Photographer by Vincent Ricardel at the Tobin summer residence in Washington, D.C.
Joan Tobin’s history with Naples can be traced back to the post-World War II era, when her parents moved to the largely undeveloped beachfront town where “interesting people collected but you didn’t have to put on black-tie every night,” Tobin says. Much has changed since then, thanks in part to her father, who founded the Caribbean Gardens (now the Naples Zoo) and first established the style of Third Street South and Tobin herself. In 1994, Tobin stepped into the role as Third Street’s “curator.” Her goal was to build upon what was already there and create a place where genteel, old-fashioned small-town standards were still the norm. “I wanted it to be the kind of place where people actually welcomed you, wanted you and treated you well,” she says. Tobin thoughtfully brought in stores typically found in top-end resorts and restaurants that created the type of atmosphere she was cultivating. To the benefit of Neapolitans today, many of the original structures were lovingly restored, and Tobin dotted the streetscape with fountains and courtyards offering places to take a breather. “I would feel terrible if people didn’t come to Third Street and have a good time. What’s the point of doing it if you’re not creating something that is a life enhancement?”