National Register of Historic Places and State Register Updates from Jan 2013 – Apr 2014
As the National Park Service and National Archives digitize and make available the National Register of Historic Places nomination forms, we continue to work diligently to make these sites available in Story of Where. We recently pulled in 721 additional National Register sites for you to enjoy. Here are two of them, both of which we’ve had a chance to visit.
Captiva School and Chapel-by-the-Sea Historic District
11580 Chapin Ln.
Designation: NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES
Listed Date: October 23, 2013
Captiva Pass was named by the Spanish in the 1500s. When the United States acquired Florida in 1821, the only inhabitants of Sanibel and Captiva islands were a few Cubans who maintained fishing camps there. In 1862, the Homestead Act was passed, giving 160 acres of federal land free to persons who would live on the land and cultivate it; however, it was not until 1888 that Captiva was opened to homesteaders. In 1870, the census taker, who perhaps considered only white settlers, counted three persons living on Sanibel Island. These were WilliamS. Allen, assistant marshal of Monroe County, his wife, and his son George, aged 16. By 1890, forty families had settled on Captiva and Sanibel islands. William Herbert Binder (1850-1932) came to Captiva in 1888 and established a homestead near the center of Captiva Island. Ten years later, George W. Carter came to Captiva with his family and homesteaded the northern end of the island.
In the first years of the 20th century, Captiva and Sanibel became a prime destination for sports fishermen. By the 1920s, however, hurricanes destroyed Captiva Island’s only hotel and a number of other buildings, giving little hope that the island would thrive and grow as a vacation destination. In 1927, however, a developer named Clarence Bennett Chadwick came to Captiva and built a key lime plantation and began to acquire land which he subsequently resold to developers.
In the mid 1920’s, ferries began shuttling cars and people to a dock near the lighthouse at the south end of the island, and continued to do so until the causeway opened in 1963. An important development on Captiva was the establishment of the ‘Tween Waters Inn (NR 2011) by Grace and Bowman Price in 1931 to accommodate wealthy tourists from all over the country. In 1931 the Bowmans made alterations to the primary inn and the built a series of small cottages just east of Captiva Drive. The Inn was the first tourist facility encountered by tourists after crossing Blind Pass Bridge. In 1935, the Public Works Administration (PWA) provided funds for the paving of Captiva Drive with a sand-asphalt surface, thereby making access to the island even more attractive to automobile traffic. The 1963 completion of the Sanibel Causeway, a toll road, spurred development in the islands.
First Roadside Park
Iron County Park, US-2, 4 miles east of Iron River
Iron River, MICHIGAN
Designation: MICHIGAN HISTORIC LANDMARKS
Listed Date: March 19, 1958
In 1918 the Iron County Board of Supervisors approved the recommendation of the road commission, through its engineer-manager, Herbert F. Larson, to purchase this 320-acre tract of roadside virgin timber and to dedicate it as a forest preserve. The following year Iron County established Michigan’s first roadside park and picnic tables. This was quite likely America’s first such facility. Since then similar parks have been provided by most states for the comfort and enjoyment of the traveling motorist.
Herbert F. Larson started the idea of the roadside park. History records that the idea goes back to 1918 in the early days of auto touring. Larson was then a history-minded highway engineer just out of the University of Michigan School of Engineering. He came back to Iron County where he grew up to manage the highway department.
Most of the big pines in Iron County were being cut down by the lumber companies at this time. Larson seeing this hoped someday to keep scenic wide strips of old growth trees along Iron County’s principal roads. He envisioned the possibility of a
“living forest memorial of virgin hardwoods so that posterity could see and enjoy what nature had richly bestowed upon us.”
In his words he
“tried to keep alert and ahead of the woodsman’s axe.”
The inspiration of the roadside park idea came from a disappointed Sunday outing of a nearby Wisconsin lake country picnic. In 1919 northern Wisconsin lake resorts were growing rapidly. On a particular Sunday of that year, Larson tried to have a cookout with a group of people in Wisconsin. Everywhere they went the property caretaker asked them to not have their picnic on the property and escourted them off the grounds.
“In upper Michigan we could go where we chose with no one to bother us.”
He did not want the nearby Upper Peninsula of Michigan to suffer a similar loss of the much-loved pastime of picnicing. This is where he was inspired with the idea of a wide right of way road spot as a roadside park. One day Larson learned that a particular prominently located parcel of land of uncut virgin woods east of Iron River, Michigan, on U.S. 2 might be up for sale. He went to the landowners with the support of the Iron County board chairman. They then negotiated with the owners and bought it as a forest memorial public woods. This is where he placed his first picnic table for a designated rest spot for the motoring public. There is a possibility this was even the first designated automobile rest area anywhere in the world. It is located at coordinates N 46.1067 W -88.54.78 in a stand of old-growth hardwood trees. Presently, it has many picnic tables and grills. There are pit toilets provided there today, whereas when it was first introduced it consisted only of a single picnic table.
Larson’s roadside park rest stop idea quickly spread all over the United States in most of the states already by the 1920s. His roadside park idea soon attracted large gatherings and became a trend-setting phenomenon. Its success inspired Larson’s later projects of Pentoga Park and Bewabic Park.
Roadside park, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Roadside_park&oldid=575866899 (last visited Nov. 25, 2014).