Our History

History of Everglades City, Chokoloskee & the 10,000 Islands

Originally Florida was inhabited by many tribal people, some of whom migrated from further north. Some Africans who escaped from slave ships, as well as escaped slaves from plantations also found their way into the relative safety of the Everglades. Today two tribes, the Seminole and Miccosukee, as well as some independent villages, can be found near the Tamiami Trail (US41) and Interstate 75. After the three Indian Wars, as white pioneers began to filter into Southwest Florida, trade relationships grew between tribal and pioneer populations. Some of this history can be seen in the Museum of the Everglades and the historic Smallwood Store on Chokoloskee Island.


It is unusual in Southwest Florida to find an area with so many original structures and so many families who can trace their ancestors back to settlements here in the late 1800’s.

In 1923, Collier County was founded by Barron Gift Collier who picked the little farming and trading village of Everglade (Barron Collier added the “s” to make it “Everglades”) as his headquarters because of its central location and wide river, which he renamed the Barron River. Collier developed much of the agricultural and residential area and finished the Tamiami Trail (Route 41) with his own resources.

Everglades was laid out as a modern town with a grid of streets centered on a city circle (similar to Washington, D.C. or Paris). Among the amenities he provided were the County Courthouse (current City Hall) and a library, laundry (current Museum of the Everglades), an inn with department store downstairs, theater, and bank.

Below are "Historic Homes Tour" booklets that document some of the historic structures, some of which are no longer here.

Historic Homes 2014 Tour-Chokoloskee (pdf)


Historic Homes 2013 Tour (pdf)


Historic Homes 2012 Tour (pdf)


Historic Homes 2011 Tour (pdf)


Historic Homes 2010 Tour (pdf)