Collier was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He quit school at age sixteen to work for the Illinois Central Railroad. Within four years, he started his own business, the Consolidated Street Railway Advertising Company of New York City. By age twenty-six, he already was worth a million dollars.
Mr. Collier married in 1907 to Miss Juliet Gordon Carnes, also a native of Memphis. In 1911, the Colliers visited Fort Myers, Florida, on vacation, and fell in love with the area. So, they bought nearby Useppa Island for the sum of $100,000. The island was reputed to be the place where the Spanish pirate, Jose Gaspar, had held one of his favorite female captives named Useppa a century earlier.
Mr. Collier was an avid fisherman and established the Izaak Walton Club at their Useppa Island resort. Named for the 17th Century author of The Compleat Angler, it became one of the most exclusive sporting clubs in the world. Collier next developed golf courses and improved a hunting club, the Rod and Gun Club, in Everglades City, Florida that also attracted wealthy tourists. Over the next decade, the Colliers went on to acquire more than a million acres (4000 km²) of land in southwest Florida, making them the largest private land owners in the state. He invested millions of dollars to transform and develop the wilderness, including drainage of the Everglades and construction of the Tamiami Trail. For his influence and investment in the state's future, the Florida legislature named the newly-created Collier County, Florida, in his honor on May 8, 1923. Juliet Carnes Collier appeared on the cover of the U.S. edition of the Tatler in the early 1930s.
Mr. Collier died March 13, 1939 in New York City, survived by his wife and three sons, Barron Jr., Miles, and Samuel. Though the Great Depression had strained his finances and slowed development of their Florida lands, the next generations of his family would continue his work in subsequent decades. They also participated in many sports, including a keen interest in motorsports, especially road racing that led to their founding of the Automobile Racing Club of America in 1933, which became the Sports Car Club of America in 1944. Miles, Cameron Argetsinger, and Briggs Cunningham were instrumental in founding Watkins Glen near one of their summer retreats.
The Collier County Public School System named Barron Collier High School in honor of Barron Gift Collier, Sr.
Samuel Carnes Collier, son of Juliet Gordon Carnes Collier and Barron Gift Collier, was the first racing fatality at Watkins Glen, in the 1950s. His brother, Miles, gave up racing soon thereafter, but he died of polio within a few years. Samuel Carnes was a member of the Skull and Bones Club at Yale.
Cowles Miles Collier (1836-1908), the father of Barron Collier, was an excellent painter and a collection of his work is presented on the Wesleyan College, Macon, Georgia website. This collection was given to the college by his daughter, Georgie Collier Comer. Her brother-in-law, Braxton Bragg Comer, became governor of Alabama in 1906.
The Collier family settled in Virginia in the 1650s. Charles Collier, father of Cowles Myles Collier, lost his land to the U.S. Government after the Civil War.
What would granddad think of this? Miles Collier, as in Collier County, wants to build an 800-slip marina. Naples' retired capitalists won't have it. (Miles Collier's plan to develop a residential golf community, Villages of the Sabal Bay) (includes related article on Barron Collier's investments and the creation of Collier County)
May 01, 1991; Sometimes, in his most private moments, Miles Collier must shake his head in wonder and dismay. He probably allows himself a...
A partnership between the Barron Collier Cos. and the Lutgert Cos. is planning to build a 92-unit luxury condominium called The Strada at Mercato in the new mixed-use "Main Street" center under development in North Naples.(NAPLES)
Jun 01, 2006; A partnership between the Barron Collier Cos. and the Lutgert Cos. is planning to build a 92-unit luxury condominium called The...