The Hotel Dunedin (Dunedin House)

The Hotel Dunedin was a seasonal room and board house for people vacationing to Dunedin. Built by the Bull sisters in the 1880s, this historic hotel received much business during the Depression of the 1930s. Though having endured several remodels the Hotel remained until the 1970s when it was torn down for commercial use.

Upon initial construction in 1889, the Hotel Dunedin was originally named the Dunedin House. It was a luxurious rooming house built by Lydia and Matilda Bull. The house had high columns and steps with rocking chairs at the entrance, which faced present day Edgewater Park; it was remodeled so the entrance now overlooks Edgewater Drive, and, it was renamed the Dunedin Lodge. Moffett W. Moore’s, accredited with writing and publishing the first book on the History of Dunedin, daughter was born in the Dunedin Lodge in 1905, which seemed popular due to the amenities of the larger houses.

In 1924, a real estate opportunist named George F. Washburn, and his son, bought the extravagant looking lodge. Under the Washburn family ownership, many positive internal changes took place, such as, landscaping projects for sidewalks and greenery, access to a bathing beach and transportation to local golf courses, and installment of a fishing pier. All of these changes occurred during the 1930s and 40s, which is when the hotel’s name was officially changed to the Hotel Dunedin.

In 1941, the hotel was temporarily leased by the U.S. government to serve as a headquarters for U.S. Marines that were stationed in the Dunedin area. Of course, this was directly attributed to mobilization of American troops during the second world war. The quarters would resemble military barracks, and, officers did not stay with the enlisted men here. Instead they would rent a house or an apartment around Dunedin.
After the war subsided, the hotel was bought by another private owner. It remained a private residence until it was bought, yet again, in the 1970s and finally demolished. The building was replaced by commercial condominiums called Edgewater Arms. Along with other detailed information concerning the establishment, the museum has a copy of a key and a Hotel Dunedin keychain that definitely unlocked a door at the hotel and very well could have been one of the luxury room keys.

Surviving almost 100 years, the Hotel Dunedin was vital to the early history of the city of Dunedin. Providing a vacation home to the many tourists of the time, the hotel proved ideal from simply relaxing to housing military personnel, and even birthing children. The success of the hotel allowed the economy of Dunedin to not feel the effects of the Depression very much. This historic memory is catalogued and archived online at the Dunedin History Museum.

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