May 2016 – The historic Monroe Station in Big Cypress was lost to fire shortly before midnight on Saturday April 9. The fire was sparked when a man climbed onto the roof of the structure to pose for photographs while “spinning” a flaming piece of steel wool.
The Monroe Station was one of six roadside stations built in the late 1920s at intervals along the Tamiami Trail in Collier County. Although the station was in poor condition and closed to the public, the Big Cypress had hoped to restore the building with support from the SFNPT and others. Those plans are now being revisited.
Here’s some background on the structure and its significance from the Big Cypress website:
Monroe Station was one of six way stations constructed in the late 1920s in the remote reaches of Collier County along the Tamiami Trail. Monroe and the Royal Palm Station, located at the intersection of CR 92 and Tamiami Trail are the only two that remained near their original locations, three of the stations have been destroyed over time and one was moved a great distance from its original site and modified for other use. The purpose of the way stations was to provide gas, and other conveniences to travelers. Over the years Monroe Station had been modified by several lessees and was a well known way point for people along the road.
In 1988 the property, which was owned by the Collier Corporation, was transferred to the National Park Service, the business closed, the building boarded up. In 2000 the structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Since 2005 the National Park Service had been seeking financial support for the stabilization and restoration of the structure.