I guess this is the week Susan and I blog about houses.
My subject, in Florida, is by far the younger structure, dating to the early 1900s. Surrounded by a beautiful garden, the Mound House overlooks Estero Bay.
What makes this place remarkable are the ancient foundations on which it’s built: a shell mound 2,000 years old. Native American coastal people known as the Calusa built it between 100 BC and AD 700. Here they lived, fished, worked and played. Then, for reasons unknown, they stopped living here in AD 700. They would come by to the edges to repair nets and clean fish, but otherwise stopped using it. What we know of them indicates that they weren’t driven out—not that early, at any rate, because they were apparently the most powerful people in South Florida, to whom other tribes paid tribute. Centuries later, in 1513, they attacked Ponce de Leon the first time he stopped by, and are believed to have fatally wounded him on his second visit, eight years later.
May I add that every sentence here could easily be expanded into a blog post—and that’s only before 1600. The 20th century alone is filled with Mound House incident. The place, in short, has quite an exciting and not always peaceful history. But let’s stick to the shells, millions of them, in distinctive layers, which archaeologists have used to piece together the site’s history.
Ironically, we wouldn’t know as much as we do (and as archaeologists continue to learn), if one of the house’s owners hadn’t engaged in wanton destruction, bulldozing the site for a swimming pool. When, years later, the Town of Fort Myers Beach acquired the site and the pool was removed, archaeologists could study the mound site in detail.
Searching “Mound House, Estero Island” online will bring you to a number of articles about the site. You may also want to check out their blog, which includes a video of the demise of the swimming pool and what was revealed.
Note: The image of the Calusa is part of an immense mural that covers a wall of the information center.
Clicking on the image will enlarge it. Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.