Briefs: Marco happenings

Sun Times Staff Reports
  • Emerald Beach has a storied history, and author Coleman has history stories

Emerald Beach open house

When you’re the smallest guy on the block, sometimes you have to fight harder to show others you can hold your own. Emerald Beach has never had that problem.

When original island developers the Mackle brothers completed their first beach condominium on Marco Island, it was top of the line stuff. Built of heavy concrete blocks to withstand hurricanes, outfitted with solid brass hardware, eight-panel wood doors and crown molding, the seven story building sat directly on one of the most pristine sand beaches in the country.

Then: Emerald Beach under construction.

Architects Herb Savage and Jim Vensel made sure the residence for 48 families was the best of the best. It still is today.

Savage will join family members of original owners, local government officials, current owners and scores of Marco residents at an open house on Sunday, January 17 from 1-4 p.m. to honor the 50 anniversary of the completion of the building.

Now: Emerald Beach today.

The music of local artist, Johnny Angel and refreshments will be part of the afternoon’s festivities. Visitors will be able to see the newly renovated first floor that incorporates some of the original furniture and terrazzo floor in its enlarged card room, renovated bathrooms and tropical community room. A virtual museum of the construction of the Island is visible on the walls.

Emerald Beach was completed in May of 1966; this first condominium on the island was virtually sold out within a year. Rising seven stories high, six of the eight apartments on each floor had an ocean view.

Built shortly after the Voyager Hotel, which is the current Marriott, Emerald Beach cost $1.5 million to construct and sold out within a year. When it opened in 1966, the beach prices of the one and two bedroom units ranged from $19,900 to $49,500. Today, you might have to pay quite a bit more for this little guy that stands tall amid the 23 story buildings on the beach.

Author talks at museum

Author Michael Coleman will give a talk Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Rose History Auditorium on the transformation of Marco Island from “an alligator infested swamp to one of America’s top travel destinations.”

Michael Coleman

He will also sign copies of his book, Marco Island, Florida’s Gulf Playground, which he wrote in conjunction with a group of the island’s tops authors and photographers.

From curses, a kidnapping and buried gold treasure to sun-drenched beaches, savvy global marketing and million dollar mansions on perfectly carved man-made canals, the book delves into the island’s many novel-like twists and turns through present day.

“It’s almost impossible to fathom all that has occurred on Marco Island over the years given its small geographic size and remote location, ‘’ said Coleman. “Yet, its conversion from sacred Indian ground and backwater trading post to the posh resort/leisure community it is today is nothing short of miraculous.’’

The book has become the No. 1 bestselling item at both the Marco Island Historical Museum gift shop and Sunshine Booksellers’ two Marco Island locations. Over 3,000 copies have sold.

The book is widely available on Marco, or at Or, call Coleman at 642-1953, or e-mail him at