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08/21/2014 at 5:45pm

Pelican HotelThe Vision of Our Town

How quickly 19 years have gone by since our Town incorporated in 1995 with a primary goal to "preserve the best of the old” as this community continues to grow so fast.

1995 was also the year the Town’s Historic Society formed. In 2 years they completed a survey of the then "Wilderness Preserve,” constructed a roadway while acquiring land to move a 1921 historic cottage, which opened as today’s Matanzas Pass Preserve entrance in 1997.

Immediately, enthusiastic board members, working with the Town and Historic Preservation Board created a registry of archeological sites and historical structures, which have since been updated several times into districts.

In 2008 Historic Designation and Recognition plaques were approved for placement on structures to create an awareness of Island landmarks, while hoping to avoid further losses of the Island’s heritage due to hurricane damage and excessive land redevelopment.

Today as we fast-forward to 2014, we learn of the fate of "The Pelican,” which many will remember as "Skippers Galley,” "Lighthouse Grill,” "Anthony’s on the Gulf,” and most recently, "Junkanoos.”

This 1933 Historic Honeymoon Houseboat site can be visited at website or via the #16 QR code "Footprints in Time” Historic Island Tour brochure of Landmark Vistas, available at the Historic Cottage, Town Hall and the Beach Library. The Beach Library also has the Island History display on the 3rd floor History map.

The pictures shown here indicate the loss of the 81-year old historic structure from the roadside and beachfront. A sad

loss for Historic Preservation!

The 2014 Historic Preservation "GOOD NEWS SAVE” is the "Top O’ Mast” building at 1028 Estero Blvd. This historic structure will be restored and refurbished and not demolished at the Time Square site!

Some may remember this restaurant as "The Playmore,” "The Beacon,” "Gulf Terrace,” and most recently as "The Top O’ Mast,” with the sign clearly stating "established in 1974.” It may indeed have been its saving grace by alerting the builder of its historic significance.

This original construction photo of the building seen here (bottom left) was built in 1943 as a lunchroom behind the Beach School on Sterling St., which today is known as the Woman’s Club. It too is listed as #16 in the Beach School’s Historic Landmark Vista Tour brochure. The school lunchroom also served as an additional classroom, then moved to its present site on the Gulf shoreline when the school closed in 1948.

This ad noted here(above right) is from the early 1970’s Beach Chamber publication when it was known as "The Spinnaker.”

It would appear appropriate to perhaps place a Historic Preservation Plaque on both these Historic Structures in the coming year, with the Town’s approval of the 76 and 71-year-old Historic buildings?

So what is the sustainability of the Town’s Vision for preservation? Are we not all the stewards of our Island’s resources? As the Estero Island Historic Society we are also the Nature Center with concerns for protecting our wildlife and preserving their habitat.

Consider our heritage, Living History and all preservation as we pass it on to future generations. If we don’t, who will?

If any of this piques your interest, please visit us at the Historic Cottage located at the Matanzas Pass Preserve entrance on 161 Bay Road. We are open Saturdays and Wednesdays from 10am-Noon and would love to meet you and have you join us! Bring a friend.


A.J. Bassett

Island Resident