The City of Punta Gorda starts with Colonel Isaac Trabue. In 1883, he bought 30 acres at the mouth of the Peace River from the first homesteader, James Lanier.
Trabue designed the city layout and named it after himself. He convinced the Florida Southern Railroad to end its line at Charlotte Harbor.
By 1887, the Long Dock was the railroad terminus. A hotel was added. That created a destination, and a stop for travelers transfering between trains and steamships.
When it incorporated that December, the city adopted the name “Punta Gorda” for the landform that pokes out into the harbor. It was already used on maps and by the railroad.
History Park gathers together important historic structures that would have otherwise been demolished when they were built.
It is run by the Punta Gorda Historical Society. It also serves as a trailhead for Linear Park and the Shared Use Path.
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Location: Punta Gorda
Trailhead: 26.9256, -82.0560
Address: 501 Shreve St, Punta Gorda FL 33950
Restroom: At the Price House, if open. Otherwise go to the library, adjoining.
Land manager: City of Punta Gorda
Open daylight hours. Leashed pets welcome but please keep them out of the community garden.
Garden plots in the community garden are individually tended by families, so don’t pick their produce.
A farmer’s market is held at the park on Sundays.
From US 41 southbound in Punta Gorda, turn right on West Retta Esplanade after coming across Charlotte Harbor. Follow it for 0.6 mile along the waterfront parks to Shreve St. Turn left. Continue down Shreve St for 0.4 mile to History Park on the left. You’ll cross Linear Park en route, just before the library. The library and History Park are the nearest public places to park for Linear Park.
From Interstate 75, take exit 164, Punta Gorda, and follow US 17 south (East Marion St) for 1.9 miles into Punta Gorda, crossing both northbound and southbound US 41 before you enter the historic residential district. Turn left on Shreve St. History Park is 0.3 mile on the right.
About the Park
Punta Gorda History Park centers around a small public garden. A portion includes plants meant to mirror what would have been found around homes here in 1890.
Maintained by the Punta Gorda Garden Club and shaded by large oaks, the garden offers park benches and picnic benches.
A birdbath and bird feeder bring songbirds close enough for viewing without binoculars. One part of the garden is planted to attract butterflies.
Another section features an array of ornamental plantings, anchored by a large Southern magnolia in the park.
The Punta Gorda Historical Society oversees the historic buildings that are positioned around the gardens
As each has been added to the park, additional garden beds were added to accent them.
Three of the four homes are open to look inside when volunteers are on duty. Each has a numbered marker in front of it with a QR code for information about the house.
The 1893 Cigar Cottage sits out front, facing the parking area. It was one of many cottages built to house workers for the El Palmetto Cigar Company factory.
On the right side of the walkway into the gardens, the small building that looks like a little Gothic church is the Trabue Land Sales Office, built in 1886 by Isaac Trabue.
It was the post office as well as the developer’s headquarters. The yellow house next to it, the 1892 Quednau – Hindman House, was a former mayor’s home.
The fountain in the middle of the garden is from the Hotel Punta Gorda, built in 1887 to serve as a destination on the Florida Southern Railroad.
The hotel closed in 1914 and was sold in 1925, which is when this fountain was salvaged from it.
Barron Collier and Cornelius Vanderbilt bought the hotel and had it restored, renaming it the Hotel Charlotte Harbor. It reopened in 1927 as a destination resort.
Now, this fountain and a downtown mural are the only tangible reminders of the hotel’s long history. The entire wooden hotel burned to the ground in 1958.
Follow the walkway to the back of the park to see the Price House, circa 1914. It was designed by architect Maxwell Price.
We were able to peek inside, and found restrooms here. It serves as an office for the park and also has a nice screened porch with seating.
Adjoining the homestead portion of the park is a large community garden, which is also open for you to walk around.
Since the park is also a trailhead for the two bike paths, you can ride out on either of them, or walk up the street 0.2 mile past the library to explore Linear Park.
A dog park, Hounds on Henry, is just around the block in the opposite direction.
See our photos of Punta Gorda History Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
A greenway through the heart of historic Punta Gorda, Linear Park provides an unexpected corridor of nature
Spanning 2.3 miles along Charlotte Harbor, the Harborwalk is a recreational gem in downtown Punta Gorda
A city park with dramatic sunsets over a beach on Charlotte Harbor, Ponce De Leon Park is a delight for birders and paddlers, too.