Students discover Palm Cottage…and another life time

by Elaine L. Reed, MPA
Naples Historical Society, President & CEO

It’s inspiring to see curious, elementary aged children with wide open eyes grasp the architectural beauty of Naples Historical Society’s Historic Palm Cottage™. It’s remarkable to see what intrigues these young minds when they step into history, and into Historic Palm Cottage, to hear the story of Naples’ past. It’s most satisfying knowing that these wonderful students, all fourth and fifth graders in Collier County, really enjoy learning about their own community!

Naples Historical Society crafted a children’s educational  program many years ago to share the history of Naples with young elementary students. It is a fabulous program, by all accounts, and we know we make life long impacts on these young people. They arrive as students and depart as pupils, hence the program name: Pupils at Palm Cottage.

Witness one of these programs unfold, and you’ll understand that history is better learned when it’s told with a story, in an old house that has been majestically preserved, and told by exceptionally qualified Docents who believe in the program. This is not a typical tour for adults; it’s been cleverly tailored, with  teacher input, for the young mind. Children can see history with their own eyes and enjoy this great house and the telling because it is entirely geared to their learning interests.

Every Tuesday morning during the school year, Society staff greets almost 100 captivated students, their teachers, and chaperones and prepares them for an incredible tour, a tour that teacher surveys indicate is consistently outstanding. During the tour, students ask the best questions! The existence of the
chamber pot leads to obvious questions (for those willing to ask what every other student wants to know), and some questions are clearly thoughtful, such as, “If there was no refrigeration or electricity, how did people eat in 1895?” Does the reader know?

Some students refer to the transom as the “air-conditioner back then,” while others suggest that the 1931 Royal typewriter is the “computer” from back in the day. We distribute a 16 page Activity Book to each pupil at the end of the field trip. This allows teachers to test student cognition. Some students choose  to write and submit a story about Naples history and we love reading these pieces! As a tribute to Naples’ students over the years, the Society’s Exhibit Hall in Historic Palm Cottage showcases many of these items. See for yourself!

Over 2,000 children traverse the Cottage every year (46% are from Title One schools). We hope to increase attendance by 40% over the next three years. If you wish to financially support this unique program or would like to volunteer your time, we welcome your call. Thank you, in advance, for your consideration.

Naples Historical Society, Inc. owns and operates Historic Palm Cottage™
as its educational headquarters. The Cottage, built in 1895, is listed
individually as a landmark in the National Register of Historic Places
and is open to the public year-round. Visit
for more information or call 239-261-8164.

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