When driving over the Fort Myers Beach Bridge you see brightly colored hotels, unique shops and lively restaurants. Everything looks shiny and new, but if you know where to look, visitors can experience the historic side of Fort Myers Beach. If you know where to look you’ll discover the oldest standing structure on the island, which happens to sit on an ancient Calusa Indian shell mound. If you know where to look you’ll discover the Fort Myers Beach Mound House.
The Mound House is Estero Island’s oldest standing structure. The building first started out as a Tudor style home constructed by William and Milia Case in 1906. The modest home grew and changed over the years starting in 1909, then again in 1921 and again when it was owned by William and Florence Long in 1951 to 1994. The Town of Fort Myers Beach acquired the Mound House from the Long Estate in 2000 and is currently in the process of restoring the house to its 1921 grandeur with grant assistance from the Florida Department of State Division of Historical Resources.
Shell Mound Archaeology
The Mound House – also known as the Estero Island Site – has archaeological findings that date back over 2,000 years. Through radiocarbon dating from different layers, scientists were able to determine that people were living on Fort Myers Beach and began living at Mound House site around 100 BC. As a large village site, the archaeological deposits at Mound House contain abundant evidence of the Calusa Indians including features such as ash pits and objects used in their daily lives like pottery, shell and bone tools, and ornamental items.
The Present Day Mound House
Acquired with funds from Florida Communities Trust in 2000, the Mound House has been providing quality educational programs to the public while maintaining and developing the historic site. Recently completed is the addition of a kayak landing area that connects visitors to the Great Calusa Blueway Kayak Trail in Estero Bay and an under ground exhibit that takes you inside the ancient shell mound.
This unique archaeological exhibit is now open and located in the spot of the 1950′s in-ground swimming pool near the historic house. The pool cavity has been transformed into a room within the shell mound where visitors have the opportunity to view the site’s 2,000 year history through the layers in the mound that constitute the room walls!
Trained staff give tours of the of the Mound House throughout the week. You’ll learn all about the ancient Calusa culture and how they used the waterways to travel from mound to mound, with Mound Key located to the south as the local Calusa capital.
Fort Myers Beach may be known for its white sand beaches and stunning sunsets, but if you know where to look you’ll find buried history. If you know where to look you’ll find the highest point on Estero Island. If you know where to look, you’ll find the Mound House.
You can visit the Mound House historical site at 451 Connecticut St, Fort Myers Beach. Phone (239) 765-0865. Mound House Winter Tour Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday 10:00am to 2:00pm, last tour starts at 1:30pm.
The Mound House is owned and operated by the Town of Fort Myers Beach.
See you under the sun!
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