Captiva captures historical memories in street names
Starting at the southern end between Blind Pass and the northern portion of Captiva Pass, Captiva island stretches for 14 miles with the Gulf of Mexico and Pine Island Sound bordering its coastlines.
Sanibel Captiva Road turns into Captiva Drive after Blind Pass Bridge and from there on, paradise is prevalent throughout the scenic drive.
Last week, we explored the origins and names of Sanibel’s streets, which are rich in history and named after the many features of the Florida island.
There is just as much history attached to Captiva’s street names, but with an entire different cast of characters, even though the islands are very much in close contact with each other.
The story of why the Captiva streets were renamed is just as interesting as the names themselves.
Captiva’s street names went through an array of changes throughout its history, as many of the names in the beginning were pretty straightforward and rather common.
In the 1960’s, Lee County passed ordinances declaring there were too many duplication of street names in its jurisdiction. Captiva fell into the distinction of using common street names, such as Palm Avenue, Coral Way and Davidson Street.
In 1976, the job of renaming Captiva’s streets to more original names was brought to the residents affected by the change. A bit of a controversy ensued, as some residents of Captiva were resistant to the changing of the street names.
What was Davidson Street is now Binder Drive SW. Palm Avenue is now Andy Rosse Lane SW, while Coral Way is now known as Wightman Lane SW.
An unnamed road in the Lane subdivision was dubbed Old Lodge Lane SW.
It all started with a suggestion by Dr. Leo Hofschneider during a Lee County Planning Department that Captiva needed house numbers for easier identification.
“My suggestion for using house numbers was to make it easier to direct guests, deliveries and emergency vehicles to an address,” Dr. Hofschneider was quoted as saying in an Island Reporter article, dated March 4, 1977.
What resulted was seven of Captiva’s dozen or so named roadways were changed. Instead of “places”, the streets gained names with either “lanes” or “drives”.
The road which runs the length of Captiva, starting at Blind Pass Bridge, was aptly named Captiva Drive, which ended street names connected off the artery like Sanibel-Captiva Road (which runs from Tarpon Bay Road and Pine Ridge Road on Sanibel), Coconut Road, Gulf Avenue, Munson and Binder Streets.
After conducting some research with the 1963 plat maps, officials found out that Bryant and Gulf Streets – which were located on the Gulf side north of the post office – could not be found due to beach erosion.
A sign was still made designating Bryant Avenue as Bryant Place SW, anyways, just in case the road would ever pop back up.
In the 1977 article, Dr. Hofschneider said three names were submitted for each street, in case of duplication.
“We tried to accommodate people on their particular street, and got a lot of pretty good names that we couldn’t use because they were being used elsewhere in the county,” Dr. Hofschneider said in the 1977 article. “Residents were satisfied and we had very few objections. The ones we did, were from those who simply don’t like change, or because of the inconvenience and expense of having to change business and personal stationery.”
All of the new names used “Southwest”, simply because the Planning Department divided the county into quadrants and Captiva happen to fall into the southwest one.
The street names used, were of people who played an important part of creating what Captiva came to be.
The most recognizable and one of the most used street is Andy Rosse Lane, which is named after Andy Rosse, who owned and ran the Captiva Dock.
Rosse bought the old dock, naming it Andy’s Fishing Pier, in 1940 for $800. He turned it into a bar and restaurant at first, then turned it into a fish house.
“For years, the pier was the only place on Captiva where a fella and his girl could get a cold beer,” Rosse said in the book True Tales of Old Captiva, written by the Captiva Library Board. “It was the only island spot where a fisherman could sell his day’s catch, buy ice and spend pocket money on groceries and good times.”
It was one of the most popular spots on Captiva, in which some of the wild stories emanating from the location still persist today.
The Old Lodge Lane is named after the The Bayview Hotel, also known as Fisherman’s Lodge, the Captiva Hotel and Captiva Lodge, which was built by F.A. Lane from 1911 through 1915. It burned in 1948.
Binder Drive, which is an extension of Andy Rosse Lane, was named after one of the first settlers on the island, William Herbert Binder, who settled in Captiva in 1888. He homesteaded the central part of the island, south of South Seas Plantation.
Binder is also buried in the Captiva Cemetery.
Another prominent family on Captiva was the Dickey family, which has Dickey Lane named after them. Dr. J.A. Dickey was a visitor to Captiva as a fisherman. Dr. John R. Dickey, who was a pharmacist, moved down with his family and cook in 1905 on Sanibel.
But finding it too difficult to find fishing spots, Dickey ended up moving his family out to Captiva, where he bought a half mile of the island from Binder and built a home there in 1906.
Wightman Lane, which is located off of Captiva Lane towards the Gulf, bears the name of the Wightman family, specifically Joseph Wightman, who came from Washington in 1917 during WWI. His parents bought what used to be the old Bates place on Captiva Island.
In an interview in True Tales of Old Captiva, Wightman stated there were only 40-60 people living on Captiva when they moved on the island.
There are other colorful characters’ names which bear their names on the Captiva street signs, and plenty of stories which have been passed down about the island’s lore.
The names themselves strike intrigue and it’s their names which will hold strong on every street corner on Captiva.