Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Lee





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BILLY BOWLEGS
Location:951 Marsh Ave Billy Bowlegs Park (see comments)
County: Lee
City: Fort Myers
Description: Seminole Chief Billy Bowlegs refused to move West in 1842 following the Second Seminole War. An 1853 State law making Indian residence illegal caused increased pressure against the Seminoles in the Big Cypress Swamp. In December, 1855, army surveyors from Fort Myers injured crops of Bowleg's plantation. This began the Third Seminole War often called the Billy Bowlegs War. He surrendered after three years when his people were promised financial aid. In March, 1858, Bowlegs and 165 Seminoles left peacefully for Oklahoma.
"IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY" - Koresh
Location:Koreshan State Park
County: Lee
City: Estero
Description: Dr. Cyrus Read Teed, Founder of the Koreshan Unity and President of the Koreshan University of Chicago, established in 1892 his "College of Life" in Estero, Florida, as a cooperative community in the spirit of Christ's teaching. "We live inside the World," the Koreshans believe, as the Earth is the Universe, with life and the celestial bodies and spheres manifest inside the World. Measurements of the concave curvature of the Earth were derived by the Koreshan Geodetic Staff in 1897 at Naples. In "The Cellular Cosmogony" by Koresh, Universology is explained. This and other books, magazines, and newspapers were printed in the Guiding Star Publishing House at Estero. Through the Koreshan Nursery the garden came to fame for its subtropical plant life. Mechanics, arts, and music were taught, and sports cultivated. In 1961 the Koreshan Unity corporation deeded 305 acres of their landholdings to the State of Florida as "a gift to the people".
Sponsors: Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials in Cooperation with The Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc.
HARNEY'S POINT
Location:2051 Cape Coral Pkwy E
County: Lee
City: Cape Coral
Description: Near here on the Caloosahatchee River a band of 160 Indians attacked the Fort and Trading Post at four o'clock on the morning of July 23, 1839. In the raid led by Chief Chekaika of the Spanish Indians, thirteen soldiers died and fourteen, including Col. William S. Harney in command of operations, escaped down river. A year later Col. Harney returned and destroyed Chekaika in the Everglades.
FORT MYERS
Location:1st Street & Jackson Street on grounds of Federal
County: Lee
City: Fort Myers
Description: In this vicinity, Caloosa Indian villages were located in ancient times. Around this site, in the Seminole War of 1841-1842, a fort was established and named for Lieutenant John Harvie. The fort was reestablished in 1850 and named Fort Myers, honoring Lieutenant Abraham C. Myers. This Seminole War ended in 1858. During the War Between the States, Fort Myers was once more re-activated as a base to round up wild cattle to supply beef to Federal gunboats patrolling the Gulf off Sanibel.
Sponsors: Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials in Cooperation with the Southwest Florida Historical Society
MILITARY CEMETERY
Location:Corner of Fowler St. and 2nd St.
County: Lee
City: Fort Myers
Description: During the Seminole Wars, this was the site of a military cemetery for soldiers of Fort Harvie, 1841-42, and Fort Myers, 1850-58. The cemetery was located outside the breastworks of the respective forts which were in the vicinity of the present Federal Building in downtown Fort Myers. When Fowler Street was cut through, the graves were moved to the civilian cemetery on Michigan Avenue.
Sponsors: Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials in Cooperation with the Southwest Florida Historical Society
SANIBEL LIGHTHOUSE
Location:Lighthouse Park on Lighthouse Road at Island's S.
County: Lee
City: Sanibel Island
Description: The first permanent English-speaking settlers on Sanibel Island arrived from New York in 1833 as part of a colony planned by land investors. Although that settlement was short-lived, the initial colonists petitioned the U.S. government for the construction of a lighthouse on the island. No action was taken on that proposal at the time. By the late 1870's, seagoing commerce in the area had increased in volume. The U.S. Lighthouse Bureau took the initiative in requesting funds for a lighthouse for Sanibel Island, and in 1884, construction of the tower began. The station was lighted for the first time in August, 1884. The significance of the Sanibel Lighthouse lies in the regular and reliable service it has provided for travellers along Florida's West Coast. Since 1950, the U.S. Coast Guard property at the lighthouse has been a wildlife refuge.
Sponsors: Sponsored by nicholas meriwether chapter n.s. colonial dames xvii century in cooperation with department of state
FIRST STREET, FORT MYERS
Location:First Street,between Hendry and Jackson St.
County: Lee
City: Fort Myers
Description: The post-Civil War era brought South Florida its first wave of settlers. In 1866, Manual A. Gonzalez and Joseph Vivas took up residence at recently abandoned Fort Myers. Arrival of other settlers led to the establishment in 1876 of a post office. First Street, delineated in the original 1876 town plan occupied a central position in community development. By 1901, frame buildings housing stores and offices lined downtown First Street. Banks, a theatre, a church, a school, and the Keystone Hotel, which first welcomed Thomas Edison in 1886, occupied locations along its route. Railroad construction and tourism, twin forces for growth in late 19th century Florida, contributed to community expansion. The paving of First Street to ease the way for tourists and automobiles and the construction of "modern" buildings replacing many frame structures reflected early 20th century attitudes among many Floridians. Electrification of the city street lights in the early 1920s symbolized the onset of Florida's Boom Period, an era of rapid growth especially significant in South Florida history. Fort Myers' palm-lined First Street has continued to embody the appeal of sub-tropical Florida.
Sponsors: sponsored by nicholas meriwether chapter, national society colonial dames xvii century in cooperation with department of state
THE ATTACK ON FORT MYERS
Location:2031 Jackson Street, Southwest Florida Museum of History
County: Lee
City: Fort Myers
Description: In December 1863, the Army post of Fort Myers, inactive since 1858, was reoccupied. The fort served as a supply depot for the Federal blockade squadron. Troops from the fort often raided Confederate supply depots in the state's interior, since Florida beef fed the Confederate army. To discourage these raids, Confederate Major William Footman led 275 men of Florida's "Cow Cavalry" from Fort Thompson (LaBelle) to the very gates of Fort Myers. Shortly after noon of February 20, 1865, Major Footman approached the fort under a flag of truce and gave the Federals 20 minutes to surrender. After Captain James Doyle, commander of the garrison which consisted of the Union 2nd Florida Cavalry, the 110th New York Infantry, and the 2nd U.S. Colored Infantry, refused, the Confederates bombarded the fort with their field piece. They were answered by Fort Myers' three cannons. The cannonade and musketry continued until after nightfall, when Footman and his Confederates withdrew under cover of darkness. Casualties on both sides were light.
Sponsors: sponsored by col. abraham c. myers camp #1322 sons of confederate veterans in cooperation with department of state
EDISON & FORD WINTER ESTATES
Location:2350 McGregor Blvd.
County: Lee
City: Fort Myers
Description: In 1885 world-famous inventor Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) first visited Fort Myers. In 1886 he built his winter home, “Seminole Lodge,” a second home for a friend/partner, and a laboratory. He brought his bride, Mina Miller Edison (1865-1947), to honeymoon and vacation here in 1886. The homes were designed by Edison and pre-cut by two firms in Maine and shipped to Fort Myers. In 1916 industrialist Henry Ford (1863-1947) purchased the estate next door, “The Mangoes,” in order to spend more time with his good friend and mentor, Thomas Edison. These two prominent figures vacationed here until Edison’s death in 1931, and Mina continued to vacation here until 1947. The City of Fort Myers purchased the Ford estate in 1988 as an addition to the Edison Historical Site. Mina generously deeded the estate to the City of Fort Myers for $1.00. In her dedication ceremony on March 6, 1947, she stated: “My faith and belief in the sincerity of the people of Fort Myers prompts me to make this sacred spot a gift to you and posterity as a Sanctuary and Botanical Park in the memory of my honored and revered husband, Thomas A. Edison, who so thoroughly believed in the future of Fort Myers.”
Sponsors: CITY OF FORT MYERS AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
GASPARILLA INN & CLUB
Location:E. Railroad Ave. Between 7th and 5th St.
County: Lee
City: Boca Grande
Description: The Gasparilla Inn, built by the Boca Grande Land Company, subsidiary of a national phosphate company that was an early major island land holder, opened in 1911. Under the leadership of company principal, Peter Bradley (1850-1933), the hotel provided an upscale winter destination for wealthy guests. Tampa architect Frances Kennard (1865-c. 1938) assisted in the hotel’s 1912 enlargement and again in 1915 when its size doubled. The grounds were landscaped by the nationally known landscape firm, the Olmsted Brothers, and included a bath house, band shell, greenhouse, tennis courts, golf course and staff dormitories. A New York firm decorated the interior with furnishings purchased in Philadelphia. The Inn drew wealthy fishermen and industry tycoons such as J.P. Morgan and Henry DuPont who enjoyed the Inn’s seclusion and impeccable service. In 1930, Florida land baron Barron Collier (1873-1939) purchased the hotel, adding a grand new entrance, an 18-hole golf course and several cottages. By the 1960s, the Inn’s condition had declined. Longtime Gasparilla Island resident and champion, Bayard Sharp (1913-2002), purchased the property, restored it and added modern amenities to ensure that the Inn’s traditions would continue.
Sponsors: THE SHARP FAMILY, THE BOCA GRANDE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
BONITA SPRINGS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Location:10701 Dean Street
County: Lee
City: Bonita Springs
Description: This school contains two historic building and is a rare example of a historical school that continues to serve its original function. The rural village of Bonita Springs, originally called Survey, grew during the Florida Land Boom of the 1920s and this brick structure replaced the previous one-room schoolhouses. The original three-room school was built in 1921 and the first principal was Miss Alma McDonald. A local contractor utilized local oak and cypress lumber to complete the masonry vernacular structure. The school expanded in 1927 by adding a two-story building with auditorium. The addition features the Mediterranean Revival architectural style common from 1915-1930, and is a combination of Spanish, Italian, Moorish and Byzantine influences. In the early 1940s the two buildings were united and a cafeteria was an integral part of the community for generations. The school was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, the first property in Bonita Springs to be so listed.
Sponsors: Sponsored by the City of Bonita Springs and the Florida Department of State.
THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF BOCA GRANDE
Location:421 4th Street West
County: Lee
City: Boca Grande
Description: The First Baptist Church of Boca Grande is the oldest church building on Gasparilla Island and housed one of the island’s two oldest congregations. In the early 1900s, phosphate companies decided to use the port of Boca Grande as a primary shipping point. The Seaboard Airline Railroad laid track to the southernmost tip of the island, and soon the island’s population grew enough to support a ministry. In 1909, the First Baptist Church was organized. At first, services were held outdoors conducted by circuit riding preachers twice a month. Between 1911 and 1912, a building committee was organized. Construction of the church was funded by a loan from the Florida Southern Baptist Missions Board and by congregational donations. In 1915, the church, an example of balloon-frame Carpenter Gothic style architecture, was completed. The Seaboard railroad donated a locomotive’s bell for the church that is still in use today. In 1928, the building was enlarged to accommodate Sunday school classrooms, and in 1934, a parsonage was built as a residence for a full-time pastor. In 2009, the First Baptist Church celebrated its 100th anniversary and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Sponsors: The First Baptist Church of Boca Grande and the Florida Department of State
'TWEEN WATERS INN
Location:15951 Captiva Drive
County: Lee
City: Captiva
Description: ‘Tween Waters Inn was established on Captiva Island by F. Bowman and Grace B. Price in 1931. They started the inn with a single building and expanded it over the next 30 years, adding guest cottages, a marina, and other buildings as they built their remote tourist destination into a favorite winter resort for wealthy northerners. Bowman Price provided guided fishing trips for guests and Grace Price offered entertainment and dining in the inn’s Old Captiva House. The inn’s visitors included Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, who drew inspiration from captive for her bestselling book Gift from the Sea (1955) and J.N. “Ding” Darling, a conversationalist and renowned editorial cartoonist who won Pulitzer prizes in 1924 and 43. Darling wrote and drew while staying at “Tween Waters Inn for seven winter seasons between 1935-36 and 1941-42. He also helped to establish Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge, which was named in his honor in 1967. In 1976, Tween Waters Inn was purchased by Rochester Resorts, Inc/, which restored its historic cottages for the inn’s continued use as a resort. ‘Tween Waters Inn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.
Sponsors: Sponsored by ‘Tween Waters Inn and the Florida Department of State