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Times of the Islands Magazine

Paradise Found

Stretching along San Carlos Bay is a 23-acre property rich with the history of Sanibel. Originally settled in the late 1800s by the Reed family, it became the spot for the first post office, postmaster’s house, hotel and shipping docks where the Kinzie steamer would bring mail and pick up produce (mainly tomatoes) the island farmers of the early 1900s were growing and sending to market. This was the place where islanders gathered to get the news from the mainland and socialize with each other. Here, visiting fishing enthusiasts came to escape the north’s cold winters.  


In 1926 a massive hurricane, the worst to hit the island, destroyed all the buildings on the property. Capt. William Reed, who was the postmaster, rebuilt his home, the post office and some of the docks using debris from the hurricane.   

Many years later, Reed’s Landing, as it was known, became the home for W.J. Torpey and Amanda Cross. Torpey was a well-respected saltwater fishing guide, environmentalist and island volunteer, whose fishing adventures took him all over the world—from Nantucket to the Christmas Islands and everywhere in between. Cross has been a long-time community activist and philanthropist.

Reminiscent of the lifestyle of Ernest Hemingway, Torpey and Cross built a home in harmony with the natural environment, one that pays homage to the spirit of Old Sanibel and the property’s history. Although the postmaster’s home could not be renovated, the couple was able to donate the Reed Post Office to the Sanibel Historical Society. Today it is among the well-preserved buildings within the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village.

The exceptional setting is almost an island in an island, with 23.4 acres of mostly mangroves and natural vegetation that is home to a plethora of wildlife and birds. Privacy abounds, and the bay beckons through a wall of windows that brings the natural world inside. An osprey pair, mated for life, nest along the water’s edge each year and bring up their young just outside the master bedroom. Pelicans can be spotted diving for their breakfast.  

Soaring rustic cypress ceilings and oak-planked floors complement the blues and greens of San Carlos Bay and the surrounding flora, creating the feeling of living in a secret tree house along the shore of a deserted island. If it were not for the occasional boat motoring by, you would believe you had stepped back in time to a young and undeveloped Sanibel.  

Custom built in 1991, this home is at once both expansive and cozy, with four bedrooms and three baths in the main house. An amazing guest suite/dream office with a full bath was added in 2003 and connected to the main house by a spacious covered-and-screened composite deck that traverses the entire back of the home and encloses the huge pool and spa on the ground level. An open living, dining and kitchen area add to the warmth and convivial atmosphere of this home, and a sweeping porch with its wall of sliders brings the breathtaking bay views right to you.    


Arguably one of the most desirable features of this compound is the 200-foot-long dock with two boat lifts stretching into the bay. One of only a few docks grandfathered in, it was renovated in 2007 and is a true rarity among bayfront properties. A tennis court, two garages and a detached workshop/garage are added extras to this already magical piece of paradise.  


This secluded and enchanted sanctuary is certainly perfect for that special buyer who values privacy, nature and inspiration above all else. A place to write the next best seller, channel your inner Hemingway, get away from the maddening crowds, paint that masterpiece or just let your hair down and be a mermaid! A place where kids can just be kids, discovering the wonders of a tropical world, and adults can be kids again, too. The property cannot be split up and developed because of its unique standing in the Sanibel Plan; however, letters and historical information suggest a second home or guest home could be added.  

For more information contact Valerie Tutor, Kingfisher Real Estate Inc., 239-834-8141, [email protected].