NO TEXT BELOW OR ABOVE HORIZ A Book Review By Jonathan Herbert The majestic trees on both sides of Banyan Street are not a natural phenomenon. Neither are the coconut palms on Gilchrist Avenue. The high-grade shell that covers most of Shore Lane was originally brought in from Tampa Bay and has lasted more than 20 years. Albert Gilchrist, a second-generation Floridian and descendant of George Washington and James Madison, began accumulating land in the middle portion of the island in 1889. A killer hurricane in 1927, along with the depression and World War II, slowed the sale of land plots for decades. The Gasparilla Inn & Club, a longstanding island centerpiece, may have crumbled without the heavy investments made by Bayard Sharp for restoration and preservation in the 1970s. Without the Gasparilla Act in 1980, certain portions of Boca Grande might now look like Longboat Key. The aforementioned nuggets of Gasparilla Island history can be found in Michael Ingram’s poignantly objective book, “A Title Examiner’s History of Boca Grande.” Many history books are written from subjective points of view but rarely will you encounter such a telling depiction of an island as unique as the people who formed it; as interesting as the events that shaped Boca Grande into the island it is today. “Since most Boca Grande landowners share a pride and interest in the community history of Gasparilla Island, it is unfortunate that current closing practices do not carry on the tradition of the exchange of title abstracts in conjunction with transfers of property. What proud owner is not interested in the history and successive ownership of his property from the earliest public record?” Boca Grande is a distinct island “where nothing unimportant ever happens, and it’s all a matter of public record.” This book was derived from a historical series that first appeared in the Boca. Beacon newspaper. Author Michael Ingram, now deceased, was a real estate lawyer who first came across the Gasparilla Island public records during an emotional time in 1989, following the death of his father. Dr. James Ingram was Boca Grande’s physician during the 1950s. According to his own BOOK REVIEW Boca Grande Beach and Pavillion and Bath House at the end of 4th Street. November 1910.
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