If you’re visiting Sanibel Island for the first time, you may be curious to learn more about the area and its rich history. After all, the island’s history is what made this special place what it is today.
Captiva Island, which is just a short drive from Sanibel Island, has a fascinating story to tell, and it’s one that’s tied to the Sanibel Causeway. The Captiva Island Historical Society’s History Gallery is dedicated to preserving that history and educating visitors on the island’s story.
The History Gallery is just a short distance from our Sanibel Island vacation condo listings, and it’s worth the trip to learn more about the island’s past.
Captiva Island Historical Society’s
It’s hard to imagine life on Sanibel Island without the Sanibel Causeway. The Causeway connects the island to the mainland, helping the local economy and the Sanibel real estate market thrive.
But before the Causeway, which was completed in 1963, the island relied on the Santiva mailboat (and other mailboats) to stay connected to the mainland.
The Santiva traveled the Pine Island Sound, ferrying around passengers, and delivering mail and provisions to the people of the island. The Santiva was the island’s supply line.
The boat is now just a distant memory, but the History Gallery takes visitors on a virtual journey back in time on a replica of the Santiva. The boat’s windows feature a series of interpretive panels that allow visitors to explore the island’s history in photos.
During your visit, you will learn about:
- The Calusa Indians
- The local fishermen
- The island’s homesteaders and their families
Photos and information are presented in a fun, interactive way. Visitors of all ages will enjoy the museum and will walk away knowing a little bit more about life before the Causeway.
The History Gallery is open 5 days a week, and admission is free.
While you’re there, you may want to look into taking a walking tour to learn even more about the area’s history. The tour runs along the beaches of Sanibel Island and includes some the area’s most historic landmarks:
- Island House
- Williams/Riggs house
- Island Store
- Historic Cemetery
The walking tour will immerse you in these historic locations and give you the chance to explore the beauty of the island’s beaches. View beautiful local Florida flowers and admire the emerald waters as you complete your tour.
The Captiva Island Historical Society also has a variety of documentaries available for sale that will let you bring the history of the island home with you.
Captiva Island Historical Archives
If you’re interested in learning even more about Captiva’s and Sanibel’s history, the Captiva Island Historical Society’s archives have more than 10,000 digitally preserved items, which include photographs, family letters, postcards and newspaper articles.
Those who love hearing old stories can check out the collection of oral histories, which feature audio interviews from past and present residents.
The society also hosts events regularly to further celebrate the island’s past and premiere documentaries.
Captiva Memorial Library
The History Gallery is located inside of the Captiva Memorial Library at 11550 Chapin Lane, Captiva.
The library is situated next to the original schoolhouse and right next door to the historic cemetery. The schoolhouse and cemetery are also worth visiting if you want to learn more about the history of Captiva.
The gallery is available for viewing during the library’s normal operating hours:
- Tuesday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- Wednesday: 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
- Thursday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- Friday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The History Gallery is a small museum, so it’s a great destination to add to your afternoon. Your tour will take about an hour to complete, and admission is free. The interactivity of the exhibit will keep everyone engaged – even the kids.
Our Captiva Island vacation condos are within walking distance of the Captiva Memorial Library and History Gallery. Whether you’re traveling solo or with your loved ones, the gallery is well worth the visit to learn more about Captiva, its people and its history.