In the mid-1950s, Sarasota developers Rolland King and Frank Smith purchased 1,240 acres of citrus groves that had originally been planted by Bertha Honore Potter, the Chicago socialite who purchased 80,000 acres of land in Sarasota County beginning with her arrival in 1910. When King and Smith began developing South Gate, the groves were being worked by Minute Maid. Some of the original citrus trees are still growing in the back yards of some South Gate homes.
King and Smith’s original purchase was bounded approximately by Bee Ridge Road, Tamiami Trail, Beneva Road and Hyde Park Street. Besides South Gate, some of the land became Forest Lakes Country Club Estates and some became Village Green. South Gate Manor was a separate subdivision that is now considered part of South Gate.
Groundbreaking occurred in 1955 for the first South Gate homes near Siesta Drive and School Avenue. The first three model homes opened in March 1955. The first home sold was at 2207 Siesta Drive. The South Gate Post Office opened March 30, 1957. The South Gate Shopping Center, now Westfield SouthGate, opened that year, as did some of the shops in the South Gate Village along Siesta Drive east of the Post Office.
The developers called a meeting to establish a community association on Jan. 1, 1956. On Feb. 13, 1956, 140 homeowners adopted the charter and bylaws of the South Gate Community Association. Soon thereafter, the developers began construction of the association hall and swimming pool on a five-acre site on Phillippi Creek at South Gate Circle.
The South Gate Community Center was dedicated on Sept. 2, 1956, and the Association assumed management of the hall and pool, which continues to this day. The hall was designed by Sarasota school architect Victor Lundy. The building and pool have been designated as historic by Sarasota County.
The General Services Administration created a film on his life and works entitled "Victor Lundy: Sculptor of Space"