Stories from The Historical Village
Throughout the Sanibel Historical Village’s buildings are binders inviting visitors to share their memories of Sanibel whether as long-time residents, as visitors of many years, as students at the Old Schoolhouse, or whatever moves them to record their Sanibel experiences.
Loose-leaf pages (themselves a reminder of times past, having come into use around 1900) and pens are provided, and that’s all one needs to bring the past alive.
[My parents] got married April 12, 1952 in Miami, Florida, and spent their honeymoon on Sanibel Island. They crossed over from the mainland on a ferry and rented a hotel room. [My father] asked for the key to the room. The porter replied, “Sir, there has never been a key on Sanibel Island, we are honest folks.”
From Lake Placid, Florida
In 1978 if you were a resident of Sanibel, the Bailey’s Store would watch your children of pre-school age for free! What a blessing for working parents. We were residents of Sanibel for six years; our youngest child attended school here.
I first came to Sanibel with my parents in 1947, the year I turned 11. We stayed at the Island Inn at the old barracks. After dinner, we would play darts, and I felt very grown up playing with the adults. Granny Matthews and Doc Fernow would usually play cards. She had a cottage nearby. Granny Matthews was as sharp as a tack but couldn’t walk very well, and Doc Fernow was spry and active but couldn’t see well.
Being a kid, I spent my time on the beach, where I got some awful sunburns. We didn’t know then that this would damage the skin. I used to use an old palm frond to help me stay afloat in the water and one day it slipped away and I was swimming! I saw my first painted bunting at the Inn. Lovely!
Shelling was of course more rewarding then, and although Junonias were not common, one could expect to find one at least in fair condition. By the early 1970s people were going out at low tide at 2 or 3 in the morning to be the first to find good shells.
The roads were sand washboard, and a friend of my dad’s used to drive her 1920s station wagon around. We always came over by ferry, on the Islander or the Best. My dad designed the new barracks for the Island Inn.
Read more about people’s experiences living on and visiting Sanibel at the Sanibel Historical Village. In addition, the Old Bailey Store contains copies of old newspapers and just about all the buildings have plenty of reading material explaining their history.
The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday through August 1, and reopens October 20 on a full schedule, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
It is located at 950 Dunlop Road (next to BIG ARTS). Admission is $10 for adults 18 and older; those under 18 and members are free.
Docent-guided tours are available at 10:30 a.m. at no extra charge, based upon docent availability. There is handicap access to all buildings. For information, call 472-4648 during business hours or visit www.sanibelmuseum.org.