Sandkey and the surrounding area was once occupied by Native American tribes who called themselves Tocobaga. The Spanish came to Florida in the 1500s, but didn’t settle on Sand Key until 1633 when they built a large fort where Clearwater Beach is today.
The name “Sand Key” derives from sand deposits near the northwest end of Gulfside Street that were used as building material for early settlers arriving after 1850. They erected homes made out of wood boards with cedar shingles or clapboard siding which are still visible alongside Gulf Coast Highway north of Indian Rocks Drive today.
The original settlers of this area were from the northern United States and Eastern Canada. Many people who later migrated to Florida came for health purposes such as Dr. John Gorrie, inventor of refrigeration and air conditioning. His house is located at Gulfview Square Mall on Indian Rocks Road in Clearwater which was built in 1926 out of oyster shells dredged up by early pioneers during the development period when some residents still farmed or hunted for food.