grande, is original to the site. All the others were relocated from various locations across the county.
According to their signage, the town of Bradenton owes its existence to a storm. In 1865, Captain John Fogarty’s fishing vessel was beset by wind so he turned up the Manatee River for protection. The natural harbor and thick woods enticed John to move his entire family from Key West.
The family claimed 132 acres and established the Fogarty Boat Works. Boats were in high demand at the time for two reasons; the consequences of the Civil War and waterways were Florida’s highways. The rest, as they say, is history…