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The History of Punta Gorda

The Historic Preservation Advisory Board (HPAB) is composed of citizens to advise the City Council on matters of importance to the Historic areas of the City. For more information click here.

The City was founded in 1884 by Colonel Isaac Trabue on 30 acres of land on the southern shore of Charlotte Harbor and was known as the Town of Trabue. On August 1, 1886 the first train of the Florida Southern Railroad arrived in the Town of Trabue marking the beginning regular passenger service. In 1887, the name of the town was changed to Punta Gorda, Spanish for "Fat Point." Beginning in the 1890's, Punta Gorda became an important port for the shipment of cattle to Cuba. In 1891, gill net fishing for mullet, Spanish mackerel, and channel bass became profitable with the founding of the Consolidated Ice Manufacturing, Refrigeration and Fish Company. The thriving little City of Punta Gorda was finally incorporated and elected its first mayor, Mr. August Freeman, in 1900.

Most of Punta Gorda's downtown was destroyed by fire in 1905. After this disaster the City Council mandated that all new business structures be constructed of brick or concrete. With the completion of the first bridge across Charlotte Harbor in June of 1921, the great Florida land boom of the 1920's reached the fishing village of Punta Gorda. During this period many of the City's key structures were built including City Hall, the Old County Courthouse, and National Register Landmarks including the Punta Gorda Women's Club, Smith Arcade, Charlotte High School, and the Punta Gorda Atlantic Coast Line Depot.

In 2004, Punta Gorda was extensively damaged by Hurricane Charley - damage that included many of its homes, structures and historic landmarks.  However, a revitalization of the City took place in the immediate years following the storm that resulted in buildings being restored or built to hurricane resistant building codes.  The new buildings, remarkable restorations and exciting amenities concurrently preserved the City's past while showcasing state-of-the art modern facilities. During this time, Laishley Park Municipal Marina was built and the Harborwalk, Linear Park and various trails are built and/or are planned to create a link throughout the City for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.


Take a Tour of the National Register Historic District by clicking here

Application for Certificate of Appropriateness
Due to the City's rich history, no structure, building, or sign shall be erected, reconstructed, altered, or restored on property within a Historic Overlay (HO) district until plans for such have been submitted to and approved by the City in accordance with the procedures of this section. A structure shall include anything man-made, including but not limited to outbuildings, fences, walls, lamp posts, light fixtures, signs, sign posts, driveways, walkways, and paving. The provisions of this section shall not apply to the regular maintenance of structures, buildings, or signs.

All applications for a Certificate of Appropriateness shall follow the design guidelines adopted by resolution of the City Council. For purposes of review, Certificate of Appropriateness applications shall be divided into two separate categories:

1. Staff Review - Staff Review shall be processed through a staff level review and approval.

2. Historic Preservation Advisory Board (HPAB) Recommendation - HPAB recommendations shall be required from the HPAB prior to staff action.

In either review a Certificate of Appropriateness Application is required.


Historic District Resources
Historic District Guidelines I Historic District Guidelines II
Historic Resources Survey 2002-2003 Historic District Maps

Urban Design
City Hall Annex
126 Harvey Street
Punta Gorda, FL. 33950
Tel. (941) 575-3372
Fax. (941) 575-3356
urbandesign@ci.punta-gorda.fl.us