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

Vinoy Timeline

1840
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

1854
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.

Late 1850s
Abel Miranda buys site for $35.

1888
Peter Demens, a Russian immigrant, named our city for his hometown, St. Petersburg
and put it on the map when he built the Orange Belt Railway.

1921
Major hurricane sweeps Pinellas peninsula, with winds of 100 mph and a storm tide
six feet above normal. Major damage occurs on barrier beaches.

1924
Soreno Hotel opens on Jan. 1.

Suwannee Hotel opens, Jan. 4.

Coliseum ballroom opens.

Gandy Bridge opens at cost of $3-million.

1925
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 a
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.

1926
Rolyat Hotel (now Stetson College of Law) opens, Jan. 1.

Million dollar Pier opens on St. Petersburg waterfront.

1928
Don CeSar Hotel opens on St. Petersburg Beach.

1929
Stock market crash; beginning of Great Depression.

1932
Construction begins on Bay Pines Veterans' Administration Center
and Hospital (now called VA Medical Center at Bay Pines).

1936
The Tides Hotel and Bath Club opened on New Year's Eve.

1939
Construction of St. Petersburg City Hall is completed.

1941
Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7.

1942
U.S. Army Air Corps moves into Vinoy for basic training.

1945
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 the
hotel for $5-million to R.W. Reynolds Co. and
also bought the Tides Hotel and Bath Club

1947
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.

1953
The area's first television station goes on the air at The Pier: WSUN-Ch. 38.

1954
Sunshine Skyway Bridge opens, Sept. 6.

1956
Elvis Presley performs at the Florida Theatre on First Avenue S.

1958
St. Petersburg is chosen as the site for a Presbyterian college,
now known as Eckerd College.

1960
Howard Frankland Bridge opens at a cost of $6.5-million.

1961
Aymer Vinoy Laughner, founder of the Vinoy, dies in April.

1963
Fort DeSoto Park opens

1965
Bayfront Center built at cost of $5-million.

1967
St. Petersburg's "Million Dollar Pier" is torn down.

1969
U.S. astronaut Neil A. Armstrong is the first man on the moon.

St. Petersburg City Council begins enforcing ordinance
calling for removal of green benches.

1972
Tyrone Square Mall opens and is a novelty because of air conditioning.

1973
Inverted-pyramid building at head of The Pier opens.

1974
President Richard M. Nixon resigns in disgrace after Watergate scandal.

Vinoy closes, supposedly for only a year, for a $5-million renovation.

1975
Vinoy closes permanently.

Evacuation of Americans and Vietnamese from Saigon
by U.S. helicopters ends the Vietnam war.

1978
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 Places.
In October, plans are announced to reopen Vinoy as a Holiday Inn.

1979
Webb's City, the discount retail landmark, closes.

1980
Reynolds loses lease on Vinoy; Gulfport entrepreneur Arthur H. Padula
and St. Petersburg businessman Robert V. Workman obtain the lease.

Freighter Summit Venture crashes into Sunshine Skyway; 35 die.

1982
Alberding refuses to extend Padula and Workman's option
on the Vinoy when it expires in December.

1983
Cincinnati investor Jerome J. Palumbo obtains 100-year lease on Vinoy, January.

Ruth Eckerd Hall opens in Clearwater at cost of $13-million.

Fall 1983
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.

1984
Voters approve November referendum allowing waterfront land swap,
99-year marina lease and protection for waterfront parks.
Andersen and Guest agree to go their separate ways.

1985
Guest announces Westin Hotels has signed letter of agreement to manage Vinoy.

1986
Vinoy developers miss April 1 deadline for producing renovation plan.
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.

1987
Guest announces new Vinoy partnership and $39-million in financing by French bank,
Societe Generale, for renovation of hotel, to be called Le Vinoy Park Hotel.

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.

1989
Charles Alberding, onetime owner of Vinoy, dies.

Voters approve referendum giving developers 99-year lease on marina.

1990
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 Vinoy.

((!!venues)) Florida Suncoast Dome opens.

Vinoy restoration and marina construction begins, spring.

South Core, first stage of $200-million Bay Plaza downtown
renovation plan, is finished but has no tenants.

26-story Barnett Tower opens in downtown St. Petersburg at cost of $56-million.

1991
New span of the Howard Frankland bridge opens at cost of $54-million.

1992
The new Stouffer Vinoy Resort opens, July 31.

1994
We stayed at the Stouffer Vinoy Resort in June for my
Lakewood High School 20 year reunion

1998
Dunedin was honored by being included on the
list of "America's Best Walking Towns"

2002
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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