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Most of Florida's tiny fishing towns are disappearing and giving way to McDonald's, high rises and hotel chains. But not Matlacha. Here you still find cozy cottages, bed & breakfasts, fishermen tending their nets, bait shops and shrimp boats.
Matlacha housing started in the 20's. The bridge to Pine island was completed in 1927. Fishing shanties and squatter shacks appeared on the Island. Many of them have survived to present day. The area around the Matlacha Bridge was made famous by Ft. Myers author, Richard Powell, in his book, Pioneer Go Home. This book was made into an Elvis Presley movie called "Follow that Dream".
Bert's Bar is composed of two buildings. The original building was the bar near the road. It was build in the 30's as a "sweet shoppe". Then in 1941 the "hotel" building was built. It consisted of eight sleeping rooms. During WWII, army bases were set up at Page Field and many of the soldiers would come out for a weekend to Matlacha to go fishing off the "fishingest bridge in Florida" at Matlacha Pass. They became regular customers of the hotel and bar. Stories abound that the hotel had the reputation of "ill repute" and ladies of the night. Imagine that.
Some time after WWII the bar became known as "Mother's."
In the seventies, the bar became known as the Tri Dilly Inn and then Harry's Barge Inn. The hotel continued to operate up to the 70's.
It was the home to many a local fisherman. Shrimp boats were parked out back of the Inn. We still have deep water at the end of the dock as a result of that.
Later the place was purchased by Bert Clubb, a famous Lee County bar operator. Hence the name Bert's. Bert's became the bar of choice for many people from all over Lee & Charlotte County.
It has even been said that there were "Dancers" in the back room (formerly the hotel). Bert operated the establishment for many years and then sold it to a long time employee.
In 2000 the establishment was sold again, the name stayed and the legend lives on. Over Seventy years.
Bert's has had a colorful seventy years of history and is the home of many stories of its past. If only the walls could talk.