River & Road: Fort Myers Architecture from Craftsman to Modern, by Jared Beck and Pamela Miner. University Press of Florida. 208 (oversized) pages. Hardcover $45.00.
This copiously illustrated book is a lifestyle junkie’s delight. Delightful story-telling traces the history of the city’s architectural heritage while providing engaging stories of the houses’ various owners. Landmark neighborhoods get special attention, as does the interplay of the natural and man-made environments.
The prose style of this book, at once technically professional and adoring of its subjects, makes one wonder just how the selection process was made. How many residences had to be eliminated so that the twenty-eight survivors could be presented to tell the story?
After an efficient and yet alluring introduction, the book jumps into high gear with the exploration of a Craftsman bungalow with an oriental motif. Most people think of Craftsman structures as being fairly small, but this one on Osceola Drive in the Riverside Subdivision has imposing dimensions as well as the character of an edgy individual.
The blending of styles is not unusual, or perhaps it’s a characteristic that the authors value highly. The very next representative, a “Spanish-Italian-Moorish hybrid,” introduces readers to the all-important McGregor Boulevard area, the proud spine of Fort Myers. The photographs, here and elsewhere, are dazzling and make a powerful contribution to the book. These, credited to Andrew West, are exceptional.
One of the features of sub-tropical living is the interaction of indoor and outdoor living. This factor is evidenced in the discussions of most of these homes, including the “porch-centric bungalow” (another Crafstman), which also is notable for its evolution through layers of renovation over the years. This feature is inevitable for older homes too attractive to demolish and yet not up to the needs of modern family life. The question is, how faithful to the essential character of the original dwelling are the renovations and additions? This Poinciana Park property evidences judicious compromises. . . .
To read the full review, as it appears in the October 25, 2017 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the October 26 Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, and Palm Beach editions, click here: https://fortmyers.floridaweekly.com/pageview/viewer/2017-10-25#page=56