How our story started. . .
On August 1, 1883, then president Chester A. Arthur granted Chauncey Hawley a section of land to be used to attract more people to the state of Florida.
One part of that parcel included the site where Pelican Alley now sits.
Sometime in the early 1900's, the Chadwick family acquired the property and constructed a fish house for their booming mullet business. They also constructed the "swing" bridge that connected Casey Key (then called Treasure Island) to the mainland. Here, they docked their boats and off loaded their catch which was kept "refrigerated" by 300 pound blocks of ice which they produced in their ice house in Nokomis. The Chadwick's had a large commercial fishing business at that time in Punta Gorda as well.
This aerial view is looking south down Casey Key toward what is now the North Jetty. The Chadwick building and boats can be seen on the east side of the waterway.
Above, is a copy of the original grant by Chester A. Arthur to Chauncey Hawley. The document was discovered by Aaron Foreman at the Manatee County Courthouse. Prior to 1950, Nokomis was part of Manatee County.
The Chadwick fish house and swing bridge during the 1920's is shown at right. The swing bridge was manually operated by a bridge tender who actually turned a wheel until the opening in the bridge became parallel to the shore, allowing boats to pass through.
Following the Chadwicks, the property was owned by Fred and Alice Sanders who operated the business as the Gulf-n-Bay Fishing Resort. Their slogan on the building was "Boats, Bait, Beer." They hosted fishing charters and ran a modest eatery at a large horseshoe-shaped bar inside the building. One of their customers was Bob Graham befoe he became a well-know Florida politician. When Fred and Alice retired, they sold the property to the Arbuckle family, and it became The Admiral's Wardroom.
Robert Arbuckle and his wife, Janet, ran the Wardroom until 1981. One of their most notable customers was John D. MacDonald, a famous author who lived on Siesta Key. He was best known for his Travis McGee series. On request from the Arbuckles, he wrote a forward to their self-published restaurant cookbook (shown at right).
Left, exterior of the Admiral's Wardroom, obviously very popular with boaters. In the background is Nokomis Marineways owned by Janet Spinelli.
Below, interior of the Admiral's Wardroom.
In 1981, the Arbuckles sold the restaurant to Robin Sweeney, and, after extensive renovations, it became Pelican Alley. For 36 years the building survived a number of floods, tropical storms and hurricanes. It was Hurricane Irma in 2017 that caused irreparable damage, forcing a rebuild of the facility.
Pelican Alley is home to a number of ghosts! And has been for the past over 30 years. The restaurant has been investigated by several paranormal groups from all over Florida and they have all found evidence of ghosts and paranormal behavior.
You can check out more on the internet, or better yet, come in and expose yourself to Pelican Alley's "uniqueness." Paranormal groups insist there are more than one ghost, perhaps even the previous owners, the Arbuckles, Fred and Alice Sanders, or seasonal vacationers just drifting through to relive a past experience.