Exploring COLLIER COUNTY
by Claudia Polzin
Consultant to Nonprofits
Over the months that you have been reading my articles, you have learned about the wonderful music groups that we have in this city – and the many and varied opportunities for concerts – and many of them are free or have a nominal charge. But as you have wandered around Naples have you explored the history of this area? Buildings that are on the national historic register, history of the three Native American tribes that traveled and inhabited our area, and why this became a major resort area – well finding out all about this is made easy by many organizations.
Right in Naples is Historic Palm Cottage – maintained by the Naples Historic Society – this home is located on the corner of 12th Ave. S and Gulf Shore Blvd. This is the oldest house in Naples, built in 1895 by Walter N. Haldeman. You can enjoy public tours Tuesday – Saturday from 1-4 p.m. This home has rustic hand-crafted charm constructed of tabby mortar – which is a handmade concrete consisting of sand, shells and water – all of which we have in abundance. But before you go on the afternoon tour of Palm Cottage – make sure you sign up for a walking tour of Naples Historic District. Imagine the area as it was in the 19th century, walk along historic Third Street South – see the sites of the original movie theatre, general store and gas station. Yes you read that right – one of each when Naples was first developed – I don’t think I could even begin to count the number of gas stations that we have now. This area was first known as a sportsman paradise and its pull as a resort town earned it the nickname of “summerland in wintertime.” The walking tours do require a reservation – and are held on Wednesdays at 9:30 – so call for your reservation 239.261.8164.
Collier County maintains a series of museums that are focused on various areas of the history of our county – begin in Everglades City at the Museum of the Everglades. This community was first settled in the 1800’s. It was a fishing and hunting village and not until 1923 did it see major growth when it became the headquarters for the construction of the Tamiami Trail from Naples to the Dade County line. At that time Barron Collier promised that if his landholdings in this area were given county status he would construct the last link of road from Naples to Dade County. So Everglades City became the headquarters for that
major construction. Which brings up another question – have you driven to Dade County via US 41 – it is a very different experience than the drive on I-75.
Immokalee Pioneer Museum, which is the home of the Robert Roberts family – this 15 acre turn of the century ranch holds the history of the pioneers that settled this cattle ranching area in our county.
In the heart of Naples you will find the Naples Depot Museum – this building was constructed in 1927 by the Seaboard Air Line Railway. This building has a very interesting history – being a hub of bringing products to our area; housing USO shows during WWII and now a wonderful museum telling another part of the history of Collier County.
Finally in the Collier County museums – the Marco Island Museum- this houses one of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries of modern times – the Key Marco Cat. So have fun exploring Collier County – and end the month with a little music – April 25 – at the Sudgen Theatre – Classic Chamber Concerts will feature of a concert of 17th and 18th Century Bach. So take walking tours, explore the museums and then take a step back in time with a little Bach downtown Naples at the Sugden Theatre.
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