Nestled along Florida’s southwestern coast lies Englewood, a charming coastal town with a rich history and a laid-back ambiance. Englewood has captivated residents and visitors alike with its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and a vibrant cultural heritage. From its humble beginnings as a fishing village to its transformation into a sought-after destination, Englewood’s history is a tale of resilience, community, and natural beauty.
Early Settlement and Growth:
Englewood’s history dates back to the late 19th century when pioneers, lured by the area’s natural resources, began to settle in the region. The discovery of vast stands of pine and cedar trees fueled the local lumber industry, leading to the establishment of several sawmills. With easy access to waterways and the Gulf of Mexico, Englewood soon became a bustling hub for shipping timber.
The Fishing Village:
As the lumber industry thrived, Englewood’s waters teemed with abundant fish and shellfish, making it an ideal location for commercial fishing. Many residents turned to fishing as their primary occupation, and Englewood gained recognition as a vibrant fishing village. The town’s residents built their livelihoods around the bountiful waters, establishing seafood markets, smokehouses, and boat-building businesses. The fishing industry shaped the identity of Englewood, providing a sense of unity and camaraderie among its inhabitants.
The Arrival of the Railroad:
In 1912, the arrival of the Florida Southern Railroad brought a new era of growth and tourism to Englewood. The railway connection provided convenient transportation for visitors from the northern states, seeking respite from harsh winters. Englewood’s pristine beaches, untouched mangrove forests, and clear blue waters quickly captured the attention of tourists, prompting the development of resorts and hotels along the coastline.
Winter Haven for Wealthy Northerners:
Englewood’s natural beauty and temperate climate attracted affluent visitors, particularly from the northern United States. Wealthy industrialists and entrepreneurs began purchasing vast tracts of land, constructing luxurious winter homes and estates. These winter residents, known as “snowbirds,” brought prosperity to the region, stimulating the local economy and contributing to the town’s growth.
The Lemon Bay Colony:
In the late 1920s, a significant development project called the Lemon Bay Colony was initiated. This ambitious endeavor aimed to create a picturesque community with elegant homes, lush gardens, and state-of-the-art amenities. The Lemon Bay Colony quickly became a symbol of Englewood’s transformation into an upscale destination, renowned for its natural beauty and exclusive residential offerings.
Barrier Islands and Nature Preservation:
Englewood’s coastline boasts several barrier islands that offer a glimpse into the area’s unspoiled natural wonders. Manasota Key, Gasparilla Island, and Palm Island are popular destinations known for their pristine beaches, rich biodiversity, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. Recognizing the importance of preserving these natural habitats, Englewood has prioritized conservation efforts, establishing parks, nature reserves, and protected areas to safeguard its ecological treasures.
In recent years, Englewood has evolved into a vibrant community with a thriving arts scene, a plethora of recreational activities, and a welcoming atmosphere for residents and visitors alike. The town celebrates its heritage through festivals, local museums, and historical landmarks. Englewood’s charming downtown area offers a delightful mix of eclectic shops, galleries, and restaurants, fostering a sense of community and small-town charm.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 13.1 square miles (33.8 km2), of which 9.8 square miles (25.4 km2) is land and 3.3 square miles (8.5 km2), or 24.99%, is water.
As of the 2020 United States census, Englewood had a population of 20,800 with 10,173 households which resulted in a rate of 1.92 persons per household.
By age the population was split with 1.2% under 5 years old, 6.3% under 18 years old, and 57.5% 65 years and older. 50.3% of the population were female persons. By race, the population was split with 95.5% white, 0.1% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.1% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 1.9% two or more races, and 1.3% Hispanic or Latino. There were 2,626 veterans living in the city and 7.2% of the population were foreign born persons.
The CDP had an owner-occupied housing unit rate of 85.6%. The median value of owner-occupied housing units was $233,800. The median gross rent was $1,068. 93.1% of households had a computer and 84.5% had a broadband internet subscription.
94.2% of the population 25 years and older were High School graduates or higher and 30.2% of that same population had a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
The Englewood Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) is a special district created by the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners in 1999 on the Sarasota side of Englewood. The Sarasota and Charlotte County School Districts have an interlocal agreement allowing some Charlotte County residents to use the Englewood Elementary School and the Sarasota County students to use the Middle and High School located in Charlotte County. Englewood has a private utility company, the Englewood Water District, and the Englewood Fire District that serve the community.
Englewood contains multiple public elementary schools and one public high school (Lemon Bay High School). Several private schools are also located within Englewood. Englewood Christian Academy, Heritage Christian Academy, and Genesis Christian Academy offer grades K–12. L.A. Ainger Middle School, a public school serving grades 6–8, located in nearby Rotonda West, Florida, is the nearest public middle school.
Popular entertainment includes the beach, restaurants, and a small shopping district located primarily along Dearborn Street.