The Historic Venice Train Depot, built in 1927, was the last stop on the line of the Seaboard Air Line Railway that extended south from Tampa through Sarasota. In the mid-1920s, the train station was the arrival point for people interested in buying property in Venice, a new town that the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers was developing. In later years, the cadets of the Kentucky Military Institute arrived at the beginning of each New Year to spend their spring term in Venice, staying until Easter. During World War II, trains delivered personnel, vehicles, construction materials, and supplies to maintain the Venice Army Air Base. From 1960 to 1991, the Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus made its winter home in Venice, arriving in November or December by train and leaving weeks later to take new circus performances around the country.
Passenger service ended in 1971 and in 1975 the Depot building was closed. The tracks continued to be used for freight service until 1997, but the station was left to vagabonds, graffiti artists, and deterioration from the elements. Sarasota County purchased the property from the CSX Railroad and restored it to its original condition. The newly renovated station was opened to the public in November 2003. Free docent-led tours are provided by the Venice Area Historical Society. Please check the Society’s website www.veniceareahistoricalsociety.org for dates and times.