History of Alva
Alva today is a charming, rural, unincorporated area of Lee County, Florida. A drive through Alva reveals extensive citrus groves, pastures dotted with cattle and horses, houses, some grand, most modest, nestled beneath majestic live oaks, dripping with strands of Spanish moss, and a small village perched upon the banks of the Caloosahatchee River. Alva has a long and rich history, being one of the first settlements in Southwest Florida.
The "modern" history of Alva began with the vision of a Danish sea captain by the name of Peter Nelson. A colorful character that homesteaded a vast area, platted and laid out a village, earmarking plots for schools, parks, churches, even the first library in South Florida. He called his town "Alva," naming it after the profusion of small white flowers growing along the bank of the same name. Captain Nelson was instrumental in the forming of Lee County, and served as one of its first County Commissioners.
The Caloosahatchee River, then, as now, defines this area. It provides transportation, food, recreation, and essential source of water for an area that is just as prone to droughts as it is to floods.
The first bridge to cross the Caloosahatchee was built at Alva in 1903. Two hotels and dining rooms existed at that time, the Three Oaks and the Wade Inn, further attesting to bustling nature of early Alva.
Most of the information and pictures are taken with permission from "The Benevolent Dane" by Charles Edgar Foster. Copies are available at Alva Museum. Do you have pictures or information on Alva's early years? Send them to the webmaster for posting on this site.