About Our Project
Since becoming incorporated in 2017, Restore Fort Myers Beach Arches, Inc, has raised over $50,000. With this funding we raised awareness, recovered the stones from 40 years of over growth, had the original stone 3D imaged by archaeologist at USF IDEX, and created a complete engineering package with the assistance of LCM Engineering, PLLC. We are feverishly fundraising trying to raiser $53K+ needed to finish engineer and construct the Arches 20ft superstructure with historic and new materials.
On February 1st, 2021 during a town hall meeting of the Fort Myers Beach Town Council, the council vote unanimously to support a single Arch in Bowditch Park. A tribute Arch using historic materials.
On December 3rd 2020 during the Planning Meeting of the Fort Myers Beach Town Council, Councilmen Jim Atterholt led the council towards a motion to "Move Forward In Restoring The Fort Myers Beach Arches". Since that meeting Jim Atterholt identified two locations for the Arches on Lee County property in Fort Myer Beach. Lee County Chose Bowditch Point Regional Park. The county is being led by Deputy County Manager Dave Harner in developing location, drawings and scaling to be approved by our group doing the funding. WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Local community organizations (like the FMB Jaycees) and citizens tried to save the Arches in November of 1979 when they found out the Arches were scheduled for December demolition by FDOT. The swing bridge had outlived its lifespan. Lee Commissioner Roland Roberts, a beach resident, had reached an agreement with Government contractors to save the arches and move them to the county park. The bridge contractor had agreed to spare them and have his sub move them. But the word didn't get to the sub soon enough. The sub, unaware of what had been agreed upon, knocked them down with a wrecking ball and bull dozer shortly before word got to him.
I don't think anyone in the community thought they were actually going to be destroyed. When it happened, people in tears were picking up the pieces to take home in remembrance. We want them to add these pieces to a new Arch. They will be given the opportunity to set these stones.
We have raised the funds to enable us to get 3D imaging data from USF IDEX. The 3D imaging data will help us engineer the new recreated Arches it will give us dimensional data on all the historic Arch pieces and over Arches size. These 1924 Tom Phillips built pieces of the Arches will be incorporated into a new Arch.
These pieces are being donated by the Grandson (Robert Williams) of the man (Frank Hemelgarn) paid to remove them. He understood the significance and kept them all these 40+ years. He used to play on the remains as a kid. Frank is the man who place the stones next to the pier post Hurricane Donna and was integral in naming Time Square.
Our group over 1400 strong is committed to saving quickly disappearing Fort Myers Beach history. We want to bring back something old to Fort Myers Beach, something that meant something to the citizens of this once small quaint fishing village. Tom Phillips built the first two bridges to Fort Myers Beach on his own nickel, he dug the first canal behind Crescent St. He sold lots to people to build small cottages on. He invented the modern washing machine. He built the 1st Casino on FMB (Now the Shuckers building) He was among the first developers of the Beach. This story is ours and here.
Tom Phillips has just one monument left to show for all the history he created. That is the 1924 Stone Monument on the west end Main St. We repaired and rejuvenated that Tom Phillips Stone Monument. Our volunteers repaired huge cracks in the structure. Our volunteers repaired, beautified, installed a donated sign and gave it a facelift.
Restore Fort Myers Beach Arches and the community of Fort Myers Beach, San Carlos Island, Bonita, Estero, and Iona are all working toward bringing back this iconic Arch structure. It is people like you that make the difference. We will put Arches back on the landscape of Fort Myers Beach.