Bird Key originally was a small island in Sarasota Bay. In 1911, Thomas Martin Worcester of Cincinnati began to build on the key by dredging a channel through the grass flats to his dock and using the dredged material as fill to raise the level of the land. He named his home New Edzell Castle after the ancestral home, Edzell Castle of his beloved wife, Davie Lindsay Worcester, of Scotland. Unfortunately, she did not live to see the completion of her husband's "labor of love." New Edzell opened formally with a reception on February 17, 1914.
Thomas Worcester left Sarasota and in the early 1920s and John Ringling purchased Bird Key, Otter Key, Wolf Key and several other unnamed mangrove islands. John Ringling's sister, Ida Ringling North, lived in the home until her death in 1950. John Ringling started developing the keys during the Florida Land Boom of the mid-1920s. Ringling Estates opened on St. Armand’s Key in February 1926 and the bridge connecting the keys to the mainland was also completed in 1926. Late 1926 the land boom ended and Bird Key was at a holt.
After the death of John Ringling in 1936, his estate was in probate for 10 years before clear title could be given to his holdings. By 1950 a group of corporations took ownership headed by John Ringling's nephew, John Ringling North. In 1951, the Ringling Interests proposed to develop approximately 277 acres of land around Bird Key and to fill 37 acres on north Lido Key. The master plan was prepared by noted architects Ralph and William Zimmerman in 1951 and finally the plan was approved in March 1953. In 1959 Arvida Realty, Inc. purchased the Ringling Interests' holdings on the key. Arivida planned to fill in Bird Key to allow for 511 lots, 291 water-fronts and 220 off-water sites. This would be the luxury place to live in Sarasota. For over 50 years, Arvida Realty, Inc. has succeeded, with its Bird Key and Longboat Key developments, in making Sarasota the luxury place to live.