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The Don CeSar hotel, accepted as “The Blush Palace,” opened on St. Pete Bank in 1928.

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Ever apparent the “Pink Palace,” aka the Don CeSar hotel, in St. Pete Beach? It is massive.

It’s so big that it’s on abyssal archive as a adviser for boaters! It has been apricot blush for the absolute 94 years of its life, its blush adequate by law because it is a mariner’s guide. This monumental, 40,000-square-foot resort has been featured in National Geographic and “Emeril’s Florida,” and was the ambience for scenes in at atomic bristles films and two music videos. The Blush Palace has an award-winning spa, produces award-winning, AAA Four-Diamond food, and in 2015, basked in its appellation as the Best Celebrated Auberge in America. It is the alone celebrated auberge on Florida’s Abysm Coast.

More: Florida History: Tracking the history of Fernandina Beach

But I bet there is one activity you don’t apperceive about it. Afore I acquaint you what that is, let’s booty a glance at the Don CeSar’s roller-coaster past.

Like so abounding of Florida’s grand, old, East-Coast, beach-front hotels, it was congenital in the 1920s “Jazz Age,” and like them, boasts of accepting already been “the playground” of the flush and famous, including such superstars as F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Al Capone and Lou Gehrig, amid added acclaimed writers, gangsters, athletes, politicians and super-rich capitalists.

The artist of the Blush Palace was Thomas Rowe, an artist from New York, who came to Florida for his bloom in 1924, at the acme of the Florida “land boom” of the 1920s. Standing ankle-deep in the warm, floury, white bank of the Abysm coast, Rowe conjured in his architect’s academician the eyes of an immense sandcastle that would boss the bank area he stood. Like so abounding winter visitors afore him, his eyes, as they swept the sparkling bank and sea, registered blessed dollar signs. An advance in this clear Shangri-La would pay absolute dividends.

More: Florida History: The adventurous era of Amelia Island

Thomas Rowe paid $100,000 (the agnate today of about $1.3 million) for 80 acreage of the barrier island off St. Petersburg, assassin an artist and a architectonics contractor, and began designing the sandcastle of his dreams.

Story continues

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From a amphibian accurate base, advised by Rowe to anticipate his massive architecture from biconcave into the gulf, his auberge was dribbled slowly, over a aeon of two years, into being. In the process, Rowe angled its allowance count, added than acceleration his cost. He had to borrow money to accomplishment his “Pink Lady,” but by the about-face of the new year of 1928, his absurd alcazar in the bank was realized. There she stood, in all her flamingo-pink, Mediterranean Revival glory, her doors flung advanced to a bright admirable opening.

Oddly, Rowe called his Blush Lady, “Don Ce-Sar” afterwards Don César de Bazan, the hero of the badly accepted British opera “Maritana.” The opera, which Rowe charge accept apparent in London while he was a apprentice of architectonics there, acutely and for whatever reason, fabricated a abysmal consequence aloft him.

More: Florida History: Tallahassee is an old town, with a abundance of history

This brings me to the allotment I bet you don’t apperceive about this hotel. It involves the actual activity for which the Don CeSar may be best known.

Legend has it that it was not the opera, “Maritana,” but the opera’s heroine, with whom the adolescent Thomas Rowe fell in love.

The adventure of Rowe’s adverse adulation activity with the extra who played the allotment of Maritana has been told, with added absurd embellishments, by writers and advertisers for decades. It is alike declared as actuality on the “History” folio of the hotel’s own website, that the auberge was “built as accolade to his [Rowe’s] absent love.”

Thomas Rowe

The bandage American Sinner appear a agenda anthology blue-blooded “Island of the Dolls,” in which the lyrics of the track, “Maritana,” are based aloft this accepted adulation affair. The account is told on, as follows:

“‘Maritana’ is based on the adventure of Thomas Rowe and Lucinda de Guzman. They met in London in the 1890s aback Lucinda was assuming in a William Vincent Wallace opera — a adulation adventure about a Roman artery singer, Maritana, and a Spanish nobleman, Don Cesar. Lucinda’s ancestors was in actuality Spanish dignity and her parents forbid the accord with Thomas — a alone flush American student. Aback they planned to elope, her parents apparent the artifice and hid her away.

More: Florida History: Ybor City, the ‘heart of Tampa,’ still assault added than a aeon later

“Thomas beatific belletrist to Lucinda for years, all alternate unopened. Lucinda died young. On her afterlife bed, she wrote this letter to Thomas:

“‘Tom, my admired Don Cesar. Forgive them both as I have. Never would I despair. Nor could I abdicate you. We begin anniversary added afore we will do so again. This activity is alone an intermediate. I leave it afterwards affliction and biking to a abode area the beat of the alarm does not accompany pain. Time is infinite. I will delay for you by our bubbler to allotment our around-the-clock love, our afterlife is time.’”

Thomas is said to accept built, in the antechamber of the Don CeSar, a replica of the bubbler in London area he and Lucinda would meet.

A bout aggregation in St. Pete Bank conducts apparition tours of the Don CeSar that characterize the story, catastrophe with a description of the apparitional affairs of Thomas and Lucinda that accept been witnessed by agents and guests at the bubbler in the hotel. And in a blog column on the Don CeSar website, “The Haunted Ghosts of the Don CeSar Hotel,” the absurd account is told afresh as fact.

I ran beyond one amenable writer, however, who, rather than artlessly echo the story, did some analysis into the assorted elements of the allegory to ascertain that “Opera historians, and bi-weekly reviews from New York and London, affirm that Maritana was performed on both abandon of the Atlantic for a decade afore and afterwards 1900. But there is no acknowledgment of a acute called Lucinda.”

Lane DeGregory, the columnist of this March 2008, Tampa Bay Times article, blue-blooded “Love’s Fate is Sealed,” said that she asked the concierges at the Don CeSar area they got the adventure they were apropos to guests at the hotel. They said they got it from the hotel’s business department, who, aloft actuality questioned, said they got it from the book, “Ghostly Encounters: Accurate Stories of America’s Inns and Hotels,” by Frances Kermeen, who replied to DeGregory’s email that she got it from her PR acquaintance at the hotel.

This reminds me of the adventure of the charlatan Gasparilla, in Southwest Florida folklore. As I declared in my April 2019 News-Press story, “History of Pirates in Bounded Waters?” “There is no accurate affirmation that pirates, above-mentioned to the cocaine-crazy 1990s, anytime operated in bounded waters.” In fact, José Gaspar, who is generally referenced as the “real life” archetypal for Gasparilla, is himself a fiction, basic “in 1900 in a sales advertisement put out by the Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railway aggregation to advance the Boca Grande Hotel.”

A massive three-year advance was completed in 2021 on the Don CeSar hotel.

At some point in time, the Thomas Rowe and Lucinda allegory was conceived by a Don CeSar business rep, and the story, abominably again by added writers, fabricated its way abounding circle, in book and online, through books, articles, television and bout operators, aback to the hotel’s marketing assembly who had no clue that the adventure originated from their own administering in the aboriginal place.

Moral of the story: Just ’cause somebody says so, don’t accomplish it so.

The facts are that, afterwards his acknowledgment to the States from London, Rowe affiliated the adolescent Mary Lucille, babe of a affluent Virginia landowner, for whatever advantage he acquired by the union, for it is said that he never admired her. They were conflicting by the time he came to Florida in 1924, but aback Rowe died intestate in 1940, Mary affiliated his abundant hotel.

By that time, however, Rowe’s sandcastle, accountable to the cutting tides of bread-and-butter abasement and war, was in decline. Mary was able to actuate of it in 1942 by affairs it to the U.S. Army for use as a aggressive hospital. Two years later, it was a ambulatory centermost for the U.S. Army Air Corps. Afterwards the war was over, it became a veterans administering bounded appointment for the abutting 22 years.

For three years afterwards the government alone the acreage in 1969, its alone visitors were rats and teenagers with aerosol paint, their clutter of cigarette butts and abandoned beer bottles a affecting assuming of the parties that, in its decade of amaze and glamor, aback all the “bright adolescent things” of the ’20s danced and drank ’til dawn, were “simply too, too divine, darling.”

In 1972, The U.S. General Casework Administering appear its ambition to annihilate the gutted, graffiti-covered, old building. It was a wakeup alarm to bounded citizens. Rallied by June Hurley Young, host of Tampa’s adaptation of the TV appearance “Romper Room,” they apace would not acquiesce it, and the government awash the acreage instead to a Holiday Inn-franchise owner. Eighteen months later, on Nov. 23, 1973, at a amount to the new buyer of $3.5 million, the adapted and adapted Don CeSar reopened. Two years later, the aforetime accursed auberge was placed aloft the National Annals of Celebrated Places. In 1989, the Don CeSar became a founding affiliate of the National Trust Celebrated Hotels of America.

Over the accomplished about 40 years, the Don CeSar has been renovated, restored, expanded, and active to the point that it is today the AAA-rated, four-star Don CeSar Bank Resort and Spa, alms added casework and amenities to its guests than abounding baby towns. It care to accept its own ZIP code.

Rooms are priced a bit college than $24 a night they amount in 1928, but if you ambition to add your name to the auberge annals that includes those of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and every admiral (but Ronald Reagan) back Gerald Ford, amuse alarm (727) 360-1881, or appointment

This commodity originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Florida’s admirable Don CeSar auberge has arresting history, best of it true

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