Page - History
Sanibel Arms West and Sanibel Island History
Sanibel Arms West is a thoroughly contemporary island condo resort with all the amenities and comforts of the 21st century. Sanibel Island itself has a colorful history.
It dates back to the 1800’s and is filled with stories of the island’s early inhabitants and visitors. For most of its past, Sanibel Island was only accessed by boat. A ferry operated from Punta Rassa, carrying people, provisions and vehicles to landfall at Bailey’s Landing.
“Old Town Sanibel”, just a short ride east of Sanibel Arms West, was once the center of all island activity. Sanibel’s early pioneers gathered at this point in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“Old Town Sanibel” is the location of the historic Sanibel Lighthouse, the island’s oldest standing structure. The construction of the lighthouse was open first debated in Congress in 1870. Construction finally began in 1884 and was completed in three months, although not without mishap. The schooner carrying the disassembled iron tower all the way from Jersey City sank about two miles from the lighthouse’s designated construction site. Divers salvaged two pieces of the tower and brought it ashore to begin construction.
The lighthouse was first lit with a kerosene lantern on August 20, 1884. The iron skeleton tower has a central spiral staircase beginning about 10 feet above the ground with 127 steps leading to the light. The building itself is not open to the public, for safety reasons, but many people visit the site and adjacent beach, where the beam of light reflects off the waters of the Gulf.
For a trip back in time, visit Sanibel’s Historic Village and Museum located off Periwinkle Way on Dunlop Street. Original homes and buildings within the village, some dating back to 1898, have been carefully restored by volunteers. They stand as testament to a group of early pioneers who who began the migration of residents and visitors to this popular island escape called Sanibel. The Historic Society’s volunteers are have a wealth of knowledge and are happy to walk these historical footsteps with you, while enriching your Sanibel vacation experience with tales from the past.
Among the sites are the Old Bailey’s Store (1927), the Rutland House (1913), ShoreHaven House (1924), the Old Post Office (1926), the Burnap Cottage (1898), the Packing House (1900), the Old Schoolhouse (1896), the Morning Glories House (1927) and Miss Charlotta’s Tearoom (1926), all of which take you back to a different way of life. Each is filled with numerous legends that add dimension to your Sanibel vacation memories. Don’t be surprised if you hear stories of shipwrecks, pirates and yes, even buried treasure!
The Gulf of Mexico beach fronting Sanibel Arms West is 500 feet of privacy with tons of seashells. We are frequently asked who owns the beach. Generally, any area inland of the mean high tide line (MHT) is private property. Everything seaward of the MHT line is open for public use. This is a win-win. As a guest at Sanibel Arms West, you have ample beach reserved for you and other Sanibel Arms West guests. If, on the other hand you decide to comb the entire 20 miles of Sanibel-Captiva beach either side of Sanibel Arms West, there no limits to your explorations between the MHT line and the source of shells at the water’s edge. Pretty nice, huh?