A home for those
who served ....
lost to the elements
and the winds
It is hard to remember what the south end of
Gasparilla Island looked like just a few decades
ago, when the port was bustling with industrial
activity and the homes between Port Boca
Grande and town were still few and far between.
But it was only in the early 1980s that you could
still find ships coming in and out of Boca Grande
Pass, and segregation on the island was still
June 18, 1982 was the beginning of the end for
a small enclave of homes called Tarpon Pass
Estates, located where the state park at the Port
Boca Grande Lighthouse is now.
The development was originally created in
1959 by the Amory family and a board of 13
stockholders to provide low-cost, subsidized
housing for what the land description called “the
black servants of Boca Grande.” The rent was
$30 a month until water and sewer lines were
routed to the location, when it jumped to $75 a
month. Sometimes the workers’ employers paid
their rent, other times they did not.
Prior to the creation of Tarpon Pass Estates, a
large majority of the black community on
Gasparilla Island lived on Palm Avenue between
1st and 3rd Streets. As more and more wealthy
people started moving onto the island those
properties became increasingly valuable, until
eventually the black community was pushed to
the southern tip of the island where they
remained until August of 1983.
By Marcy Shortuse
Photos from Boca Beacon archives