Port Royal History

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Port Royal, envisioned and developed by entrepreneur John Glen Sample has a storied history.  Mr. Sample not only personally financed the development, but had a huge influence with regards to all aspects of the community up until his death in 1971. Inspired by a 17th century Jamaican city known for pirates and smugglers, Port Royal became an instant juxtaposition.  With plans to become one of the most intimate and luxurious communities in the country consisting of custom estate homes with lush landscaping, gorgeous water views, and prestigious addresses, this ideal utopia was inspired and named after a Jamaican city taken over by looting pirates who stole from the wealthy.  Retired advertising executive John Glen Sample, whose agency developed the radio soap opera, bought plots of mangroves and swamp land for $13,700 in 1938 with a vision to create a winter sanctuary for the social elite.

Mr. Sample commissioned Howard Major, one of the most premiere architects at the time, to design Port Royal to Sample’s specifications and vision. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, a project to dredge and fill the mangrove swamps began transforming the useless pieces of land into manmade peninsulas surrounded by bays and coves. The Port Royal waterways are nestled between the Gulf of Mexico to its west and Naples Bay to its east. The deep water canals empty into Naples Bay and connect through Gordon Pass to the Gulf of Mexico. With the waterside paradise starting to come into fruition, Mr. Sample knew that the homes needed to match the surroundings. Sample instituted parameters for the development of homes setting high standards to be met such as a requirement that home plans must be drawn by an approved architect as well as being approved by the Port Royal Association. Additionally, Mr. Sample personally interviewed and accepted each potential buyer for each piece of land in the community until his death in 1971. If the buyer was not up to the standards of dress, conversation, or other topical factor, Mr. Sample would reject their bid to purchase the land. Today, the Port Royal Association has stepped in and took on Mr. Sample’s role of reviewing blueprints and approving each architect’s plan for new construction or additions in the community.

Mr. Sample told a Miami Herald reporter, “My ambition is to make Port Royal the finest place in the world to live.” Sparing no expense, in 1959, Mr. Sample personally financed the construction of the Port Royal Beach Club, the crown jewel of the neighborhood. Mr. Sample spent over 1 million dollars to create the luxurious haven that provides exclusive amenities to members. The club continues to be a meeting place for residents providing the setting for everlasting memories and stories with the friends and families. The first Port Royal building sites were sold for between $7,500 and 12,000. In today’s real estate market, Port Royal lots are sold for approximately $4,000,000. With addresses such as Cutlass Lane, Galleon Drive, Gin Lane, Run Row, and Spyglass Lane, the pirate history remains intact, providing a great story for Port Royal residents to tell about their exclusive community and its storied beginnings.