Pinecraft is a small neighborhood community of approximately 3,000 Amish and Mennonites. It is situated near the intersection of Bahia Vista Avenue and Beneva Road in Sarasota, Florida, USA. It is a popular winter vacation spot for many North American Amish and Mennonites, particularly from Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Pinecraft officially lies just outside the eastern boundary of the city of Sarasota. It is bounded on the north and west by the Phillipi River, on the south by a line parallel with Seaview Street that extends to Beneva Road; the boundary jogs north at Beneva Road, east at a stream that runs under Beneva Road, north again at Glendale Street, east again at Bahia Vista Street, then runs north to the Phillipi River along a set of railroad tracks. At its widest axes it is about 3/4 mile west-to-east and about 1/2 mile north-to-south.
"Pinecraft" became the new name in 1925 or 1926 of what had been the Sarasota National Tourist Camp, consisting at the time of 466 campsites, most of them 40 feet (12 m) by 40 feet (12 m) in size, with a small public park at the present site of Pinecraft Park, a Community House and a water tank. At that time Pinecraft was about 1/2 square mile in size, bounded on the north by Bahia Vista Street (at the time Bay Vista Street), on the west by the Phillipi River, on the south by Second Avenue South (roughly parallel with the current Schrock Street), and on the east by Yoder Street (at the time Eleventh Street, later Lee Drive). :1-3 Sometime after 1926 another tourist camp called Homecroft was laid out on adjacent property west and north of Pinecraft, which sometime after 1946 was incorporated into Pinecraft. Homecroft, about 1/4 mile by 1/2 mile in size, was bounded by Hacienda Street on the north, Yoder Street (then Lee Drive) on the west, Schrock Street (then Acacia Street) on the south, and Beneva Road (then Beneva Drive) on the east.:1-7
The transition from camps to residential areas occurred gradually, with major housing construction beginning in the early 1940s, continuing briskly through the 1940s and into the 1950s:103-117 The roads were paved around 1949-1950. In 1949 single lots at Pinecraft sold for $200, corner lots for $225.:122
Mennonite and Amish Churches
The Mennonite Tourist Church at 3340 Bahia Vista Avenue has been a much-used landmark from the time it was purchased by Mennonites in 1946 for $7,500 (it had been a bakery until then), and had an attendance at the first Sunday services of 531. At one time it was used by both Mennonites and Amish in separate services.:90-91 Starting in 1947 it was also used as a school for children vacationing in Florida, though by 1949 or 1950 the county built a school for Pinecraft children at the corner of Beneva Road and Bahia Vista Street.:97-98 Currently the Amish have a separate church located at 1325 Hines Street.
Transportation from the north
Amish from Indiana and Ohio travel to Pinecraft on buses of the Crossroad Tours company of Shipshewana, Indiana and Pioneer Trails company of Millersburg Ohio, which has "Florida Line Runs" all months except June and July. From Pennsylvania many Amish commute on buses of Elite Coach of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, whose "Florida Line Run" has once-weekly journeys January through March from PA cities, and on those of Melard Coach, which provides transportation from Lancaster and surrounding counties from late December through March.
- Sarasota Christian School, Mennonite school in Sarasota
- Miki Meek (April 13, 2012). "Where Amish Snowbirds Find a Nest". New York Times.
FROM December through April, Amish travelers pack charter buses making overnight runs from Ohio to Florida. Stiff black hats are gingerly stowed in overhead bins as the bus winds its way through hilly farm country, making pickups in small towns with names like Sugarcreek, Berlin and Wooster
- "Sarasota County GIS". Sarasota County Neighborhoods. Sarasota County, Florida. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
- Gingerich, Noah (2006). The History of Pinecraft 1925-1960: A Historical Album of the Amish and Mennonites in Pinecraft, Florida. Sugarcreek, OH: Carlisle Press. ISBN 978-1-890050-74-0. This book's main sources are letters to the Sugarcreek, Ohio Budget, a newspaper that for many years has contained both local news about Sugarcreek and letters submitted by Amish from around the country relating personal and social news (in the “national edition.”)
- "Crossroad Tours at blogspot.com". Crossroad Tours Company. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
- "Pioneer Trails Bus Company Florida Line Run". Pioneer Trails Bus Company. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
- "Elite Coach Florida Line Run". Elite Coach. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
- "Melard Coach Bus Tours". Melard Coach. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
- Pinecraft-Sarasota is a popular Pinecraft-oriented blog maintained by Pinecraft resident Katie Troyer.
- "Pinecraft Amish Village" on Facebook (sponsored by the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce).