A fascination with the 17th Century Jamaican city where rowdy pirates reveled led developer John Glen Sample to adopt the name Port Royal when he began what was Naples’ most adventurous real estate endeavor.
Sample envisioned a unique and exclusive development, a winter retreat for the social elite, a neighborhood of gracious homes, immaculate lawns and prestigious addresses – addresses which, incidentally, bear names such as Gin Lane, Rum Row, Spyglass Lane, Cutlass Lane and Galleon Drive.
Beginning in 1938, Sample bought up pieces of swamp land, hammocks and beach front. In the late 1940s and 1950s, he began personally shaping its future.
Port Royal is composed largely of a series of man-made peninsulas, surrounded by bays and coves. The waterways empty into Naples Bay and connect with the Gulf of Mexico through Gordon Pass. The area stretches south from 12th Avenue South to Gordon Pass, bounded on the west by the Gulf of Mexico and on the east by Naples Bay.
Sample set high standards for Port Royal’s development, including the requirement that home plans must be drawn up by an approved architect and then approved by the Port Royal Association. Until his death in 1971, every piece of land was sold to a buyer he personally interviewed and accepted. All of the houses built in Port Royal were first approved by Sample.
In many ways Port Royal set the stage for what Naples was to become. It established a standard of quality that later developers emulated in order to succeed.
Port Royal is still the unique and desirable neighborhood that Sample envisioned. Now the Port Royal Association – composed of your neighbors – assumes the responsibilities of the developer, reviewing and approving the building plans, assuring that deed restrictions are observed and serving as an advocate with city and county governments.
Back in the early days of Port Royal, Miami Herald staffer Nixon Smiley wrote about his visit to Naples, touring the neighborhood in a pewter-gray Rolls Royce with John Glen Sample behind the wheel. “My ambition is to make Port Royal the finest place in the world to live.” Sample told the reporter. “And I believe I’m succeeding.”