Manasota Beach Club exploring nature and history

Sydney Buffum Crampton and her mother, Sydney Buffum, enjoy a day on Lemon Bay. They invite the public to the Manasota Beach Club’s annual talks on local environmental topics, Manasota Key and local history.

For more than three decades, the Buffum family has invited the public to the Manasota Beach Club to learn more about Manasota Key, local nature and history.

This year is no different. The 33rd annual Manasota Beach Club Lecture Series commences next month.

“It’s a way to be educated about topics of interest,” said Sydney Buffum Crampton whose parents opened the beach club 59 years ago. Most of the talks focus on the local ecology, natural history and the history of Manasota Key and the region.

Also, people can come and enjoy a day at the historic resort, Crampton said.

When Crampton’s parents — her mother Sydney Buffum, now 90, and her late father, Robert — first discovered Manasota Key, they fell in love with the natural ambiance of the area.

According to the family’s research, Otto Pfunstein came from Germany and ran it as a European-style health club. The Buffums purchased the property in 1960 from the deClairville family, a subsequent owner. Crampton now manages the 20-acre beach club, located at 7660 Manasota Key Road. Its accommodations and amenities remain interlaced beneath a mature oak hammock and other natural vegetation. The heart of the beach club is its two-story building and kitchen area built in 1922.

Over the last 60 years, the Buffum family has been and remains civically and environmentally engaged. The family’s commitment to nature extends beyond the grounds of the beach club.

Crampton helped found what would evolve into the Coastal Wildlife Club, the volunteers overseeing sea turtle nesting on Manasota Key. Crampton served as president of the Lemon Bay Conservancy, a nonprofit organization which her father was a founding member.

Crampton is still civically active, now serving as an elected supervisor on the Englewood Water District board.

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