Punta Gorda: Rediscovering Old Florida

Punta Gorda is one of the oldest cities on the Gulf Coast of Florida and was a hotbed of controversy and infighting that almost destroyed it in the making.

After the Civil War ended, the reconstructionist military presence brought scores of Union troops deep into the state, including untouched areas south of Tampa. In 1876, Florida split the deciding vote between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Sam Tilden, decades before anyone had even heard of hanging chads.

The final vote outcome was decided in a smoky back room, granting the election to Hayes, in return for the military leaving the Sunshine state. But several of them loved the area so much that they returned as homesteaders.

The first settlers to move into the land off of Charlotte Harbor were two brothers – Jarvis & Frederick Howard, who named their village Solana. Their nearest neighbors were the Lockharts, whose home was part of 30 acres sold in 1883 to retired Col. Isaac Trabue, a lawyer from Kentucky, who hired a surveyor, Kelly Harvey, to plat out a city named after himself.

Unfortunately, Isaac Trabue did not attract the best company. His town became known for harboring bums and criminals. He saw salvation for his town in the Florida Southern Railroad. Jobs and industry were expanding the small town. But Trabue had already built up too much bad blood, and in 1887, 34 men, including Harvey the surveyor, Henry Plant, the owner of the railroad (for whom Plant City is named), Albert Gilchrist, future Governor of Florida, and WH Simmons, the city’s first mayor, gathered in a private meeting and voted to incorporate and return the land to its Native American name: Punta Gorda.

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Trabue stuck around long enough to build the waterfront parks the area is still known for and appoint the first African American postmaster, Robert Meacham, before heading back north. Plant would stay, extending the railroad from its original terminus in Tampa to Punta Gorda. Just like in Tampa, Plant built the Hotel Punta Gorda for the tourists arriving on his train line.

While the railroad brought tourism and the high society friends of Plant, as well as Barron Collier and his fellow cattle barons, the town couldn’t shake its history of criminal activity and the train brought more of this type as well. Between 1890 and 1904, 40 murders rocked the town, including the blatant killing of the City Marshal, John H. Bowman, in his home, in front of his family.

The discovery of phosphate in Punta Gorda, its mining and shipping became the chief industry for the city for almost a decade. Robert Kirby founded the Punta Gorda Herald (now the Charlotte Sun Herald) in 1893. When DeSoto County was split, Punta Gorda became the seat of the newly formed Charlotte County.

With the outbreak of World War II, Punta Gorda became one of several communities in Southern Florida to host a US Army air field to train combat pilots. Following the war, developers once again flocked to the Gulf Coast of Florida, expanding the borders of Punta Gorda as well as adding to the city’s neighboring communities.

In 2004, Hurricane Charley ripped through Punta Gorda, the first such storm in 40 years. The town took the storm’s aftermath as a challenge, rebuilding historic buildings and constructing a new Harborwalk, revitalizing the series of waterfront parks Trabue built more than 100 years prior.

Today, Punta Gorda is home to more than 15,000 year round residents and several thousand tourists and snowbirds. With Royal Palm lined streets, beautifully restored period homes, and many brick-lined streets, the largely waterfront community still retains its old Florida feel.

The Army airfield is now the Punta Gorda Airport, serving 10,000 passengers annually on Frontier & Allegiant Airlines, as well as several small commercial and private aircrafts. It also hosts the Florida International Air Show.

While the railroad halted passenger service in 1971, the Punta Gorda Atlantic Coast Line Depot still stands and is both a historical museum and, every December, used as the northernmost boarding location for the Seminole Gulf Railway from Fort Myers.

Punta Gorda is one of the most bicycle-friendly towns in the United States, with bike paths connecting 90% of the city – and a free to use bike loaner program for visitors.

The recently reopened Harborwalk runs 2-1/2 miles along the shore, connecting several parks, old and new, terminating at Fisherman’s Village,  a waterfront shopping, entertainment, and vacation resort complex on the pier where the Peace River feeds into Charlotte Harbor.

The Industry Leader in Green Pest Solutions

Good News leads the industry in providing 100% all natural, safer and more effective botanically-based  Eco Superior products for pest control. Products that are guaranteed safe for you, your children and your pets. That, coupled with other products that utilize naturally occurring elements found in nature, allows Good News to provide the same pest-free living guarantee, with no risk to your health.

A recent EPA study suggests that 80% of pesticide exposure occurs indoors and that measurable levels of up to a dozen pesticides have been found in the air inside homes!

GO GREEN plus 3 – All Natural Protection

Go Green Plus 3Our Go Green plus 3 pest control service is designed to eliminate and prevent most of the creepy-crawly insect varieties we see in Florida, including ants, roaches, silverfish and, of course, spiders. We schedule 3 visits per year to provide exterior service after the initial set-up.

Your Good News technician will inspect the entire exterior of your property while sweeping cobwebs from the eaves and windows. Once the source of insects is determined, a proper treatment of the perimeter foundation, entry points, eaves, plant beds and trees will be applied where needed using reduced–risk, green products.

If you are having any pest issues inside, your trained tech will also treat any entry points, kitchen, baths, laundry room, or problem areas using reduced–risk or even pesticide exempt products. We guarantee your satisfaction and will return (at no charge) in between scheduled visits if you encounter any pests. Please call as soon as you see a problem. The sooner we inspect and treat, the better.

T·A·P™: Thermal Acoustical Pest Control

With T·A·P™, you not only keep out the bugs, but you can save money on your cooling (and heating) bills! Like all our products, TAP is all natural and safe for your family and pets, but is 32% more energy efficient than fiberglass insulation, while adding a sound barrier and even reducing fire hazard.

Learn more about Thermal Acoustical Pest Control now!

Termites – the Dinner Guest You Don’t Want

Our tropical Florida environment means that the state also has the highest risk for termite problems. Termites do more damage than floods, fires and storms combined, and like those natural disasters, the more you prepare the less you feel the impact. Good News is the leader in using natural, organic, and essential oil alternatives to control both Drywood and Subterranean termite pests. We even offer a 1-Million Dollar Damage Repair Warranty for homes that qualify.

We also offer Bora-Care®, an organic pre-construction treatment and real estate WDO inspections prior to buying a home, to insure it is free of wood destroying organisms.

Don’t wait, schedule your termite inspection now.

>>>For a limited time, Charlotte County residents get           $40 off their inspection for mentioning this website!

Keeping the Rodents in the Fields

One issue we see with rapidly growing and developing areas, is that rats, mice and other rodents find themselves ‘homeless,’ and decide to move in to your home—even in the most exclusive homes and neighborhoods.

The Good News Premiere Rodent program is the most comprehensive service available. We start by excluding all known entry points and sealing roof vents with proprietary covers. Then, we set several traps in the attic(s) to kill any rodents sealed in. Next, we install 4-6 of the best bait stations available in hidden locations around the exterior perimeter. These help to keep the outside population of rodents to a minimum. We check the traps twice per week until we are sure there are no more live rodents inside.

Next, we vacuum droppings and apply a deodorizer, sanitizer, viruscide to the entire attic space. Many of our customers are finalizing the process by capping their insulation with T·A·P™. Once T·A·P™ is installed, the attic looks brand new and acts as a deterrent to re-infestation.

Quick Facts About Punta Gorda:

  • One of the most famous Spanish Pirates, Jose Gaspar is said to have his secret base in Punta Gorda.
  • Punta Gorda hosts the Military Heritage Museum, with artifacts dating back to the Spanish American War.
  • Several major magazines have voted Punta Gorda as one of the Best Places in the US to Retire!
  • Punta Gorda is home to Muscle Car City, one of the largest muscle car collections & museums in the country.
  • Punta Gorda is the one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the United States. You can even rent one if you forgot yours!
  • Ray Boehm, the founder of the Navy Seals, spent his final days in Punta Gorda.
  • Babcock Ranch, soon to be its own city, is one of the largest ecological preserves in the United States.

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