Newtown is Sarasota’s historic, African American community, located between Myrtle Ave. and 17th St., nestled between railroad tracks on its east and west ends. During Jim Crow segregation, the community was self-sufficient with flourishing businesses. The church, school and family were cornerstones.
The “Newtown Alive” initiative began when former Sarasota mayor Fredd Atkins saw the need to document Newtown’s 100 year history in 2005. Newtown residents were fearful of redevelopment and gentrification of their neighborhood after witnessing what happened to the first African American community, Overtown, located in downtown Sarasota. Rebranded as the Rosemary District, Overtown’s recognizable, historical landmarks began to disappear and no longer exist. In 2015, the City of Sarasota and Vickie Oldham founded the Newtown Conservation Historic District project (aka Newtown Alive). Many resources about black history were completed, including a website, www.newtownalive.org.