Telling Your Story: History in the Parks

We're bringing our history collection to you! Each of these photos from our archives is featured on a sign in one of our Charlotte County parks. How many will you visit?

beachgoers at spa

Charlotte Harbor Spa

South County Regional Park

The Hotel Punta Gorda opened in 1888 along the waters of Charlotte Harbor. The hotel attracted wealthy and notable guests from around the world, such as the Edison, Vanderbilt, and Colt families.

In 1924, Barron Collier bought the property and renamed it the Hotel Charlotte Harbor. It was sold again in 1956 and became known as the Charlotte Harbor Spa, "the Spa of Eternal Youth." This venerable landmark was lost to fire in 1959.

Everyone has fun at Port Charlotte brochure

General Development Brochure

Port Charlotte Beach Park

Prior to 1954, the Port Charlotte Beach was known as Alligator Bay, part of the A.C. Frizzell Ranch. It was sold in 1955, giving way to the development of Port Charlotte.

To increase the attraction of its latest community, General Development Corp. added lifestyle amenities like Port Charlotte Beach. The beach park was added in 1972.

pavilion at Chadwick beach

Pavilion at Chadwick Beach

Englewood Beach at Chadwick Park

Englewood Beach was previously named Chadwick Beach after brothers Steve and Clay Chadwick, who platted the subdivision in 1926. The pavilion was the first building on the site, offering showers and dressing rooms to bathers for 10 cents. It also sold gasoline, kerosene, and groceries. Dances were often held there on the weekends. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1945. A new structure was built on the site and serves to this day.

portrait of Florence Buchan

Florence Evolyn Jerome Buchan

Tringali Park

Florence Jerome Buchan, pictured around 1900, married Peter Eugene Buchan in 1904. The two were among the first settlers in the Englewood area. They built the iconic Buchan's Landing, where they lived above a general store and post office. Buchan's Landing was located at Dearborn Street and Old Englewood Road, where they had easy access to the water to receive supplies.

baseball players and spectators in field

Punta Gorda Baseball Field

Carmalita Park

With our year-round tropical climate, Charlotte County has been a popular host to many sports and leisure activities. Baseball is no exception. Teams from amateur to professional have flocked to the area to enjoy our fields since the 1920s.

This photo, from around 1933, shows a baseball game underway on a field at Gill Street and Virginia Avenue in Punta Gorda. The outfield also served as a football field for Charlotte High School from 1931-1936.

Indian River, painting by Robert L. Lewis

Indian River by Robert L. Lewis

Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park

The Florida Highwaymen are a group of 26 African American artists renowned for their iconic landscape paintings. Facing segregation and exclusion in the 1950s, these self-taught artists would sell their paintings from their cars along the highways.

Years later, the Highwaymen's talent was discovered. The original members were inducted into the Florida Artists' Hall of Fame in 2004.

lion and filmmakers

Filming Tarzan in El Jobean

Randy Spence Park

In 1931, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer came to El Jobean to film Tarzan serials and a feature-length film. Access to the Myakka River and the vast Florida wilderness helped create the jungle scenes. The crew stayed at the El Jobean Hotel at the invitation of Joel Bean, its founder.

Bean installed track and siding to accommodate railroad cars full of jungle animals and film equipment. The company even brought its famous icon and trademark, Leo the Lion.

Shades of Another Time Converse advertisement

Converse Advertisement

Harold Avenue Regional Park

Charles "Chuck" Taylor (1901-1969) was a professional basketball player. In 1921 he joined Converse Rubber Shoe Company as a traveling salesman and consultant. Converse added Taylor's signature to their new design and renamed them Chuck Taylor All Stars, known simply as "Chucks."

Taylor traveled the nation, offering basketball clinics and promoting the shoe. They became the best-selling basketball shoe in history and the official shoe of the Olympics from 1936-1968. In the 1960s, Taylor and his wife Lucille moved to Port Charlotte.

Brahma Bull in field

Frizzell's Prized Brahma Bull

McGuire Park

Arthur C. and Patti Frizzell were ranchers and entrepreneurs who brought the first Brahman cattle to the area to improve their herd. The couple owned over 80,000 acres of land, used for cattle, turpentine, lumber, and various businesses in what was known as Murdock.

In 1954, Mr. Frizzell retired and sold most of the land. It was ultimately developed into Port Charlotte by General Development company and the Mackle Brothers, for whom Elkcam Blvd. is named. ("Elkcam" is Mackle backwards.) The first homes in Port Charlotte were occupied in 1956.