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By protecting our vibrant history, Naples Historical Society seeks to preserve our treasured landmark, the Palm CottageTM house museum, other treasured pieces of history, and the stories, contributions and achievements of previous generations, for future generations to enjoy. Through our educational programs we intend to provide a window to the past -- to a time showcasing Neapolitan pioneers. We value the art of storytelling. Through stories of many citizens, past and present, we hope to inspire an appreciation for the history and heritage that is Naples. So please read on and then come visit us to learn how you can help.
During the 1800s, U.S. survey teams exploring the southwest coast of Florida sent detailed reports to the U.S. Senate.
Descriptions of the area captured the interest of General John S. Williams, a senator from Louisville, Kentucky.
Captivated by the potential, Williams recruited Walter Haldeman, a wealthy, adventurous publishing magnate and owner of the Louisville Courier-Journal.
In 1885 the pair chartered a boat and sailed down the southwest coast of Florida.
When they encountered a magnificent beach with a natural bay just beyond to the east, they knew they'd found their paradise.
The Business of Growth
By 1889, Williams and Haldeman had built homes on the beach, constructed a pier, and established a 16-room hotel. Eventually, Haldeman paid $50,000 to Williams for the Naples Development Company, effectively making him owner of the town, which included 8600 acres of land.
Around 1912, land developer Ed Crayton from St. Petersburg, Florida, purchased most of the Haldeman property, initiating a new chapter in Naples history.
In 1926, Naples received electric power, and in 1927 rail service was available. In 1928 the Tamiami Trail was completed, linking Tampa, Naples and Miami.
Ed Crayton worked on developing Naples until his death in 1938. Only the 1929 market crash and World War II slowed the inevitable growth.
Until the 1950s, the City of Naples remained a small, lovely oasis along the Gulf of Mexico.
Historic Palm Cottage™: Listed in the National Register
of Historic Places
At the northeast corner of 12th Avenue South and Gulfshore Boulevard sits an exquisite example of Naples authentic charm. Under the preservation of the Naples Historical Society, the Palm Cottage™ house museum is the oldest house in Naples (built 1895) and a fine example of Tabbie Mortar construction, a hand-made concrete consisting of sand, shells and water.
The 3,500 square foot house museum is the only residential building in Naples listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
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The Norris Gardens: Five Gardens to Explore and Enjoy
The Norris Gardens at Palm Cottage is a delightful garden area that features many distinct experiences along the Patron's Walk all of which chronicle Naples landscape history during the last 100 years. Step back in time into The Garden of the Senses, The Palm Collector's Garden, The Edible Garden, The Pioneer Garden and The Shade Garden, all surrounding a classic Oval Lawn. Whether you are interested in palms, edible plants, fragrant plants, exotic plants, grasses, or shade from the summer's glare, there is something here for everyone.
No other Naples-area museum experience offers community members and visitors an exquisite blend of authentic history and enchanting gardens.
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