History of Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island was first discovered by local Indian tribes, the Timucan and Caloosan American Indian tribes, and then by Spanish explorers (including Hernando DeSoto) in the name of the Spanish Crown.

In 1892, George Emerson Bean became the first permanent resident on the Island and homesteaded much of what is now the City of Anna Maria. In the early 1900s, Bean began to develop the Island with the Anna Maria Beach Company, which laid out streets, built sidewalks and houses and installed a water system.

During this time, John Roser built the first house of worship, Roser Memorial Community Church, in memory of his mother. Roser was the creator of the Fig Newton, which he eventually sold to Nabisco Brands. Roser Memorial Community Church still stands and attends to the spiritual needs of Islanders.

Typical of the early buildings is the present Island Playhouse, which was built on the mainland. It was transported to the Island by barge and has served the community during its long life as church, school, social and city hall.

The Magnolia Avenue School was built in the early 1900s and has since been replaced with the Anna Maria Island Elementary School, which is located in the City of Holmes Beach. The present school draws students from North Longboat Key as well as Anna Maria Island. It has a student body of just under of 400 house in a new Multi-million dollar campus facility

For years, the only way to the Island was by boat. It was not until 1921 that Anna Maria was physically connected to the mainland by a wooden bridge that extended westward from the fishing village of Cortez to the Island. The Bradenton Beach fishing pier is the western end of that original bridge.

Throughout the developmental period of the Island, local city governments have worked diligently to preserve the heritage of this "Island In The Sun" – Anna Maria Island.