Dedicated to preserving the tranquility and beauty of Alva

P.O.  Box 2022, Alva, FL 33920

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History of Alva

Paddle Wheeler Thomas A. Edison Docked at the Alva bridge

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.CaptainPeterNelson.jpg (10066 bytes)

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. 

From the official records of the Alva United Methodist Church...AlvaFlower.jpg (8646 bytes)
    "Captain Peter Nelson, a Dane, acquired a tract of land on the north side of The Caloosahatchee... he decided to build a city, so had a map made of his property, streets named, lots designated for a church and other public buildings, etc.  A tiny white flower spread over the earth, so the Captain, a botanist as well as a navigator, accepted the name which nature (and the Danish language) supplied, and called his town "Alva." The Alva Flower, White Sabatia (Sabatia brevifolia Rafinesque), is a native member of the Gentian family.

boatlanding.jpg (11479 bytes)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.


Alva library 1909

Alva library 1909


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.