Bubil: A story Realtors won't tell


A few weeks ago, our Market Snapshot series in the Saturday Real Estate section featured Punta Gorda Isles in Charlotte County, promoting it as an affordable waterfront alternative for homeowners who also are boaters.

The series of stories usually includes historical information about the early days of the featured neighborhood.

Home sellers in Punta Gorda Isles will be glad to know that my story did not include information about one of Punta Gorda’s most colorful characters, who in the late 1800s ran a business on the edge of town, near the salt marsh that was to become PGI in the 1950s.

She was known as Miss Ollie Bracket, who, in the community’s early days, was the notorious keeper of a bordello at the edge of Punta Gorda.

She also was known as “Big Six,” because she was 6 feet tall.

According to historian Lynn Harrell, “the bawdy lady had previously used the alias Maria Dempsey when she married Dan Patrick of Tampa in 1892.”

The marriage did not go well, for reasons you will be told in a moment.

“Soon thereafter she abandoned her spouse and moved to Punta Gorda,” wrote Harrell in her historical account. “Struck with dysentery, ‘Big Six’ refused medical attention.

“Nonetheless, a doctor was called when the madam went comatose. She rallied for a death-bed confession, in which she admitted to being on the run from a murder charge.

“But only after death was her true secret revealed. ‘Big Six’ was a man, or perhaps a hermaphrodite, named George Asbel.”

This is the kind of local history most Realtors are not going to share with their clients. “And over here by the yacht club is where Big Six, the hermaphroditic madam, ran her bordello.”

More celebs to come

I see Jerry Springer is making a rare Sarasota public appearance tonight when he brings his “The Price Is Right Live!” show to the Van Wezel.

Well, with all the celebrities moving to town, he runs the risk of being overlooked if he stays hidden here. With Rosie O’Donnell’s recent purchase, more A-listers may be thinking that South Beach is getting too crowded and come up this way.

“I feel very optimistic for the coming season in the upper end of the market,” said Linda Dickinson of Michael Saunders & Co. “We have some very interesting luminaries looking at Sarasota, and not just a few of them — a lot.

“I feel like the cat is out of the bag. Our combination of assets for this lifestyle is spectacular, and people are now comfortable parting with money in a way we haven’t seen for awhile. It all bodes well for the market.”


Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: November 16, 2013
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