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

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.

Late 1850s
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 Belt Railway.

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 Jan. 1.

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 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.

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

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 S.

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 down.

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.

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

Inverted-pyramid building at head of The Pier opens.

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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 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.

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

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.

For more updated photos of The Vinoy click here -->

The (New) Stouffer Vinoy Resort | The Vinoy Hotel | M and M's Home Page

St. Pete. Times | Tampa Bay Area Guide




©Copyright 1998, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.
To email us: eMail Connections