Marking the character OF HISTORY
by Lois Bolin
Old Naples Historian
Since 2004 I have interviewed and met with many Oldtimers who know Naples history as well as those characters with stories that are so important to our community’s heritage.
Some of those founding characters were dubbed The Kentucky Syndicate, a group of investors who built Naples in a relatively small area from 1887- 1932 for seasonal use, which is now called the Historic District in Old Naples.
Last month while conducting private tours of the Historic District for the Ritz Carlton, their guests were stunned to learn that Naples may be the only City in the country that has no ordinances to support its historic district. Are you?
In 2007, I accepted the challenge to “save history” – to raise awareness – to stir the pot as it where, that conjured up the noxious aroma of cultural amnesia. A relatively new hire in the City Planning office brought home this point when I reminded him of how fast old cottages were being torn down and that Fifth Ave. South no longer held its “Main Street” designation from the state because it did not take care of certain requirements so the Historic District could find itself de-listed if the City was not careful.
He replied, “If the Historic District is ever de-listed – all we’ll have to do is take down the signs.”
My gasp brought this young Planner off his high horse.
HISTORIC DISTRICT FACTOIDS
The Historic District ranges roughly from 9th Avenue South to 13th Avenue South to the Gulf of Mexico to Third Street South. This precious area has more stories that Carter has little liver pills yet so few people really know them.
The following factoids about the Historic District are components that were submitted in its application to gain its designation:
- Architecturally significant to the area because of its native material such as oyster tabby oolitic limestone were used in “bungalows” and other home styles with northern stylistic origins called Colonial Revival, Mediterranean Revival or Framed Vernacular.
- Designated a Post Office in August 1888 at the end of the Pier (closest to land).
- Developed first was the Old Naples Hotel, 200 yards from the beach.
- Paved streets of oyster shells were lined with Royal Palms transplanted from The Everglades.
- Isolated geographically until the railroads and Tamiami Trail came in the late 1920s.
- Reflecting Florida’s Resort Heritage, the structures are restrained paralleling the Kentuckian and Ohioan’s taste.
- Recorded in 1775 by Bernard Roman, there is (was) a prime archaeological site, a canal, which ran northwest through the center of the district. To see the relationship between the City and its Historic district go to .naplesgov.com/napleshistoricdistrict/.
In 2004, Mike Peppe and Lois Bolin’s research received approval for the distinguished Florida Heritage Landmark for the Naples Canal from the Department of State Historical Resources Division. The marker is located in Crayton Cove near Bleu Provence.
On March 1987, Mayor Edwin Putzell, along with Naples City Council, of which Mayor Barnett was a council member then, put forth resolution 87-5225 supporting the application for a section of Old Naples to be placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. This resolution was sent to the State of Florida and the United States of the Interior and on December 17, 1987, the Historic District of Naples was officially accepted along with the Keewaydin Club and its 13 cottages located on Key Island. (The cottages have since been torn down and part of the clubhouse, which was moved, is still in use.)
In the City’s Comprehensive Plan there is a line, which has been there since the plan was formed in the late 1940s, which states that officials need to …protect the character and identity of our community. Since officials have a hard time defining the character and identity of the City, because all subsequent decisions of developments and variances, would be measured by these points, the best I do to “save history” was to plot the points where the history and heritage of the City of Naples began. You can find the complete 20 site listings at www.Naplesgov.com/NaplesBronzeMarkers/.
On April 13, 1925, the Town Council of Naples met in the 1921 Olde Naples Building at the corner of Broad Avenue and Third Street South, which thankfully has been brought back to it its original look. To learn more on the character of Naples History, visit Palm Cottage, the Naples Depot and the Heritage Trail Museum inside Naples Trolley.
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