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Discover the history of the houses now home to Veranda Restaurant


The Veranda’s historical setting, romantic ambiance, Southern Regional Cuisine and first-class wait staff make this award-winning restaurant one of Southwest Florida’s top eateries. You can now discover the history of the two turn-of-the-20th-century Victorian houses that are home to Veranda on Otocast, the free mobile phone app that the City of Fort Myers has installed to acquaint the public with its artistic and historic points of interest.

The houses were erected in 1902 by one of Fort Myers’ original four settlers, Manuel S. Gonzalez. Manuel was just five years old when he visited Fort Myers for the very first time. He came with his dad, Manuel A. Gonzalez, uncle, John A. Weatherford and a family friend by the name of Joe Vivas. The latter would marry the youngster’s adopted sister, Christiana, just a few weeks later. The foursome had come to the grounds of the old Seminole and Civil War outpost on February 21, 1866 to make their homes from the remnants of the old fort.

Fast forward to 1902. Young Manuel, now 41, was now the town’s premier building contractor and lumber supply and building materials merchant. After his dad died on February 25th of that year, Manuel built two wood-frame metal-roofed Southern Victorian houses on the corner of Second and Broadway. There’s speculation that Gonzalez, as was his practice, may have used lumber in their construction that he salvaged from some of the old fort’s 57 pine buildings. If that’s true, those buildings contain the last artifacts from the old fort.

There’s much more to the story, which you can now hear as often as you like on Otocast.

If you are new to Otocast, the app is free and available for download in your phone’s app store and on Google Play. Otocast works through geo-location mapping. Users don’t need to know anything about an artwork or historic building they happen upon. There’s no need to look for a plaque or QR Code.  Simply tap on the app and the guide automatically comes up, providing access to an array of information about the historic building you’re looking at.

The app will also identify other public artworks and historic points of interest that are located nearby.

In addition to the 17 historic points of interest now on Otocast, the Fort Myers Guide also contains narrative, photos and audios for 49 murals and 30 other artworks scattered about town.

By virtue of its audio component, Otocast is like having your very own tour guide who knows all the facts, figures and inside stories about the artworks and historic buildings you see. In fact, in the other towns and cities where Otocast is already in use the app serves as a platform for self-guided audio tours that encourage exploration and discovery, helping people gain a better appreciation of their cultural legacy. This feature is particularly useful in a town like Fort Myers, where many of the century-old buildings and pieces in the city’s public art collection encapsulate tales about the pioneers who built a rough-and-tumble cow town out of the remnants of an old wooden frontier outpost in the years following the end of the Civil War.

Otocast currently hosts guides containing in excess of 4,500 points of interest in more than 200 cities in 90+ countries.

Watch this space for more articles on the historic points of interest that are already live and that will be added to Otocast in the coming weeks. For more information, please contact the City of Fort Myers’ Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

Visit the Fort Myers Guide on Otocast here.

February 14, 2024.



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