History Happened Here

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Holmes Beach

Manatee County


Located in Manatee County, Holmes Beach is the largest of three island communities on Anna Maria Island, which is found on the Gulf of Mexico just south of the mouth of Tampa Bay.
Bordered on the north by the City of Anna Maria and on the south by the City of Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach boasts three miles of gorgeous white, sandy beaches. The city also offers easy access to the Intracoastal Waterway which traverses Anna Maria Sound.

Sam and Annie Cobb first homesteaded 160 acres on Anna Maria Island in 1896 in the area now called Holmes Beach. Capt. John R. Jones and Jose Casanas soon joined the Cobbs. Jones piloted boats running between Tampa and Cuba and was authorized by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to establish an agricultural station on the island. He brought trees from South America, India and Mexico. Mosquitoes were bad so the settlers burned powdered chrysanthemum.
Casanas, who settled to the south of Capt. Jones came from the Canary Islands primarily to fish for mullet.

The first island post office was established in 1902 in the home of the Cobbs. Sam was hte only government representative on the island.

The population for Holmes Beach from the most recent census is 3,840.

Story of City's Founding

The City derives its name from Jack Holmes, a developer who arrived on the island after World War II and created a 600-acre community. In 1950 residents voted to incorporate and name the city after Jack Holmes. Halsey T. Tichenor served as its first Mayor, from March 14, 1950 to March 20, 1951. In 1950 the Commission was referred to as the Board of Aldermen. They held their meetings at the home of the Mayor and in his absence, the meetings would be held in the home of the City Clerk. At the first regular session called to order by Mayor Tichenor, Alderman John E. Holmes, Jr. introduced the following ordinance: AN ORDINANCE LEVYING AND IMPOSING AN EXCISE OR PRIVILEGE TAX UPON THE SALE, RECEIPT, PURCHASE, POSSESSION, CONSUMPTION, HANDLING, DISTRIBUTION AND USE OF CIGARETTES IN THE TOWN OF HOLMES BEACH; PROVIDING FOR THE METHOD OF COLLECTION; PROVIDING FOR THE EXPENDITURE OF THE FUNDS DERIVED THEREFROM, PROVIDING FOR THE EFFECTIVE DATE THEREOF; AND REPEALING ALL ORDINANCES AND PARTS OF ORDINANCES IN CONFLICT HEREWITH. The Ordinance was adopted. The minutes are signed by the City Clerk but he or she is not mentioned in the minutes. A century’s worth of development may mask it, but early residents had to hack through dense jungle just to create a sandy washboard road. Back then, facing rattlesnakes, wildcats and panthers was a common occurrence. An airstrip was built in 1948 when the portions of the movie On An Island With You was filmed, starring Esther Williams and Peter Lawford. An airplane accident in 1970 signaled doom for the airstrip. Despite a Save Our Airport campaign it was closed in 1973. Today, Holmes Beach remains a popular tourist destination with a wide array of vacation rentals, along with permanent and winter residents.

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