Our History


DeSoto Acres PNG Map


Unique in Sarasota County, DeSoto Acres is the oldest subdivision established outside of Sarasota City limits where horses are part of our neighborhood. Covering over 850 acres, DeSoto Acres is the largest one-house per two acres (RE-1) Low-Density Residential area in Sarasota County.

Our history is also far longer than most subdivisions in Sarasota County.   DeSoto Acres was founded by William Van Dame, a Chicago businessman who permanently moved to Sarasota in 1923. During the 1925 Florida land boom, he bought large tracts in North County including the solid block of land from the Seaboard Air Line Railway (now the Seminole Gulf Line) to Lockwood Ridge Road, and County Line Road (now University Parkway) to 27th St. He was responsible for bringing many large investors to Sarasota. Active in the local Chamber of Commerce, Van Dame raised significant funds for the Chamber’s promotion of Sarasota County. He served as a director for many years and as president in 1932.

His greatest accomplishment was in bringing about the construction of U.S. Highway 301 linking Tampa to Sarasota. In 1928 he gave Sarasota County the right-of-way connection from 27th St. to the county line.

DeSoto Acres started with William Van Dames’ vision for what he called Van Dame Estates. It was an unusual vision even for the time. As a 1928 ad stated, “ideal for suburban homes – poultry ranches, small farms…”

Van Dame Estates was legally established on Feb 3, 1921 with the deed execution. The estates slowly grew from inception through the 1940’s. County records show a total of 8 homes which still exist from that time. Van Dame Estates changed its name to DeSoto Acres when the County re-platted the area on March 5, 1945. Interest in our community picked up in the 1950s and 1960s. The majority of our existing homes were built during this time, followed by homes built during the 1970s. The earliest home dates from 1925, the most recently built in 2020.

Our large lots are home to quite a diverse domestic and native animal population. Residents have horses, dogs, peacocks, and cats. Native and migrating animals include bald eagles, ospreys, sandhill cranes, hawks, kites, owls, herons, fox, armadillos, bats, river otters (although not recently seen), coyotes and every so often a bobcat.

A variety of architectural styles make up the homes in Desoto Acres. This variety makes our community feel more like a natural community. And, it is a testament to the appeal of DeSoto Acres to many different types of residents.

The one thing the residents of Desoto Acres all have in common is the choice to live in DeSoto Acres on large naturally landscaped lots, with native animals in the heart of an urban environment. We have a common interest in DeSoto Acres unique neighborhood character. We come together around this common interest to enhance DeSoto Acres by volunteering, or to preserve DeSoto Acres by organizing resident’s for our common interest. Because of our residents’ ongoing support of DeSoto Acres, we are a strong, vital community.




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