Council Chambers

Author, Lila Zuck

Sixteen months after the Town of Naples was incorporated on December 1, 1923.

The Naples Company Building, 1925.

The first Town Council meeting was held on April 25, 1925 in Room No. S-6.

Designated by Ordinance as Naples Town Hall, on the partitioned ground floor of The Naples Company Building, which opened that month as the town’s community hall.

Council’s use of Room S-6 in The Naples Company Building was brief. In 1928, Councilman William L. Clarke, Jr. offered Council use of space in his real estate/insurance office at the north end of the Standard Oil building he owned at The Four Corners for council meetings, and on December 7, 1928 a $7.50 a month lease contract with Councilman Clarke was drawn up. The Standard Oil building was at present day 493 9th Street South.

The Standard Oil building, William L. Clarke’s office is at the far right.

By March 1940, the construction of a Town Hall was on Council’s agenda. Two locations were under consideration, a lot on 6th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues South, and a $1,500 parcel on 8th Street South. The latter was found to be acceptable and 870-square-foot, $4,000 Naples Town Hall was built. Tall coconut palms were planted to soften the simple square lines of the building.

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Left to right: Consulting engineer J.C. Amis, Councilmen L.A. Orick and Don Wynn, Attorney William D. Hixon, City Clerk Elsie Lehman, Mayor W. Roy Smith, City Manager Fred Lowdermilk, Councilmen C.P. Harris and Claude Storter, and City Attorney Fred Mellor.

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Naples Town Hall, 1940 and Naples City Council – 1952.

Several additions were made to City Hall during the 1950s, the most striking of which was the impressive redesign of the dais.

On March 25, 1957, Naples Mayor W. Roy Smith and City Council adopted Ordinance 589, officially thanking Panama City Florida’s Mayor Frank M. Nelson, Panama City Council and the City Manager for providing the City of Naples with the blueprints and pictures of their council, courtroom and furnishings, which were “invaluable assistance to the City of Naples in constructing the new council chamber and courtroom.”

City Clerk Elsie Lehman in 1966 at the at the 1957 dais beneath the 1964 aerial photograph of Naples.

Before 1973, when Naples ratified the Florida constitutional amendment merging Naples Municipal Court with The Collier County Court System, City Court was held in Council Chambers.

In 1964, a 4′ x 6′ aerial photo of Naples was hung on the wall behind the dais to offer Council a visual of the city during the decision-making process.

Naples City Hall was completely rebuilt beginning in 1978. All city offices, including the mayor’s office and council chambers, were relocated to temporary trailers at Cambier Park, while final demolition of the original 1940 Naples Town Hall and construction of the new building were underway across the street.

The city’s temporary trailers at Cambier Park, 1978.

Rebuilt to 31,780 square feet, Naples City Hall was ready for occupancy in 1979. The building was designed to allow public access to a 93-seat Council Chambers from an exterior courtyard.

Chambers included state-of-the-art equipment to continue audio cassette taping of council meetings for television broadcast.

In search of a piece of art for the new building, Naples City Council held a National contest. The winning entry was “Homage to the Sun” by Wayne Hook, a native of St. Petersburg, Florida who had relocated to Naples in 1969 to start the Fine Arts Department at Naples High School.

With arms reaching up to the sky, the figure pays homage to the sun which has attracted visitors to Naples for over 100 years. Constructed from 316 strips of hospital grade stainless steel, Hook designed it to move with the wind. “Homage to the Sun” was donated to the City by the family of Harry F. Montgomery, of Kansas City and Naples, in his memory.

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City Hall rising in 1978 behind the original 1940 Town Hall building.

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“Homage to the Sun” in the courtyard of the new City Hall.