Glimpse a time gone by during Everglades City Historic Home Tour

Everglades City historic buildings. Rod and Gun Club. A small bar is located off the main lobby. Photo: Gary Jung

Photo by GARY JUNG // Buy this photo

Everglades City historic buildings. Rod and Gun Club. A small bar is located off the main lobby. Photo: Gary Jung

It was a company town in 1923, one that Barron Gift Collier owned and operated. He erected a grocery, laundry, post office, bank, inn, a community center, jail and the courthouse — all the necessary infrastructure, including housing for his employees, to build the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41 South).

Everglades City historic buildings. Rod and Gun Club. Exterior of the building. Photo: Gary Jung

Photo by GARY JUNG // Buy this photo

Everglades City historic buildings. Rod and Gun Club. Exterior of the building. Photo: Gary Jung

Today, only a few of those original structures still stand, albeit renovated and modernized. They are the focal point of the annual Everglades City Historic Home Tour on Saturday, March 9.

A fundraiser for the Everglades Society for Historic Preservation, the tour will open the doors to eight private homes and public buildings for visitors to see and hear the stories of the colorful residents who lived in Everglades City in the 1920s.

It was the “good ol’ days,” explained ESHP board member Craig Woodward, of early Everglades City, which was first called Everglade and which served as the county seat until 1962.

Woodward’s weekend home was featured in 2010, the tour’s first year, and he remembers when his mother taught at the high school.

Gary Jung (2)
The sitting area in the lodge at Ivey House Bed and Breakfast.

Photo by GARY JUNG // Buy this photo

Gary Jung (2) The sitting area in the lodge at Ivey House Bed and Breakfast.

Two docents will be on-site at each location answering questions and to discuss the structure, and attendees will also receive a booklet containing a brief history of every home and building featured.

But don’t expect mega mansions or luxury homes on this tour, as the older homes and buildings were not. These homes were often short and narrow rectangular structures consisting of two bedrooms, a living room and kitchen.

“These homes were called ‘shotgun houses’ because you could shoot straight through,” said Helen Bryan, event co-chair and ESHP board member. “Many of these old shotgun homes are now added on to.”

“If it is a little old home, chances are it’s an original Collier home,” explained Marya Repko, ESHP president. However, determining the original construction date is nearly impossible because many of the homes and buildings were recycled.

“The cottages were moved around a lot,” she said.

Everglades City historic buildings. City Hall. Exterior of the building. Photo: Gary Jung

Photo by GARY JUNG // Buy this photo

Everglades City historic buildings. City Hall. Exterior of the building. Photo: Gary Jung

Everglades City Hall, a featured locale on the tour, has changed drastically since it was constructed in 1928. It underwent many additions and upgrades over the years and suffered major damage in 2005 after Hurricane Wilma hit the area.

Now, the beautiful two-story building has been completely restored to its former grandeur.

“Trying to trace the history of City Hall was very difficult,” said Repko, “Collier would provide workers to renovate City Hall when they weren’t busy.”

Another potential tour spot is the Ivey House, which was originally the recreation hall for the town and was later converted to a boardinghouse.

“It’s a whole different scene. We’re more Old Florida,” Repko said.

“Go on a boat tour, eat in the restaurants, go fishing with a guide, tour the national park — just come down and spend the day,” she said.

The tour will be from 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday, March 9, and tickets are $20. Art-In-The-Glades will also be at Mcleod Park Saturday, featuring original artists, jewelry and artisans. At City Hall, a series of watercolors by Robert Klotz will be on display as part of the Klotz Collection.

Klotz (1893-1987) was a theatrical scenery painter who retired to Everglades City and painted a series of watercolors of its historic buildings to celebrate the 50th Anniversary in 1973 of the founding of Collier County.

View from the small balcony at City Hall in Everglades City.

Photo by GARY JUNG // Buy this photo

View from the small balcony at City Hall in Everglades City.

IF YOU GO

Everglades City Homes Tour

What: Everglades City has more than 50 historic homes and buildings, and eight will open their doors to visitors

When: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 9

Where: McLeod Park on the Circle, Everglades City

Cost: $20; includes a souvenir ticket booklet with a map, pictures and historical information

Art In The Glades

What: Local artists selling their crafts; live music and book signing.

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 9

Where: McLeod Park on the Circle, Everglades City

Information on both events: www.evergladeshistorical.org or call Marya at 239-695-2905

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