Thursday, October 21, 2021

Historic Preservation in Action!

Naples Historical Society entrance.

Naples Historical Society entrance.

Naples Historical Society has preserved an important home in the Naples Historic District. With strong endorsement in a May 18th vote from Naples City Council, the Society is now authorized to seal the deal with Mr. & Mrs. Stephen F. Briggs, II, for the purchase of their home located at 107 Broad Avenue South in the Naples Historic District.

Approval to make the purchase is significant for several reasons: (1) This home, listed as a Contributing Structure in the Naples Historic District, will now be preserved; (2) The Society’s archives are abundant and require additional space to review, discover and interpret important information from photographs and documents; (3) Staff has been operating out of a charming, but very small Guest House on Palm Cottage’s property for several years and the space now available at 107 Broad Avenue South will serve the Society better in the long run.

The Briggs family has long-been supporters of historic preservation. Mr. Briggs worked ardently with Donald P. Wingard, Society Board Member, to help ensure that his historically significant home will remain in the community rather than being torn down and replaced with something larger and more modern. Steve Briggs remarks, “I am thrilled that the Society has been given the green light to go ahead with the purchase. Saving history is important to the community. It embodies the charm that attracted most here in the first place.”

The capital campaign project, spearheaded by Don Wingard and Mary Sehnert Smith, Board President, had extraordinary success in that the Society will be able to close on the purchase without taking on a mortgage. No financial support was ever requested from the City for this purchase; one hundred percent of the funding came from the private sector. See the attached archival document that describes the house.

The Naples Historical Society receives no government funding and relies on membership dues and donations to survive. Palm Cottage™ is located at 137 12th Avenue South, just one block east of the Naples Pier. During this time of year, Historic Palm Cottage and The Norris Gardens are open Wednesday and Saturday from 1-4 p.m. Admission is $10 per person. Members are always free and so are children 10 and under. For more information, please visit or call the Naples Historical Society at 239-261-8164.

Overview: 107 Broad Avenue South, Dr. Earl Baum’s Final House, Built 1910

The site of this house has a long and interesting history both as a parcel of land platted by Walter Haldeman (Founding Father of Naples) and John Williams (Senator from Kentucky, l879-1885) in their original layout of the city and as a residential structure. It was, of course, included in the purchase of the Naples Town Improvement Company by Mr. Haldeman in 1890 as an undeveloped piece of property. It remained as such, passing through several owners and once selling for $35.63 for unpaid taxes, until Mr. George E. Rason of Windsor, Ont. built the cottage in 1910.

Again, it had several owners, including Eleanor and Phillip Rust in the 1930s. She is a daughter of the Dupont family. Mr. and Mrs. Rust also owned “Palm Villa” which is across the street, and where, it is said, the children and their nanny stayed while the parents occupied the house at 107 Broad Avenue South.

This house is generally known as Dr. Baum’s final home, which he purchased in 1948 because it had a higher elevation than his previous home and gave him slightly more protection from flooding. Dr. Baum added to the house what is known by long-time residents as a trophy room; this housed his collection of fauna of Collier County. It is said he had “one of everything that was native to Collier County.” Residents brought their children and guests to view his specimens and were always graciously welcomed by Dr. Baum. The room’s magnificent collection was moved in 1978 to the Collier County Museum for permanent display.

He enjoyed winters here until he passed away in 1975. It was then bought by Lodge and Mia McKee who subsequently sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Stephen F. Briggs, II, in 1978. The final owner and caretaker of this significant historic structure is the Naples Historical Society.

Naples Historical Society, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is dedicated to preserving Naples history and heritage for the community and future generations to enjoy.


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