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“On the Trail”
Review of Venice Train Depot

Venice Train Depot
Ranked #5 of 23 Tours in Venice
Type: Rail Tours, Tours
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Attraction details
Owner description: Free Train Depot Tours are available on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 am - 3 pm November 1st through April 30th. This is in addition to our year-round tours available on Saturdays from 10 am - 1 pm. Docents are VAHS members. In 1903, a subsidiary of the Seaboard Air Line Railway brought the first train into what is now Sarasota County. In 1911, the tracks were extended 16.5 miles south at the request of Bertha Honore Palmer, a Chicago businesswoman who was a major landholder in the area. Palmer named the new terminal Venice. The original train stop and sidings were located near the current corner of St. Augustine Avenue and Tampa Avenue West. In 1925, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) purchased land to develop the City of Venice according to a plan drafted by city planner John Nolan. The BLE recognized that a new depot would be essential for importing materials and attracting potential land buyers and visitors to Venice. Completed in 1927 at the height of Venice's early development, the new Depot was the last structure built before the BLE closed operations in Venice in 1928. Designed by the architectural firm of Walker & Gillette, the Depot is historically and architecturally significant. Built as a racially segregated building with two waiting rooms, it was 50 feet wide and 400 feet long. The Depot's architecture embodies the Mediterranean Revival style planned for the City of Venice. When opened on March 27, 1927, the Depot heralded as the finest station on the Seaboard Air Line Railway. The last passenger train departed from the Depot in 1971, but freight traffic continued until 1997. The Depot building closed in 1975, and it subsequently fell into disrepair and decline. Sarasota County purchased the structure in 1999 and renovated it in 2002-2003. Dedicated on October 24, 2003, the restored Depot stands as a magnificent representation of the architecture of early Venice. The renovation added 40 feet on the south side of the building, and the additional space accommodates the Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) bus system hub at the Depot.
Reviewed May 11, 2012

Depot is left over from Seaboard Railway. Tour is only a hour in length but, if you like history, it's worth it. Outside is a caboose from Seaboard and statue of Gunther Gable Williams from the Ringling Circus that wintered here in the 1950's. Best thing about this is it's on the Leagacy Trail that stretches from Sarasota down to Casperson Beach in Venice. One drawback is you have to cross Circus Bridge to get to the beach side. Wih the new bridge over US 41 (Tamiami Trail) in Venice it's an easy bike ride from one end to the other even though there are several road crossings. Walk, ride, jog, it doesn't matter. The trail is wide and flat with a couple of rest stops along the way and benches as well between the depot and beach.
The depot is also the terminal/connection point for SCAT (Sarasota County Area Transit) busses all over the county. You can put your bike on the front and go to almost anywhere in the county for a minimal fare.
After the tour you can spend the rest of the day on the trail and at the beach.

3  Thank 2CaribTravelers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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49 - 52 of 52 reviews

Reviewed March 16, 2012

2 couples totally enjoyed our 1/2 hour in this antique train depot. We all felt welcomed and well educated about the entire area around Venice. We should have done this tour first, before venturing down the street. We would have known the bridge was called the Circus Bridge and what to be aware of on the road to the beautiful beach. Our guide was a well informed volunteer with a great sense of humor. We went behind the scenes and for free what more can you ask for. I am not a train buff but I appreciated the education I received here. Much thanks.

4  Thank flowere123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 25, 2012

At one time this station brought the circus to town and was used to get local citrus to market but those uses became useless and so the station deteriorated. Now it has been refurbished and docents offer informative tours of the place. In addition, it is an active bus station and at the crossroads of two bicycle trails - Venice Waterway Trail heading south and the Legacy Trail heading north. So if you take a tour of the station, be sure to bring your bicycle.

3  Thank JHannah426
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 21, 2012

If you travel to the West Coast (of Forida) and discover the jewel called Venice, take some time to discover the Historic Train Depot. The tour lasts just under an hour and is a fascinating account of Venice history and the significance the Train Depot played in the growth and development of the city. Train buffs beware, there are no trains, (expect for a caboose which is only open on Saturdays) but the Depot itself is worth the trip for the architecture and history that surrounds it, as explained by the trained Docents who lead the tours. Open Mon, Wed, Fri 10 - 3; Sat 10 - 1.

5  Thank LiveLifeOceanCityMD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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