Sarasota in Sarasota County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
First Municipal Airport Lowe Field
On January 12, 1929, Sarasota dedicated its first municipal airport located on 160 acres just west of Oriente Avenue, now Beneva Road, and north of Fruitville Rd. Pilots performed aerial maneuvers and stunts for the crowd, many of whom felt an airport was critical to future growth of the city. An earlier airfield located on the fairgrounds east of Oriente Avenue closed when the Fair Association deeded its holdings to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for winter quarters.
During the economic depression of the 1930s, business leaders and aviators promoted Sarasota's growing air industry. in 1931, a hanger to house five planes was added alongside Oriente Avenue. The Chamber of Commerce sponsored air tours and other flying exhibitions. Various flying schools operated out of the airfield in the winter months when the sod runways were dry.
National Airlines began daily passenger and mail service at the municipal airport in the early summer of 1937. Wet grounds, however, forced cancellation of many stops. Later in the year, National discontinued service when financially-strapped Sarasota was unable to provide concrete runways.
Civilian flying continued at the old municipal airport. In 1943, former circus roustabout Johnny Lowe purchased the airfield which became known as Lowe Field. Lowe acquired the uniquely-roofed Pagoda Sandwich Shop on Main Street, moved it to his airfield, and renamed it the Airport Tavern. It served both pilots and Ringling circus performers.
During the war, the Civil Air Patrol used Lowe Field as a base for its coastal patrol operations. The CAP monitored German U-Boat activity and escorted ships coming into Tampa Bay from Key West.
After the Army vacated the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport at the end of the war, most civilian air operations moved there from Lowe Field. Student pilots, crop dusters and mosquito control planes continued to fly out of Lowe Field until 1961, when Lowe sold the land. The post-war economic boom resulted in commercial development of the former airport site.
Erected 1998 by Sarasota County Historical Commission.
Location. 27° 20.884′ N, 82° 29.846′ W. Marker is in Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1199 North Beneva Road, Sarasota FL 34232, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Winter Quarters (within shouting distance of this marker); Oaklands/Woodlawn Cemetery (approx. 2.2 miles away); Mable Ringling Memorial Fountain/Luke Wood Park (approx. 2½ miles away); St. Martha Mission Church (approx. 2½ miles away); Avondale (approx. 2.7 miles away); The Booker Schools (approx. 2.7 miles away); Seaboard Railway Depot (approx. 2.8 miles away); Methodist Church (approx. 2.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sarasota.
Categories. • Air & Space • War, World II •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 21, 2018. This page originally submitted on January 27, 2017, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. This page has been viewed 143 times since then and 20 times this year. Last updated on February 13, 2017, by Byron Hooks of Sandy Springs, Georgia. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on January 27, 2017, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.