May 23, 2022

Dare Quill

The Real Estate Maniacs

At the heart and soul of Old Naples

4 min read

If you have at any time walked to the Naples Pier, you have possible marveled at the exceptionally huge banyan tree at the corner of Gordon

Drive and 12th Avenue South.

But have you at any time recognized the historic property it shades?

The main house and guest cottages continue to be virtually the similar as when they ended up constructed in 1918. And that’s many thanks to the loving care of Eileen and Paul Arsensault, who bought the home with co-homeowners in 1988 just after leasing for a number of yrs.

“The property has a loaded identity and energetic caressing of spirits, souls and energies,” claims Paul, a perfectly-known painter whose artwork adorns the indoor areas. Norman Prentice Sloan Sr., a Philadelphia cotton broker and silver mine proprietor, came by steamer to the Naples Pier 103 years ago and saw prospective in the vacant land involving the dock and the Outdated Naples Resort, which was torn down in 1965 and remains a parking large amount.

He constructed the key home for his 7 children and visitor cottages for himself and his spouse as effectively as their servants. The Arsenaults rent out one of the cottages on Airbnb, exactly where it gets evaluations these kinds of as “This property is like nothing at all else you will find” and “The inside seems like it belongs in Architectural Digest.”



The Arsenaults consider the dwelling is a single of the five oldest is Naples, nevertheless it’s not the oldest. That difference belongs to Palm Cottage, which was created in 1895 and sits 1 block east of the Naples Pier and properties the Naples Historic Modern society.

The Arsenaults’ property options Dade County pine, board and batten carpentry, airy screened porches and, potentially unbelievably, the authentic plumbing and electrical get the job done.

When a little something needs fixing, the Arsenaults never employ a handyman because they know the house’s peculiarities.

“We’ve lived listed here this lengthy as it is, we know how anything is effective,” suggests Eileen, who initial came to the residence as a renter in 1982 when the past operator rented rooms. Paul moved into the “boat house” on the house when the pair started relationship in 1983.


“It’s so full of pitch, you have to predrill to nail,” Paul suggests. “There are 64 authentic home windows, and none of them shut appropriate mainly because the residence has settled.”

The little kitchen area — which utilized to be a toy retailer for guests coming to Naples — features the 1920s Magic Chef stove on which Eileen, an avid cook, truly performs magic. They even have some of the authentic Seven Dwarfs toys that were being offered in the house.

A person detail they did adjust was the property’s name. Mr. Sloan named the residence Tecopa, the similar name as his silver mine. In a nod to their inventive careers and the property’s heritage, and impressed by the Social Aid and Satisfaction Club song by the Subdudes, the Arsenaults renamed it The Banyan Arts Social and Satisfaction Club. Over the yrs, the couple has hosted lots of artists and innovative individuals, together with painter Richard Segalman, NPR’s Jacki Lyden, and Maziar Bahari, a Newsweek reporter who was jailed in Iran.


The couple has satisfied with restoration specialists about updating the dwelling but comprehend it’s as well considerably for them to consider on.

“It’s a massive challenge,” claims Eileen. “The residence demands to be lifted simply because of sea-amount increase. It needs replumbing and electrical. We would have to go out and do it all in 1 shot.”

As a substitute, she suggests they “feel vastly responsible” for guaranteeing that, when it arrives time to market, they obtain a buyer who will honor the home’s history and not tear it all down.

“Everyone suggests we’re sitting down on hundreds of thousands of pounds, but I could not stay with myself (if it was demolished),” she claims.

The principal residence is 1,800 sq. feet with an exterior staircase to access the next floor, in which Mr. Arsenault paints. They use the 1st-floor bed room and business office, but commit much of their time on the porch, which includes place for their eating space and appears out in excess of the lush landscape.

“The garden has just evolved,” Paul suggests. “We would rescue a plant or tree out of somebody’s garden.”


The couple been given bromeliads from Betsy Reed, widow of Bob Reed, who started Naples Botanical Garden.

They bought hibiscus from Haldeman House, a different background property, right before it was moved.

Some crotons on the property had been there when the Arsenaults arrived. They enjoy night time-blooming cereus, which blooms 1 night each yr, as perfectly as areca palms that deliver filtered mild to the property.

Of study course, the banyan tree helps make a massive statement. They estimate that it was planted in 1918 when the household was developed.

They extra a ornamental fountain involving the home and cottages, and get pleasure from eating outdoor employing gothic-wanting Victorian candle chandeliers that came with the property.

Sharing the home with friends, as an Airbnb web page, and for charity fundraisers is 1 way the Arsensaults help people link with and care about historic preservation in the city they appreciate.


“It’s a special location to introduce folks to the particular good quality of the simple time in Naples,” Paul states. “There is a purity with this simple old assets and our proximity to the beach front. It is an oasis that is a treasure.” ¦

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