Anna Maria Island – A Look Into The Past

When you’re relaxing on vacation and enjoying your beautiful rental as a home away from home, look out into the gorgeous waters of Anna Maria Island and remember there’s more than meets the eye.

A rich history surrounds this area, and you can find traces of it all around if you know what you’re looking for. If you love history and want a snapshot of how life on Anna Maria Island came to be, you’ve come to the right place.

Early Life

Indian tribes were actually the first inhabitants of the area, and lived here as far back as 1000 A.D. Some say Ponce De Leon named the island after Maria Anna, the queen of Spain at the name. And even though he may have named the island, he was unable to colonize the area as the Native Americans drove him out.

They weren’t so successful the next time around. A few years later in 1539, Hernando Desoto landed on coast of Bradenton, enslaved the native people, and forced them to help him on the quest to find gold in El Dorado.

First Settlers

The Native Americans never returned, but this left the land open for someone else to find and settle on. George Emerson Bean was the first person to live in the City of Anna Maria in 1892. Others came to help him develop the area and establish the start of what you see today.

Then, there was the settlement of Holmes Beach. Sam and Annie Cobb settled this section of the island in 1896. Their daughter was the first “non-Native” person to be born on Anna Maria Island.

Years later, after World War II, a developer named Jack Holmes came to the island. He started in Holmes Beach, which would be aptly named after him, and began to build a 600-acre community.

An Island of Growth

Holmes wasn’t going to stop there. He ensured an airstrip was built in 1948. With this development, and others, he is credited with much of the expansion of the island. Eventually, he had 200 homes for sale and was drawing people into the area. Schools, doctors, dentists, banks, and shopping centers started popping up all over the island. Professional movie productions were filmed on the island.

The City of Bradenton Beach on the southern end was formed a little while after Holmes Beach and the City of Anna Maria. Both were already well on their way with growth, creating a booming local economy. Bradenton Beach became official in 1953 and grew in size as a result of the Cortez Bridge.

After the Cortez Bridge was built in 1921, it connected Anna Maria Island to the mainland. It was replaced with a more modern bridge in 1967. The Manatee Causeway was also built in the 20s along with Gulf Drive. Gulf Drive still famously stands as the only road to run the entire length of the island.

Unforgettable Old Florida Charm

Rich Anna Maria Island history and local cultural appreciation has helped retain that quaint Old Florida charm on the island. Knowing a bit of the history and how Anna Maria Island came to be can help you see and experience all the area has to offer to the fullest.

If there are some historical places you want to check out, or if want to learn a little more about what happened in the island’s past, we can help you.

We also have a variety of Anna Maria Island vacation rentals to choose from based on your unique needs, group size, and required amenities. Just ask one of our experienced staff members! You can call us any time at (941) 778-4178.