Naples Depot Museum
1051 5th Avenue South
Set in Naples' restored Seaboard Air Line Railway passenger station, Collier County's newest historical museum welcomes visitors back to the railroading boom days of the Roaring Twenties and explains how generations of Southwest Floridians used technology and transportation to conquer ...More about Naples Depot Museum »
1051 5th Avenue South, Naples, FL
The Naples Depot Museum began life in 1927 as a railroad station for the Seaboard Line, and was sold to the Atlantic Coast Line (ACL) in the 1930s. During World War II, the building was home to USO shows for the troops stationed at the Naples airfield. In late 1952, ACL resumed operations, running daily railroad service for freight and passengers. At one point, ACL and Seaboard merged into the company known as Seaboard Coast Line.
The Jaycees came to the rescue when the Depot was slated for demolition in 1971, and had the building placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Later, the Southwest Heritage Foundation took over and ran the Depot as a community center, which often featured special shows during peak season, such as orchid displays or immense landscapes in miniature with several HO gauge trains running at once, to the delight of children and adults.
In April 2005, the Depot was taken under the umbrella of the Collier County Museum system and a five-year plan was adopted to complete the restoration and upgrading of the property. The theme will be county and city history, with an emphasis on transportation.
The exterior will be returned to its original 1927 appearance, while inside, the visitor will find several types of display rooms. There will be exhibits featuring the ancient Calusa Indians who lived in he area, as well as he modern Seminoles and Mikosukee. A horse cart will be displayed, as well as various items from the historic old Naples Hotel that was once used by Seaboard passengers.
The age of modern technology will not be neglected, as a swamp buggy ushers in the Golden Age of Motoring. Displays will zero in on Naples’ history as a sports fishing center. Of course, the history of the local airport will have a place in the museum, too.
With a nod to its past, there will be a replicated train station waiting room and ticket office to lend authenticity to you visit.
Outside are three railroad cars: a caboose from the early 20th century, a 1947 club and observation car and a baggage car that may see life as a gift shop for the complex.
Information for this article was furnished by Gary Vincent, manager of the Depot Museum. Vincent came from Alachua County, Fla., to join the Collier County Budget Analysis Department and moved into the museum system several years ago.
Marion Nicolay and Betsy Perdichizzi, of the Marco Island Historical Society, compile this report on a weekly basis for the Eagle. Shirley Beckwith oversees the archiving of photos for MIHS.