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The Naples Florida area

The City of Naples is 14.4 square miles and is one of three municipalities (Marco Island and Everglades City) located in Collier County.  Incorporated 1923 (by special act), 1946 (charter adopted). The Town of Naples was incorporated by a special act of the Florida Legislature in 1923 and the charter was adopted in 1946, changing “town” to City of Naples.

As early as the 1880s, however, Naples served as a winter refuge for wealthy Ohioans and Kentuckians, who were attracted by its isolation, natural beauty and abundant wildlife. The original owners and developers of the community named the city after Naples, Italy. Hurricane Donna struck the community in 1960, causing major damage, but this damage resulted in the re-birth of community spirit and brought Naples to national recognition. Naples is the county seat.

As of July 1, 2007, the U. S. Census Bureau estimated the city’s population at 21,653.  The economy of Naples is based largely on tourism and was historically based on real estate development and agriculture.  Due to its proximity to the Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands, Naples is also popular among ecotourists.

Interesting namesakes of Naples- Area landmarks
written by the Naples Daily News Staff (November 14, 2008)
Web address:

Airport-Pulling Road is named for John Pulling Sr., one of Collier County’s most prolific land investors. Pulling bought and sold thousands of acres that now bear names like Lake Park, Seagate, Lely Estates, Stonebridge and the J&C Industrial Park north of Pine Ridge Road. His name was tagged onto what once was simply called Airport Road.

Arthur L. Allen Tennis Center at Cambier Park in downtown Naples was named in February 2006 after years of tournament sponsorships by Art Allen, the founder, president and CEO of Allen Systems Group (ASG), a software company based in Naples.

Cambier Park in downtown Naples is named after William Cambier, appointed the town’s engineer in 1926. The park, a dream of Cambier’s, was dedicated on Sept. 10, 1948.

Crayton Cove, off Naples Bay, is named for E.W. “Ed” Crayton, who ran Naples in the early part of the century and founded the Naples Improvement Company. The former Ohio real estate executive served as chairman and president of the Town Council from 1923 until 1938.

Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Recreation Area honors two former residents who have become a part of local history. “Delnor” combines parts of both names of Dellora Norris, who with her husband, Lester J. Norris, acquired the land as a park for Collier County in 1964. Six years later, the Florida Division of Recreation and Parks purchased the land from the county for development of a state park, which officially opened to the public in 1981. Joe Wiggins, for whom Wiggins Pass is named, operated a small trading post and is the first homesteader on record there.

Fleischmann Park and Fleischmann Boulevard, across from Coastland Center, is named for Julius K. Fleischmann Jr., who came to Naples from Cincinnati as a winter visitor in 1946, but established a Naples home and became a local investor and developer. He was the son of a former mayor of Cincinnati and the grandson of the man who founded Fleischmann Yeast in 1868 and became a senator from Ohio. Fleischmann’s first project was what is now Third Street South shopping area. In 1952, he revived and established Caribbean Gardens, one of the city’s major attractions.

Goodlette-Frank Road is named after Richard “Dick” Goodlette and Ed Frank. Goodlette was a county commissioner in the 1950s and 1960s, and his son, Dudley, was a state representative for Naples. Frank, a Naples pioneer who came to the area in the 1920s from California, ran a repair shop, helped found a bank and started the swamp buggy races.

Hodges University administrators changed the name of International College in May 2007 to reflect a $12 million donation to the school by longtime Naples philanthropists Earl and Thelma Hodges. Earl operated area funeral homes in Naples since 1962.

Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology on Estey Avenue in East Naples is named after James Lorenzo Walker, who graduated from Naples High School in 1939 and went on to serve as a county commissioner from 1950 to 1956, and as a Democratic state legislator from 1956 to 1974. During his time in the statehouse, he sought funds for what is today the Walker Institute of Technology, which opened its doors in August 1974 in East Naples.

Lowdermilk Park, along Gulf Shore Boulevard North, is named after Naples first city manager, Fred Lowdermilk, who served from 1949 to 1961. The park was dedicated on July 4, 1961.

Merrihue Drive, the road that leads to the entrance to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, is named to honor Willard Merrihue, former president of the Conservancy and Collier County Audubon Society.

Norris Community Center, which opened in March 2004, honors local philanthropists Lester and Dellora Norris. They saved Keewaydin Island from development for many years when they purchased it in 1945, and a generous donation from the couple helped rebuild the historic Naples Pier after Hurricane Donna in 1960.

Sugden Community Theater on Fifth Avenue South and Sugden Regional Park in East Naples are named after Dr. Herbert and Margaret Sugden, philanthropists who moved from Missouri to Naples in 1974. The Sugdens gave the Naples Players theater group its first $1 million for a permanent home, but made several other donations over the years. The Fifth Avenue South location isn’t the only Sugden theater in town. Thanks to another generous donation from the family, the Collier County Public Library was able to build a Sugden theater, too, at library headquarters on Orange Blossom Drive. A gift to Florida Gulf Coast University allowed the Margaret S. Sugden Welcome Center to be built near the entrance to the campus.

The von Liebig Art Center is named after Naples seasonal resident Suzanne and the late William J. von Liebig, noted cultural and medical research philanthropists. A capital campaign by the Naples Art Association to build a community arts center on public land in Cambier Park raised $3.5 million, with major funding provided by the state of Florida and a lead private gift from the von Liebigs. The von Liebig Art Center, designed by Naples architect Alfred French, was officially dedicated and opened to the public, debt-free, on Nov. 22, 1998.

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June 21, 2018, 4:01 am
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