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How The Little White Church Came About
In 1915 –1916 , a community of new settlers from many parts of the country were drawn to the development of the area by a land promotion company. Bee Ridge, then a part of Manatee County, supported a train station, post office, hotel, general store and school. The company was owned in part by Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer of Chicago. The area was known for having a number of bee hives and thus it came to be known as "Bee Ridge". Although the people had different religious backgrounds, they were united in the need for a church for spiritual growth. A number of ministers were asked to conduct services and the first meetings were held at the Gillespie School (on McIntosh Road south of the present church).
After nearly two years, the first building committee was formed. Mrs. Potter Palmer presented two lots for a church sight. Most of the construction was accomplished by the church members and finally, the first church building was dedicated in December1919.
The church struggled and grew. New church organizations were established and various ministers were called. Then disaster struck the little church; the now infamous Hurricane of ’26 crashed the white frame sanctuary to the ground, along with much of Florida.
Church members were offered the use of the Bee Ridge Baptist building but there was no regular minister and things looked rather dismal for the congregation. Finally, Rev. Henry Poirrie was sent back by Presbytery and the congregation began to move forward with new courage and strength. A new church building was constructed and completed in March 1927.
Things seemed to be going well again, but on June 21, 1927, during a night storm, lightning struck the three month old building and burned it to the ground! A few neighbors were able to salvage a piano, six pews, a few hymnbooks, Bibles and Sunday school literature. A $1000 insurance policy on the burned church provided funds to rebuild. The minister urged the church group to rebuild. Within ten days, the men of the church were at work on another building, similar in design and dimensions to the one destroyed by fire. The congregation worshipped in the Bee Ridge Woman's Club during construction This new wood frame church, in the Gothic Revival style, contained a narthex, a sanctuary, and two classrooms. This church, now familiarly known as the "Little White Church", was completed on August 27, 1927. October 2, 1927 was dedication Sunday
Growth of church membership in the 1940s led to the erection of an educational building and new sanctuary. Construction of the Victor Lundy-designed sanctuary necessitated moving the Little White Church farther back on the property in 1956.
In 1989, the Albritton family completed restoration of the Little White Church, in memory of family members.
We use our White Church every Sunday for our early service. In addition, it's used for many other special events throughout the year.
On October 10, 1999, the Little White Church Historical Marker was dedicated by the Sarasota Historical Commission.
Interior of the Little White Church at Christmas
To learn about our Main Sanctuary, click here
Bee Ridge Presbyterian Church
South McIntosh Road Sarasota, Florida
34233 Church Phone (941) 921-5355