This Naples Builder Draws From a Century of Local Heritage

A descendant of an Everglades City pioneer, Michael Murphy expands on his family's legacy with his boutique construction company, Hammer and Hand.

BY February 1, 2024
Hammer and Hand
(Photo by Christina Bankson)

The cypress-clad walls of Everglades City’s Rod & Gun Club whisper tales of past presidents and 20th-century celebrities, who frequented the former hunting lodge. The one-time high-society enclave is now a celebrated time capsule, transporting guests to the early days of the county, when it was founded by Tennessee advertising magnate and developer Barron Gift Collier. Before the dignitaries descended, the lot was inhabited by Everglades pioneers, including George Washington Storter Jr., who founded the town as ‘Everglade’ and built the club’s beginnings as a homestead for his family. George sold the Rod & Gun property to Barron Collier in the 1920s and moved to Naples, where his descendants continue his legacy today. One of George’s progenies, his fourth-great grandson, Michael “Mike” Murphy, owns Naples-based boutique construction company Hammer and Hand. Building runs in Mike’s blood. After all, his forefather built the core of the Everglades club by hand. “They ran it kind of as a bed and breakfast,” Mike says. “People would come with the locals and, eventually, Barron Collier and the Colliers would go there.”

Mike echoes his family’s creativity through Hammer and Hand, crafting stylish homes that bank on the easy, casual way of living in Southwest Florida. Sophistication shines through details like Champagne-colored hardware, honed marble, brick backsplashes and slatted wood surfaces in homes from Naples’ Gulf Shore Boulevard to Pine Ridge Estates to Marco Island. Mike started the company in 2015 as a handyman service before venturing into flipping houses with his wife, Natalie. A key creative force behind the firm, Natalie has an eye for design, so the couple branched out into remodeling and, eventually, custom home building.

The duo focuses on projects that align with their brand’s aesthetic—a clean and inviting palette of creamy neutrals and organic textures. But, don’t mistake their vibe for coastal kitsch; Hammer and Hand projects bring the Old Florida beach cottages and cracker homes to the modern world. A simple white wall may be warmed by a white oak frame with LED lights emitting from beneath the wood; the black marble of a media unit may stand in front of a shiplap wall; and shaker-style cabinets may be fronted with polished stainless steel.

Mike focuses on durable designs, strategically selecting materials that can weather the climate. Rain-resistant aluminum roofs, windows placed for optimal cooling and materials that can stand up to the salty air are common features in his homes. Mike also considers the locale when selecting details as small as sealers, screws and door handles, which can rust and deteriorate with the salt spray. Some of his expertise is learned—he’s picked up best practices from fellow builders —but much is innate. “I know Florida,” he says.

Preserving the Old Florida lifestyle is essential to Mike. Growing up in North Naples, he spent many days fishing for sharks and foraging for native sabal palms. “I was definitely the wild child in my family—the typical Florida boy,” Mike says.

He still leans into his heritage, drawing inspiration from sketches and diary entries, detailing outdoorsmen adventures by his great-grandfather, folk artist and fisherman Robert Lee Storter. Quite the historian, Mike’s quick to share his family’s roots. He often gifts copies of Crackers in the Glades by Rob Storter, a collection of Rob’s stories edited by Mike’s aunt, Betty Savidge Briggs.


With about two dozen family members living in Naples, the Storter clan remains connected. They gather every Sunday for lunch, alternating hosting homes. Occasionally, they’ll indulge in Grandpa’s tomato gravy recipe, served with fresh fish and swamp cabbage. “Sometimes, we’ll go out and get the heart of palm ourselves because no one really sells it,” Mike says. The dish connects them with their forefathers, who lived off the land. “They ate mullet five times a week because it was the cheapest fish. Anytime they caught pompano, snook or any of the fish that were desirable—grouper or snapper—they’d have to sell it to make money,” Mike says. “We were technically here before the Colliers, but we didn’t have any money.”

Now, in Naples, new development surrounds the Storters, but they remain grounded. Mike and Natalie’s home is a case study of the modern Old Florida life. Natural light pours through peek-a-boo picture windows in the recently remodeled loft, where their little ones play in an off-white, striped tent that overlooks the main living area. Whimsical rattan fixtures emulate thatched Chickee roofs, contrasted with modern globe lights that hang from the wood-clad vaulted ceiling.

Mike creates new traditions with his young family while preserving the Storter legacy. He brings his 5-year-old son, Shepherd, to work with him once a week, and the family often take Shepherd and his little sister, 2-year-old Rosie, on boat trips to Marco Island and Everglades City. When they land in the small town at the edge of the River of Grass, the Rod & Gun Club beckons, greeting the next generation.

Mike admires how George fashioned the property to last. “The way it was built was super impressive, especially considering the Everglades is really wet and has been smacked many times by different hurricanes and [the building] never went down,” he says. Mike waxes poetic about the Rod & Gun’s transcendent nature: “I appreciate being there and thinking about how fleeting time is—how that was over 100 years ago—what we can do with our lives and the impact we can make.” 

(Photography by Christina Bankson / Courtesy Hammer and Hand)

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