See updated story on 8/4/92
- Vinoy verdict: exceptionally elegant
Stouffer Vinoy Resort
The Vinoy Renaissance
Your guide to the history of the Vinoy Hotel as
the years rolled steadily along.
By JUDY STARK, staff writer, and researchers KITTY
BENNETT and DEBBIE WOLFE
©St. Petersburg Times, published July 30, 1992
The first coastal survey team mapped the area, one of the
Frenchmen was hired as a guide and
he is said to have told them about Passe aux Grillard, " Pass
where men grilled something."
known as Pass-a-Grille
William Paul plants first orange grove on the Pinellas peninsula
on the site of what
will eventually be Vinoy Park Hotel. Area is called Paul's Landing.
Abel Miranda buys site for $35.
Peter Demens, a Russian immigrant, named our city for his
hometown, St. Petersburg
and put it on the map when he built the Orange
Major hurricane sweeps Pinellas peninsula, with winds of
100 mph and a storm tide
six feet above normal. Major damage occurs on barrier beaches.
Soreno Hotel opens on
Suwannee Hotel opens, Jan. 4.
Coliseum ballroom opens.
Gandy Bridge opens at cost of $3-million.
James Earl "Doc"
Webb arrives in St. Petersburg to begin the
discount retail empire later to be known as Webb's City.
Scopes "Monkey Trial" makes headlines as
schoolteacher is tried for teaching evolution.
Popular songs include Yes, Sir, That's My Baby!
and Sweet Georgia Brown.
The 375-room Vinoy
Park Hotel, built at cost of $3.5-million, opens Dec. 31.
Rolyat Hotel (now Stetson College of Law) opens, Jan. 1.
Million dollar Pier
opens on St. Petersburg waterfront.
Don CeSar Hotel opens
on St. Petersburg Beach.
Stock market crash; beginning of Great Depression.
Construction begins on Bay Pines Veterans' Administration
and Hospital (now called VA Medical Center at Bay Pines).
The Tides Hotel and Bath
Club opened on New Year's Eve.
Construction of St. Petersburg City Hall is completed.
Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7.
U.S. Army Air Corps moves into Vinoy for basic training.
World War II ends May 8 in Europe; ends Aug. 14 in the Pacific
after atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Vinoy Park Hotel reopens, is sold for $700,000 to
Alsonett hotel chain.
Charles Alberding sells six-month option to purchase
hotel for $5-million to R.W. Reynolds Co. and
also bought the Tides Hotel and
Al Lang Stadium opens.
Construction of the Nature Trail began with $125,000
city funds. It was
Boyd Hill who supervised the
design, growth and planting of the park.
The area's first television station goes on the air at The
Pier: WSUN-Ch. 38.
Sunshine Skyway Bridge
opens, Sept. 6.
Elvis Presley performs at the Florida Theatre on First Avenue
St. Petersburg is chosen as the site for a Presbyterian college,
now known as Eckerd College.
Howard Frankland Bridge opens at a cost of $6.5-million.
Aymer Vinoy Laughner,
founder of the Vinoy, dies in April.
Fort DeSoto Park opens
Bayfront Center built at cost of $5-million.
St. Petersburg's "Million Dollar Pier" is torn
U.S. astronaut Neil A. Armstrong is the first man on the
St. Petersburg City Council begins enforcing ordinance
calling for removal of green benches.
Tyrone Square Mall opens and is a novelty because of air
Inverted-pyramid building at head of The
President Richard M. Nixon resigns in disgrace after Watergate
Vinoy closes, supposedly for only a year, for a $5-million
Vinoy closes permanently.
Evacuation of Americans and Vietnamese from Saigon
by U.S. helicopters ends the Vietnam war.
Vinoy furnishings are sold. In May, hotel annex is condemned
by city and destroyed.
In September, hotel is placed on the National Register of Historic
In October, plans are announced to reopen Vinoy as a Holiday
Webb's City, the discount
retail landmark, closes.
Reynolds loses lease on Vinoy; Gulfport entrepreneur Arthur
and St. Petersburg businessman Robert V. Workman obtain the lease.
Summit Venture crashes into Sunshine Skyway; 35 die.
Alberding refuses to extend Padula and Workman's option
on the Vinoy when it expires in December.
Cincinnati investor Jerome J. Palumbo obtains 100-year lease
on Vinoy, January.
Ruth Eckerd Hall
opens in Clearwater at cost of $13-million.
B.B. Andersen buys 99-year lease from Palumbo, joins with
Frederick E. Guest II
and L. Bert Stephens and announces plans to restore hotel.
Voters approve November referendum allowing waterfront land
99-year marina lease and protection for waterfront parks.
Andersen and Guest agree to go their separate ways.
Guest announces Westin Hotels has signed letter of agreement
to manage Vinoy.
Vinoy developers miss April 1 deadline for producing renovation
Guest says GAF Companies Inc. in Atlanta will join the project
and will help raise $45-million in financing.
Partnership between Guest and GAF dissolves.
Guest announces new Vinoy partnership and $39-million in
financing by French bank,
Societe Generale, for renovation of hotel, to be called Le Vinoy
New Sunshine Skyway
Bridge opens at cost of $240-million.
Guest announces that Associated Inns & Restaurants
Co. will operate hotel.
Lease for marina in Vinoy basin, approved in 1984,
expires in November.
Charles Alberding, onetime owner of Vinoy, dies.
Voters approve referendum giving developers 99-year
lease on marina.
Vinoy developers announce in February they
have $66-million from
Barclays Bank PLC of England and Credit Lyonnais of France.
Stouffer hotel chain will provide $5-million and operate the
((!!venues)) Florida Suncoast Dome opens.
Vinoy restoration and marina construction begins,
South Core, first stage of $200-million Bay Plaza
renovation plan, is finished but has no tenants.
26-story Barnett Tower opens in downtown St. Petersburg
at cost of $56-million.
New span of the Howard Frankland bridge opens at cost of
The new Stouffer Vinoy Resort
opens, July 31.
We stayed at the Stouffer
Vinoy Resort in June for my
Lakewood High School 20 year reunion
Dunedin was honored
by being included on the
list of "America's Best Walking Towns"
The Vinoy celebrates the
10-year anniversary of its grand reopening.
-- Resources: St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream,
by Raymond Arsenault; The World Almanac; The People's Chronology;
New York Times, Times files.
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