Chapter 30



  • Our newest acquisition
  • Restored to its 1924 look
  • A Sears Roebuck kit home built by Ross & Daisy Mayer
  • It cost $4,052 when purchased
  • Originally on San Carlos Bay, near where the causeway enters the island
  • One brother, Ross Mayer, owned Shore Haven and the other, Martin Mayer owned Morning Glories
  • The two homes shared a well, a generator, and a bath house
  • One of the earliest homes to have electricity and plumbing
  • Was saved by the village after several close calls when
    it was nearly demolished
  • Sears kit homes were available from 1909-1940s


  • 1926
  • A Sears Roebuck kit home, “The Springwood”
  • It cost $2,211 when purchased (the built-in features
    cost extra)
  • Originally on San Carlos Bay, near where the causeway enters the island
  • Arrived in 30,000 pieces to be constructed by workers on the island
  • One of the earliest homes to have electricity and plumbing
  • Martin Mayer owned Morning Glories and his brother, Ross Mayer, owned Shore Haven
  • The two homes shared a well, a generator, and a bath house


  • This is the cottage that was between Shore Haven and Morning Glories
  • Was built in the 1930s to be a multi-purpose building
  • Sometime after that it became a Caretakers’ Cottage.
  • Caretakers would use it as a place to do some of their chores, such as ironing, and to take breaks.
  • Houses our Black History on Sanibel exhibit


d/b/a (doing business as)


  • 1927
  • This is the second store – the first, located on the end of the wharf – was lost in the 1926 hurricane
  • Was the hub of the island – people voted here, the phone and telegraph were here, Frank Bailey was a justice of the peace
  • Produce – especially tomatoes – were gathered here and shipped up north, where they were prized
  • Frank’s son Francis ran the store after Frank’s death in 1952; Sam joined Francis in the 1980s after retiring from his career as a football coach in Tampa
  • The store’s motto was, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it”


  • Garden is here to illustrate that Sanibel
    was an agricultural island, with warm temperatures assuring a good crop – and
    the crop was earlier than on the mainland
  • The hurricane of 1926 ended farming – salt water covered the island, ruining the soil
  • People had their own gardens, so the Bailey Store didn’t carry much produce
  • Typical crops included tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, and watermelon – also mangoes and citrus
  • The other plants, outside the garden, are native to the area


  • This is the fourth post office – previous three were in people’s homes
  • It was built from the debris resulting from the hurricane of 1926 – look at the ceiling to see the uneven boards
  • Rural delivery was established in 1900


  • Built by the Baileys in 1926 to be a gas station for easier access for cars coming to the island
  • Hurricane changed that – it served as the temporary store when Bailey’s Store was destroyed
  • Then it became the Tea Room, run by Miss Charlotta Matthews, Frank Bailey’s sister-in-law
  • They served pastries, soup, and sandwiches, which she prepared at The Matthews (now the Island Inn)
  • A mini golf course was built out back to offer entertainment to the men
  • Closed in 1936 when ferry landing moved down by the lighthouse
  • Open in tourist season – fall, winter, and spring
  • Children had to stay out – too wet and full of sand!
  • Sam, Francis, and John called her “Chebum”


  • 1898, built by Sam Woodring
  • Ohio retiree Hiram Burnap bought it in 1902 and turned it into a fishing camp
  • It had a second story addition that was removed when it was restored to its original condition
  • Lighthouse lens used from 1962-1982
  • Was used by a preacher for a while
  • Algiers was a Mississippi ferry fashioned to look like a riverboat – it was converted into an elaborate home and brought ashore on Sanibel – the owners never lived in it
  • See more Algiers information to follow


  • 1896, located at the corner of Bailey Road and Periwinkle Way
  • In 1902 moved to a more central location on Periwinkle Way (near Tahitian Gardens shops)
  • Was used for a while for church services on Sundays
  • When a new school was being built in 1963, both black and white parents petitioned to desegregate the new school – which they did, and the new school became the first in Lee County to be desegregated
  • School then became a theater, the Pirate Playhouse


  • 1913, originally located on Periwinkle Way approximately across from the Dairy Queen
  • Typical “Cracker” style home – off the ground, high ceiling, wide central hallway, with large windows on opposite walls – lets the breeze flow
  • Made of hard Florida pine, impervious to water and insects – you can’t drive a nail into it
  • Clarence, who was known as Uncle Clarence by adults and children alike, was a jack-of-all-trades: farmer, fishing guide, contractor
  • There is a Calusa display in the front room


  • Controlled most of South Florida
  • Tribe numbered 50,000
  • Fierce, war-like
  • First tribe Spaniards wrote about in 1513
  • The Calusa tribe died out in the late 1700s. Enemy Indian tribes from Georgia and South Carolina began raiding the Calusa territory. Many Calusa were captured and sold as slaves.
  • In addition, diseases such as smallpox and measles were brought into the area from the Spanish and French explorers and these diseases wiped out entire villages. It is believed that the few remaining Calusa Indians left for Cuba when the Spanish turned Florida over to the British in 1763.


  • In 1819, the U.S. Consul to Spain purchased Sanibel (then Sanybel) from a Spanish duke. It is questionable that the duke had title to the land.
  • The Consul sold the land to a group of New York investors called the Florida Peninsula Land Co.
  • Fifty shares of stock were created; buyers received a plot of land from the bay to the gulf, as shown on the map
  • The U.S. government started legal proceedings
  • In 1833, 20 people settled on the island
  • Another 60 people were to settle in 1834 but there is no record that they did
  • In 1905, the courts invalidated the Consul’s title to the land
  • In 1977, three maps of the company’s survey were discovered in Oswego, New York; one was given to the city of Sanibel


  • Homesteaders came in summer 1888
  • Requirements:
    • 21 years of age or head of household
    • Agree to stay 5 years and cultivate the land
    • Pay a small fee of $1.60 per acre
    • Must never have raised arms against the United States
  • 1889 – 21 houses on the island, 40 families, 100 people (the population was the same at the time of WWII – 100 people)
  • 1980 – 3,363 permanent residents
  • 1990 – 5,500 permanent residents
  • Temporary residents and visitors are estimated to boost the population to 30,000
  • See following pages for info on:
    • Some Historic Families and Early Islanders,
    • Some Profiles on Early Islanders, and
    • Sanibel’s Pioneer women


  • Black families came to Sanibel beginning
    in the 1920s. Isaiah Gavin and his family were
    the first, followed by the Johnsons of St. Petersburg,
    the Walkers, the Mitchells, and others.
  • Black children had to go to Ft. Myers to school and take the back seat in the ferry (or had to wait for the second ferry).
    In 1914, a Baptist Church informally opened its doors to black children for schooling as early as 1924. It eventually became the School for Colored Children and operated grades 1-8 as long as seven students attended. (The school building is now Lily and Co. Jewelry Gallery on the corner of Tarpon Bay and Island Inn roads, across from the Bailey Shopping Center.)
  • A new Sanibel School opened in 1963 but was segregated. Black children were required to attend school in Dunbar. The next year, forward-thinking parents on Sanibel, led by both black and white mothers, convinced the Lee County School Board to integrate – making it the first integrated school in Lee County.


  • The Museum Store is in Rutland House.
  • We try to have much of our merchandise reflect
    our mission to preserve, share, and celebrate
    Sanibel’s history.
  • If you choose to work in the store, we provide additional, usually one-on-one training.
  • Members get a 20% discount on all items.