The El Jobean Grand Hotel was originally located in Manatee County on the northeast bank of the Myakka River close to Port Charlotte. But in 1881 the county lines were redrawn, and it became part of DeSoto County. Finally, in 1921 it became part of the newly formed Charlotte County.
Coming from Scotland in 1887, Daniel and Jane MacPherson purchased 1,071 acres of land at what was known as the Myakka Land and began planning the town of Southland. They established a small fishing camp, but other than that, there was no development. Years later, the property went into receivership due to unpaid property taxes.
Paying only the unpaid property taxes, three men from Maryland bought the property in 1908. In 1920 they resold the property to two men who constructed a turpentine distillery. This became a major industry for Charlotte County. Their endeavor did not last long, and the distillery went into foreclosure.
In 1923, Joel Bean as the sole owner of the Boston and Florida Realty Trust Company purchased the entire 1,071 acres. He discarded the old Southland town plans and replaced them with his own for the new town of El Jobe-an and billed it as the “City of Destiny.”
El Jobe-an would be divided into six wards. Each ward would have its own civic center bordered on a circular central plaza, with six thoroughfares radiating outward in the shape of a hexagon. To connect with the other wards, there would be six other streets extending outward from the central plaza. The lots that bordered the central plazas would be reserved for businesses and public buildings. Within each ward, lots were set aside for schools, churches, and recreational facilities. On the city’s waterfront, there were plans for a casino, dance hall, and bathing pavilion. In the center of the town, there were plans for a large modern railroad depot and an 18-hole golf course.
Soon Joel Bean had constructed the El Jobean Hotel, a post office, and general store. A small cottage that he constructed for himself also served as a sales office. This was in hopes of attracting tourists and buyers to his new community. During the 1920s land boom in Florida, the Mediterranean Revival style architecture was popular. Bean wanted all buildings to be constructed in that same style.
With Northern buyers purchasing the lots with small down payments and large mortgages, the development was bound for success. Most of the buyers had never seen the property they were buying. Reports up north of fortunes being made in Miami Beach by buying and reselling properties had people seeking out properties throughout the rest of Florida.
When the stock market crashed in 1929, so did the land boom. Landowners were forced to abandon the mortgages on their lots, which resulted in the Boston and Florida Realty Trust Company folding. In the end, only early residents, fisherman, and Joel Bean remained.
By this time, the was hotel catering mainly to fishermen and was called the Grand Hotel and Fishing Lodge. In 1931, Bean used it to house Metro-Goldwyn Mayer movie crews who came to film Tarzan serials, starring Ann Sothern and Adolphe Menjou. With the improving economy and the building of an Army Air Force Base, now Punta Gorda Airport, during World War Il the hotel continued to attract customers that included both entertainers and fishermen.
Joel Bean continued to live in the original cottage that he had built for himself until his death in 1942. Entertainers, Leopold and Donna Simon, who traveled in various traveling circuses vacation at the El Jobean when not on tour throughout the 1930s. In 1942, they purchased the property so they could continue to enjoy the area.
A number of the Simons fellow circus performers took up residence at the hotel during the winter months and many made it a permanent home. The most famous was the “Flying Wallendas.”
One of the only two original buildings is left, the El Jobean Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 29, 1999. Unfortunately, the cottage Bean built and lived in was destroyed by fire in 1991.