In Focus: Pinecraft’s Unique Amish Community and a Charming Neighbor


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, December 5th, 2016 – More visitors, and possibly new residents, can soon experience Pinecraft, a unique Sarasota community originally set up by religious Amish and Mennonite farmers in the 1920s at the intersection of Bahia Vista Street and Beneva Road.

The Sarasota County Commission, in two separate moves, approved plans that would not only highlight the culture of this religious enclave. These initiatives will also show how well it thrived even as many non-Amish neighborhoods, like the non-sectarian community of Tamaron, have grown around it.

A Boon for Cultural Diversity

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In February this year, the commission approved the Pinecraft Neighborhood Plan, a two-pronged community-led initiative. Essentially, this master plan would protect and preserve the Amish‒Mennonite neighborhood and its contribution to Sarasota’s cultural diversity.

A zoning overlay district and a neighborhood mobility scheme constitute the plan’s two components. Some of the building forms and land uses unique to Pinecraft are addressed in the zoning aspect. Vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian safety, on the other hand, are tackled in the second component. Small, home-operated stores and shops, as well as short-term rentals, are expected to be allowed in Pinecraft once the master plan is implemented.

In another decision, the county commissioners announced in September the approval of an application by the Dutchman Hospitality Group to build a new hotel in Pinecraft. Named “The Carlisle Inn,” this hotel will be constructed on Bahia Street and will feature 103 rooms plus an off-street parking area.

Flock of Amish Snowbirds

Sarasota’s Amish community is more liberal and more tolerant than its northern counterparts. Pinecraft has only few year-round Amish residents in the religious order’s original housing grid of about 500 small homes at the Bahia Vista‒Beneva junction. Many of the residences here are rented, especially during winter. These renters all belong to the Amish order who come by the busloads from such northern states as Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

Pinecraft Park, with horseshoe pits and facilities for shuffleboard and volleyball, is one of the hubs of activities for these Amish and Mennonite snowbirds. Even non-Amish visitors are drawn too to this quaint area because of its homegrown restaurants and small shops. Some of the favorites in Pinecraft include the Dutch Heritage Amish Restaurant and the local farmers market held mostly on weekends.

Although listings of Sarasota homes for sale are typically rare at Pinecraft, available properties here are quite attractively priced starting from the high $100s up to the $400s. These residences’ floor plans range from about 900 to 2,300 square feet, featuring two to three bedrooms.

Endearing Tamaron Neighbor

The choices are more plentiful and as moderately priced at the Pinecraft’s neighboring community of Tamaron just off south of Bahia Vista. With typical price quotes in the $200s and the $300s, Sarasota homes for sale in this subdivision feature floor spaces at between 1,020 and 2,120 square feet, good for three to four bedrooms.

The most prized amongst Tamaron homes for sale are those located by a lake. Besides its five lakes, this subdivision is distinctive for its tree-lined, meandering streets and sidewalks interspersed with mature foliage.

Large Lots in a Convivial Setting

A development of U.S. Home, Tamaron was started in 1976 and was built out by 1984. Its lots come in generous slices, ranging from 7,500 to 17,000 square feet. The western section of this community features a 13-acre preserve with a lakefront park, a white shell walkway, gazebo, and benches.

Year-round residents, mostly retirees, and some snowbirds formerly dominated the Tamaron neighborhoods. Starting the late 1980s, however, the community began attracting a younger crop of residents including renters. Nonetheless, Tamaron’s atmosphere remained convivial and welcoming just like its neighbor, Pinecraft with a rare Amish‒Mennonite pedigree.