THE VIVAS FAMILY
The Irving Downtown also draws inspiration from the history of the land and the people who first made it a home.
In 1866, soon after the end of the Civil War, newlyweds Jose Vivas and Christiana Stirrup set sail from bustling Key West for the abandoned Union Army outpost of Fort Myers as part of the extended, blended, immigrant family of fabled Fort Myers founder Manuel Gonzalez.
From 1867 to 1888, Joe and Anna, as they came to be called, had nine children, seven of which survived to adulthood – Amelia; Adalaida, who died as a teenager; Frances; Santiago; Annie; Rosa; Leonora; Josephine; and Norman, who died as an infant. Amelia and Annie were widowed young and never remarried or had children, and the three youngest daughters never married or had children. Frances married young and raised four children in Lakeland and Orlando, FL, and Santiago, the only surviving son, married a descendant from another founding family, the McNeills, and had three children, whom they raised in nearby Olga, FL.
There was at least one Vivas living on the property for almost 100 years, until the home was sold in 1959. It was demolished soon after, and news articles from the time mention plans for an office building, but the property has remained a parking lot for 62 years.
The Irving’s floor plans are named in honor of the four Vivas children who were born, raised, and lived most or much of their life on the family land – the firstborn child, Amelia, and the three youngest, Rosa, Leonora, and Josephine.