Patio de Leon Alligator Fountain - Fort Myers, Florida USA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member vulture1957
N 26° 38.617 W 081° 52.196
17R E 413417 N 2947258
Quick Description: Patio de Leon is a shaded, cool respite running between First and Main streets in Fort Myers. You can buy libations from businesses and sit on the patio to admire the atmosphere. In the middle is the octagon fountain, topped by a granite kugel ball.
Location: Florida, United States
Date Posted: 11/6/2017 1:58:39 PM
Waymark Code: WMX022
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member saopaulo1
Views: 7

Long Description:
from Art

The City of Fort Myers public art ordinance includes fountains within the ambit of public art, and the River District’s Patio de Leon contains three. At the entries to the plaza off First and Main Streets are concrete Lion’s head fountains, from which Patio de Leon derives its name, but the centerpiece of the courtyard is a decorative eight-sided stained concrete fountain crowned by a rotating granite sphere and eight climbing stone alligators.

No information has been found that identifies the artist who created these fountains. It appears that the lion’s head fountains were placed in the alleyways leading into the courtyard sometime in 1924, when New Port Richey developer George W. Sims purchased the property and changed the name to Patio de Leon. It also appears the alligator fountain is a replica or homage of another fountain that was added to the plaza during the makeover that Sims gave the plaza after he purchased the court. No information has been uncovered that reveals what happened to the original fountain, but it was reconstructed in the 1990s and redesigned in 2010 as a replica or homage to the fountain that stood on its site between the mid-1920s and 1930s.

History of the Patio de Leon Fountain

At the First Street entrance to Patio de Leon is a fountain with a lion’s head on it, from which Patio de Leon takes its name. Originally known as Tonnelier Court, Patio de Leon was developed by a retired banker from Benton Harbor, Michigan by the name of Peter Tonneliar. Between 1913 and 1915, he erected most of the buildings in the courtyard, including a huge wooden Vaudeville theater known as Omar Theatre and nicknamed the Ritz. At the same time, Tonnelier paved the courtyard and installed planter beds, park seating and a cement and brick aquarium that held small alligators. From then on, the north-south concourse of the court was known as “Alligator Way.”

In 1924, New Port Richey developer George W. Sims embarkded on an ambitious makeover of the plaza, which he renamed Patio de Leon. A well-known Florida artist by the name of Thomas R. Martin was commissioned for this purpose, and in furtherance of his design, the building surrounding the patio were given a Spanish-style motif and palm trees, flowering plants and fountains were incorporated into the patio to give the plaza a more European look. A year later, the Ritz burned to the ground, although it is survived by the 1916 building that was once its ticket office. That building today is home to Space 39, which has retained the structure’s original Moorish influenced turned columns and prominent scalloped arch.

A prominent feature of the redesigned patio was a decorative eight-sided fountain that was erected on the site of the plaza’s current fountain next to the Patio de Leon Prime de Leon Restaurant. The fountain is reputed to have held two large alligators, a carryover from Tonneliar’s aquarium. The gators became a tourist attraction that drew large crowds to the patio. But after several children lost fingers, the fountain was replaced with a fruit and soda stand sometime during the 1930s. That too was removed in the 1960s.

The current fountain was built in the 1990s in homage to its early predecessors, and was redesigned in 2010. Today, Peter Tonneliar’s beautiful patio provides a soothing backdrop for relaxing and entertaining. The fountain itself is composed of stained concrete crowned by a rotating granite orb. Stone alligators surround the upper portion of the fountain in tribute to the fountain’s early history.

Where is this ball located: on top of the Alligator Fountain in Patio de Leon, Ft Myers, Florida

In use?: Yes

Material: granite

Can you push it around?: No

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