5,000 years ago, prehistoric Indians seasonally came to these shore, drawn by freshwater springs, bays teeming with fish and shellfish, and woods rich with game. By 1000 A.D. their middens, ceremonial mounds, and a village plaza stood nearby. European diseases and war eventually decimated these Floridians. Centuries later Seminoles and Spanish fishermen worked at ranchos or fish camps often built on old Indian sites. The rancho industry supplied mullet, roe, and other seafood to Cuban markets. One rancho near here became the site of Fort Armistead (1840-1841), a Second Seminole War post.
Extensive land purchases occurred during the 1880s. Recognizing the nature of the shell heaps, Dr. F.H. Williams of Connecticut named this area Indian Beach. With others in 1891 he platted a subdivision. The new residents built homes and docks along the bay, established a winter colony, and in 1906 operated a post office serving fewer than a hundred residents. In 1913 the Indian Beach Land Company was formed to sell upland lots as DeSoto Terrace, advertised as an "ultra-exclusive residential section." The Town of Indian Beach was incorporated in 1919 and annexed into the City of Sarasota in 1925.