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Moments in Collier County’s History: The Move to East Naples

Many people might be aware that the first Collier County Courthouse was built in Everglades City, but how exactly did it get transferred to East Naples and become the courthouse that we know today? We went back into the Clerk’s archives to review articles for this interesting piece of history. 

When Collier County was officially formed, Barron Collier made it clear that the county seat must be in Everglades City. For the first few years since it was established, the courthouse moved about town until 1928 when a 2-story courthouse building was built for only $25,000 (Collier, 2018). In late 1956 and early 1957, the courthouse underwent major renovations to accommodate more services. However, with the opening of a new and spacious branch office in Naples, public sentiment to transfer the main courthouse grew. This sentiment became even more persistent when the state began to pressure the county to expand its jail.  

Everglades City Courthouse photo courtesy State Archives Of Florida.

Residents and officials from Naples, Immokalee, and Everglades all had different opinions regarding the matter which led to numerous discussions and arguments. This period when supporters of each faction raised their petitions and debated the best course of action for the county is known as the Courthouse War. At this time, Naples and Immokalee have superseded Everglades in terms of population and economic importance.  

After county officials stated that a minimum of 20 acres would be needed for a new courthouse and several sites were opened for donation, sentiment began to designate largely underdeveloped East Naples as a seat. In addition, it was also pointed out that this location would place the new jail far enough from the population centers so as not to cause concern to the residents. 

Collier County Government Center at US 41 and Airport Pulling Road c1962. Photo courtesy Collier County Museums.

When the referendum was held on May 19, 1959, East Naples won with 859 votes out of over 2,500 registrations (Sitta, 1989). A majority of the votes favored the transfer. In September 1962, the courthouse was officially moved and a new building was built in its present-day location. Meanwhile, the first courthouse in Everglades City is still being used as the current Everglades City Hall.  

Learning about the history of Collier County and how it developed into the county that we know at present is one of the focal points of the upcoming Centennial Celebration. More interesting facts, stories, and events will be presented to the community in the coming months so stay tuned for more updates!  

 

 

 

References:

Collier County Historic Courthouse, Everglades City Hall. Courthouses of Florida. (2018, December 26). Retrieved December 28, 2022, from https://courthousesofflorida.com/courthouse/collier-county-historic-courthouse-everglades-city-hall/

Morgan, T. (1962, August 31). Courthouse Move Set for Weekend. The Miami Herald.
Sitta, R. E. (1989). The Great Collier County Courthouse War. Neapolitan, 24–30.
Winter, F. (1962, September 5). Collier County Seat Transferred. Fort Myers Press.

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