Out with the Old and In with a New Love of History

by Lois Bolin
Naples Historian

Florida Trend’s 1959 attitude on Naples being a “nothing-to-do-in-little-town” has changed over the years; so has the attitude (somewhat) on the ‘value of local history’ in a town whose very survival, in more ways than one is attributed to post World War II and the vision of those pioneering families who wanted the character and identity of Naples to be known for its casual elegance.

A Centennial Celebration
On August 27, 1962, 15 like-minded people came together at the Naples Yacht Club to “preserve all of the items, documents and material which have a bearing on the history of Collier County.” They aptly named their group the Collier County Historical Society. In 1985 the CCHS launched The Centennial Foundation, which had a two-fold purpose: recognize the importance of the beginning of Naples and raise funds to enlarge the Collier County Museum and continue the restoration of historic Palm Cottage. (The CCHS name is now the Naples Historical Society.)

The Diamond Jubilee
On December 1, 1998, a committee of community stewards launched the Naples Diamond Jubilee, a six-month celebration of the city’s 75th anniversary of the founding of Collier County. The Town of Naples was actually founded in 1886. Its surrounding communities of Marco Island, Everglades City, and Immokalee were founded
around that same time as well. They became part of Collier County on May 8, 1923 when the county was named after Barron Gift Collier.

In 2011, I started seeking approval for three of the five slated bronze markers, which were on the original list of 15 but never completed: The Naples Company Building (1921 Bld.), Tin City and Combs Fish Company (Kelly’s Fish House). The other new sites I had hoped to get recognized were the Bayfront area that once served as a rail turnaround and the Calusa Canal. One additional site was later added, the First Baptist Church, located next to
City Hall, that became Chapel Grill and will soon be (sigh) condos.

The marker for the Naples Daily News building that once stood on Central Avenue is still missing as are the markers for the Naples Women’s Club and the First Golf Course. (Any news about the markers’ whereabouts would be greatly appreciated as they cost about $3,000 each.)

Local History’s Value
Remember: “If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything.” The Bronze Marker map I created for the City of Naples was to be sure residents knew something about local history. Your QR Code reader will take you to an online link for information all of the 20 historical markers. Enjoy the stories on how the magic in this place we call home began.

Dr. Bolin, Naples Favorite Storyteller, gives local history lectures and tours around Paradise. Contact her through her website at LoisBolin.com or call 239-777-2281.

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