Babcock, EST. 1914
Babcock is steeped in the McAdow family’s late 19th century visions of warmer climates and an easier way of living. The property, purchased in 1914 and held by the Babcock family for more than 90 years, was sold to Town Maker Kitson & Partners in 2006. Babcock Ranch has always held an allure all its own, a unique magnetism that has captivated forward thinking individuals who appreciate the uniqueness of the place.
After making their fortune in the Spotted Horse gold mines of Fergus County, Montana, the Perry McAdow family took to Southwest Florida’s warmer climes and purchased what is now Babcock Ranch in the late 1800’s. After settling at what they called the Crescent B Ranch, the family made their mark. By June, 1899, the Punta Gorda Bank was chartered by the state with capital of $15,000 and Perry Wadsworth McAdow as president. A one-story, brick façade corner storefront housed the bank with Earnest Dry Goods, the Punta Gorda Trading Company, Wade’s Drug Store, and McAdow Hall filling the remainder of the building. An avid horticulturalist, Mrs. McAdow proceeded to beautify downtown Punta Gorda.
In 1914, the 91,000-acre Crescent B Ranch was acquired by Edward Babcock, a Pittsburgh lumber magnate and politician. The renamed Babcock Ranch served as the base for the family’s timber business, the most prominent end-users being the diamond mines in South Africa that used the pine-based pitch to ward off termites. By the 1930’s, Edward’s son Fred was managing the property and became the face of Babcock Ranch. After Fred’s death in 1997, the heirs attempted to sell the property to the state. In 2005, discussions with the state were terminated. Enter Syd Kitson and Kitson & Partners.
On July 31, 2006, Kitson & Partners completed its purchase of Babcock Ranch from the Babcock family. On the same day, Kitson closed a $350 million deal with the State of Florida and Lee County for the largest single land preservation agreement in the state’s history. The agreement preserved 74,000 acres of the property, allowed ranching operations to continue, and provided Kitson with 17,000 acres, an area the size of Manhattan, for development.