In 1926, Sarasota Attorney Henry Williford had many clients, including John Ringling, who was then developing St. Armands Circle. James Kirk joined Henry Williford, and they had their offices at Five Points, Sarasota, in the old Palmer Bank Building. John C. Pinkerton joined Messrs. Kirk and Williford shortly after World War II, and the firm became known as Kirk-Pinkerton.
Over the years, Kirk-Pinkerton has assisted with the legal affairs of members of the community who were prominent and influential in the development of Sarasota and Manatee Counties as we know them today. Now considerably larger, Kirk-Pinkerton continues its tradition of providing high quality legal work with a premium on client service.
The Ringling Legacy
From sleepy fishing village to dynamic gulf-front city, Sarasota’s evolution over the last 80+ years has been fascinating. The law firm of Kirk-Pinkerton is proud to have played a part in the development of Sarasota County and her cities. During the years following Sarasota’s land boom of 1926, we’ve witnessed good times and bad.
The events which occurred in 1926 were unexpected. Seemingly overnight, the city exploded from a sleepy town of barely 3,000 into a busting community of 15,000. This was in part attributed to the enthusiastic investment efforts by wealthy movers and shakers such as Lord Palmer and John Ringling. Ringling, the youngest of five brothers of circus fame, had been investing heavily here since 1912. Downtown Sarasota landmarks visible in mid-1926 include the Sarasota Hotel at the corner of Palm and Main, and J. H. Lord’s bank at Five Points. Near by, former Mayor A. B. Edwards built his Edwards Theater at the corner of Pineapple and First. In May 1926 the cornerstone was laid for the new courthouse and county government building, next to the hotel Charles Ringling built at the East end of Main Street.
The Mira Mar Hotel on Palm Avenue had been welcoming visitors since 1923. At the northeast corner of Main and Palm, business was brisk at Sarasota’s first “skyscraper,” the 7-story Sarasota Hotel. Just a chip shot away, Owen Burn’s El Vernona Hotel (later purchased by John Ringling and renamed John Ringling Towers) was under construction.
The History of the Law Firm of Kirk-Pinkerton, P.A.
During the summer of 1926, Henry Williford was a well known Sarasota attorney. His most prominent client, John Ringling, was busy acquiring land and investing heavily in what would become the infrastructure of Sarasota. Mr. Williford (1902-1942) hired James E. Kirk (1902-1983), then a young lawyer from Pennsylvania who had just received his law degree from Stetson University Law School in St. Petersburg. The two men opened the law office of Williford & Kirk in the prestigious new First Bank & Trust Company building at Five Points. For the next decade, the firm remained busy handling the legal affairs of Mr. Ringling and many others in the community. This work consisted primarily of real estate acquisitions and land development.
Mr. Williford passed away in 1942. In 1946, John C. Pinkerton (1916-1997) joined the firm. Kirk-Pinkerton would later play an important role in the development of Sarasota and the surrounding area through representation of its clients in numerous real estate transactions. Many of these transactions resulted in the construction of Sarasota’s most luxurious condominiums on Longboat Key and the Bayfront. Perhaps the firm’s most high-profile real estate transaction was the 1959 acquisition by Arvida of the former Ringling holdings on Bird and Otter Keys and the southern portion of Longboat Key.
From its first office at Five Points to its present offices in downtown Sarasota and its office in Bradenton, the firm has grown with the communities it services.
The tradition continues…