Visit Everglades City and the Ten Thousand Islands of Southwest Florida, the Everglades

The Relocation of Our County Seat

Everglades City

by Lila Zuck

In the 1950s, local population projections through the 1980s indicated that the population of Collier County was on a steady upward trend and the Collier County Commissioners began discussing the need to enlarge the Collier County Courthouse at Everglades City.  A Collier County Branch Courthouse had already been established in 1956 in Naples, on Third Street and Broad Avenue South.

In 1958, members of the Naples Chamber of Commerce and the Naples Jaycees spearheaded a movement to prevent the courthouse expansion, and instead relocate the Collier County Seat from Everglades City preferably to Naples.

By 1959, the movement had strengthened and the decision was taken to the voters as to whether to enlarge the Everglades City Courthouse or relocate the county seat to Immokalee, East Naples or Naples, where populations had increased between 1940 and 1950.  Since the population of Marco Island had not fluctuated much in that same 10-year period, Marco was not in the running.

The Relocation of Our County Seat by Lila Zuck The Collier County News, June 11, 1959
The Collier County News, June 11, 1959

A runoff election held on May 19, 1959 between the four options revealed that 53% of Collier County’s 4,737 registered voters had narrowed the choices to two options: retain and enlarge the courthouse at Everglades City or relocate it to East Naples.

Since the relocation of a county courthouse was governed at the time by Florida’s General Election Laws, on Tuesday, June 9, 1959, all bars, taverns and liquor stores in Collier County closed for 12 hours, between 7 am and 7 pm, when the polls were open.

The results of the election indicated 1,674 voters favored East Naples, as opposed to the 1,006 who voted to retain the courthouse at Everglades City.

In December 1959, the County Commissioners began evaluating four sites in East Naples, for the construction of a Government Complex, ultimately purchasing a 20-acre site at the northwest corner of the intersection of East U.S. 41 and the north-south leg of Airport Road.  An additional 10 acres were added to the back of the diamond-shaped parcel, and groundbreaking took place on October 13, 1961.

The Collier County Government Complex, reflective of visionary planning and managed growth, was presented to the residents of Collier County on October 30, 1962.

2023-12-09T04:42:53-05:00May 27, 2023|History|

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