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The first county seat in Collier County wasn’t Naples. It was a tiny fishing village called Everglades.

It’s now known as Everglades City, but before Southwest Florida’s population started booming, Everglades was the center of county operations. In 1923, the southern half of Lee County was carved off into a new county named after its largest landholder—Barron Collier—after he offered to help fund the Tamiami Trail. Everglades was incorporated soon after.

In 1928, a two-story courthouse (pictured) was built in Neoclassical Revival style. State Route 29 was built, connecting the city to the Tamiami Trail five miles north. Just a few years previous, the town only had a few families living there. But it started to grow. In 1950, the population topped out at more than 600 residents.

Hurricane Donna hit Collier County hard in 1960—and Everglades was possibly hit the worst. The county courthouse sheltered about 200 people, who took refuge on the second floor during the storm. But the first floor was flooded with waist-high water, destroying many of the county’s documents.

Two years later, the Florida Legislature officially moved the county seat to Naples, which was already becoming a more bustling population center. The heyday of Everglades City had come and gone. But the courthouse still stands; it serves as City Hall and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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