Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Charlotte





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Charlotte

ALBERT WALLER GILCHRIST - (1858-1926)
Location:326 W Marion Ave at City Hall
County: Charlotte
City: Punta Gorda
Description: A founder of Punta Gorda, he was a resident until his death. Served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives in 1893, 1895, 1903 and was House Speaker in 1905. He resigned as Brig. Gen. of the Florida Militia and enlisted as a private in the U.S. Volunteers during the Spanish-American War. He was discharged a captain. He served as Governor 1909-1913. Was noted for rugged honesty, good humor, and concern for others. Gilchrist County was named for him.
CITY OF PUNTA GORDA
Location:326 W Marion Ave on wall of City Hall.
County: Charlotte
City: Punta Gorda
Description: Spanish fishermen from Cuba first gave the name "Punta Gorda" to this area in early 1800's. The City was originally platted as "Trabue" by Isaac H. Trabue on February 24, 1885. The City of Punta Gorda came into being when a group of men met in a home on Cross Street and decided that the community should be incorporated. They walked to Pine level and filed the necessary papers on December 7, 1887.
Sponsors: Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials in Cooperation with the City of Punta Gorda
SOUTHERNMOST RAILROAD TERMINAL
Location:Marion Way behind Punta Gorda Yacht Club
County: Charlotte
City: Punta Gorda
Description: On this site, in 1887, ended the southernmost railroad trackage in the U.S. Florida Southern Railway's narrow-gauge tracks run out on a 4,000 foot "Long Dock," where connections were made with New Orleans, Key West, and Havana steamers of the Morgan Line. Sailing schooners and paddle wheelers were a common sight. Governor Albert Waller Gilchrist, then a young civil engineer, was in charge of construction. The railroad was extended South in 1904.
Sponsors: Florida Board of Historic of Parks and Historic Memorials in Cooperation with Punta Gorda Isles, Inc.
COLUMBUS G. McLEOD--PROTECTOR OF PLUMED BIRDS
Location:3400 Ponce De Leon Parkway
County: Charlotte
City: Punta Gorda
Description: Many wading birds can be seen here, largely due to the sacrifice of men like Columbus G. McLeod (1848-1908), who gave his life trying to protect them from plume hunters. Ladies’ hats with exotic bird feathers were high fashion in the late 1800’s, and thousands of birds were slaughtered in Florida for their plumage. In 1901, the Audubon Society persuaded the state to adopt laws protecting Florida wildlife, especially plumage birds. Even so, no funds were allocated. The state, however, agreed to deputize two wardens hired by the Audubon Society. The danger of this work was evidenced when Guy M. Bradley, charged with protecting the Everglades area, was found shot to death near Flamingo on July 8, 1905. Columbus G. McLeod of Placida, charged with protecting the rookeries here in northern Charlotte Harbor, disappeared under suspicious circumstances and was presumed murdered on November 30, 1908. This second death of an Audubon warden sparked a national campaign against the wearing of feathers, and shifted public sentiment in favor of stronger enforcement of wildlife protection laws and the prosecution of plume hunters. Today we enjoy the beauty of our Florida wading birds largely because of these men.
Sponsors: THE PEACE RIVER AUDUBON SOCIETY AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
PUNTA GORDA RAILROAD DEPOT
Location:1009 Taylor Rd.
County: Charlotte
City: Punta Gorda
Description: Plans to build the railroad depot in Punta Gorda began in 1928. Although the trains carried passengers, the main purpose was for shipping fish to northern markets. The Punta Gorda depot is the only remaining one of this style built by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Its design incorporated the Spanish Mission style features used by Atlantic Coast Line in six Florida depots. The original work was awarded to the R.W. Burrows Construction Company of Bartow. By 1971 the depot was closed to freight traffic and purchased by Fred C. Babcock, who donated the site to Old Punta Gorda, Inc., in 1996. In 1998 volunteers began to restore the building. The former “Colored” waiting room features pictures of area pioneers and local prominent African Americans. The former “White” waiting room includes other exhibits. The ticket office now includes railroad memorabilia, historic items from the local fishing industry and nostalgic items from World War II (1941-1945) troop arrivals to Charlotte County. In August 2004 the depot was hit by Hurricane Charlie, but it has since been restored as a Punta Gorda landmark. The depot was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
Sponsors: OLD PUNTA GORDA, INC., DBA PUNTA GORDA HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
HECTOR HOUSE PLAZA: THE FOUNDING OF PUNTA GORDA
Location:223 Taylor Street
County: Charlotte
City: Punta Gorda
Description: On December 3, 1887, 34 men in the "Town of Trabue" met here in a two-story building, built in 1887, owned by Tom Hector. The diverse group of landlords, tenants, merchants and workers, some white and some black, were all qualified voters. At the time of the meeting, the ground floor was the location of a drug store and the second story was Hector's billiards hall. Above the drug store, at a pool table, the men passed the articles of incorporation by a two-thirds majority. They selected a city seal, a council and the corporate name of Punta Gorda. Although politically active locally and in his native Kentucky, town founder Col. Isaac Trabue had not registered to vote on this issue and was barred from the balloting. Trabue had begun acquiring land in early 1883. He had the land platted, reserving the shoreline for public use and naming streets for family members. Having given up half his holdings for rail service, a depot and a luxury hotel, he was angered by the settlers' ingratitude. The documents were filed at Pine Level, the county seat, on December 7, 1887. Trabue sued to dissolve the municipality and regain title to the public lands. Ten years later he gave up. The Hector House was demolished in 1988.
Sponsors: Sponsored by the City of Punta Gorda and The Florida Department of State
CHARLOTTE HIGH SCHOOL
Location:1250 Cooper Street
County: Charlotte
City: Punta Gorda
Description: Originally named the Punta Gorda High School, this building was the first dedicated high school for the newly created Charlotte County (1921), replacing the previous 1907 Punta Gorda Grammar and High School. Construction of the school began in 1926 in response to student overcrowding caused by rapid development after the first bridge was built across Charlotte Harbor. Construction was delayed that year due to a hurricane, and the first commencement took place in the school’s auditorium, as the building’s classrooms were still under construction. The school served as Charlotte County’s only high school for 49 years and was one of the first high schools in the state to desegregate in 1964. In 1990, the austere Neo-Classical Revival style building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Charlotte High School survived multiple hurricanes over time, but was significantly damaged by Hurricane Charley on August 13, 2004. The school was re-opened on April 2, 2009. Despite ongoing construction work around the school at the time, Charlotte High School’s class of 2009 was able to complete its senior year in the original school building, much like the first class had 82 years earlier.
Sponsors: The Charlotte County Public Schools and The Florida Department of State