Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Pink Lady





In 1924, Thomas Rowe purchased 80 acres (320,000 m2) of land in St. Petersburg, Florida for $100,000 to begin his dream of building a "pink castle". He hired Indianapolis architect Henry Dupont to design the hotel and Carlton Beard as contractor. To ensure the stability of the hotel on the shifting sand and avoid the high cost of sinking so many pilings, Beard devised a floating concrete pad and pyramid footings. To this day there is no sign of evident settling of the hotel. Rowe named it Don Ce-Sar after Don Caesar DeBazan, the hero of William Vincent Wallace's opera Maritana. Rowe named it Don Ce-Sar after Don Caesar DeBazan, the hero of William Vincent Wallace's opera Maritana. Rowe's "Pink Lady" opened on January 16, 1928, with an extravagant party attended by the elite of Tampa and St. Petersburg. The hotel quickly became a favorite romping ground for the rich and famous of the Jazz Age including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Clarence Darrow, Al Capone, Lou Gehrig, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Pink Palace continued to attract the rich and famous throughout the Great Depression, thanks in part to a deal made with New York Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert to house his team during spring training for three years. However, after the sudden death of Rowe without a will, "The Don" was left to his estranged wife and began to fall into desrepair until the United States entered into World War II and the hotel was bought out by the Army for $450,000. It was converted into a military hospital and reopened in December 1942. In February 1944 the Don Ce-Sar became a U.S. Air Force convalescent center. In June 1945 the Don Ce-Sar was ordered closed and was vacant by September of that year. It was converted into a Veterans Administration Regional Office by the end of 1945. In November 1967 the Veterans Administration began moving out of the Don Ce-Sar. By spring 1969, the once grand hotel was vacant. The General Services Administration planned to raze the graffiti-covered hotel, but this was met with fierce opposition from local residents. In March 1972 the Don Ce-Sar was sold to C.L.Pyatt and William Bowman Jr., a Holiday Inn franchise owner. The Don CeSar (now spelled without the hyphen) reopened on November 23, 1973. Multiple renovations from 1985 to 2001 have updated and added on to the hotel, including a 4,000-square-foot (370 m2) spa, a signature restaurant, and a second outdoor swimming pool. After the addition of the full-service beach club and spa, the official name of the hotel was changed to The Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa. - Wikipedia

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