PORT HOME OF COWBOYS AND INVENTORS
FT. MYERS, the largest city in Southwest
Florida, started in the 1840's when a hurricane forced the
evacuation of Seminole War Fort Dulaney at the mouth of
the Caloosahatchee. First Lt. John Harvie found a
safe place for a fort, which was named FORT
MYERS in honor of Seminole War hero Colonel
Abraham C. Myers. While retired soldiers built homes along the River, it was
cattlemen like Jake Summerlin and Captain James
McKay, using the river to ship cows to Cuba, that developed the town in the 1860's and
Still, at the time of incorporation in 1885,
there were just 349 citizens, waiting for the arrival of the railroad and
Northern visitors like Thomas Alva Edison.
START: PARK to walk or DRIVE from the FORT
MYERS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE at 2310 Edwards Drive (941-332-3624) by the
waterfront. To the northeast you'll see the site of the (1) THOMAS EDISON
BRIDGE (1931), spanning the Caloosahatchee River on what is now
Alternate US41 with the massive high-rise bridge to the left taking US41.
Ironically when Florida Governor Doyle Carlton opened the concrete structure on
Edison's 84th birthday, it lacked electric
To your left is another Lee County
landmark, the: (2) FORT MYERS CIVIC CENTER (1943), on the end of Hendry Street. The
one-story complex was a favorite with World War II troops. There is a new convention complex down
GO ONE BLOCK EASTWARD and
TURN SOUTH ON JACKSON STREET, PASS BAY STREET, and unless you are in a hurry turn left to see three old downtown
residences: At 2466 First Street, the (3) WALTER LANGFORD HOUSE
(1919), a red brick and white masonry bungalow with two hip dormers and four
full story dormers. Across the street in the next block is the: (4) JOHN
MURPHY-BURROUGHS HOUSE (1892), 2505 First Street, an outstanding
Victorian house with a three sided verandah and a widow's walk. This
Murphy-Burroughs House is a popular local attraction
First Street is the Queen Anne (5) HEITMAN
HOUSE (1908), with another widow's walk and a circular verandah. TURN
AROUND AND RETURN WEST ON FIRST
STREET. On the northeast corner of First and Bay
is the: (6) FIRST BUILDING (1920), 1301 First Street, known to many as the
Bank of Fort Myers.
Fort Myers Museum/
Henry Ford House
On the southeast corner is the (7) REGENCY
HOUSE (1910), 2320 First
DOWN FIRST PAST JACKSON STREET.
First Street is the (8) EARNHARDT BUILDING
(1915), a fine brick structure with elaborate trim and spiral scrolls at the
cornice. Across the street at 2221
First Street is the (9) PATIO
(1913), one of the many commercial buildings, including four hotels, by retired
financier Peter Tonnelier.
LEFT (south) ON HENDRY STREET. At 1534 Hendry Street is the (10) OLD LEE
COMPANY BANK (1911), a two story stucco brick Neo-Classical Revival
started by pioneer James A. Hendry. Note the mosaic of Robert E. Lee recessed
on the wall.
Across the street is the (11) EDISON
THEATER (1920), 1533
Hendry Street, opened by John Hendry whose first
theater started in 1908. ONE BLOCK DOWN is the: (12) R. O. RICHARDS
BUILDING (PYTHIAN BUILDING) (1923), 1615 Hendry Street, started with
Royal Palm Pharmacy and designed by Tampan Fred J.
James. Richards, President of the state pharmacy board, was instrumental in
getting Connie Mack and the Philadelphia Athletics to come to Fort Myers in 1924.
The Burroughs House
Hendry Street is the (13) ROBB & STUCKY BUILDING
(1924), a four-story Neo-Classical which was the start of a large furniture
firm. . TURN RIGHT ON SECOND STREET. At 2253 Second Street is the (14) ANDREW
GWYNEE INSTITUTE (1911), founded by a Memphis cotton broker who wanted to boost
local education. Nearby is the Lee County School offices.
The popular VERANDAH RESTAURANT (334-8634) is housed in the two building
(15) GARNER-GONZLES COMPLEX (1910), Second and Broadway.
Captain Manuel Gonzalez, ran a general store and his
daughter wed local official J. F. Garner. Son Thomas Gonzalez wrote the book THE CALOOSAHATCHEE
RIGHT ON BROADWAY and go north one
block to Marion Street.
You won't miss on your left the: (16) LEE COUNTY COURTHOUSE (1915), 2120 Main Street, a
Doric two- story temple.
The Langford House
MAIN STREET and continue to the:
(17) HENRY COLQUITT BUILDING (1925), northwest corner of Main and
Broadway, built by the former Detroit
realtor who owned the Caloosahatchee Bridge Company.
TURN LEFT (west) ON FIRST STREET. At 2118 First Street is the lovely (18) COLLIER
ARCADE (1925), designed by New
York City advertising executive George R. Sims. At 2128 First Street
is the (19) KRESS
a three story edifice by Frank Curtright.
GET YOUR AUTOMOBILE IF WALKING and go WEST ON MAIN STREET until it becomes McGregor Boulevard, a route of Fort Myers Beach, famous for its Royal palms. The
street is lined with older houses and stores including the 1925 FRANKLIN
MILLS BUILDING, a Mediterranean Revival arcade built by the founder of
the famous laboratory.
The street leads to the: (20) THOMAS
EDISON WINTER HOUSE (1886), 2341
McGregor Boulevard, the great inventor's cold
months residence from 1886 to his death in 1927. "SEMINOLE LODGE"
is a two story frame house with a connecting guest house. The original carbon
filament light bulbs that Edison installed are
still operating. His winter laboratory, his vast tropical garden collections,
and his bamboo swimming pool show that Edison's
mind never slowed. The Edison
Museum is a treasure
house of inventions including every automobile his winter neighbor Henry Ford
ever gave him.
Across McGregor Boulevard is the: (21) HENRY
FORD WINTER HOUSE (1896), 2400 McGregor Boulevard, a huge bungalow
purchased by the Henry and Clara Ford to winter with friend Edison.
Down the street is the: (22) PETER
TONNELLER HOUSE (1917), 2300 McGregor Boulevard, the residence of Fort
Myers' Ritz Theater and many downtown buildings.
Other Notable Buildings In
Area: ATLANTIC COAST LINE
RAILROAD STATION (1924), 2300
Peck Street, is now the wonderful Fort Myers Historical Museum. The BUCKINGHAM SCHOOL (1895), on Buckingham Road, is
a wood frame country school with a high metal roof topped by an open belfry.
The C. W. STRIBLEY HOUSE (1922), 2424 McGregor Boulevard, is a two-story
Mediterranean Revival built by a paper manufacturer. The PAVESE-HENDRY
HOUSE (1909), 1619
Jackson Street, is a two-story house with a
widow's walk and a large front veranda.