Palm Avenue Homes

1511 Palm Avenue – Home of Mary F. Hill & and M. Florence “Flossie” Hill – 1923

This style of Craftsman home has been nick-named the “Airplane” because of the recessed second floor that appears to “fly” under its broad roof eaves.  The house is almost identical to the other “Airplane” Craftsman home located nearby at 2781 Rhode Island Avenue.  The stucco piers of the front porch are echoed in the handsome stucco and wrought iron fence around the property.  The parcel’s location on Billy’s Creek marked it as one of the most exclusive locations in the neighborhood when the house was constructed in 1923 for Mary Florence “Flossie” Hill.

Flossie Hill and her mother, also named Mary Florence Hill, came to Fort Myers from Alabama when Flossie was a young girl.  Both women were truly pioneers in early Fort Myers and respected members of the community throughout their lives.  Mrs. Hill, who was widowed at age 28, came to Fort Myers after the death of her husband and established the Hill House Hotel in 1887.  The business began as a boarding house at the corner of Lee and First Streets, then soon became a successful hotel occupied by many long-term residents and by prominent visitors.  Mrs. Hill, and then Flossie, managed the hotel until it was purchased in 1918 by W.A. Franklin, who constructed an eight-story addition to hotel and renamed it the Franklin Arms Hotel, the city’s first sky-scraper.

In 1905, Miss Hill founded M. Flossie Hill Company, which sold women’s and children’s clothing, as well as fabric, linens and other dry goods in a her store located at 225 First Street.  For more than 50 years, the News-Press was filled with news of what Flossie Hill was doing – her buying trips to New York, shipments of the latest fabrics, store events, her support of the library and the new Women’s Business and Professional Club.  She was a gifted promoter!

On June 25, 1921, Miss Hill purchased this parcel for $1,800 from Dean Development Company, subject to a restriction that any house built there cost at least $3,500.  In May 1923, the News-Press reported that her architect (Francis J. Kennard of Tampa) was visiting Fort Myers.  In June 1923, the newspaper reported that her contractor (O.J. Dorwin) would be starting the house soon.  In October 1923, it reported that the “handsome” home was almost completed.  Even Flossie’s new house was big news!

Miss Hill and her mother occupied this home until her mother’s death in 1934 at age 82.  Shortly afterwards, Miss Hill moved to a home at 1520 Lee Street and rented out her house on Palm Avenue.  In July 1947, she finally sold the residence to William D. and Jewell N. Bogue for $16,500.

From the day her store opened in 1905 until two days before her death on September 27, 1956, Miss Hill managed her store on First Street.  In her will, she bequeathed 100 percent of the stock in her store to the nine employees who had worked in the store for ten years or more and made numerous charitable donations.

Earlier address:  2212 Palm Avenue; Dean’s Subdivision, Block C, Lot 3 and Lot 4 (northern half).

 

1517 Palm Avenue – Home of Carl Nelson Haaheim & Sara Haaheim – 1949

For thirty-seven years, this ranch on Billy’s Creek was the home of Louis H. Furen, Jr. who had lived in Dean Park for most of his life.  Mr. Furen’s ties to Dean Park date from 1941, when his father, Louis H. Furen, Sr., constructed the family home at 2727 Michigan Avenue.  He became an invaluable member of the Dean Park community when it formed the Dean Park Historic District in 1997, and he was a beloved resident until his death in 2016.

For many years, this parcel stood vacant and was owned by Lena Foxworthy, who purchased it in 1924 from Dean Development Company for $1,800.  In 1945, Mrs. Foxworthy sold the parcel to Carl Nelson Haaheim and Sarah Haaheim, who constructed this ranch home and lived there until they sold the property in 1950.  There were two other intervening owners before Mr. Furen purchased the home in 1981.

Dean’s Subdivision, Block C, Lot 5 and Lot 4 (southerly half). 

 

1524 Palm Avenue – Home of Col. Esher C. Burkart – 1954

This ranch home was constructed in 1954 for Col. Esher C. Burkart, who retired from the Army in 1954 and came to Fort Myers.  A newspaper article in the News-Press discussed his military career, which started with his graduation from West Point and included a post as assistant chief of operations for General Douglas MacArthur during World War II.  He was buried in Arlington Cemetery in 1975. 

In 1925, this parcel was sold for $2,200 by the Dean Development Company to Rescoe Parker, subject to a restriction that a home costing least $8,000 be built on the property.  The parcel changed owners several times, but remained vacant until the Burkart home was built in 1954.

Dean’s Subdivision, Block H, Lot 1.

 

1525 Palm Avenue – Home of Frank H. Tichenor & Laura B. Tichenor Home – ‘Shangri La’ – 1922

The frame vernacular home now situated on this property is known locally as “Shangri La” and is very much in the “Old Florida” style, with two porches surrounding the home and extended roofs to provide plenty of shade.  The entertaining spaces inside are considerable, and original heart pine floors exist throughout the house.  At one time, a substantial two-story garage apartment housed the car collection of its original owner, Frank H. Tichenor, and provided a servants’ quarters, but this old garage is no longer standing.  Recently, a new garage was constructed on the southern side of the parcel.

Frank H. Tichenor was a prominent real estate investor who was also an avid golfer, touring car collector and wild turkey and quail hunter.  His wife, Laura Tichenor, was a socialite of note, and this home on Billy’s Creek was said to be the setting of many parties during the period when the Tichenors owned the home.  Mr. Tichenor purchased this lot on Billy’s Creek from John Dean’s Dean Development Company on July 18, 1921, subject to a restriction that any house built on the parcel cost at least $3,500.  Four years later, at the peak of the Florida real estate boom, the Tichenors sold the residence for $27,500 to James C. Elms and Grace W. Elms of New Jersey.

Earlier address:  2183 Palm Avenue; Dean’s Subdivision, Block C, Lots 6, 7 & 8

 

1526 Palm Avenue – Home of Andrew A. Colbert & Ellen S. Colbert – 1922

This two-story Craftsman style home appears on the Sanford Insurance Map of 1922 and is labeled as a two-story building with a notation “auto 1st.”  This efficient arrangement – a first floor garage and second floor living space – came to be known as a “garage apartment” when it was constructed by later owners on Cranford and Evans Avenues.  Here, the first floor garage space is now enclosed as ground floor living space. 

On August 9, 1920, Andrew and Ellen Colbert purchased this parcel from Dean Development Company for $1,200, subject to a restriction that a home costing at least $2,000 be built on the property.  The Colberts lived in this second-floor residence until 1934, when they transferred it to the First National Bank of Fort Myers. 

Since the original 75-by-150-foot parcel purchased by the Colberts extended to Providence Street, the property’s original address was 1140 Providence Street, even though the Colbert dwelling faced Palm Avenue.  At some point, this parcel was split in two so that this dwelling occupies the southerly 40 feet of the parcel; the northerly portion of this parcel is now occupied by a four-unit apartment building (2770 Providence Street).

Andrew and Ellen Colbert came to Fort Myers from Rhode Island in 1908, and Andrew used Fort Myers as a home base for his career as yacht captain.  His employers included such notables as Harvey Firestone, whose yacht was based in Miami during the winter, and John Ringling, for whom he delivered the yacht “Zalophus” to Sarasota.  This career frequently put the Colberts in Miami for the winter months, and the couple did move there after leaving Fort Myers in 1941. 

Mr. Colbert, born in Norway in 1885, became a U.S. citizen in 1915 and served in the Navy.  He was an avid motorist and one of the charter members of the Fort Myers chapter of AAA, which had the stated goal of improving Lee County roads and, thereby, bringing more tourism to the area.  He and Mrs. Colbert frequently motored to their cottage (called “Kwit-U-Wury”) in Fort Myers Beach.   Mr. Colbert was also an ardent member of the local Elks Club and when he died at age 93 in Fort Myers Beach, the funeral was conducted by the Elks Club.               Earlier address:  1140 Providence Street

Dean’s Subdivision, Block I, Lot 4 (southern 40 feet).

 

1536 Palm Avenue – Accessory Dwelling of Charles A. Powell, Jr. & Eudora K. Powell – 1947

The 1922 Sanford Fire Insurance Company map shows this two-story stucco dwelling began as a one-story garage located at the rear of the home constructed by Joseph W. Hill at 2773 Providence Street.  Both the Hill house and this garage were shown as “stuccoed” on the 1922 map. 

In 1947, according to city tax records, this one-story garage was converted into a two-story dwelling.  The resulting house is reminiscent of the two-story dwelling one block away at 1526 Palm Avenue, which was originally constructed as a two-story dwelling with a garage on the first floor. 

The original parcel was sold by the Dean Development Company to Joseph W. Hill for $1,615 on August 7, 1920, and it consisted was a corner lot with 80 feet of frontage along Providence Street and 216 feet of frontage along Palm Avenue.  The next year, Mr. Hill constructed a two-story home facing Providence Street on the front portion of this parcel and a small out-building at the rear of the parcel.The home at 2773 Providence Street changed ownership several times before being sold to Charles and Eudora Powell in 1942.  The Powells lived at this home for 44 years, and during this period retained ownership of the rear dwelling.  In fact, the rear dwelling was not split off from the main house until it was sold to Steven D. Adkins in 2003.

Earlier address:  2137 Palm Avenue; Dean’s Subdivision, Block H, Lot 14 (northern half).