homepage logo

‘Tween Waters is focus of first CIHS offering

By Staff | Oct 29, 2019

ART – CAPTIVA CIHS EVENT PHOTO PROVIDED The Captiva Island Historical Society will host its first event of the season, “Celebrating Historic 'Tween Waters Inn,” on Nov. 18 at the Old Captiva House at the 'Tween Waters Inn.

The Captiva Island Historical Society will open its new season with an exclusive experience designed to honor one of the island’s historic treasures, the ‘Tween Waters Inn, and tickets are going quickly.

“Celebrating Historic ‘Tween Waters Inn” will take place on Nov. 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Old Captiva House at the resort. The evening will feature a buffet dinner in the newly-renovated restaurant, docent talk by Tony Lapi and theatrical appearance by a personality from the island’s yesteryear.

It will conclude with the unveiling of the CIHS 2019-2020 schedule.

“‘Tween Waters was the first historic site on Captiva to be designated on the National Register of Historic Places,” Board President Tom Libonate said.

In 1924, Virginia residents Bowman and Grace Price took their doctor’s advice and headed south for the winter, then returned the following spring to buy property on Captiva from one of its early residents, John R. Dickey. The property included a small cottage belonging to the Dickey children’s tutor, Reba Fitzpatrick.

Board President Tom Libonate

According to the Prices’ daughter, her parents remodeled it, did it over, added on a couple of rooms and came back every winter. Then, they built one cottage in front, toward the Gulf of Mexico, that was to serve as just a little guest cottage for family and friends.

“Over the years they expanded it,” he said.

Originally known as Price’s Cottages, the hotel took the ‘Tween Waters Inn name at the suggestion of conservationist and cartoonist J.N. “Ding” Darling who, with his wife Penny, first stayed in 1936. They became repeat guests of the inn, returning each winter, with Ding’s studio close by in another cottage.

“He nicknamed it ‘Tween Waters,” Libonate said, referring to Darling.

In addition, while staying at a small cottage down the street, author and aviator Anne Morrow Lindbergh often took supper in the privacy of the dining room at the ‘Tween Waters Inn.

“It has had a number of famous guests over the years,” he said.

Libonate explained that pre-World War II the road system on Captiva was poor.

“It was kind of the social destination of the island. People didn’t go out to dinner, they stayed at the inn,” he said of the ‘Tween Waters in those years. “The inn kind of became their social center.”

After WWII, a number of Buckingham Army Airfield cottages were relocated to the property.

In 1962, Grace Price sold the inn to her daughter, Dorothy “Dottie” Price, and son-in-law, John Wakefield. The couple co-managed the resort until its sale in 1969. Rochester Resorts purchased the property in 1974; it is credited for petitioning the National Register of Historic Places to include the ‘Tween Waters Inn on its list. In 2011, the inn was put on the register’s list as a historic landmark.

Libonate explained that Lapi was chosen to provide the docent talk at the event because of his background with the property. Lapi became general manager of the ‘Tween Waters Inn when Rochester Resorts bought it. Today, Lapi is the president and chief executive officer of Rochester Resorts.

“We can’t imagine anyone alive who can draw on the history of the property, his relationship with the Price-Wakefield family and stories of its renowned guests, such as ‘Ding’ Darling,” he said.

Also at the event, the appearance of an island personality will provide a fun twist.

“It will be an actress portraying one of the historical personalities associated with the ‘Tween Waters Inn,” Libonate said, adding that the character will be a surprise. “I can’t tell you who that is.”

Tickets are $125 and include dinner, wine, beer and soft drinks.

Seating is limited and reservations are required.

“We’re about halfway sold on tickets,” he said on Oct. 23.

Those interested in attending are encouraged to pick up theirs sooner than later.

“It’s an exclusive closed event,” Libonate said. “The Old Captiva House will not be open to the public that evening.”

As for the rest of the year, the CIHS has extended its offerings.

“Our 2019-2020 season features our most exciting and ambitious calendar of programs to date,” he said. “From November to April, we’ve planned eight programs – up from six in prior years.”

Libonate cited demand from the public as one reason for more activities.

“Last year we had the highest attendance that we’ve ever had for our events. Many of our events were sellouts,” he said. “There seems to be an interest in the island communities in what we’re doing.”

With the details to be released in mid-November, the remaining activities are planned for:

– Dec. 7 at noon

– Jan. 13 at 6 p.m.

– Jan. 25 at 10 a.m.

– Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.

– Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.

– March 3 at 7 p.m.

– April 6 at 7 p.m.

The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company is the presenting sponsor for the season.

The community is invited to secure their tickets for the first event.

“The interesting and rich history of Captiva is intriguing, and the story of ‘Tween Waters is certainly one of those,” Libonate said. “It is less than 100 years old, but a rich part of our history and colorful.”

Tickets can be purchased through www.captivaislandhistoricalsociety.org or on Eventbrite.

For more information, visit online or call 239-472-2323.

The ‘Tween Waters Inn/Old Captiva House is at 15951 Captiva Drive, Captiva.