Sunday, December 1, 2019
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
|From Florida Weekly archive June 1, 2005|
TEAM will be honored this December 7 at the PGHC's Southern Supper.
Monday, November 18, 2019
As young as 12, he was out on the seas on his own boat hauling cargo from Punta Gorda to the 10,000 islands and back. During his sea journeys he met Belle McBean, who he married in 1921. The second couple to be married in the new Charlotte County, Belle and Fred often went together on trips on the RW Powell which steamed in and out of Charlotte Harbor on a regular basis. Later after daughter Tosie was born, she also traveled with Fred on his boat.
In his late twenties , with Tosie now in school, Fred knew it was time to give up the sea life. He opened a restaurant “Fred’s Quick Lunch” on Marion Avenue (on south side near Taylor) right next to his brother's bar 'Bill's Bar". When the first Collier bridge was opened in 1931, Fred was the main cook at the huge fish fry celebrating the event.
Monday, November 4, 2019
Shortly after the first passenger train arrived in Trabue in July of 1886, Dan Smith, a black man, organized the first religious service in the town. He, with the help of other African Americans in the survey crew, including Sam Kenedy, and men named Graham, Fuller and Ransom, hired by Albert W. Gilchrist, then a young engineer, erected a palmetto thatched roof shelter for the service. It was attended by the crew as well as other African Americans and their families already living in Trabue including Isaac Howard, A.G. Reese, S.P. Andrews, Lynn and Rhoda Jackson and Henry Simmons. Several white families also attended said to have included Isaac and Virginia Trabue, Jacob Wotitzky, Ephraim Goldstein, James Sandlin and their wives. This event led to the establishment of the Bethel AME Church.
Friday, October 11, 2019
Thursday, August 22, 2019
|Consolidated Ice and Fertilizer Plant on Berry and Olympia|
|Punta Gorda Ice and Power Company|
By Theresa Murtha
Van Itallie, Theodoric B. Triumph of Ice over Salt - the Changing Face of Commercial Fishing in Charlotte Harbor
Punta Gorda Herald, 1895, 1913 various articles
Williams, Lindsey, Our Fascinating Past, the Early Years
Peeples, Vernon, Punta Gorda and the Charlotte Harbor Area.. A Pictorial History
Saturday, August 3, 2019
|From Vernon Peeples Photograph Collection|
|From Vernon Peeples, Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor Area.|
|Punta Gorda State Bank in 1931 during Barron Collier Bridge Opening Celebration. From V. Peeples Collection.|
Thursday, July 18, 2019
From St John’s to Charlotte County - Tracing the Evolution of the Charlotte Harbor Area Through Maps
|Carey and Lea Atlas, 1822, Philadelphia.|
|From 1849 Map of Florida|
By the time of statehood, in 1845, all of the Charlotte Harbor area (which is now Charlotte County was in Hillsborough County. At statehood, the population of the entire county of Hillsborough was only 836, not including soldiers or Native Americans.
|Map of DeSoto County 1890|
Compiled by Theresa Murtha from the Maps and Research of Vernon Peeples and the Exploring Florida website.
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
|Luna the leucistic screech owl courtesy Peace River Wildlife Center|
Luna, the leucistic screech owl ambassador for the Peace River Wildlife Center, isn’t the first white owl to be seen in Punta Gorda. As reported in the April 2, 1914 edition of the Punta Gorda Herald “a white owl was found in the store yesterday.” It was placed in a wire basket covered by an old coat to keep the light out during the day. Many people stopped by the store to view this odd looking owl.
Thursday, July 4, 2019
After two centuries of Spanish rule, the British took control of Florida in 1763. Spain lost Florida to the English in exchange for Havana and Manila, which had been occupied by the British.
The British separated the territory called Florida into two colonies, East Florida, with its capital in St. Augustine, and West Florida, with its capital in Pensacola. East Florida consisted of what is the modern boundary of the state, east of the Apalachicola River. West Florida included the modern Panhandle of Florida, as well as parts of what are now Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
In an attempt to bring settlers to East Florida, the British offered land grants to settlers who would come to farm and also defend the new British territory. Many British brought enslaved Africans with them to work the farms.
At the time of the American revolution the British had 33 entities in the Americas they considered colonies, including the 13 that were part of the rebellion. Most of them were in the Caribbean and approximately sixty percent of their military were stationed there to protect their sugar interests extremely important in the global economy of the time.
Florida was fiercely defended by the British during the Revolution as a stronghold against the perceived sedition of the colonies north and concern of rebellion spreading into the Caribbean. The East Florida colonists who had only recently been given lands were very loyal to the Crown when the war broke out. They also invited loyalists from the northern colonists to relocate in East Florida.
George Washington was well aware of Florida’s strategic significance. He authorized five separate invasions of East Florida between 1776 and 1780. During a series of battles from 1779 to 1781, Spain was able to recapture West Florida from the British. When the American Revolution ended in 1783, England losing interest in the colony returned East Florida to the Spanish to keep control of Gibraltar.
|Charlotte Harbour indicated on 1775 Map.|
It is said that Charlotte Harbor got its name from the British, renaming what was Carlos Baie to Charlotte Harbour for the wife of King George the 3rd.
Florida became a United States Territory in 1821, and was named a state in 1845.
Roger Smith, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Florida
Exploring Florida, Short History of Florida
Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Giant swimming pools are not a novel lure to this area of Florida. The earliest one was built by Punta Gorda’s founder at the early dawn of the town – between the late 1880s, early 1890s. Punta Gorda's first swimming pool was constructed by Isaac H. Trabue at 30 feet X 60 feet and 5 feet deep. It was located in a 1. 5 acre park located in block number 49, which was between Olympia and Virginia and Chasteen and Berry.
The bathers in the photo are from left to right:
Frank Q. Brown of the Florida Southern Railroad
Frank Cooper (State Senator)
Col. Isaac H. Trabue
Albert W. Gilchrist
S. F. J. Trabue, (first County Judge of Charlotte County and nephew of founder)
|From Burgettt Brothers Collection|
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Seventy-five years ago Dana Burke, a 28-year old Princeton teacher of military history, entered the Army and then joined thousands of other American soldiers as part of the Normandy Invasion. Later at 52, after a career as a sales manager in Canada, he came to Punta Gorda and immediately became civically engaged leading to a position on City Council from 1982 to 1986 as well as a term as the City’s mayor. He also was President of the Punta Gorda Isles Civic Association, member of the School Board, and a volunteer tutor at local schools.
Burke, a Princeton graduate, was among those, who after serving their country and having successful careers, came to Punta Gorda and shared their skills to help grow and improve the City.
Thursday, May 30, 2019
Early records show that the hotel was managed in its early years by a Nettie Johns. Later Mr. and Mrs T.J. Foye purchased the hotel and took over management. It was known as the Travelers Hotel until 1930s. A Sanborn Map of 1932 refers to it as the Punta Gorda Hotel.
From unpublished research by Scott Shively.
Thursday, May 23, 2019
|Norma Pepper and an unidentified student|
Early records indicate that the first school in Punta Gorda was started in 1888 in a community building provided by Isaac Trabue that served as a multi-denominational church and school. The school apparently was unsatisfactory and several private schools were initiated including one by Miss Norma Pepper at Olympia and King St. (now US 41 North) sometime after she arrived here in 1896 with her father, John Charles Pepper, and her sisters.
Her school building, described in 1897 as a small graded school, was destroyed in the 1910 hurricane. She then provided classes at her home on Retta Esplanade and Cross St. (41 South). In around 1890 a “Punta Gorda High School” that included all grades was built on Goldstein Street as a one story building, with a second story added later. There is no record of Miss Pepper teaching there,
though it did include an elementary school as well as a junior-senior high school.
|Goldstein Street School|
In 1909, Miss Pepper was appointed President of the Woman’s School Improvement Association which was charged with building a new school. Indications were from newspaper articles of the time that there was dissatisfaction with the existing building on Goldstein Street school. By 1908, the combined school was very overcrowded. The then Principal, Professor U.S. Whittaker, drew up plans for a new school.
|Taylor Street School|
Governor Gilchrist provided the land for the new school at Charlotte and Taylor Street, which was finished in 1911. Miss Pepper became its primary teacher (first grade). The Taylor served the community as a high school until Charlotte High School was opened in 1927, it continued to operate as a grade school well into the 1950s, until it was largely replaced by Sallie Jones Elementary and destroyed in a fire in 1958.
Thursday, April 18, 2019
The Hotel Punta Gorda, luxurious for the time, was a three-storied structure with a central tower that extended higher. Advertisements for the resort proclaimed that the hotel had gas, electric bells, steam heat and open fire places. They noted that it was supplied with “pure water, perfect drainage and fire protection.” News articles touted the magnificent grounds and fishing and sailing from the dock. They also noted the ease of arrival from the railroad terminal right at the hotel's entrance.
Situated on the harbor, the hotel had a large promenade, verandas with yellow roses climbing the railings, and 135 rooms, each with views of the bay. Palm trees adorned the grounds to provide a tropical ambiance. Tourists could bath from the hotel’s beach on the bay, take boat rides from the dock, go fishing or shooting. Promotions to attract seasonal visitors were placed in many of the major magazines of the day. Appealing to the wealthy, some of the early guests included W.K. Vanderbilt, John Wanamaker, Thomas Edison and Andrew Mellon.
The hotel enabled visitors like Perry McAdow to stay in Punta Gorda and discover its charm and to make decisions to invest in the nacent town. It was these and the other early arrivals with the railroad including Albert W. Gilchrist,that helped as Isaac put it make Trabue and ultimately Punta Gorda a reality.
Unfortunately, the hotel didn't fair as well. Only open to visitors during the winter months, the hotel fell in to disuse and disrepair and ceased to open for the season many years. In the late 1920s, the hotel was totally refurbished and reopened as the Hotel Charlotte Harbor which also met with distressing times as the depression hit. After several attempts were made at reviving the grand lady that adorned the Punta Gorda's harbor, the hotel was destroyed it a fire in a few hours in August of 1959.
Thursday, April 11, 2019
The Princess saw her last years as a hotel under a man named Paul Riddle who bought it in 1955. It had no restaurant, just rooms. A few shops were located on the ground floor. Local organizations held some of their meetings there, and there were some large parties thrown within its walls as well in the 1950s and 60s. Mr. Riddle then sold the building twice, once to a man who wanted to renovate only to have to foreclose on him shortly after the purchase, and then to a man who wanted to turn it into a senior-living facility. When that didn’t work, Riddle got it back again and ended up using it for storage.
The site of the Princess Hotel, which is now the home of the Sunloft Building with FM Don’s Restaurant on the corner, was the location of one of Punta Gorda’s first hotel’s, the Dade built in 1887, which was later named the New Southland, then the Seminole Hotel. Teddy Roosevelt stayed at this hotel when he visited in 1917. Then when plans were made to replace the old Seminole with the Charlotte Bay aka Princess in 1925, that structure was moved one block west to Marion and Sullivan, only to lose its life in a fire as well soon after the move.
Thursday, April 4, 2019
What we now know as Fishermen’s Village is located on the site of the former Maud Street Dock. The Maud Street City Dock was built in 1928 to replace the King Street Pier, home to the Punta Gorda fishing industry. The old pier had been removed to make way for the new Barron Collier bridge and to relocate the fishing businesses away from Collier’s newly renovated Hotel Charlotte Harbor.
At one time there were as many as seven companies that operated the fish packing houses on the Maud Street Dock, but by the mid-1930s, this had shrunk to two, the Punta Gorda Fish Company and the West Coast Fish Company. The pier was also occupied by the Gulf Oil Company. Across from this was Matt Week’s Boat Shop, which had adjoining shore space for boat sheds and marine services.
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Doyle purchased the rundown establishment and converted it to an Irish pub, first just the one building that had been the Trailer Bar and filling station, and later after Hurricane Charley, the larger building styling it like a Dublin pub with alcove. After some bumpy periods especially during the housing crisis when Doyle lost the place for awhile, the Ray was back and Doyle has been expanding ever since now to include a large outdoor beer garden.
Friday, March 8, 2019
February 2019 marked the 170th anniversary of a little known visit to Charlotte Harbor by a US Army Board of Engineers as part of an inspection of the coast of Florida. Captain & Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee was a member of the four officer Board and was the Recording Secretary for that Board. The other three members of the Board of Engineers were Lt. Col. R.E. DeRussy, Major R. Delafield and Bt. Col. J.H.F. Mansfield.
Monday, February 11, 2019
The original congregation consisted of nine members. Among them were James L. and Mary Sandlin, James M. and Martha Sandlin Morgan, and Mrs. Nancy Linquish. Sandlin and Morgan donated to the Baptist congregation, two lots for a church to be built on the northwest corner of Cross and Olympia streets. The lumber for the new church was supplied by Morgan who operated a sawmill on Taylor Road near Alligator Creek. By 1893 the first issue of the Punta Gorda Herald noted that there was a Baptist Church Building. It was also noted in the Herald of that year that Rev. T. J. Sparkman, pastor, conducted services every first and third Sundays.
Over the years the Baptists added Sunday School rooms, a kitchen and dining room. Still the original church building proved too small for the growing congregration. In 1962, a larger sanctuary and attendant facilities was built at its present site on Gill St. The Crosland Chapel and Sunday school
were dedicated January 28, 1962. The old pastorium was moved to the present site, but later torn down. With completion of the Crosland Chapel, the Cross Street and Retta Esplanade properties were sold to the Golden Rule Rebekah Lodge 60. It later became a bridal shop and was ultimately lost to Hurricane Charley.
Friday, February 8, 2019
This Week in Punta Gorda History - One of the Most Farmous Tennis Players of all time Visits in February 1931
William Tatem Tilden II , called "Big Bill", was born on February 10, 1893 - over 125 years ago this coming week. Considered one of the best tennis players of all time, he was the world's number one player for six years from 1920 through 1925 winning 15 Major singles titles including ten Grand Slam events.
In 1920, Tilden became the first American to win Wimbledon. He also won a record seven U.S. Championships titles, and dominated the world of international tennis in the first half of the 1920s, and during his 18-year amateur period of 1912–29, winning 138 of 192 tournaments. In 1929, Tilden became the first player to reach 10 finals at a single Grand Slam event, which remained a record until Roger Federer reached his eleventh in 2017.
In 1931, Tilden needing money turned pro, and was snared for a tournament in Punta Gorda by Barron Collier. Collier was the largest land owner in Southwest Florida. He had invested millions of dollars to transform and in development of the wilderness, including drainage of the Everglades and construction of the Tamiami Trail. In 1924 he purchased and later remodeled the old Hotel Punta Gorda and reopened it as a grand renaissance-style Floridan hotel to which he hoped to draw famous sports legends of the time to garner prestige for the area. As part of his development of south Florida, he planned to make Charlotte County the sports center of the south during the winter season. He had had new tennis courts constructed at the hotel which cost him $15,000 (almost $250,000 in today's dollars).
Tilden played his first professional tennis match in Punta Gorda on February 2, 1931 beating Francis T. Hunter 6-3, 6-4.3-6, 7-5. Later in the exhibition event, he went on to defeat Emmett Pare to win the prize money. The court area had seating for over 600 people and buses brought people from Palm Beach, Tampa and Miami to watch the games.
(Photo courtest Burgett Brothers Photography Collection, Hillsborough Public Library)
Monday, January 21, 2019
Isaac Trabue convinced the railroad owners to come to his new town rather than the other choice, Charlotte Harbor, on the north side of the Peace River. The Hotel Punta Gorda which was built on land dedicated to the railroad by Isaac Trabue first opened as best we can tell on February 20, 1886 - widely advertised in northern newspapers of the time. It's first true season, however, occurred starting in December of 1886 shortly before Trabue was incorporated as Punta Gorda.
The railroad built two wharves to support passengers and freight and also steamboat passage to and from New Orleans and Key West and later to Fort Myers. The first was immediately adjacent to the hotel, so railroad passengers could disembark there. The second was located further west (starting on land where the Isles Yacht Club is today). That wharf was referred to as the long dock.
Albert W. Gilchrist who was the main surveyor laying out the route from Bartow to Trabue became one of the new town's prominent landowners and citizens and later a Governor of Florida