The Elling Eide Center is a private research library and nature preserve overlooking Little Sarasota Bay. Dedicated to the study of classical Chinese literature and art, the Center fills a unique role in the cultural and scholarly landscape of its Florida coastal location.

Bequeathed by Sarasota resident Elling O. Eide, this 72-acre waterfront preserve brings together Old Florida and new architecture. Sarasota architect Guy Peterson, FAIA designed the Center’s research library that shares the landscape with a rich assortment of native and exotic plants. The Elling Eide Center Research Library first opened its doors in the fall of 2016.

The Center provides scholars and students with opportunities to research Chinese culture, history, and art on a pristine preserve. The Center also hosts conferences and lectures. The Center’s collection amassed by Eide over six decades contains comprehensive library holdings and collections of rare books, manuscripts, art, and artifacts that represent a significant new resource for Asian studies scholars.

Our Mission

“To sustain a tranquil, ecologically sound Asian research center and library to promote scholarship through research activity and conferences that honor the legacy of Elling O. Eide.”

Our History

Dr. Mitchell and his wife, Cora had two children, Oliver Luther and Grace Mitchell, who followed in their father’s footsteps and became medical doctors. Grace went into practice with her father and married Dr. Iver Olaf Eide in 1924. Sadly, Cora passed away in 1931. In 1935, Dr. Mitchell sought relief from his severe asthma attacks in the northern winters in the warm climate of Florida. Dr. Mitchell selected the Eide Center property, which at that time was known as “Indianola Park”.  Dr. Mitchell spent winters at Indianola Park and summers with his son, Oliver in Antioch, Illinois on Lake Marie. His daughter Grace and husband Iver began spending the winters with him in Indianola once their son, Elling O. Eide, was a year old.

Visionary, scholar and preservationist, Dr. Elling Oliver Eide (1935–2012) was born in Chicago and raised in Sarasota, Florida. He attended Sarasota High School and Harvard University, from which he graduated in 1957 with a degree in Far Eastern Languages. A passionate researcher and gifted translator of Chinese poetry, Eide served in East Asia with the United States Marine Corps, attaining the rank of lieutenant. In the late 1960s, as a Harvard Junior Fellow, he studied in Taiwan and began collecting Chinese literature and art. Eide’s time abroad inspired him to create a comprehensive research library and nature preserve that would attract Asian Studies scholars from across the world. The project engaged him for the rest of his life.

Our Landscape

Beginning in 1972 at the age of 37, Elling established his diverse botanical collection of primarily tropical fruiting and flowering plants and trees. He planted 451 specimens over a 17-month period from March 1972 to July 1973. Most were purchased from local nurseries, others were gifts, from cuttings, or replantings from the Eide’s stock already on site. Elling and his newly planted collection endured Hurricane Agnes in June 1972, which inundated parts of the Indianola property with saltwater. Several specimens did not recover. A hard freeze in 19?? (1977, 1981-1983, or 1985-1986) damaged a large portion of plants and trees with leaf burn due to temperatures in the 20s. Preparing for the cold weather, Elling utilized heated tree bricks and oil heaters, which likely saved many vulnerable plants and trees from being killed entirely.

A passionate collector of unique plants and trees, Eide contributed enormously to the existing plantings of his grandfather, mother, and father including a large variety of fruit trees such as mango, avocado, loquat, jackfruit, and other tropical fruits with stands of Kapok, Bombax, and an ornamental Amherstia from tropical Asia. Eide also preserved over 53 acres of land for wildlife and native plants.

Our Research Library

Eide’s long and fruitful collaboration with local architect Guy Peterson, FAIA, is showcased in the light-filled spaces of the Elling Eide Center’s modern, state-of-the-art research library and in both the natural and built environment the Center calls home. 

The son of Dr. Oliver Luther Mitchell Jr., Harold G. Mitchell, Eide Center President and CEO, continues to carry forward the legacy of the Mitchell/Eide families and the vision of his cousin, Dr. Elling O. Eide.

history
Elling Eide in China, 1980s

The Elling Eide Center Research Library Virtual Tour