Nestled into a tropical wonderland bordered by Periwinkle Way and the Sanibel River is the island's oldest gated community, home to an eclectic range of ages, styles and socioeconomic backgrounds-artists, writers, retired educators and medical professionals-all part of a relaxed and sociable lifestyle. Resident Maddy Mayor commented: "It's a combination of Greenwich Village, London's Chelsea, and Key West-all on Sanibel. Fun, fun, fun." It even has a small zoo, famous for its exotic birds.
This is Periwinkle Park, popularly known as a campground but more importantly a neighborhood of 240 home sites, with homes for retirees and snowbirds. The park is fifty years young, established in 1964 soon after the causeway was built. There is a vivid sense of connection and neighborliness. Furnished patios encourage easy socialization; many small, stylish homes have gorgeous yards filled with color. Residents enjoy community events, including an annual street sale, holiday party, and Mardi Gras.
For the first time, Periwinkle Park will be featured as one of the stops on Zonta's "A Peek at the Unique," the sold-out home tour set for Saturday, March 15.
Zontians Nori Ann Reed, left, and Orlene Shimberg at Periwinkle Park with park manager Dave Muench (in white) and representatives from Dolphin Transportation. PHOTO PROVIDED.
"Peekers" will visit not one but two homes. One is that of artist and retired attorney Sheila Hoen and her husband, who moved there two years ago. The couple remodeled a double-wide into "elegance in miniature," removing walls, replacing floors, and decorating the light-filled space with cherished Turkish carpets, antique Chinese chairs and works by the artist herself. Peekers will enjoy not only this captivating home but also the surprisingly large back garden, created by Ernie Hoen, filled with orchids and bromeliads, and dominated by a huge strangler fig. There is even a tiny, stand-alone artist's studio.
The other is the home of Maddy Mayor who relocated to the Park in 2013, after an extensive upgrade of floors, windows, plumbing and more. A retired social worker who lived among Native American nations, she has installed her extensive collection of native and fine art including Kachina dolls, choosing vibrant paint colors as the backdrop for her rich personal history, along with her own art pieces and collages. A dominant theme is of works depicting Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
Both homeowners say they enjoy finding treasures at consignment and thrift stores, each using her personal style to create a home that is unique, inspiring and inviting.
"A Peek at the Unique," the successful event for the Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva through their Foundation (the Zonta Foundation of Southwest Florida), raises funds annually for distribution in grants to organizations that support projects improving the lives of women. Recently, the Foundation awarded local grants totaling $64,750 to nine agencies, along with a pledge of $21,250 to Zonta International.
The tour is a perennial favorite of islanders, and it sells out fast. Peekers, benefactors and local businesses generously support the group's work through personal donations, placing ads in the keepsake program booklet and purchasing raffle tickets. Personal donations may be made on line at zontasancap.com. The raffle, "Six Chances at the Unique," is under way and tickets at $10 each are available from any Zonta member; at Bailey's General Store on several upcoming weekends; and at the Farmer's Market on March 2 and 9.
The Zonta Club of Sanibel/Captiva is a service organization of professional women working together to provide hands-on assistance, advocacy and funds to strengthen women's lives on the islands, in Lee County and around the world through Zonta International: for more about Zonta, visit zonta.org.