Rotonda West History

Excerpts from Rotonda: The Vision & The Reality

These and other historical facts about Rotonda’s early years are outlined in Jack Alexander’s book, ‘Rotonda: The Vision & The Reality,’ copies are available for $10.00 at the Rotonda West Community Center, 646 Rotonda Cir, Rotonda West FL, 33947 (941) 697-6788.

Rotonda: The Beginning and Before

By Jack Alexander As we traverse Rotonda, we might echo some interesting folk who preceded us. The history of our chunk of paradise goes deep. President James Monroe accepted Florida from Spain in 1821, when the invading Spanish went home, whipped by Indians, snakes, predatory animals, oppressive heat and mosquitoes. Monroe named Andrew Jackson (later our seventh president) Florida’s first territorial governor. In 1845, Florida became the 27th state to join the Union. It remained
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Golf: At the Heart of Rotonda West From Day One

By Jack Alexander, RWA Historian Longtime Rotonda golfer Charlene Diggins said, "In the old days (mid-late 70's) it was fun. The bar at the club was packed evenings, everyone having a good time, especially Fridays after Guys & Dolls. The early golf pros -Walter "Red" Lathrop, later Ray LaGoy - always mingled with the golfers. The fun often lasted beyond eleven o'clock, the pros participating. LaGoy knew everybody's name and handicap." By all accounts, the
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Some Unlikely People Put Rotonda on the World Map, Including O.J.

by Jack Alexander Many individuals stand out in Rotonda West’s history as affecting the community’s course over time - William Vanderbilt, Joseph Klein, Col. Joe Tringali, TV pitchman Ed McMahon, Jim Petrides, among others. Many residents devoted time and energy to creating and then leading the vital community organizations - the original Property Owners Association and Rotonda West Association among them: Richard Bean, Jim Graham, Dick Tanner, Francis Labar, Ed Hennessey, Joe Obey and John
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Don Pedro Island…. Rotonda West’s Most Overlooked Asset

by Jack Alexander It always amazes me that one of Rotonda West’s greatest assets is overlooked and underused... Don Pedro Island. Many Rotonda West residents seem unaware that a mid-1970’s investigation of Rotonda’s development by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) resulted in a consent decree that gave us legal “rights, in perpetuity” to use of a segments of Don Pedro’s Gulf-front beach, plus an easement to reach it from Lemon Bay’s intracoastal waterway, where there
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Early Facts About Rotonda West

by Jack Alexander
  • The land on which Rotonda sits was owned originally by brothers William and Alfred Vanderbilt. William was a former Governor of Rhode Island, and both brothers were direct descendants of the renowned Cornelius Vanderbilt. Known as “The Commodore,” he founded the New York Central Railroad and originated the first ferry connecting Manhattan with Staten Island.
  • The brothers acquired the Rotonda land (36,000 acres) in 1952, with
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Oil, Taxes and Scrub Jays Retard Rotonda West’s Early Growth

by Jack Alexander In 1970, right at Rotonda West’s start-up, the U.S. economy tanked and slowed development. Interest rates soared above 20 percent. Money for infrastructure became hard to find and borrow. (The government wasn’t handing it out back then!). Then, the Arabs embargoed oil shipments to America to encourage Washington to force Israel to make concessions in Mid East peace negotiations. The ensuing oil crisis caused long lines at gas stations across the country.
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Rotonda West “History Book” Now Available

Reprints of the popular book, "Rotonda: The Vision and the Reality", are now available in the Administrative Office in Broadmoor Park, 646 Rotonda Circle. Written by the late Jack Alexander, the 236-page paperback book traces the early history of our community in the 1970s through 2006 featuring its trials and tribulations and the people who made it happen. Included is a chapter on the "Superstars" competition in the 1970s that featured the world's greatest athletes
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A Salute to Ed McMahon

By Jack Alexander The original Rotonda developer made two smart moves in 1970. First, he negotiated with ABC-TV to telecast The Superstars, a unique new sports event, then he retained Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson’s famous second banana to pitch Rotonda as Paradise. The Superstars had the world’s leading athletes compete against each other in sports other than their own, an idea of ice skater Dick Button. It worked. Virtually every named athlete at the
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You’ve Got Mail!

by Jack Alexander Three times that call has resonated for me, at boarding school at age 12, as a Marine in some God-forsaken Belgian ditch during WW2, and from 1948 on, after I entered the U.S. an immigrant from Scotland far from family. In the early ‘70’s the first settlers in Rotonda felt the same. Here they were, in a Florida backwater on what had been a swampy cattle ranch, dependent on a developer of
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A Round Community Is Romantic

By Jack Alexander When dining with multiple friends, I prefer a round table. It’s more congenial because everyone can see and talk easily with everyone else. For similar reasons, Joe Klein’s vision for Rotonda was that, unlike traditional square or block communities, his would be round. As I write in my book, “Rotonda: The Vision and the Reality.” “If Rotonda had been square, perhaps fewer would have come. A round community is romantic. It conjures
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