John and Mae Wilbanks
The land that Pelican Cove was built on was originally bought by a lady by the name of Mae (Maize) Wilbanks. She had married John Wilbanks and the couple had three sons. Two of the sons died early in their lives and John Jr., the oldest son, actually lived in what is now Pelican Cove. Mae Wilbanks purchased the acreage in 1935 from Sarasota County after the county took it over due to the land bust during the Great Recession. In 1940, the Wilbanks home was completed on the property and the family moved in. One of the outstanding features of the home was a basement because no other home in the area had a basement at the time (and not many do today!) It was said that the interior of the home was very plain in order to showcase Mae’s elaborate furnishings. Mae had an extensive garden and imported trees and plants from around the world. She and a successful amateur horticulturist by the name of Dr. McAdow, who lived on Casey Key at the time, reportedly developed a variety of flowers and possibly even the McAdow Cherry. Mae and John Wilbanks lived on the property and it is written that since John owned a dredging company, he dredged the entrance to where the Pelican Cove boat harbor is today making it possible for the future boat harbor for Pelican Cove. John passed away in 1961 and Mae sold the property with the agreement that she could live in the home until her death on Easter Sunday in 1976 at the age of 92. The Wilbanks and their two sons who had died at an early age are buried in Bradenton in Manasota Memorial Park.