Community History


Saying goodbye to two decades of art and love … HUGHES GALLERY PREPARES TO CLOSE AFTER 20 YEARS 

Hughes Art Gallery, located in the big wooden “Bike n Beach” building on Park Avenue will be closed this summer, as the owner of the building has another use for the space she is in. While Barb is holding out hope against hope she might find another location, the option doesn’t exist right now … at least not one that she’s aware of.

‘Dahling, there’s nothing in life that a little champagne can’t cure’

Eleanor Aherne was the wife of the stage and movie actor, Brian Aherne. Kelli remembers movie posters from Brian’s movies on the walls of the house and a sign on one of the bedroom doors that said “We don’t rent to thespians,” proving that Brian like Eleanor had a sense of humor. Kelli has also seen a photo of the couple in bed where Eleanor has a lampshade on her head. While Brian died before Kelli met Eleanor, she has heard that he was very British and formal but that the couple held hands as they walked in Boca Grande.

History Bytes: The Davis brothers remember some of their best years

Doug and Frank Davis spoke for themselves, their sister Robin Davis Melvin and Doug’s wife Gail Coleman Davis at the Feb. 9 History Bytes presentation. During the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, the Davis family lived in Arcadia and in Belle Glade but their summers and holidays were spent in a house on Gilchrist, across from St. Andrew’s Church, that was haunted. The ghost they called George appeared regularly. A bedroom door would open, a bright light would be seen – Doug says it looked like someone had turned on the hall light – then a figure would appear. Once they found footprints on the hall floor in some spilled body powder Robin or her mother Judy used before going to bed. And their dog, Coco, growled at sounds of footsteps coming up the stairs but there was no one there. While startling at first, George was not threatening and they learned to live with him.

First History Bytes of season: Pranks and programs

Janet Gillespie who lived in Boca Grande between 1978 and 2004 told stories of the jobs she held, the friends she made, the programs she helped start and the pranks she pulled to the interest and delight of the audience at the Historical Society’s first History Byte since 2020. A number of themes ran through Janet’s presentation, her love of horses and of the water and fishing, her creative friends with whom she started several Island organizations and events and her history of pulling pranks.

Cutting a Christmas tree on-island and other memories

The February 9 History Bytes program features the Davis family – Frank Davis, Robin Davis Melvin, Doug and Gail Coleman Davis – who spent their summers and holidays in Boca Grande during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Their memories include arriving on the train from Arcadia, cutting the family’s Christmas tree at the north end of the Island and days of freedom, fishing, swimming and fun.

Janet Gillespie recalls the origin of the Bike Parade and other events at History Bytes

Gillespie arrived on the Island in December 1978 to work in management for the newly constructed Boca Grande Club. She tells this story and 25 years worth of other information at the first of this season’s Historical Society “History Bytes,” presentation at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at the Johann Fust Library. The Boca Grande Club had one condominium building and only pilings for the restaurant building in 1978, and Janet recalls that the town of Boca Grande except for Nabor’s gas station, Fugate’s and the Temptation was run down and boarded up.

Island women in history celebrated: ‘Herstory’

While doing some research for a project, Karen Grace came across a disturbing statistic. “In all the years of history, tens of thousands of years of history,” asked Karen. “How much do you think is about women?”  If you guessed 10 or five percent, you would be wrong. The answer is one-half of one percent.  […]

Island TV brings you ‘A history of the Temp’

To honor and preserve the rich history of the island, Rick Montgomery of Island TV for Boca Grande has produced a series called “Island Icons.” Thanks to the efforts of Jim Blaha, the Boca Grande Historical Society, Jim and Karen Grace, future generations will be able to have access to the important history of the island. “The History of the Temptation,” which is currently available on Island TV is a captivating episode of the series. Beautifully narrated by Jim Grace, the show walks the audience through the restaurant, pointing out the rich history contained within the walls of the iconic restaurant.

Syble Sez

SUBMITTED BY THE BOCA GRANDE HISTORICAL SOCIETY – The Boca Beacon’s of the early 1980s included a column called “Syble Sez” based on local news of social events, business openings, family visitors, marriages, new babies and general gossip. Syble was Syble Futch who shared bar tending duties at The Temptation with Doris Wheeler where she […]

How the sailor and the island girl fell in love … a moment in time at Fugate’s celebrated

BY TONYA BRAMLAGE – In November of 2020, Gasparilla Magazine shared the story of local love birds John and Helen Brouwer with their readers. Theirs is truly a love at first sight classic tale if ever there was one. Sara Helen Sprott was the second youngest of seven Sprott daughters of the late Captain William […]