Island History

Anna-Maria-IslandThe area was first inhabited by the Tocobaga and Calusa American Indian tribes, but the recorded history of the island is said to have begun around 1530 when Spanish explorers, including Hernando de Soto, claimed the area for the Spanish Crown. But it wasn’t until 1892 when the island got its first permanent resident — George Emerson Bean (after whom Bean Point was named) when he homesteaded much of what is now the city of Anna Maria.

In the early 1900s, Bean began to develop the island with his Anna Maria Beach Development Company that laid streets, built sidewalks and houses and installed a water system. During this time the Roser Memorial Community Church was built by George Roser — the creator of the Fig Newton that he eventually sold to Nabisco Brands — in honor of his mother.

For years the island was only accessible by boat. It was not until 1922 that a wooden bridge was constructed connecting the island to the mainland. The bridge extended westward from, Cortez, a historic fishing village, to the island. The Bradenton Beach fishing pier located at the end of Bridge Street is the western end of that original bridge.

Today the island is a mix of residential homes, vacation properties and businesses existing in harmony with the landscape and enhancing its small-town heritage and “old Florida” charm.

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