Waterfront Tour

Don’t miss this site when taking our waterfront tour!  The Vinoy Park Hotel, also known as the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club or The Vinoy, is a historic Mediterranean Revival-style hotel located in St. Petersburg, Florida on the waterfront area of downtown. The hotel is located at 501 Fifth Avenue Northeast overlooking the Vinoy Yacht Basin. The Vinoy Hotel was built in 1925 by Aymer Vinoy Laughner. Construction began on February 5 and only took 10 months to complete. Rates were $20.00 a night, the highest in the area at that time. Celebrities ranging from Babe Ruth, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge and James Stewart are known to have stayed there.

his postcard view of the Vinoy Park Hotel from the 1930s shows sailboat races in front of the iconic hotel. Its location on the Tampa Bay waterfront is one reason why the hotel has remained popular for almost 90 years. TAMPA BAY HISTORY CENTER.
This postcard view of the Vinoy Park Hotel from the 1930s shows sailboat races in front of the iconic hotel. Its location on the Tampa Bay waterfront is one reason why the hotel has remained popular for almost 90 years. TAMPA BAY HISTORY CENTER.


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Waterfront Tour

Vinoy Hotel

Vinoy Hotel

501 5th Avenue NE  

Designed by Henry Taylor in 1925 and built for Aymer Vinoy Laughner, the Vinoy Park Hotel may be the city’s most famous landmark. The Mediterranean Revival style hotel was constructed in just 10 months at a cost of approximately $3.5 million and operated seasonally charging $20.00 a night. During World War II, the hotel was taken over by the U.S. Army and used for a training school. In 1974, the hotel closed until 1992 when it was purchased and substantially renovated at a cost of approximately $93 million.

 

Blocker Residence

145 4th Avenue NE 

This former residence was constructed in 1901 for Albert and Hattie Dean Blocker as a wedding gift from her parents. Albert owned the Blocker Livery Stable, an important business in the pre-auto era. During the mid-1920s, the Shriner’s Club purchased the building and added onto it, resulting in the building serving an important community social role by providing meeting space to many of the city’s civic and fraternal clubs. The Blocker Residence is an excellent example of the Queen Anne Free Classic style of architecture.

Bay Gables

Bay Gables

136 4th Avenue NE 

The house historically known as Bay Gables was constructed for John and Ella Smith in 1910. Mr. Smith was a local meat merchant with a store on Central Avenue. Originally constructed as a Frame Vernacular style residence, the building was renovated in 1928 and converted into a boarding house for winter tourists. These renovations incorporated elements of the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles of architecture. After plans for a high rise hotel failed in the late 2000s the home was renovated and converted to a B & B.

Lantern Lane Apartments

340 Beach Drive NE 

In 1924, the Lantern Lane Apartments was developed by May Purnell, designed by George Feltham and built by the Carmen Construction Co. The building offered 32 apartments with a total of 64 rooms. In the 1960s, the Grayls purchased the property and changed the name to Grayl’s Hotel. In 2012, the building underwent a substantial rehabilitation, including an upper level addition and new elevator tower on the southside, and the building was designated as a local landmark.

Banyan Trees

Banyan Trees

Beach Drive 

At over 100 years old, the pair of Banyan trees have become landmarks in North Straub Park. Banyan trees were first planted in the United States in 1925 by Thomas Alva Edison at his estate in Fort Myers. They grow when birds drop seeds onto a host tree. The seeds dispatch aerial roots that “strangle” the host and spread branches that send the roots down to the ground. Once these branches reach the ground, they burrow in and reinforce the branches.

St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts

255 Beach Drive NE 

The Museum of Fine Arts was founded by Margaret Acheson Stuart. The building, constructed in 1965, was designed by John Volk who stated that “a museum should give a feeling of permanence and that is what I have tried to do with this building.” The large kapok tree, found on the south side of the museum, was planted just after the 1965 museum opening.

Comfort Station

Comfort Station

Corner of 2nd Avenue NE and Bayshore Drive NE 

The Romanesque Revival style Comfort Station was designed by Henry Taylor in 1927. The building has an octagonal plan and is capped with a red tile roof and copper cupola and fi nial. The octagonal shape stems from the Greek cross shape used in early Roman churches. There are only two other Romanesque Revival style buildings in the city, St. Mary Our Lady of Grace and St. Paul’s Catholic Churches, both of these buildings were also designed by Taylor. Because of the similarity of design, many refer to the Comfort Station as “Little St. Mary’s.”

St. Petersburg Museum of History

St. Pete Museum of History

335 2nd Avenue NE 

The St. Petersburg Museum of History got its start in 1921 as the St. Petersburg Memorial Historical Society. The following year, the Society incorporated and the city provided museum space in an old aquarium building that was ultimately replaced by the present building which the city still owns and leases to the museum. The museum is the oldest museum in Pinellas County.

St. Petersburg Pier

Being a waterfront city, St. Petersburg has had a pier since 1889 when the Orange Belt Railroad constructed the Railroad Pier. Several piers followed including the “Million Dollar” pier which was constructed in 1926. This large pier building was notable for its Mediterranean Revival style architecture and gave the community a gathering space. The buildings on this pier were demolished in 1967 to make room for the inverted pyramid building which was designed by William Harvard, Sr. and completed in 1973. The inverted pyramid was demolished in 2015.

Straub Park

Straub Park

Corner of 2nd Avenue NE and Bayshore Drive NE

This park is named for William Straub who, along with C. Perry Snell, were among the leading community figures to share a vision of making the downtown waterfront a public space that could be enjoyed by all. Straub was owner and editor of the St. Petersburg Times which he used to urge his readers to support a public waterfront. Waterfront Park was dedicated in 1910. By 1925, the city had spent almost $2 million to purchase and landscape the land and to build seawalls and sidewalks for the waterfront park.

St. Petersburg Yacht Club

St. Petersburg Yacht Club

11 Central Avenue 

The St. Petersburg Yacht Club was founded in 1909. Its Mediterranean Revival style clubhouse was constructed in 1917. Membership grew rapidly and by 1922 the club constructed an addition to the main building. Over the years, the club has expanded the facility many times. While the Yacht Club hosted many sailing and racing events, the “showcase” race was one between St. Petersburg and Havana, Cuba that was ongoing from 1930 until 1959 when Castro took power.

Ponce de Leon Hotel

Ponce de Leon Hotel

94 Central Avenue 

The Ponce de Leon Hotel is a Mission Revival style building constructed in 1922 at the beginning of the Florida Land Boom. The building was designed by George Feltham as a six-story steel frame structure clad with smooth stucco. The original entrance was located off center on the south façade. The arcaded entrance porch was later enclosed and the entrance was relocated just to the west.

South Mole

South side of Demens Landing Approach

Located at the east end of 1st Ave S along the side of the old railroad pier is the South Mole. During the 1920s, this became the only area in which African Americans were allowed to swim. Although the beach was located amongst the freight and passenger cars of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, whites still took exception to African Americans passing through “their” downtown on the way to the waterfront. In 1955, after failing to integrate the downtown Spa Pool, six African Americans fi led suit challenging the city having segregated swimming facilities. It wasn’t until 1959 that Spa Pool was finally de-segregated.

Demens Landing Park

Demens Landing Park

This park is the site of the first railroad pier built in 1889. It is named after Peter Demens, a Russian who emigrated to the U.S. after being implicated in eff orts to overthrow the Russian czar. Demens came to central Florida in 1883, became the owner of a large sawmill and two years later took over the Orange Belt Railroad after it failed to pay a $9400 bill for railroad ties. Demens would later strike a deal with John Williams and, in return for 250 acres, agreed to bring the Orange Belt to St. Petersburg. The first train arrived in 1888. Demens also built the city’s first hotel, The Detroit, which Demens named in honor of Williams who was from Detroit.

Fountain of Youth

Fountain of Youth

4th Ave. S. & 1st St. SE.

This park is the site of the first railroad pier built in 1889. It is named after Peter Demens, a Russian who emigrated to the U.S. after being implicated in efforts to overthrow the Russian czar. Demens came to central Florida in 1883, became the owner of a large sawmill and two years later took over the Orange Belt Railroad after it failed to pay a $9400 bill for railroad ties. Demens would later strike a deal with John Williams and, in return for 250 acres, agreed to bring the Orange Belt to St. Petersburg. The first train arrived in 1888. Demens also built the city’s first hotel, The Detroit, which Demens named in honor of Williams who was from Detroit.