It’s all about Owen!
Owen Burns and the Burns Court Historic District
Named by the prominent developer and builder, Owen Burns, Burns Court is located off South Pineapple Avenue. It was constructed 1924/1925 and the winter cottages there were for wealthy northerners to escape the brutal winters. Owen who was an avid fisherman, often visited Sarasota from Maryland to fish in the famed Bay of Sarasota. He finally settled in Sarasota in 1910. He also had a fishing cottage on Burns Court where he would fish out of his backyard in Sarasota Bay. Today it houses a restaurant named for him. The photo below is of a massive Banyan tree that was given to Owen by Thomas Edison!
Owen was a significant force in the development of the City of Sarasota. Besides being a developer, he also owned Burns Construction Company, did real estate, and was the largest landowner in the city. His construction company was responsible for the construction of the Ringling Causeway which connected Lido Beach with Ringling Isles. He created bayfront points like Golden Gate. Owen, along with other community leaders, encouraged the separation of Sarasota City from Manatee City.
Owen’s construction company built the Ca’ d’Zan for John and Mable Ringling. He also built the first newspaper building in Burns Court, which is now the building housing the Sarasota Women’s Exchange consignment store. In 1926 on New Year’s Eve, he opened the El Vernona Hotel, a hotel he built, and named after his wife, Vernona, whom he married in 1912.
Owen and Vernona had five children. Owen was born in 1869 and died in 1937. Their daughter, Lillian G. Burns, became an historian of Sarasota. She died in 2001.