In the beginning…
There has long been an interest in Purple Martins in the Naples area, but until 1984 there was no organized support for them. In 1984, Heinz Holzberg, on behalf of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, founded the Conservancy Purple Martin Society to provide a forum for residents of the community interested in Purple Martins, to promote the sale of Purple Martin houses and to educate the new landlords.
The society members began by encouraging residents to provide housing for Purple Martins. They elicited the assistance of the Mayors of the City of Naples and Marco Island and the Collier County Commissioners in proclaiming the third week in January as “Purple Martin Week”. They also donated purple martin houses to a number of public and private groups in the area.
After several years, the organization moved away from the Conservancy and became the Purple Martin Society of Collier County. Meetings are currently held at the Clubhouse in the Foxfire community in Naples.
In 1992 the membership approved expenditure of funds to erect a purple martin house at the Collier County Extension Service adjacent to the County Fairgrounds on Immokalee Road. In succeeding years both the society and individual members have added to the site with both commercial and experimental housing. It is now an acclaimed martin housing demonstration site and has appeared in “Stokes Purple Martin Book” as well as having been featured in 1997 on the PBS “Bird Watch” program.
In April of 1994, after two years of work and the tremendous cooperation of State Representative Mary Ellen Hawkins, the society was successful in having a resolution adopted by the Florida Legislature designating Collier County as Purple Martin Capital of Florida. Florida Senate Resolution #14
Although the Extension Service experimental Martin housing project is now being dismantled due to increased development in the area, the Society continues to be active in the community promoting the provision of housing for purple martins and provides information, lectures, and slide shows to various groups in the community.