The City of Anna Maria was the first community on Anna Maria Island, and to this day it is a central gathering area full of exciting destinations, things to do, and historical sites.
Although the area attractions many tourists for its incredible views of the clear blue ocean waters, fun walkable dessert shops and restaurants, and waterfront piers, it’s the City of Anna Maria history behind it all that makes the trip really worth it.
The Native American and Spanish Discoverers
Before the first permanent settler arrived on the island, Anna Maria Island was discovered by the local Caloosan and Timucan Native American tribes. Later on, it was also discovered by Spanish explorers including Hernando de Soto who passed by the island in 1539.
The island was settled by Madison Post, a Tampa mayor who named the island after his sister in law Anna and his wife Maria. Although Cuban fisherman and others visited the island and settled there temporarily, George Emerson Bean was the first permanent resident.
George Emerson Bean and Charles Roser
In 1892, Bean set up his homestead on the northern tip of the island in a scenic beach area that is now known as Bean Point. His former home sat in the area where the Rod and Reel Pier exists today, another scenic waterfront area. Bean laid the foundation for the initial settlement of the surrounding area which would later become the City of Anna Maria.
After Bean passed away in 1898, ownership of his land transferred to his son, George Wilhelm Bean. He partnered with Charles Roser to further the development of the island and see his father’s legacy fulfilled.
The Anna Maria Beach Company
Roser and Bean created the Anna Maria Beach Company together which developed the streets and further laid the foundations for the area to be developed. Interestingly, Roser is also credited as being the person who founded the Fig Newton and made much of his fortune through that invention, which he later used to invest in real estate in Florida.
The Roser Memorial Church
Roser also developed the first church on the island, the Roser Memorial Community Church, in 1913. The cross on the church was lit and served as a beacon for fishermen until electricity reached the island after a few years. Amazingly, the Roser Memorial Church still stands today and can be visited in the City of Anna Maria at 512 Pine Avenue.
The Anna Maria City Pier
The Anna Maria Beach Company also developed the famous 678-foot pier which still stands today at the end of Pine Avenue, although it has been closed from time to time for renovations due to hurricane and weather-related damage. The pier is currently in the process of reconstruction to be better than ever following Hurricane Irma, however, you can still easily view this piece of history in the City of Anna Maria while exploring the nearby attractions like Bayfront Park, restaurants, and the Anna Maria Historical Society.
Getting the Complete Anna Maria Island History
There’s much more to the history of the City of Anna Maria that can’t be described in a short blog. That’s why we recommend that you take a visit to the Anna Maria Historical Society, which is also located in the area at 402 Pine Avenue.
Here you’ll get to see some of the historic structures that still stand like the Anna Maria City Jail and get to learn some of the more eccentric facts about the area from local historians, as well as other exhibits. This small museum is well worth the trip, along with a visit to nearby Bean Point and a few of the top-rated restaurants and stores nearby.