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Your Comprehensive Estero, Florida History Guide

Tiana Burgos
March 19, 2020

If you are keen to discover a guide to Estero, Florida history, then you have certainly come to the right place. As well as offering a beautiful location to visit, Estero has a fascinating history that is impossible to oversell. From a peculiar religious group to evidence of an ancient civilization and its recent incorporation, there is a wonderful story here. Of course, you can’t experience it fully without visiting this location yourself. It’s not just about history either. There’s a lot more that Estero has to offer than just a journey to the past. 

However, this can still be an incredible place to begin. Our story starts more than 2000 years ago and stretches all the way to the modern-day. It includes everything from seafaring pirates to a desperate plan to build a brand new Utopia. Join us now as we take a deep dive into Estero Florida history. 

Where is Estero?

Before we dive into the Estero Florida history, it is perhaps worth discussing the location. Estero is one of the villages of Lee County, Florida. As of 2010, there was a population of 22,612. However, thanks to recent incorporation and a growing infrastructure, Estero did see a steady level of the group over the next few years. By 2018, the population had grown to over 33,000. 

The location is bordered by Bonita Springs as well as San Carlos Park and Three Oaks. The village of Estero stretches across a tremendous 25.4 square miles. It’s worth noting perhaps that only 1.0 square miles of this land are actually water. That’s just four percent. 

Of course, the heart of this location is the Estero River. This flows down from Estero Bay. The earlier settlers were unsurprisingly, fishing families. They relied on the river as both a source of food and income. Indeed, settlements were close to the river until the 1970s. It was at this point that civilization began to extend towards various other areas and things changed remarkably quickly. 

As well as being a popular place to live, Estero is also considered to be a wonderful place to visit. This location sees countless tourists every year who are keen to explore both the history as well as the modern delights Estero has to offer. 

What is Estero Known For?

Before we dive deep into Estero, Florida history, you might be curious about what this location is known for. Why do countless individuals visit this place every year and what makes it such a popular part of Florida. The answer is that there are various activities to explore in Estero. Many people see this location as a wonderful example of how the past and present can combine to create something truly remarkable. From wonderful places to dine to incredible shopping experiences and leisure activities, there really is something for everyone in Estero. Particularly, when you also consider that it’s a beautiful natural location with an abundance of wildlife too. Here are just some of the things that Estero is known for:

  • Koreshan State Historic Site - Here you can discover who the Koreshans were and learn about their impact on this location. 
  • Estero Community Park - It’s just one of the beautiful green locations in Estero and provides a free entry. This means that everyone can enjoy this wonderful place. 
  • Stoneybrook Golf Course - Estero has a number of wonderful golf courses that are sure to be a hit with those who love this activity. 
  • Ford’s Garage - This is a business that is owned and run by the Ford Motor Company. It is designed to look like a 20th Century Garage and provides visitors with a completely immersive experience. However, it is far cleaner than an actual garage making it a wonderful place to dine. 

You might think that this is all that Estero is known for. However, we’re really just scratching the surface. There are plenty more experiences that are worth discovering for yourself. There is far more to Estero than meets the eye and you should always start by taking a trip back in time to discover the origins of this location. 

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Mound Key and the Early History of Estero, Florida

Perhaps one of the most interesting locations connected to Estero, Florida history is Mound Key. It is worth noting that this location is not actually accessible by land and can only be explored by water. It is located close to the mouth of the Estero River. 

Mound Key was created more than 2,000 years ago by the Calusa. The culture of these people dates back to 1150B.C. It is believed that this site was originally a low lying oyster bar. As such, it would have provided a vast level of marine resources for the people living in the area. It is thought that it was highly attractive to the hunter-gatherer community of the Calusa. As their population continued to grow, the waste was piled into the middens. These now form the island. The mounds are complex in structure and provide both water courts as well as canals. Many of these are still apparent to this day. Many people mistakenly believe that these mounds are simply trash heaps. However, they had far more meaning to the Calusas. Indeed, these heaps were used to display power and were often part of religious monuments too. They were also used to bury members of the community. The Calusa civilization ended in 1750. This was largely due to the arrival of the Spanish. The Spanish brought with them diseases that the locals were unprepared for. There was also a great level of warfare. 

After the Calusas died off Estero became home to everyone from pirates to fishermen and even a variety of American pioneers. It was also a place for European migration with key families setting up a home here and allowing others to build properties on the island. 

Who Were the Koreshans?

When you are exploring. Estero Florida history, it’s important to explore the Koreshans. Who were these people? The Koreshans were a religious group that eventually settled in Estero after various years of moving around. 

  1. The Koreshan Unity as they were known began in New York in the 1870s. 
  2. It was a communal utopia that was formed by Cyrus Teed. He eventually took the name Koresh which is where the name originated from. They followed Teed’s beliefs which were known as Koreshanity. 
  3. One of their most prominent belief was that the Earth is actually hollow. The group completed numerous experiments in an attempt to prove this. 
  4. The time the group spent in New York was short. They eventually relocated to Chicago and there was also a small community in San  Francisco.
  5. The Koreshans had different membership levels as well. There were three membership levels in total. Each provided different branches as well as rules to follow. 

The last follower of the group joined in 1940. Her name was Hedwig Michel and she was brought into the group after fleeing from Nazi persecution. She was responsible for a great deal of change for the Koreshans and eventually died in 1981. Today, the College of Life foundation owns the land that is tied to the Koreshans and their settlements. However, it is important to note that none of the members believe or follow the beliefs that are laid out in Koreshanity. Instead, they are just caretakers of history, attempting to preserve what was a fascinating part of the past. 

What Impact Did the Koreshans Have on Estero?

A crucial part of Estero, Florida history took place in 1894. The leader of the Koreshans took the group to Estero Florida. It was here that he intended to establish a “New Jerusalem.” Between 1903 and 1908, the community was able to reach a peak level. It had more than 250 residents during this time. Supposedly, there were also more than 4,000 believers around the country too. The aim of the group was to establish what was described as a Utopian city. This was going to have more than 10,000,000 streets that would be 400 feet wide. This of course, never occurred and when their leader died in 1908, the number of followers quickly began to decline. 

However, before this loss, the group built a number of key properties in Estero. Everything from a bakery to a full printing house was set up here. This was used to provide local newspapers to the area and there was also a power plant. It provided power to the area before it was available anywhere else in the region. The group also aimed to gain a political base as well. However, they were unsuccessful in this endeavor and commonly completely ignored by voters. 

The group also completed many of their experiments to prove that the Earth was, in fact, Hollow in Estero Florida. The most famous experiment took place in Naples, Florida. This isn’t too far from the settlement in Estero. 

Today, the Koreshan settlement is considered to be a historic site and is protected by the local community of Estero. It was deeded to the state of Florida before the death of the last surviving members. One of the best ways to explore the settlement is by canoe along a river that winds past it and provides remarkable views for tourists. 

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When Was Estero Incorporated?

Estero was officially incorporated on December 31st 20154. Indeed the New Year marked annual celebrations for two reasons. As well as being the end of 2014 it was a new beginning for the village of Estero. 

It took more than a year and a half for the plan to come to fruition. This included campaigning as well as multiple meetings and petitions. A state bill, as well as a local referendum, were also required. Both passed and the will of the people of Estero was heard. 

Many people are often curious about why the residents of Estero were keen to go through the process of incorporation. It’s important to be aware that this had been a discussion in Estero for years. Indeed, the Estero Council of Community Leaders began to push for this change in 2013. It was largely due to the change which brought Coconut Point Marina as well as 121 acres of vacant land into Bonita Springs. This led to a meeting based around the idea of creating a city. The idea was to ensure that the properties in Estero could be protected. There was a level of uncertainty and a belief that existing properties could be threatened in the wake of the change. 

Of course, it was important to ensure that Estero would be able to survive as a city. Officials needed to look at how Estero would perform in this new state. One of the most compelling reasons was the changes to tax. It was clear, once the research was conducted that the residents of Estero would see a significant reduction in tax if this plan proceeded. For many, this was more than enough to push this change through. 

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The Estero Council of Community Leaders

The community of Estero has, similar to other locations, been faced with the challenges of developing civilization and growing infrastructure. They are keenly aware that there are both pros and cons to these changes. They want to make sure that they are taking the right steps to protect their people. The group was established in 2002. There are a few points to be aware of this group:

  • They protect the community from a variety of issues. This includes everything from problems with the air and water quality to changes in traffic levels. They will handle negative changes that locals are concerned about. 
  • They are volunteers who have a passion for ensuring that the concerns of residents are heard and met. Their aim is to promote positive change throughout the area. 
  • The ECCL makes decisions based on the history of the area and works to establish the root cause of the issues. 

The group also aims to ensure that locals are involved and indeed active in these decisions. This can include making petitions or being a key part of meetings and ensuring that awareness of an issue grows. They strive to ensure that Estero is a wonderful place to work, play and live. It is important to the group that the quality of life of the people living there today is effectively preserved. 

Modern-Day Estero

Today, Estero is remarkably different and there have been various developments in the area. For instance, you might be interested to learn that the Hertz Corporation now has its headquarters in this area. This resulted in more than 750 jobs entering the market.  In 2013, the company built up a massive $75 million building. This is now located at the southeast corner of US 41. 

Today, Estero also combines the modern world with memories of the past and experiences of nature. This is why it’s now such a popular place to visit. You can have any experience you want here, whether you keen to relax in luxury or perhaps take to the saltwater in your own vessel. There are countless hotels too as well as the deluxe Embassy suites at Fort Myers. Of course, as with other places in Florida, there are also some fantastic places for shopping experiences. You might want to consider visiting the Coconut Point Mall. Or, you could experience the Miromar Outlets. Both provide beautiful places to visit where you will be able to discover some of your favorite brands and designer boutiques. 

If you are searching for leisure activities, then there’s the Old Corkscrew Golf Club. This is a beautiful place to Tee off and is popular with tourists as well as locals. You will be able to experience a fantastic game of golf here. If you are interested in learning even more about the history of Estero Florida, then you might want to think about visiting the Immokalee Pioneer Museum. This can be discovered at Roberts Ranch and provides visitors with a fascinating journey into the past. 

Experience Estero, Florida History with Royal Shell

As you can see, Estero Florida history is fascinating and there are various interesting aspects to explore. It's also an incredibly beautiful place to visit. This is just one of the reasons why it sees a massive and steady influx of tourists every year. If you are keen to explore the location yourself and dive deeper into history, then why not consider booking your experience with Royal Shell. 

At Royal Shell, we have gorgeous and luxurious rental homes here in Estero Florida that are sure to delight you. You’ll be able to spend your day experiencing all the history and different activities Estero has to offer, before returning to relax in your pool and unwind later in the evening. At Royal Shell, we take pride in delivering a fantastic level of customer service to anyone seeking out the Estero Florida history. We’re going to make sure that your vacation or trip is one that you will never forget.

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