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Seminole Hotel, Winter Park Florida

In the midst of central Florida's tourism and land boom, several hotels in Orange County were built to accommodate the mass exodus of people arriving to the area.

Altamonte Hotel

"The Altamonte" under the management of Colonel Wood, on the South Florida Railroad, is an elegant hotel. Gas and water works, a street car line and all modern conveniences are part of the hotel property (circa1885).

The Altamonte was opened from December 25, 1886 to May 1, 1887 and had increased its popularity with visits from wealthy northerners. It was advertised with "Pure spring water, gas, electric bells, a bowling alley, billiard hall, steam launch, and row boats on Lake Orienta. Good livery and a thorough system of drainage. Mr. Frank Copan now proprietor." As the town grew, wonderful social affairs were held at the hotel.

Sanford House

This hotel, located in Sanford on the shores of beautiful Lake Monroe, was built in 1875 and was added on to in 1882. It was 175 miles from the port of Jacksonville, and boasted of white shelled walkways, a park and sulphur springs bubbling outside. In 1883, President Arthur stayed at the hotel for a week. Christmas dinner in 1884 had management receiving six hundred dozen fresh eggs and four hundred pounds of dressed poultry.

At the close of the 1886 season, 3,220 visitors had registered through its doors.  In 1888, President Cleveland was honored with a social.  The Sanford House remained the social place to visit and stay until 1915.  The new proprietor renames the hotel Carnes but in 1920 it was torn down.

San Juan

One of Orlando's oldest hotels, the San Juan, was a fixture in the city for over 80 years. Built in 1885 by C.E. Pierce at a cost of $150,000, the San Juan Hotel was located on the corner of Orange and Central Avenues. In 1893, Harry Beeman of Beeman Chewing Gum bought the San Juan Hotel and added two stories to the existing three story building. As its size increased, so did the hotel’s popularity as Orlando's premier destination for visitors and residents alike. During the 1920s, the San Juan Hotel was modernized as restaurants, a barbershop, a laundry mat, eight additional stories and 250 additional rooms were added to the structure.

Angebilt Hotel

In June 1920, J.F. Ange announced plans for his million dollar hotel to be built at the northeast corner of Orange Avenue and Oak Street in downtown Orlando. Ange's vision of a 240-room structure became a reality on March 14, 1923 with most of Orlando attending to see the opening of the new skyscraper building. The Angebilt Hotel quickly became the social center of downtown Orlando with several organizations holding their functions and meetings in the hotel. By the mid-1920s the hotel boasted a restaurant, pharmacy, barbershop, and a bookstore. The Angebilt Hotel would set the standard by which other hotels would be created and as the decade drew to a close, several hotels emerged on the scene.

Fort Gatlin Hotel

In 1924, the Lamar Hotel was built in the center of Orlando’s business and tourist activity on West Central Avenue and the hotel was known for having elevator service, free lighted parking, steam heat, tile baths, room telephones, and cooled air. Soon after, the Fort Gatlin Hotel opened at 545 North Orange Avenue in 1926 and featured an Emerich Cafeteria where locals would get a bite to eat on their lunch hour.

Empire Hotel

The 4-story brick Empire Hotel opened about 1913 at 26-30 West Central Avenue. The establishment advertised an electric elevator, steam heat, hot and cold running water, and a telephone in each of its 100 rooms, which rented for $1 a day.

Seminole Hotel

While Orlando was the county seat of Orange County, it certainly wasn't the only city with a handful of hotels to serve its tourists. By 1923, Winter Park had 8 hotels, the largest of them being The Alabama and The Seminole.

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