The Floridan Palace, formerly known as the Floridan Hotel, started construction in 1926 and officially opened the next year, the height of what is referred to as the “Roaring Twenties”. After the First World I, the early 1920s saw Florida’s population swell very quickly, which led to quite a large land boom. In fact, between 1920 and 1930, the population of Tampa doubled, which brought the city into third place for the highest population in Florida. Roads were being built, the automobile had been invented, and people, as a whole, wanted new life experiences and business opportunities. Allen J. Simms, who had been born in New Brunswick, Canada, sometime in the late nineteenth century, moved to Florida in 1906. He originally worked as a stenographer for the Tampa Bay Land Company and held a few jobs after that. Upon his return to Tampa after military service in World War I, he began constructing office buildings, apartment blocks, and other projects. He noticed that Tampa was full of businessmen, such as land speculators and aspiring orange juice barons, and it occurred to him that a hotel that catered to businessmen would do very well. He established the Tampa Commercial hotel Company, Inc., and they bought the land to build the hotel. Francis Joseph Kennard, a Tampa architect, was hired to design the hotel, and G.A. Miller Construction Co. was hired to actually build it. As expected, the hotel thrived. During the 1940s, the hotel was known for its prominence as a meeting place and gathering spot for Tampa businessmen as well as high-ranking military officials. The hotel even attracted major celebrities of the time, and over the years people like James Stewart, Charlton Heston, Gary Cooper, Constance Bennett, Esther Williams, Sherman Hayes, and even Elvis Presley stayed at the Floridan Palace, as Gus and Mary Jim recount. The hotel actually closed to travelers in 1966 and for a time would only rent rooms by the week or month. In 1989, they shut their doors entirely. Seven years later, in 1996, the Floridan was added to the National Register of Historic Places, deeming it a national landmark. Yet in 2005, it was given a demolition order on account of its poor condition. The city of Tampa had estimated that it would cost over eighteen million dollars to restore and renovate the hotel, and to nobody’s surprise, not a soul seemed interested in taking on the job. However, that April, the hotel acquired an investor who fully restored and renovated it, spending millions of dollars and thousands of hours to bring it back to glory. In 2012, it opened to the public for the first time in over forty years, and guests can still stay there to this day.
Tampa Historical is created by student reserach.
Learn more About Tampa Historical.