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

Bequeathed by Sarasota resident Elling Eide (1935–2012), the 72-acre waterfront preserve brings together Old Florida and modern architecture. Sarasota architect Guy Peterson, Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), designed the Center’s research library, which shares the landscape with a rich assortment of native and exotic plants. For his design of the Eide Center, Peterson won an American Institute of Architects Honor Award of Excellence in New Work in 2017.

The Center’s collection amassed by Eide over six decades contains comprehensive library holdings and special collections of rare books, manuscripts and artwork that represent a significant new resource for Asian Studies scholars.

The Elling Eide Center Research Library and Preserve 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, special lectures, and tours.

HISTORY

Visionary, scholar, and preservationist Elling Oliver Eide was born in Chicago in 1935 and raised in Sarasota, Florida on his family’s compound alongside Little Sarasota Bay. He attended Sarasota High School and later Harvard University, where he graduated in 1957 summa cum laude 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. Elling also had a deep expertise in horticulture and he planted hundreds of plants and trees from around the world. Many of these were rare and unusual and produced either showy flowers or edible fruits. 

Elling’s 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 the natural and architectural environment the Center calls home. 

To submit a proposal for a conference, workshop, or other professional meeting, please submit an application here

To apply to become a visiting scholar or researcher, please submit an application here

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History