Archive for the ‘Punta Gorda History’ Category

Burnt Store Isles Then and Now: A Look Back at BSI’s Beginnings

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

by Adrienne Andreae

You didn’t grow up in Burnt Store Isles. Even if you own a home there now, you came from elsewhere.

How do I know? First, because when I tell people I grew up here, they invariably say, “What? We never meet anyone who is from here.” In fact, the Andreaes have dominated Burnt Store Isles for over 30 years. And I don’t mean just in sales (although that’s true, too.) In 1981, we lived in the fifth house built in BSI. My maternal grandmother lived down the street.

Second, when you see what Burnt Store Isles looked like back then, you will see that there was a time when I knew everyone in the neighborhood.

This is what Burnt Store Isles looked like in the 1980s.

Click on the pictures below to enlarge.

Burnt Store Isles 1983

Burnt Store Isles 1983–The intersection of US41 and Monaco is in the foreground.

The Andreaes had already lived in Burnt Store Isles for two years when that picture above was taken. You can see a real difference in the neighborhood around 1990.

Burnt Store Isles 1990

Burnt Store Isles 1990–Again, US41 is the two lane highway. You cans see the intersection of Tripoli and Monaco on the right hand side.

Burnt Store Isles 2004

Burnt Store Isles 2004– The Wal-Mart (now the Muscle Car Museum) is now in the picture on the right.


Burnt Store Isles 2014

Burnt Store Isles 2014–The corner of Madrid and Tripoli leading up to Monaco.

How Much More Does the Andreae Group Sell in Burnt Store Isles? (The Numbers Might Surprise You)

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

by Punta Gorda pride

The 2014 sales numbers are in! It may come as no surprise that the Andreae Group has maintained the number one spot in Punta Gorda real estate sales again this year.  (We’ve held the top spot for almost 30 years.)

But have you ever wondered how much more does the Andreae Group really sell? Are we eking by to stay at number one? Well, no.

It’s easy for us to tell you we’re the best. It’s much more work to achieve the numbers to back it up. To give you an example of the difference between the Andreae Group and the rest, let’s look at just one segment of Punta Gorda real estate–Burnt Store Isles listings. Here are some things you should know about 2014 home sales in Burnt Store Isles:

  • 54 houses were sold in BSI last year. Luke Andreae was the listing agent on 17 of those homes. No other realtor had more than 3 listings sold in BSI last year.
  • The total value of BSI homes sold last year was just over $20 million.
  • Luke Andreae listings’ sales accounted for $6 million of that $20 million.
  • 31 realtors split the rest. No other realtor can claim even $2 million in BSI sales.

Why do so many people list with Luke?

Few people know Burnt Store Isles as well as he does. The Andreae family moved to BSI in 1981 when there were only five homes in the neighborhood. (His grandparents occupied one of the other four.)  In the 1980s, vacant lots stretched across entire streets, like the now-populated Licata Ct., where Luke learned to ride his bike and first discovered a cul-de-sac makes an excellent stick ball field.

By the mid-1980s, Nancy Andreae was a top realtor in town. As homes went up, Nancy would frequently load the kids in the car to tour each home’s progress.

If you live in a BSI home that was built in the 1980s, it’s likely little Luke Andreae watched your walls go up.

Luke is still a BSI resident. He still plays stick ball around the cul-de-sacs with his two daughters. (I hear the girls even let him win sometimes.)

Of course, much of the listings come from referrals. When you know an area so well, the people know you too. You can read what people say about working with Luke on his Zillow reviews page.

Have you ever worked with the Andreae Group? Do these numbers surprise you? Let us know about your experience over on our Facebook page.

Punta Gorda & Pirates: A Strange Love Affair

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

pirate fest
Every July, Punta Gorda residents and visitors come together to celebrate Pirate Fest.

This year’s fest starts on Friday, July 25, 2014 and runs throughout the weekend at Fishermen’s Village. The event features live music, live mermaids, a pirate ball, a pirate ship, costume contests, treasure hunts, and a fire show.

It’s bound to be a fun weekend. Even if pirates are a strange bunch to celebrate.

After all, the most famous Southwest Florida pirate, José Gaspar, was kind of a jerk. While there are many stories and rumors about Gaspar, the most famous one goes like this:

At age 12, Gaspar joined the Spanish Navy. Over the next few years, he moved up the ranks until he was trusted with some of the crown jewels.

He stole the jewels—possibly for the love of a woman or possibly because he was a jerk. (Historians disagree on the why.) Either way, with crown jewels in hand, he set sail to begin his pirating career around 1783.

By the turn of the century, Gaspar, who by then called himself Gasparilla, had a nice little career of taking over ships, killing all the men, and capturing all the women for his harem. He stored his treasure on Gasparilla Island and his women on Captiva Island.

In 1821, on the cusp of his retirement, Gaspar decided he could capture one more bounty. He and his men went after a ship they thought was a British merchant ship, but turned out to be the USS Enterprise, a US navy ship on a mission to eradicate the Gulf Coast pirate problem.

The USS Enterprise attacked. Gaspar realized he wasn’t going to win this battle. Instead of letting the enemy kill him, Gaspar tied the anchor to his waist and jumped from the ship.

So, Why Do We Celebrate Pirates?

I’ve spent over thirty years studying the Punta Gorda resident in its natural habitat. And although I’m neither a sociologist nor an anthropologist, I’ve come up with two theories.

My first theory is that each part of the pirate motif is a metaphor for the cold lives many of our residents left behind.

For instance, the peg leg is a symbol of the snow shovel that once burdened their mornings. The eye patch reminds them that they once dodged sharp icicles upon exiting buildings. The plank is an icy sidewalk of doom.

In this theory, our locals don’t really celebrate the pirate, but rejoice in their freedom from the pirate.

My second theory is that Punta Gorda residents really like boats. And if you insinuate there’ll be a chance to even look at a cool boat, they’ll show up.

Do You Have a Theory?

I hope you go to the Pirate Fest this weekend. While you’re there, take a moment to ponder your own theory. As you sit by the water cocktail in hand, enjoying the festivities with the rest of our tight-knit community, maybe you’ll come up with your own ideas on why our locals always seem to be celebrating.

If you come up with something, let us know on Facebook. We’d love to hear your thoughts.


7 (Slightly) Oddball Historical Tidbits about Punta Gorda

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014



Every small town has its stories. Legends get passed down from generation to generation. Oddities that you may not even notice if you grew up here. For instance, I heard that Gasparilla was a legendary pirate, but as a child, I pictured him as kind of a fun guy who sang Yo Ho! A Pirate’s Life for Me. As it turns out, he was a thieving criminal.

The point is you become accustomed to the oddities. So, perhaps I am missing some. But these stand out in my mind.

  1. A tarpon wearing boxing gloves represents the town’s only high school, Charlotte High. The high school adapted the mascot in 1959. Teenagers affectionately refer to the school as the “Home of the Fighting Tarpons.”
  2. Legend has it that in the 1850s a trading post burnt to the ground out on Burnt Store Road. The burning of that one store inspired the name of two subdivisions and a major thoroughfare.
  3. In 1962, there were 30 homes in PGI. A gentleman named Peter Bontsema formed a shuffleboard league to appease neighbors who complained of nothing to do. Bontsema went on to be the first president of the Punta Gorda Civic association. Nowadays, the PGICA boasts over 20 organizations to help residents get involved. But shuffleboard isn’t one of them.
  4. Although there are 16 unincorporated census-designated places in Charlotte County, Punta Gorda is the only incorporated city.
  5. There’s gold in the water! Well, maybe. Three major shipwrecks occurred in Charlotte Harbor. The heftiest occurred in 1821. The US Navy took down the aforementioned pirate, Gaparilla’s, ship with $9 million in treasure on board.
  6. If you can’t find gold in the water, maybe you can find youth. In 2013, National Geographic reported that the Fountain of Youth may actually be in Punta Gorda.
  7. When the Andreae family moved to Punta Gorda in 1980, there were only five homes in Burnt Store Isles. Now there are over 900 single-family homes in BSI.

What did I miss? If I missed any of your favorites, please head over to our Facebook page and let me know.

Old Monty’s Restaurant and Pizzeria: A Punta Gorda (and Andreae Family) Tradition

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

“It’s fancy,” my 7-year-old niece said, describing the new Monty’s building.

Punta Gorda Monty's menu

“Fancy?” I asked.

As it turns out, one 7-year-old’s “fancy” is an adult’s clean, casual family restaurant. It certainly is fancier than previous iterations of Old Monty’s Restaurant and Pizzeria, but you can leave the gown and tails at home.

Monty’s became a Punta Gorda tradition in 1983. Back then, my mom would ask if we wanted to go to Monty’s or stay home for dinner. Those were the only choices available.

Much has changed since then, the downtown restaurant scene has boomed in the last decade. While new businesses sometimes push the old out, Monty’s has stayed strong. In fact, the pizza place has weathered more change than most small businesses.

Originally, Monty’s was a small, almost trailer-like building on Tamiami Trail, not far from the current location. My memory of that location is of their spaghetti and meatballs. The meatballs were huge, and were therefore, ‘fancy’ in my child mind. As an adult, I am impressed my mom allowed us to order individual meals. She always was ambitious.

After Hurricane Charley destroyed the original building, they moved into a strip mall. Their second location had far less character than the original building, but maintained the same high standards for food and service.

Now, after years of paying their dues in smaller venues, Monty’s has moved into a big, beautiful location on 41 Southbound. And I couldn’t be happier for them.

I visited the new Monty’s for the first time on Sunday night with my brother, his wife, my three nieces, and my nephew.

With four kids to satisfy, we ordered two pizzas—one cheese and one white garlic–and that was more than enough food for the seven of us. The menu offers everything from salads to pastas to pizzas. I’d like to go back and test the spaghetti and meatballs against my memory, but it will have to be with other grown-ups. If you have ever tried to get four children to decide what they want, you understand the beauty of selecting two pizzas and being done.

Both pizzas were excellent. The thin, but stable crust left the focus on the full garlic and cheese flavor. Even the cheese pizza—not usually my favorite—popped with a robust, tomato taste.

Service was friendly and prompt from the host staff to the wait staff. The menu is moderately priced with pizzas ranging from about $11 to $20. Salads and heroes range from about $5-$10.

When planning your trip to Monty’s, you should know you are not the only one excited to check out the new building. It is the only place in town where parking can be crowded. They allow parking on the grass, so take advantage. The place is often packed. They don’t take reservations, which made us nervous with a party of 7 including 4 kids. However, we sat down within about 10 minutes.

How many versions of Monty’s do you remember? Have you been to the newest one?

Love Hot Rods and Hogs? Punta Gorda Shows off its Muscle

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

muscle carIt’s no wonder people say Punta Gorda is “a small town with big happenings”. This Saturday, December 8, 2013, the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center will hold the largest single day car and bike show in the state of Florida. The Florida Hot Rods and Hogs show will feature live music, food, vendors, motorcar sports celebrities, and acres of vintage cars and motorcycles. The show opens at 9:00 a.m and closes at 4:00 p.m. Entrance is $15 for adults and free for children under 10.

Punta Gorda is the perfect place to host the show. Our town already attracts car lovers and historians with the Muscle Car City Museum on the corner of Tamiami Trail and Monaco Dr. For over 40 years, Rick Treworgy collected GM cars from the 1950s through 1970s. In 2009, he put his collection on display. Now his museum, which replaced a Wal-Mart, is 99,000 square feet of pure muscle car history. With over 200 cars on display, Muscle Car City houses one of the largest collections of GM cars in the country. And it is right here in Punta Gorda.

You can check out vintage Corvettes, Impalas, Camaros, Pontiacs, and more at the museum Tuesday-Sundays from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Plan to stay for lunch. The museum diner offers up a 1960’s style atmosphere with good ole’ American hamburgers, hot dogs, and floats.

For you local diehards, the Muscle Car City is more than a museum, it is a community. You can get help with restoration, new parts, and repairs in the Hot Rod and Speed Shop. In addition, the MCC holds several monthly events. From a corvette club to the PGI car club breakfast meeting, the Muscle Car City brings car lovers together. Every third Saturday of the month the MCC holds a monthly car and bike show with live music and trivia. This month the car and bike show is happening early on December 14, 2013 and is collecting Toys for Tots. Bring an unwrapped toy to be eligible for a door prize. Last year, this event set a record for most toys collected and MCC is trying to beat their own record.

Whether you are an enthusiast or just want to remember the days when you knew the year and the make with one glance, Punta Gorda is the place to get your classic car fix.

Punta Gorda History: Ever Wonder How Punta Gorda Got Its Name?

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Punta Gorda means ‘fat point’. It is a perfect description of our small town, which protrudes out into the water where Charlotte Harbor and the Peace River meet. Yet, in the late 19th century, Punta Gorda was named “Trabue.”

Isaac Trabue was an attorney from Kentucky. In 1883, Trabue came to the Charlotte Harbor area to start his own town. At the time, the Native Americans had long called the area Punta Gorda. However, after purchasing 30 acres from a homesteader, Trabue decided his own name would serve the town better.

While some believe Trabue sought out a simpler way of life, many people believed the town of Trabue to be a haven for bums and criminals. All of that changed when the Florida Southern Railroad came to town in August of 1886. Trabue became a town where men could find jobs and prosper.

punta gorda fat point

In 1890, Florida Southern tracks reached Charlotte Harbor. Eventually, they would end in what is now Punta Gorda Isles. The tracks brought in more business. Ambitious investors started work on the Punta Gorda Hotel. Over 200 carpenters built the hotel and another 200 constructed a pier.

Trabue would never see the end of the railroad. By the time it was finished, he had lost his town. In 1887,  a group of 34 men gathered in Hector’s Billiard and Parlor to incorporate the city. One of the men was Kelly B. Harvey, the surveyor of the town who had previously written that the town was not well maintained, void of streets, sidewalks and ditches, and subsequently filled with mosquitoes. Harvey and Trabue had had their disputes. The group of men meeting in that parlor had a different vision for the town. Perhaps they couldn’t imagine the manicured lawns of today, but they knew Trabue could be a beautiful, wide point on the harbor. When it came time for the men to vote on the town name, Trabue was out and Punta Gorda was back in.

After the meeting, Trabue went back to Kentucky where he died in 1907. Kelly B. Harvey lived in Punta Gorda until 1924 before moving to New York. The Punta Gorda of 1924 would have been much different from the town of Trabue he once surveyed. That same year Barron Collier and Cornelius Vanderbilt saw enough potential in Punta Gorda to purchase the Punta Gorda Hotel, renovate it, and add a large swimming pool.

Today, many Punta Gorda residents know little about Trabue. Yet, without him, Kelly B. Harvey and other settlers may have never looked twice at the little, wide point quietly jutting out into the Harbor.