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

Where was the First Bank of Collier County FL?

Everglades City

by Reverend Dr Bob N. Wallace, Everglades Community Church

Right here in Everglades City. The first bank in Collier County was built by Barron Gift Collier, who envisioned an iconic landmark building as the home for the Bank of Everglades. From 1927 the Bank remained in the present building until 1962 when the business relocated to Immokalee forty-two miles to the Northwest of Everglades City.

Just as the Eiffel Tower was an iconic landmark for Paris, so was the Bank of Everglades to Everglades City. Barron Collier built several other buildings to serve his employees, which included a laundry building, a post office, a telegraph, a bakery, the Everglades Inn, administration offices, a department store, a pharmacy, and a restaurant. The bank today will soon become a Visitor Center.

Bank of the Everglades

And the laundry is now The Museum of the Everglades located a block from the bank building at 105 West Broadway Avenue, Everglades City. It’s part of the Collier County Museums system and is devoted to displaying local history from early Native American times to the present. The museum’s permanent and rotating exhibits provide visitors with an in-depth look at over 2,000 years of human history in the area and tell the stories of those adventurous enough, and tenacious enough. to settle “Florida’s Last Frontier”.

In 1979, the bank building was purchased by Reba “Rusty” Rupsis, who published the Everglades Echo newspaper in the building until 1990. After that, Patty Flick restored it as a Bed & Breakfast. There were several leaseholders for the B&B until it closed in 2017. The building has remained vacant since that time and has deteriorated somewhat.

A movement to restore the original building of the Bank of Everglades in Everglades City began March 2021 when Naples resident and owner Robert Flick gifted the building to The Everglades Society for Historic Preservation to restore the historic landmark. Flick was an extra in the 1958 film, “Wind Across the Everglades” that starred Burl Ives, Christopher Plummer, and Gypsy Rose Lee. The movie plot followed a game warden who had arrived in Florida in the hopes of enforcing conservation laws. He soon found himself up against Cottonmouth, the leader of a fierce group of bird poachers.

The Everglades Society for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit, has been working for the past three years applying for grants and raising funds to rehabilitate the historic building. With a $3 million federal grant ESHP is now working with an architectural firm who has the experience and expertise in historic preservation to complete the project. Learn more about the project at

Marya Repko, ESHP secretary and author of some fifteen regional history books, says facilities will be updated to meet accessibility requirements, including the installation of an elevator. Envisioned downstairs is a visitor’s center with plans to turn the original bank vault into a room where the classic “Wind Across the Everglades” plays on a continuous loop. The second-story rooms include a historical library, conference room, and offices.

“We’re unique in Everglades City,” says Repko. “There aren’t many villages that look today like they did 100 years ago.”

Bank of the Everglades

The original goal was to unveil a fully restored bank building on May 8, 2023, the centennial anniversary of the founding of Collier County. “I had a dream it’d be open by then, but that didn’t happen,” Repko added. The renovation of the building is now in the design stage with an expected completion date late 2025.

If you are interested in helping with this endeavor, please contact: The Everglades Society for Historic Preservation. Call (239) 719-0020. Or send your request by mail to PO Box 46, Everglades City, FL 34139. The Everglades Society for Historic Preservation, Inc. was founded by a group of community citizens who were concerned about the historic and cultural attributes of Everglades City and its surrounding area. 207 Broadway W, Everglades City, Florida 34139, United States.

2024-03-19T14:00:34-04:00March 2, 2024|History|

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