Aerial shots of Bonita Beach in the ’60s show very few homes in the wake of Hurricane Donna. But soon, the rush to build would begin as insurance money, construction workers and A/C companies arrived.
The development of the two-lane Bonita Beach Road made the beach more accessible and businesses began popping up, along with restaurants and gas stations. Bonita’s first bank opened in 1963 and a new subdivision called Imperial Shores offered land with gulf and bay access for $100/down and $100/month. Lawhon’s Supermarket opened in 1967 as part of the first shopping center in Bonita Springs.
On the Wings of Faith
The environment of the 1960s paved the way for Bonita Springs to rise up and begin to meet its destiny. In fact, around that time the strong roots of faith—the foundation of First Church—began sprouting in its sandy soil.
In 1963, while transistor radios blared tunes like Our Day Will Come and I Will Follow Him, a small group of Presbyterians with no church home began meeting in a store on the corner of Goodwin Street and Old 41. Although Bonita was considered an out-of-the way mission point, the Home Mission Board of Westminster Presbytery appointed two ministers—one retired and one from a pastorate in San Carlos Park—to care for this fledgling group.
The Bonita Presbyterians met in several local facilities—the Warfield Restaurant, Edna Foster Realty, the Imperial Harbor recreation building and Pittman Funeral Home. In 1968, the Presbytery purchased 10 acres of land off Bonita Beach Road for a future permanent home and our enthusiastic worshipers started a building fund.
Around that time, Rev. Harry Price was pastor of the Cold Spring Presbyterian Church of Bristol, Tennessee. In 1969, he was ready for a move and shared his thoughts with his good friend, Sam McCammon, who was an Executive Presbyter in Florida.