Punta Gorda Isles Civic Association (PGICA) Punta Gorda Isles Civic Association link to Home Page
Graphic: Florida State Seal

Area History

The area was first settled in 1885 by Col. Isaac Trabue and his wife Virginia. They bought 30 acres and laid out the land in the form of a town. An interesting aside : Cooking was never allowed inside the Trabue's rustic cabin. In a relatively short period of time after settling in, Trabue persuaded Henry Plant to extend the rails of the Southern Florida Railway across the river to Trabue. The deal was based on giving Plant 15 of the original 30 acres. Trabue was now the southern terminus of the railroad.

By 1887, there was a bitter dispute going on between Trabue and Plant over the development of the town. 34 men gathered at Tom Hector's Pool Room and voted the corporate name Punta Gorda. These same men then traveled by foot to the county seat to sign the notice of intent to incorporate.

Photo: Old Punta Gorda PointPunta Gorda was advertised as being "located at the head of Charlotte Harbor, an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico. The excellent harbor (second largest on the Gulf) and geographical position of this place as the nearest port to Cuba on the mainland of Florida insures its commercial value." "Its winter climate is as nearly perfect as any in the world ...... the winds from the Gulf are a salt-water tonic from the unpleasant chill of the winds blowing from the Atlantic."

Moving ahead in time, it is now the mid 1950's. Four men of varying back rounds became friendly and began developing land on the east coast near Ft. Lauderdale. In 1957, Al Johns, Bud Cole, Sam Burchers and Bob Barbee were at a meeting with James Buchanan, then Chairman of the Board of General Development Corporation, where plans for Charlotte Harbor were unrolled.

Al and Bob were curious and took a sight seeing trip by plane and promptly fell in love with Punta Gorda "point". Cole was dragged over by car and told " you can't exactly get there from here, but it's sure pretty and we better buy it." In 1957 the four men bought 550 acres from Gerald Moody and George Sanders. On the last day of the year, title passed to Punta Gorda Isles Inc. In early 1958, an office had been built on US 41 in Charlotte Harbor and prospective buyers were taken by boat to view the future Punta Gorda Isles.

Sales were slow the first two years, but by the early 60's , the future course of PGI was set. At the end of 1960 there were 30 homes. In 1962 people were complaining that there was nothing to do. Peter Bontsema went from house to house to form a shuffleboard league. Sixty people signed up and they played on two courts built by the Isles. In July of 1962 a questionnaire was sent asking residents if they would like to form an association dedicated to "fun and happiness in the Isles". A variety of activities were proposed and 62 families joined. The dues were $3.00 per person. The Punta Gorda Civic Association was a reality and Peter Bontsema was the first President

By 1968, land purchases by Punta Gorda Isles Inc. totaled approximately 2300 acres. In December, 1968, Punta Gorda Isles Inc. announced plans to build a new golf course section and in January 1969, they purchased an additional 509 acres. The company reported record sales and additional land acquisitions were made. PGI Inc. entered an agreement with the City of Punta Gorda that these additional lands would be annexed by the City.

Sales within PGI were slow at first, but picked up as the economy grew. Through the 80's and early 90's sales tended to match the economic times. The current growth spirt can be traced back to 1996 when in a growing economy, Punta Gorda was named by Money Magazine as the "Second best place to live in America", and the "Number 1 small place to live in America". Since that time, Punta Gorda has received several more distinguished honors for its quality of life, anticipated appreciation of home values, and opportunities for employment and wage growth.

Despite this tremendous growth, PGI retains its small town friendliness and spirit of community. PGI is advertised as a "boater's paradise". Under the umbrella of the Punta Gorda Isles Civic Association there are four boating clubs, a fishing club and a variety of other clubs and social activities. We have come a long way since shuffleboard was the primary recreational activity but we haven't lost sight of the fact that we wish each of our residents "fun and happiness".