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The Sanibel Historical Village is a hidden gem for those interested in how Sanibel came to be, but your opportunity to explore this treasure is fading fast this summer. The Village will close for the season on July 31 and will reopen on October 15. During construction at the BIG ARTS, there will be a temporary entrance marked by signage on 950 Dunlop Road, near Sanibel City Hall.

For those who haven’t been here, the Village is a collection of buildings (both restored originals and replicas) representing life on the island long before the Causeway and some of the families that helped make Sanibel what it is today. They were relocated to a quiet, central location on the island starting in 1984. You can either explore on your own or join a twice-daily guided tour, which starts with a video and rare films of Sanibel in decades past and how it transformed from a farming community into the natural wonder it is today. The video includes an interview with the late Sam Bailey, whose family started Bailey’s General Store over 100 years ago .

Among the buildings to explore:

The Old Bailey’s General Store (aka Sanibel Packing Company) – This replaced the original location on the wharf of San Carlos Bay (which was destroyed by a hurricane in 1926) and served as a central hub of activity for the island for communications, mail, and ferry service.

Morning Glories Cottage – This was a prefabricated house that was delivered by barge in 30,000 pieces (!) by Sears & Roebuck and assembled in 1925. An amazing example of craftsmanship and restoration, not to mention the logistics of ordering and delivering a HOUSE long before eBay.

Miss Charlotta’s Tea Room – Originally built to be a gas station, it served as a temporary store after the original Bailey’s store was destroyed and later used as a popular tea room near the ferry landing.

The Sanibel School House for White Children – The oldest building in the Village (built in 1896), originally a one-room schoolhouse which later added a room and eventually became a theater before being moved to the Village.

Shore Haven – Another Sears & Roebuck kit home, it retains some of the original parts after decades of updates.

The Caretaker’s Cottage – As part of Shore Haven, it includes an exhibit of African-American history on Sanibel.

The Rutland House – A “cracker” (after the sound of cattlemen’s whips) stilted house, designed to prevent being flooded and keep cool with air circulating.

Sanibel Packing House – When Sanibel was known for agriculture, packing houses like these were used to ship crops. Storm surges from hurricanes during the early to mid- 20th Century made the soil no longer effective for large-scale farming.

The Post Office – Rebuilt from the remnants of postmaster Will Reed’s home after the hurricane of 1926. Before then, Mr. Reed’s porch by San Carlos Bay was officially established as Sanibel’s post office.

The Burnap Cottage – The second oldest building in the Village, and some say it’s haunted!

The Museum also features artifacts from the Caloosa natives who lived in Southwest Florida centuries ago and a gift shop.

The Sanibel Historical Village is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, with a guided tour available at 10:30 am. Adults 18 and over are $10.00 (Cash only). Children under 18 are free. Donations are welcome. Again, the Village will close for the season on July 31, reopening in October.

We hope you will include this visit to the island’s past in a near-future visit in one of our condos or homes, because there’s no time like the present to Book Direct and Save!