Jewel of the Harbor
Port Charlotte is the shining jewel of Charlotte Harbor!
Like so many of our Florida Gulf Coast communities, Port Charlotte was home to ancient Indians and conquering Spaniards in the 1500’s, only to be all but forgotten until after World War II, when it was discovered by land developers and became a planned community in the 1950’s.
In Port Charlotte’s case, the land developers were Florida’s Famous Mackle Brothers, instructed by their father to diversify their wildly successful home building business on the east coast and establish a gulf side community. Frank Jr, Robert & Elliot utilized their partnership with the Canadian Yellowknife Bear Mines, LTD, to take over 80,000 acres of cattle and timber land formerly held by Arthur Frizzell.
In 1956, the brothers set up the General Development (GD) Corporation, laid out 25,000 lots and began selling them to people across the country for $10 down, $10 a month, or $600 cash outright. Port Charlotte took its name from the harbor, which an English mapmaker had renamed for King George III’s wife when surveying the land they, uh, acquired the land from the Spanish missionaries.
Homes from the Mackle brothers cost anywhere from $6000-$18,000, and 4 model homes were built on the newly coined Easy Street – the longest road in town. Within the first couple of years, more than 1000 homes were sold, and between 10 and 100 times that many lots (depending on who you ask). Per Florida law, every street had to be named so that the investors could locate their property, so everyone in the corporation offered suggestions, one being the name of the newspaper that had brought in the most sales from GD advertisements – the Toledo Blade.
The Mackle brothers and GD would go on to build 6 more planned communities before declaring bankruptcy and reopening as The Deltona Corporation in 1962. But by then, Port Charlotte had gained almost 4,000 residents, and would double and quadruple those numbers in the next 2 decades. And while politics and the Mackle bankruptcy scandal prevented the development from incorporating, Port Charlotte had established itself as the largest community in Charlotte County.
Today, Port Charlotte boasts just under 60,000 residents, 7 golf courses, 165 miles of waterways, the highest rated public schools in the state and host the Tampa Bay Rays for spring training in the Charlotte Sports Park. Some of Port Charlotte’s historic buildings were taken out by Hurricane Charley in 2009, including the drive-in theater. Tippecanoe Environmental Park in Port Charlotte offers hiking trails and wildlife viewing through 380 acres of scrub and pine flat-woods. Port Charlotte is ranked by Golf Digest as the “Third Best Place to Live and Play Golf in America.”
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