The Belleview Biltmore

The Belleview Biltmore Resort first opened her doors in 1897. By the mid-1920s, she had grown to be the largest occupied wooden structure in the world, and for well over a century, she welcomed visitors to step back in time and marvel at her historic beauty. A few years ago, when developers wanted to tear her down to make room for more condominiums, the Town of Belleair, which was literally built around the Resort, came to her rescue by incorporating a historic preservation ordinance into the Town Charter.

When the Belleview Biltmore Resort closed on 5/31/09 to undergo an extensive renovation, I established this website to both chronicle my efforts to write and publish a paranormal novel collection, under the title “Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore”, and to provide renovation updates. Unfortunately, while the restoration was delayed by two law suits, the real estate market collapsed. Investors backed out and the owners defaulted on the mortgage – but not before gutting the hotel and beginning the internal demolition, in preparation for the renovation. In lieu of foreclosure; the property was sold in January, 2011.

The current owners are not interested in repairing/renovating the Resort and have expressed a willingness to sell the hotel, golf course and beach property as separate entities, which would be a tragedy for the Resort. Saving the hotel will require a new owner and the joint efforts of supporters throughout the world. Therefore, in addition to offering updates, I want to connect individuals who share common goals related to saving and restoring the Belleview Biltmore Resort and provide information about fundraising opportunities.

Join my newsletter for updates.

See our past Newsletters Here!

If you would like more info, or if you have an idea to help, please contact me.

Belleview

Location of the Belleview Biltmore

Fully interactive Google map showing the location of The Belleview Biltmore.

belleview-biltmore

The Belleview Biltmore Resort and Spa is a historic resort hotel located at 25 Belleview Boulevard in the town of Belleair, Florida 33756

 

The Photo Galleries

Historic Photographs of the Belleview Biltmore

belleview under construction1The Hotel Belleview, which first opened in 1897, was built on the highest bluff in coastal Florida, by shipping and railroad magnate, Henry Plant.  The hotel was fashioned after a great Swiss Chalet and was constructed out of heart of pine – a dense, sappy wood which petrifies over time, allowing the hotel structure to remain sound, despite its being well over one hundred years old.

A few years after the hotel opened, it was painted white and its roof was covered in green shingles, resulting in the nickname, ‘The White Queen of the Gulf’.  Most of these photographs were copied from the Town of Belleair and/or Heritage Village Historic Park archives.

If you are in possession of a historic photo that you would like to contribute to this collection, please contact me.

To view the Historic Photograph of the Belleview Biltmore Gallery —> Click Here.

 

2000-Present Belleview Biltmore Resort Exterior Photographs

entrance - pagoda 3The exterior of the Belleview Biltmore Resort has changed little for several decades. Five of the original outlying cottages still exist on the property (though the East Gate Cottage is now privately owned.)

The surrounding neighborhood remains a tranquil setting for the White Queen of the Gulf; filled with palms, huge oak trees, colorful flowering bushes and trees, and an enviable assortment of tropical birds.

It is widely anticipated that, as a part of the renovation, the Japanese-style lobby and spa will be removed and replaced with convention meeting rooms and a lobby that is more in-keeping with the overall appearance of the Resort. A new spa will most likely be built elsewhere on the Resort property.

To view the 2000-Present Belleview Biltmore Resort Exterior Photo Gallery —> Click Here.

 

2000-2009 Belleview Biltmore Hotel Interior Photographs

candlelight ballroom entrance 1 small

Over the years, the ‘Hotel Belleview’ was renamed ‘The Belleview Biltmore Hotel’, ‘The Belleview Mido Hotel’, and most recently, ‘The Belleview Biltmore Resort’. Regardless which name was used, the hotel offered guests from around the world a remarkable stay from 1897 until she was closed for renovation in 2009.

These photographs offer a glimpse of the interior, but pictures can’t do justice to the beauty, scope and elegance of this magnificent building. Nor can they provide the sensation of walking down a corridor, knowing you are following in the exact footsteps of both famous and common people from several past generations.

They can’t provide the smell of old wood or the sound of an antique key rattling in a lock. But until the Belleview Biltmore Resort reopens, they are all we have to remind us how much we stand to lose, in the event we fail in our efforts to protect her, and restore her for the benefit of future generations.

These are just a few of the photographs I have taken of the Belleview Biltmore Resort over the years.

If you have a few pictures you would like to submit to this collection, please contact me.

To view the 2000-2009 Hotel Interior Photo Gallery —> Click Here.

 

Basement

basement tunnel 1

Without a doubt, some of the most fascinating features of the Belleview Biltmore Resort are normally hidden from view; seen only by staff and those guests who take the historic tour of the hotel.To keep workers from inconveniencing wealthy guests in 1897, a basement and a labyrinth of tunnels was constructed beneath the resort. Guest’s luggage and steamer trunks, along with laundry, ice, food and other supplies made their way to the appropriate section of the hotel via inconspicuous service staircases, which provided access to all hotel wings, ballrooms and kitchen areas.

When the hotel was first built, the railroad tracks ran right up to the entrance of the hotel. In those days, workers used push carts to move supplies to and from the train on tracks that ran into the basement. Laundry and most of the baking was done down there, too. Even in later years, when the basement was mostly used by maintenance workers, the tunnels provided staff easy access to various sections of the hotel.

Today, the original boilers, ice-keep, ovens, railroad tracks, and freight lift mechanics are just a few of the fascinating historic features, still preserved in the basement.

The Fifth Floor

5thfloor5The fifth floor is also an intriguing section of the resort. The top floor of modern hotels is usually reserved for the highest-paying guests, so it might seem odd that the fifth floor of the Hotel Belleview was originally constructed for the use of nannies and servants who were traveling with hotel guests. But when we are reminded there were no passenger elevators in 1898, the design becomes easier to understand.

The fifth floor as suffered damage from roof leaks, but the damage is mostly confined to the drywall/plaster walls and ceilings. Some floor boards are damaged in small sections of the fifth floor as well, but the primary structure beams/supports/lath remain sound

 

 

 

The Attic

attic2The attic is mostly empty, save a few screens and left-over mechanical equipment like the top wheel of the original freight lift.

Initially, the attic was an important feature to help control the heating and cooling of the old hotel and it held much of the electrical wiring (remember, in 1898 this hotel boasted three electric lights in every suite!)

But what’s most interesting about the attic today is the fact that it provides a good look at the structural beams of the hotel, which are in almost perfect condition, despite their age.

To view the Basement, Fifth Floor and Attic photo gallery —> Click Here

 

 

2011 Belleview Biltmore Waiting For Renovation

renovationplans1These pictures were taken in May, 2011, and represent the current state of the Belleview Biltmore Resort’s interior. Plans for the fabulous Resort renovation have stalled, but hopefully, a new owner will soon step up to restore the Resort to her original elegance.  Before the property was sold in lieu of foreclosure, the previous owners gutted the entire Resort and began the interior demolition, in anticipation of renovation. All of the carpeting has been removed, and several exploration holes were opened in the walls and ceilings, to determine the soundness of the underlying frame, trusses and foundation. Fortunately, the vast majority of the Resort’s “bone structure” is in great shape.

Unfortunately, roof damage suffered during the 2004 hurricane season, as well as damage from normal wear and tear, has been largely ignored because the entire roof was going to be replaced as a part of the renovation (and in some places, raised a few feet.)  Although the roof leaks have caused some damage to the interior of the structure, including portions of the fifth floor plaster ceilings, walls and a few sections of flooring – so far, almost all of the primary structure remains sound.

To view the 2011 Belleview Biltmore Waiting For Renovation photo gallery —> Click Here.

 

Historic Timelines



SUCCESSION OF OWNERSHIP & IMPROVEMENTS

1897 – 1899 – Hotel Belleview
Ownership: The Plant Investment Company – Henry Plant
Improvements: Built railroad tracks to entrance of future hotel; Designed & Built original, 144 room hotel; Installed first, 6-hole golf course

1899-1919 – Hotel Belleview
Ownership: The Plant Investment Company – Morton Plant
Improvements: Added 9-hole golf course; Built first grass greens; Extended golf to 18 holes, designed by Launcelot Cressy Servos; then to 36 holes designed by Donald J. Ross; Painted hotel white with green shingled roof; Added East Wing; Built Tiffany Dining Room & new kitchen; Allowed guests to build 12 cottages on hotel property; Built first swimming pool with covered deck for shade.

1919-1935 – Belleview Biltmore Hotel
Ownership: The Biltmore Chain – John McEntee Bowman
Improvements: Added South Wing; Enlarged Tiffany Dining Room to current size.

1935-1939 – Belleview Biltmore Hotel
Ownership: Hotel went into receivership, following losses suffered during Great Depression

1939-1942 – Belleview Biltmore Hotel
Ownership: Kirkeby Hotels – Arnold & Carlotta Kirkeby
Improvements: Removed shaded deck from pool; Stopped trains from entering hotel property; Began featuring Big Band entertainment.

1942 – 1943 – Belleview Biltmore Hotel
Ownership: Kirkeby Hotels but leased to U.S. Army Air Corps to house 3,000 soldiers
Improvements: Moved post office & fire department off-site; Removed all ornamental furniture, lighting, and decor; Used golf courses for rifle practice range, marching drills, and tents for surplus soldiers; Installed automatic sprinkler system.

1943 -1944 Belleview Biltmore Hotel
Ownership: Kirkeby Hotels but remained closed following departure of US Army Air Corps

1944-1946 – Belleview Biltmore Hotel
Ownership: Ed C. Wright but was purchased as real estate investment, so hotel remained closed.
Improvements: Leased Cabana Club beach property for 20-year term

1946-1990 – Belleview Biltmore Hotel
Ownership: Bernard & Mary Powell, Nora Mae Peabody & Roger L. Stevens
Improvements: Total renovation of entire hotel, complete with new telephone switchboard, furnishings and décor; Restored golf courses; Enlarged cocktail lounge into Candlelight Ballroom; Added Belleair Room; Upgraded all plumbing, electrical wiring, and added individual thermostat controls in each room; Built new Cabana Club and restaurant on beach property; Installed white aluminum siding on entire exterior of hotel; Built full-service spa, indoor pool and fitness center; Began keeping hotel open year-round.

1990 – Surrounding property and golf courses sold to U.S. Steel, which subsequently sells Golf courses to a collective that forms private membership Belleview Biltmore Country Club dba Belleair Country Club.

1990-1997 – Belleview Mido Hotel
Ownership: Mido Development Company, LTD — Hideo Kurosawa
Improvements: Built new lobby/entrance with Japanese flare; Purchase Pelican Golf Course and rename it Belleview Biltmore Country Club; Built clubhouse at new golf course; Built new swimming pool with Jacuzzi and waterfall; Added 4 clay tennis courts; Upgraded many hotel suites; Added 3,400 square foot Presidential Suite; Expand Carriage Porch to include a Japanese cuisine restaurant.

1997-2003 – Belleview Biltmore Resort
Ownership: Jetha Corporation – The Jetha Family
Improvements: Removed some of the Japanese décor to return the hotel more to its Victorian origins; Renovated carpeting and window treatments; Installed hand-made Adirondack style chairs and rockers on all porches.

2003-2007 – Belleview Biltmore Resort
Ownership: Urdang & Associates of Pennsylvania – purchased as real estate investment
• Belleair Redevelopment Group tentative plan to purchase & raze hotel halted by community opposition.
• DeBartolo Development of Tampa tentative plan to purchase & raze hotel halted by community opposition.
2007-2010 – Belleview Biltmore Resort
Ownership: Legg Mason Real Estate Investors Group
Improvements: Brought community together to support hotel closure to undergo 4-year renovation to restore 1930s ambiance; Closed, fenced-in, and gutted hotel; Interior demolition begun in anticipation of renovation.

2010-2010 – Belleview Biltmore Resort
Ownership: Urdang & Associates of Pennsylvania began foreclosure proceedings when LMREI Group defaults on mortgage.

2010 – Present – Belleview Biltmore Resort (closed)
Ownership: KAWA Capital Management – Daniel & Rafael Ades
• Purchased in lieu of foreclosure
• Property is currently for sale; community concerned roof leaks have not yet been addressed.
• Community/Supporters attempting to band together to find new owner to continue with renovation.


1800- Dense vegetation and swamps made Florida almost impossible to navigate; summers brought inescapable heat and tropical diseases. There were several Indian wars.

1802 – John Gory’s roots were in Spain. In 1802, his Spanish Mother brought him to the Caribbean, the crossroads between Europe and the Americas. Under Spanish rule, FL was considered part of the Caribbean world for almost 350 years, its main ties to Spanish islands. Adventurers and traders from the Caribbean filled Spanish FL with many different cultures and languages, including Portuguese fishermen, African farmers (slave & free), French merchants and even German artillerymen.

1803 – One year old John Gory and his mother sailed past the Spanish islands in the Caribbean, and Spanish Florida, headed for Charleston, SC. There, he grew up like most wealthy residents and then studied medicine.

1819 – Henry Plant is born in Branford, Connecticut (his grandfather had come to America in 1646 from London)

1821- USA acquires FL from Spain. Many American planters along the East Coast, who had arrived in FL under Spanish rule, stayed in FL after it became part of the USA. They had slaves; however, had adopted Spanish, tolerant attitudes about slaves. Slaves had rights (e.g.: to denounce bad treatment by master; own property; be married and maintain family units; and could buy their way out of slavery)
Many free blacks owned property (having earned their freedom while under Spanish rule) and interacted with the white community on regular basis.

1821- Americans headed into FL in droves, hoping for a new life; many went into the interior of the FL Peninsula; FL was a wild frontier – cattle drives, Indian wars; cattle rustling; gun fights in the streets; very violent

Most settlers remained in Panhandle area, establishing outposts across the upper section of the state, primarily from the East coast to “Middle FL” (middle of the Panhandle area.) The coast was much different than the middle of the state, so development was different, too.
East Coast of Panhandle: Most settlers were involved in Farming, Raising Livestock, Hunting and/or Trapping. Pioneers eked out a living farming, raising livestock, hunting and trapping; animals grazed in wild prairies. These people dealt with an infestation of mosquitoes and fleas and were very poor. Because they had so little, they became very individualistic and tended to see everyone, including Indians, as threat to their existence.

Farmers & herders were called ‘crackers’ because of the cracking sound made by their whips. (Now this term tends to refer to a racist or uneducated individual, but back then, it was simply a person who was a frontier settler involved in the cattle business.) They took pride in their simple existence, plain speaking, and love of the land (many located around Ft Mead)

1821- Jake Summerland (who had no official record of birth) was born & raised on the East Coast of Florida. He could ride and crack a whip at the age of 7; by the time he was a young man, he could weld a whip 18’ long. He was afraid of Indian attack and wrote the government about his concerns. At the age of 20, Jake fought in a war against the Seminole Indians and wrote the Governor for protection. He worked as a deputy sheriff; ran a trading post, was postmaster and raised cattle. Didn’t seem destined for greatness, but he amassed a great herd of cattle, which was real wealth in those days. With partner, ship captain James McKay, he began to ship cattle to Cuba and the Bahamas. He only believed in gold currency.

1821- Middle FL (the middle section of the Panhandle) was becoming a cotton kingdom, like GA. The Planters became very wealthy, but they utilized slave labor, and the treatment of these slaves wasn’t like those along the East Coast. Slaves were treated very poorly, had no rights whatsoever, and were whipped frequently.
The planters in Middle FL saw the slave system used in East FL as a threat to their strict slave system, so they got the territorial council to pass laws aimed at the free black class (made it unlawful for free blacks or malodos to move into the Middle FL territory & if they didn’t comply, they could be sold back into slavery.)

1821- Cotton farming brought wealth to the Peninsula. Tons of it flowed down the Apalachicola River from GA, AL, & FL. The port at Apalachicola became FL’s first boom town. Fine goods filled shelves of stores to meet the tastes of cotton buyers from the North and Europe.
However, hot weather that was good for growing cotton also bred mosquitoes, which spread Yellow Fever epidemics. Local doctor, John Gory, noticed that fever often broke out near swamps. He, like many others, thought that infectious vapors from the hot swamps caused the disease. He decided to stop Yellow Fever by stopping heat.

1824 – John Gory apprenticed under a doctor in Columbia. There, he witnessed a sever Yellow Fever epidemic, which left a lasting impression on him.

After returning to Apalachicola, Gory observed that fever outbreaks occurred in warmer weather and ended with cooler temperatures. Not knowing that mosquitoes were the cause, he mistakenly thought cool temperatures were the cure and put sick patients into rooms cooled by ice.
However, ice had to be shipped all the way from Boston, so Gory studied chemistry, physics and engineering to try to produce ice-making machine, creating in effect, the world’s first mechanical refrigerator. He would work for the next 10 years on this invention

1840- Steam locomotives had come to the south, but swampy FL wasn’t a candidate for tracks until David Levi came to East FL and became the most prominent man in the territory. His Jewish family had fled to the Caribbean from Morocco to escape persecution. His father, Moses, tried to establish a utopian Jewish colony in FL. When his father became more and more orthodox over time, David rebelled and the two never reconciled.

1843 – Henry Plant marries Ellen Elizabeth Blackstone, daughter of State Senator James Blackstone.

1844 At the age of 31, David Levi won election to the post of Florida’s Territorial Delegate to Congress. He was most popular politician in FL and he advocated the controversial cause of statehood. There was a great deal of resistance, since many people didn’t want to pay taxes and people feared domination by Middle FL’s wealthy cotton planters. There was also a lot of resistance from members of Congress who saw little value in the territory and there were also some anti-Semitic congressmen (even former Pres. J Quincy Adams called him ‘that alien Jew from FL.’)

1845 Florida became a state in 1845 largely because of David Levi’s persistence. He had great energy and drive and he gave stump speeches in towns and throughout the territory until finally got Florida’s statehood through the House.

1845 Henry & Ellen Plant welcome a son, George Henry Plant. Henry Sr. gives up live at sea and focuses on the business of improving delivery of goods on land.

1845 David Levi was elected to be Florida’s first Senator and was the first Jew to ever hold the position of Senator. There were probably less than 50 Jews living in FL before the Civil War, so this election demonstrates that there was very little anti-Semitism in the state during this period of time.

The largest concern of Floridians was carving transportation routes throughout the state. David Levi championed this cause as a means of promoting development. He married the daughter of Kentucky’s former Governor the same year and also re-added the name Yulee to his name (which had been dropped by his grandfather.) David Levi-Yulee was a strong supporter of slavery, while his father, Moses, was against it. Some suspect that he changed his name back because he was afraid his father’s anti-slavery position would adversely affect his political aspirations, but there is no proof of this. Perhaps he wanted to make a more clear distinction between the two powerful Levi men of Eastern Florida.

David Levi-Yulee was a good businessman. He knew that, upon admission to the Union, FL would receive a half million acres of Federal land. He sought to use this land to fulfill his dream of building a railroad that would go all the way across the Panhandle, linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

1847 George Henry Plant dies at age of 18 months

1850 The French Consult to Apalachicola invited guests to celebrate anniversary of the French Revolution. Everyone knew the ice shipment from Boston was late, but the French Consult bet his guests they would have chilled champagne. He presented John Gory as the American who makes a miracle… ice.

Gory would not live to see the full result of his invention. Ice importers, their livelihood in jeopardy, launched a campaign against Gory, saying that man-made ice went against nature (said Gory was a crank who claimed he could make ice as good as God almighty!)

1850 Henry Plant moves to New York; involved with rail road operations for Adams Express Company

1851 Henry & Ellen Plant welcome second son, Morton Freeman Plant

1853- Henry Plant moves south from Connecticut for the sake of his wife’s health (Ellen Blackstone-Plant suffered congestion of the lungs – tuberculosis – also called consumption because it consumed its victims until they waste away.) Morton lived with his grandparents for most of his childhood (Ellen returned for summers with him for the first 5 yrs of his life, then became too ill to do so)

1855- Ulysses S. Grant took part in the ground-breaking ceremony with Henry Plant, as he began an ambitious plan to bring the railroad to southwestern Florida.

1855 – John Gory died, his valuable invention mostly unrecognized. He had been a dreamer, thinking cooler air was the key to conquering illness, but what he didn’t know was that his invention would instead, be the key to conquering heat in the south.

1855 – David Levi-Yulee became determined to realize his dream to connect the Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean via a railroad in the Panhandle. Most of the capital to fund the railroad came from northern banks. The State of FL put up public land to guarantee bank loans for development project like this one.

Because northerners could bring needed expertise and money to FL, the Jacksonville area of FL became filled with northerners who wanted to incorporate northern ways in the new state. The south didn’t have enough people or money to finance needed transportation project without the northerners, but the strong influence of the northerners sometimes spurred jealousy and resentment among existing southern settlers. Jacksonville became known as the Yankee Capitol of Florida, since it attracted so many northerners.

1856 – David Levi-Yulee began the railroad project and was on his way to becoming a very wealthy man, but the issue of slavery begins to explode throughout the Union. Slave holders feared Abolitionists as a threat to their way of life. In FL, people who called themselves Regulators, began to raid the homes of Abolitionists and free blacks, taking them from their beds into the woods and whipping them.

Tension continued to grow throughout the late fifties, as slave holders went to northern cities to recover their property. Northern blacks begin to form into military units, knowing that something was going to happen because the issue had become so heated. They wanted to be able to strike a blow against the institution of slavery.

1857 – Attorney Aushon Heart moves to Tampa from Jacksonville, which his father had founded and where his family still owned slaves. The Hearts behaved in the more lenient, Spanish ways when it came to slave ownership; believing they were acting in the best interest of their slaves. Fear and tension had already made its way to Tampa, even though the town was still in its infancy.

1859 – Aushon Heart defended a slave named Adam, who was being tried for killing a white man. Despite a vigorous defense and little evidence, Adam was convicted of the crime. A mob dragged Adam from the jail and lynched him; an act that affected Aushon profoundly, causing him to challenge his existing beliefs in law & slavery. His conflicting beliefs and mixed opinions were shared by many in Florida.

1861 Henry Plant’s wife, Ellen dies from tuberculosis.

1861 – David Levi-Yulee’s first train arrived in Cedar Key in March, but the timing was very poor. A group of Floridians had banded together to secede from the Union and David Levi-Yulee supported this action. Although he needed the support of northerners who financed the railroad, he supported slavery because he needed them to keep his Homosassa sugar plantation in operation. He felt he had to speak out against abolitionists and vote with his constituents to secede from the Union.

1861 – The Civil War breaks out. By this time, Henry Plant was so firmly established that the Confederacy entrusted his railroad to deliver military payrolls, even though he was rendering services to the North at the same time. This was a trait of Henry’s… to keep all his bases covered.

Some Floridians felt like they were being placed in submission to the north; that northerners made laws that were not in the best interest of southern economic interests and good will. The rebellious nature of the common man in Florida caused some to take the stance; “The damn Yankees aren’t going to tell us what to do!” Pro-secession crowds danced in the streets; shot off fireworks, etc.; however, the population was pretty evenly split on the issue. The delegates were afraid to put the matter of secession to a public vote for fear they would lose, so the delegates voted to secede without determining if they had the support of their constituents.

A significant minority of Floridians were outright Unionists. Many others had mixed opinions on the matter. Aushon Heart was by this time a Tampa City Councilman, was an outspoken Unionist. He blatantly defied the actions of Secessionists all around him.
At the time of convention that approved secession, there were many people in Florida that were Union sympathizers. Thousands of northerners had moved to the area before the secession decision. During the war, 1,300 Floridians actually formed Union Calvary and artillery units.

1862 – Henry Plant’s first wife dies. For the next several years, Henry Plant continued to build & operate railroad, amassing wealth.

1862 – A handful of Florida Crackers (ranchers armed with whips) were one of the primary frustrations of the Confederacy. At the beginning of the war, Jake Summerland owned 20k cattle; the largest herd in Florida. He had good Confederate credentials, having served as a Sergeant in their army and supplied cattle to the southern forces. A Union soldier described him as doing more for the Confederates and more injury to the Union than any other, but this was far from the truth.

1863- The Civil War threatened Jake’s herds… everything he had built up with James McKay. The South counted on Texas cattle to help feed its army, but when the Union took Vicksburg, it was able to patrol the lower Mississippi River and cut off the beef supply to the south. Now the south needed Florida cattle more than ever. James McKay, a Union Double Agent and Jake Summerland’s old partner, was put in charge of supplying cattle to the Confederacy. James McKay and Jake Summerland couldn’t see any value to cattlemen of breaking up the government.

They rarely used slaves, so weren’t invested in the cause of maintaining that institution. Early in the war, McKay was arrested by the south for agreeing to supply horses to the Union & tried for treason, but he got off, as long as he would provide beef to the South. Later in the war, he was arrested by the Union. He agreed to act as a double agent for the Union, pretending to continue to work for the Confederacy, selling them cattle, when actually, he was working for the North, gathering and sharing information about troop locations, etc.

As the war dragged on, McKay & Summerland no longer wanted to sell their cattle to the Confederacy for their nearly worthless paper money. Instead, the cattlemen began to hide their herds in the Kissimmee River Valley, waiting for the war to end so they could sell their cattle to Cuba for gold. But the cattlemen throughout FL had divided allegiances. A few supported the south and created a special Cow Calvary to protect the Confederate cattle shipments. A few Union sympathizers also joined this group as spies, because it earned them a deferment from combat. Therefore, cattle continued to disappear into the wilderness and Confederate soldiers went hungry.

1863 Henry Plant meets Margaret Loughman, a young Irish woman. Their history together before being married in 1873 is unclear. Some archives say she was the housekeeper for Henry’s home in Brandford, Connecticut (where Morton spent his childhood.) Other records show she was the daughter of wealthy New York blue-bloods (ancient noble family line from Ballymore, Ireland, descendant of Kings of Munster.) What is certain is that she was one year younger than his son, Morton.

1864- When Union forces threatened the cattle route, the South made a desperate stand at the Battle of Alusty; the largest Civil War battle ever fought in Florida. On the side of the Union were hundreds of black men, many of whom were escaped slaves who understood that if they were caught by the Confederates, they would be killed. Even though outnumbered, the Confederate soldiers won the Battle of Aulsty.

If black soldiers had not fought in the Civil War, the Union might not have won and the slaves might not have been freed, however their losses were severe. After the Union retreated from the Battle of Alusty, the black soldiers who were wounded were all killed on the battlefield by the Confederate soldiers.

1865- By the end of the war, the Confederates had lost 5,000 men and thousands more were wounded. For the state with the smallest population, these were the highest per capita losses anywhere. Everyone knew someone who had returned disabled or not at all. Despite the victory and end of the war, even the Unionists suffered from a shattered spirit.

The Governor, John Milton, a Confederate, could not live with the defeat and so went home and committed suicide with a shotgun, leaving a note that indicated that death was better than reunification with the Union.

David Levi-Yulee’s sugar plantation was burned and the man who was once Florida’s most distinguished person was charged with treason and put into prison. He was released after ten months, but marked a traitor; he never held public office again. His dream of a great railroad empire was gone, but he had inspired others to dream big when it came to Florida. Progress, via the railroad had begun and there was no turning back.

1865- The end of the war was like a new beginning for Florida’s black population. They took the privilege of voting seriously (free men vote) and hundreds were voted into public office. Despite claims to the contrary, the Reconstruction almost worked in Florida. The Chief Voting Registrant was Aushon Heart, who encouraged black men to vote. He formed a strong alliance with a brilliant young black man named Jonathan Gibbs. Jonathan was well educated (Dartmouth) a natural orator, able to convince with gentle persuasion and a great legislator.

1865- The end of the Civil War left most white Floridians with economic chaos. Homes and businesses were in ruins. In Central Florida, only the cattle that had been hidden away gave hope for the future. Jake Summerland’s herd of 20k cattle survived the war. He reestablished business with Cuba and quickly became very rich.

Jake Summerland began doing things that most cattlemen didn’t. Though uneducated himself, he founded the Summerland Institute of Learning. Over 1000 people showed up for the laying of the cornerstone. Jake was changing with the times, becoming a developer. He dreamed of opening up the entire Florida peninsula, with a special focus on the tiny outpost called Orlando. He attempted to build a canal that would connect Orlando to the Atlantic Ocean, allowing for transportation of people and goods.

1867 – Harriett Beacher Stow, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, moved to Florida, taking up residence in an orange grove in Mandarin, along the St John’s River. Her book had served as an effective plea against slavery and had moved hundreds of thousands of readers. She began writing about Florida for National journals, often sounding like a sales pitch for the state. Her exotic descriptions did a lot to develop Florida’s tourism trade.

1868 – Jonathan Gibbs becomes the first black man to hold a Cabinet position in Florida; Secretary of State. In the Governor’s absence, he served as Acting Governor. He actively tried to punish the lawless KKK and as a result, had to sleep for months in a fortified attic because of repeated threats against his life from the Klan.

1869- An independence rebellion breaks out in Cuba which lasted ten years and failed. Several other rebellions flared up over the next several decades. A hundred thousand Cubans left for Europe and America. Many of them settled in Florida. Large settlements of Cubans were established in Key West and Ybor City, Tampa. Almost overnight, Key West is transformed into a lively, multicultural community.

Key West became industrial in what had been a predominately rural area. Cigar factories dotted the landscape. Cigar factories hired professional readers (lectores in Spanish) to read to them while they worked. They read newspapers, political papers, classic Latin literature, etc. They were the cornerstones of the Cuban communities.

Because of the readers, the people in the Latin communities in Key West and Tampa became some of the most well-informed people in Florida. For years, they raised money, bought arms and made plans for revolution back home in Cuba. Thousands of cigar makers pledged on day’s salary per week to the cause. They determined what Cuban society should be and planned a revolution to bring this plan to fruition.

1871 – James Weldon Johnson was born in Jacksonville, to an educated, well-to-do black family. His father was the head waiter at the elegant St James Hotel and his mother was one of the first black teachers in the Florida public school system.

1872 – Aushon Heart is elected Governor of Florida, largely due to the support from the State’s black leaders. The State of Florida seemed poised to flourish in an era of bright hope and good will among races. Aushon Heart quickly pushed through legislation to protect civil rights and expand public education for both blacks & whites. He believed there was so much sadness in the State’s past (Indian Wars, Slavery, Civil War and the unavoidable absurdities of Reconstruction) that it was comforting and inspiring to think of the prospect of being strong, safe & free, living with the Union glory as its guide.

1873 – Jake Summerland gave up on his canal project (connecting Orlando to the Atlantic Ocean) when a financial panic caused Florida to fall into economic turmoil.

1873 – Most early visitors to Florida came because of the disease known then as Consumption (now called tuberculosis), which was the greatest killer in America. People thought they could be cured with Florida’s magical climate. Harriett Beacher Stow wrote that many people who were dying of Consumption up north were instead able to enjoy several decades of vigorous life after moving to Florida.

Famous Floridians such as Harriett Beacher Stow were able to attract visitors to Florida for the purpose of pleasure rather than a health necessity. She hoped to attract enough Union loyalist northerners to Florida to be able to outvote the stubborn southerners who resisted change, thus creating a more racially equal state. Locals called the northerners Yankee strangers or Carpetbaggers.

The northerners saw education as the key to improving conditions for the black race. During Reconstruction, for the first time, black and poor white children had the opportunity to attend public schools, where few had been educated in the past. Governor Aushon Heart appointed

Jonathan Gibbs to the position of Head of Education, leading Florida to obtain the highest literacy rate in the south. Education served as a weapon against injustice.

1873 – Henry Plant married Margaret Loughman; 11 years after the death of his first wife, Ellen

1873 – Henry Plant was able to buy a dozen short-line railroads that had gone broke during the financial panic of 1873 for very little money. He hoped to link the Atlantic with the West Coast

1874 – Governor Heart suddenly dies and a few months later, Jonathan Gibbs also died. Both deaths were mysterious/suspicious, but there was no evidence of foul play. Many suspected they were poisoned and that the KKK was out to get black politicians and sympathizers and fear spread among black politicians.

1875 – Fears increased among the black population when a black Republican State Senator Elijah Johnson was assassinated. At that time, the Florida Senate was evenly split between Republicans who supported the Reconstruction and Democrats who opposed it. Senator Johnson’s death broke the tie. Democrats denied involvement but Democratic Senator Langel said, “In losing Johnson, we gain a Country. Who could not afford to make this sacrifice?” Hopes for Reconstruction quickly fell and died.

1875- The political consensus for moderation evaporated and night riders (KKK) galloped into power. Black leaders were threatened, beaten and killed. Threats were used to ‘put blacks in their place and keep them there’. Reconstruction wasn’t brought to an end by black incompetence or Republican corruption, but rather by home-grown terrorism.

1873 – Henry Plant marries Margaret

1877 – Hamilton Diston, a the son of a wealthy factory owner in Philadelphia, came to Florida to catch fish. He was gregarious, arrogant and liked a big cigar. Very quickly, he saw the potential of under-populated Florida. He knew it could become a paradise equal to the south of France, if it only had transportation, dry land, hotels, refinement and more people.

1880- Florida had given away millions of acres for development schemes and had guaranteed bonds offered by railroad companies, many of which had gone broke in the chaos of the aftermath of the Civil War. The state was besieged by the railroad companies’ creditors. Governor William Blonson, realizing the state needed a quick million dollars to avoid financial disaster, sold Hamilton Diston 4 million acres (virtually the whole middle of the state) at 25 cents per acre.

The state made Hamilton Diston an additional deal. For every acre of land he could drain, the state would give him even more land. The land had two problems. 1) It was often under water and 2) there was no way to get there. He sought to resolve both problems by digging canals. The water would drain into the canals and the canals would provide transportation to the dry land. People didn’t understand the value of wetlands and thought the only way to make such land useful was to drain it and expose the muck beneath, creating rich soil for planting.

Technology was advancing rapidly and prospectors projected that developers would be able to reclaim hundreds of acres, opening up a Floridian paradise and draining land that would be planted with sugar.

1880- Henry Plant had discovered the sleepy village of Tampa. He determined that all the south Florida needed to prosper was a little spirit and energy, which could be achieved if transportation were provided to the area. He decided to take advantage of this golden opportunity.

1880- Northerners begin to flock to the south; many to see Harriett Beacher Stow. Steamboats toured past her home on the St James River, hoping to catch a glimpse of her on her veranda. She was there very often, causing some to speculate that she had worked out a deal with the steamboat operators. One year, 50k people made that trip. Florida was becoming synonymous with paradise and everyone wanted to discover its magical beauty and interesting birds and animals. The proper way to see Florida was aboard a riverboat.

1883- Former President, Ulysses S. Grant, shared Harriett Beacher Stow’s view regarding the optimistic potential for Florida. After a tour on a riverboat, he said he thought Florida could realize more profit than any other state in the Union.

1884- Henry Plant completes his railroad connections all the way to the Gulf of Mexico so that passengers could ride from New York to Tampa without changing trains. During the next decade, Tampa’s population grew seven-fold.

1884- Years earlier, Henry Flagler met John D. Rockefeller in Cleveland. Rockefeller had a product which had formerly been sold as a ‘cure-all’ by traveling quacks, called petroleum. Flagler came up with the idea for the Standard Oil Trust. By 1884, Henry Flagler had developed a business monopoly for the transportation of crude oil and had amassed one of the largest fortunes in American history.

Like Henry Plant, Henry Flagler came to Florida so his wife could recuperate from an illness, but he quickly saw an opportunity waiting there. Many wealthy people were traveling to Florida, not because of illness, but for pleasure; however, there were no fitting accommodations or other leisure activities on which to spend their money. He decided to build the largest concrete structure in the world (which would open in 1884.)

1885 – Blacks are free in name only. They are basically slaves… tenant farmers, share croppers, etc. who could not move about freely the way whites could. However, even the KKK could quite undo the work done by Aushon Heart, Jonathan Gibbs, Harriett Becher Stow and the Yankee Strangers. Some black Americans continued to become educated and move up the economic ladder.

1886 – James Weldon Johnson is among hundreds of prosperous black Floridians. A good portion of the construction industry in Jacksonville was black-owned and black farmers raised most of the fruits and vegetables in the area. In fact, Jacksonville became known as a ‘good town for Negros’. Most of the city police and several Councilmen were black.

However, black neighborhoods continued to be targeted and lynching’s occurred. Often the KKK would target middle-class blacks because their existence proved the inaccuracy of the notion of black inferiority.

1887- James Weldon Johnson leaves Jacksonville to attend Atlanta University. His parents understood how important their children’s education would be to the future of the black race in Florida and the Nation itself. This emerging black middle-class eventually becomes the foundation of the Civil Rights Movement. Eventually, James Weldon Johnson became an attorney & the first leader of the N.A.A.C.P. and foremost civil rights leader of his time (‘…This Country can have no more democracy than it accords and guarantees to the humblest and weakest citizen.’)

1888- Henry Flagler opens the fabulous new palace called the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St Augustine, FL. It is equipped with electric lights.

1888 – Morton Plant marries Nellie Capron of Baltimore (she is 19; he is 37 yrs old)

1891- Not to be outdone, Henry Plant built and opened the Tampa Bay Hotel. Plant’s trains ran right to the hotel and the Boston Symphony played. It boasted 13 silver domes with golden crescents at the top of each one. It was called one of the modern wonders of the world.

With big bank books and big egos building monuments to luxury and style, along with its favorable climate, Florida became a travel destination of the wealthy. It was a perfect canvas for titans of industries. It became known that you can do anything you want in Florida, as long as you had the right technology and enough money. You could build towns and name them; create tourist destinations; dig out lakes and fill them with fish… whatever.

Florida was big enough for Henry Plant and Henry Flagler to both build empires without stepping on one another’s toes. They cooperated with one another, neatly dividing the state, with Henry Plant in the central and southwest and Henry Flager on the East coast, all the way down to Key West. However, the two men thrived on competition and enjoyed a friendly rivalry, always trying to ‘one-up’ one another.

When Henry Plant opened the Tampa Bay Hotel, he sent a personal invitation to Henry Flagler, via a large newspaper advertisement. Flagler replied with a full-page ad of his own, saying “Where is Tampa?”. Plant shot back his reply with another full-page ad that read, “Follow the crowds.” Two thousand people attended the grand opening ball, to enjoy the festivities and view the grand illumination of the hotel.

Part of Henry Plant’s genius was his “total package” concept with diversified business interests; he called ‘The Plant System’. He built railroads to the docks where the large steamships (some of them his) were anchored, so he could transport goods to and from steamships on railcars. He built oyster shell roads between rail stations and shops so that wagons could move cargo from the railroad station without breaking their wheels. He also used the Plant System for tourism. He built railroads that were linked to steamship lines and hotels. His hotels had restaurants inside them and there were activities for guests, including golf, fishing and hunting trips on the grounds.

1891- Jose Marti came to the USA on a mission. As a teenager in Cuba, he had almost been executed for his revolutionary activities. Now exiled, he traveled widely to Cuban communities in the USA and Europe, preaching revolution against Spain. He became the leader of a movement called “Cuba Lebre”. His great organizational abilities galvanized the movement. He survived an assassination attempt by Spanish agents in Tampa.

1893- An economic depression hits the Nation, destroying Hamilton Destin’s finances. Also, a wet-cycle had begun in Florida, causing his half-dug canals to disintegrate and putting most of his reclaimed land back under water. He lost his federal price supports for his sugar plantations. The result of all these catastrophes was the ruin of Hamilton Destin’s fortune.

1893 Henry Plant & Henry Flagler, along with their wives, take part in the first cruise of the ship Halifax. They travel to Nassau & Jamaica, changing their cantankerous relationship into friendship. They remained friends the rest of their lives. In fact, Flagler was an honorary pall bearer at Plant’s funeral.

1894 – Jake Summerland, King of the Crackers, dies, having survived the Indian and Civil wars and watching Florida experience tremendous change. He said he missed the days of the Florida frontier, when life was simple, riding and herding cattle.

1894-95- A powerful freeze hit St Augustine, ruining the orange groves. Henry Flagler was forced to admit the weather there was simply not as good as it was in south Florida. He decided to expand his empire down the southeast coast.

He visited a family acquaintance from Cleveland, Julia Tuttle, at an outpost named ‘Miami.’ There is an urban myth that states she sent him a fresh orange blossom after the freeze hit St Augustine, but this story isn’t true. He had already made up his mind to take his railroad south along the east coast. Julia Tuttle did have aspirations for developing Miami into a large city with all the modern conveniences, and she did offer some land to entice Henry Flagler, but she didn’t have the business sense to play a significant role in the endeavor.

Henry Flagler had already determined to build his railroad down the southern coast. He liked the idea of conquering a wilderness; it was just a matter of getting as much land as possible for the best price.

1895- Morton and Nellie Plant welcome a son, Henry Bradley Plant II

1895- The Cuban population involved in the revolutionary Cuba Lebre movement were ready to act. In a cigar factory in west Tampa, the Orders of Insurrection were rolled inside a Tampa cigar, smuggled into Cuba and delivered to General Gomez. The Cuban War of Independence broke out on 2/25/1895.

1896 – Hamilton Diston commits suicide, shooting himself in his Philadelphia bath tub. He had dared to dream big and although he failed, he would inspire other dreamers who also believed Florida could be developed into a paradise.

1896- Henry Flagler’s railroad train extends all the way from St. Augustine to Miami. The town offered to rename the outpost “Flagler” but he modestly insisted that they keep the name Miami, the Indian name for the river that ran through it.

1896 – Miami was still a sleepy town, consisting of a few brick buildings and wooden shacks. Julia Tuttle anticipated a boon and starting building structures even faster than Henry Flagler, driving herself to near-bankruptcy. A fire destroyed the town on Christmas morning, nearly ruining her. Henry Flagler, who had helped her financially over & over refused to offer any more help. Instead, he laid out streets throughout Miami and paved them with crushed shell, which shined at night, giving the town the nickname ‘The Magic City’.

1897 – Belleview Hotel opens January 15, 1897, meant to be the focal point of the planned community that Henry Plant called Belleair. The Belleview opens to a gathering of founder and transportation magnate, Henry B. Plant’s friends, family, and business associates. Also at this gathering are a host of area residents who watched in wonder, during the previous 18 months, as the magnificent structure took shape high above the Intracoastal Waterways of Clearwater. The original hotel is four stories high and runs four hundred feet from east to west and is ninety-six feet wide.

• Swiss chalet-style architecture; 145 rooms; bakeshop and billiard room downstairs
• The hotel had 3 electric lights per room; electricity was generated by a steam plant next to the hotel
• Hotel had house orchestra, that often serenaded guests in lobby area
• West lounge had lots of large windows and casual wicker furniture
• Tea garden was on south lawn
• North portico walkway was lined with cedar fir trees. As they grew, the twisty walk became very private
• Boathouse/bathing pavilion on long pier on Clearwater Bay; Fresh water springhouse/pump at end of pier.
• The boat dock and bathing pavilion are popular with guests. Offered boat rides to Gulf of Mexico beach property or for fishing/sightseeing trips. Boats are available for fishing, sightseeing, and transportation to and from Sand Key Beach.
• Worker dormitory had 150 rooms; workers obeyed strict regimen of rules, including dress, punctuality & behavior
o Workers who failed to obey rules were fined 25 cents/day or terminated without references
• Although it never made the Top Ten, the Belleview is one of few hotels to have a waltz composed in its name. Plant commissioned Miss Stella Spurlin of Camden, Alabama, to compose “The Belleview Waltz” which was dedicated to Mrs. H.B. Plant.
• The Belleview Hotel is an ideal vacation spot for industry leaders such as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Ford, although on vacation, has to be in constant contact with his plant in Detroit, so the Belleview is an excellent choice because telephone and telegraph service are available on the premises as well as a post office. Guests can even buy the Wall Street Journal and keep up with the stock market.

1897 – Launcelot Cressy Servos designes 1st 6-hole golf course; with elevated greens and crushed shell greens; Thatched roof shelter; opened for1898 season

1898 Horses race on track at the Belleview Biltmore, which includes a grandstand for viewing.

1898 – Flagler opens the 350 room Royal Palm Hotel in Miami, complete with elevators, swimming pool & staff of 300 people, Miami’s future was changed forever. He opened the Miami Electric Company, donated land for the first public school, gave financial support to 4 churches, built a dock & wharfs and established a steamship company. Flagler understood he had to support the communities that would eventually support his railroad. This is how West Palm Beach, Palm Beach and Miami as well as most of the rest of the East Coast of FL were all developed.

When farmers suffered from a terrible freeze that wiped out their orange groves, etc., Henry Flager loaned them money at very low interest rates and gave them seed/saplings free of charge so they could get back on their feet and become customers again.

1898 – Julia Tuttle, very deep in debt, became ill. Henry Flagler refused to take on any more of her debt. She died later that year, at the age of 49, without living to see Miami become the great metropolis of her dreams.

1898- After 3 years of war, Cuba revolutionaries – the Cuba Lebre Movement – is within striking distance of winning their independence. Anti-Spanish sentiment ran high in the United States, largely due to propaganda from William Randolph Hurst. When the Maine was sunk, the burial of the ship’s crew was filmed in Florida (some of the earliest motion picture films ever made.) America’s war was now on.

Initially, neither Henry Plant nor Henry Flagler wanted the war. They were both afraid Cuba would become a part of the United States and Florida would lose its tourist trade. Then they realized that war made money (Farmers, saloon keepers, and railroad.) War energized Tampa with the influx of 60k troops and $4M government contracts. Everything involved with the war effort was brought to Tampa on one of Henry

Plant’s trains (men, bullets, supplies) and the officers stayed at Henry Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel, while the soldiers slept in tents along the sandy streets. War news was published in the Dateline Tampa, but the publicity was not always good. Soldiers died in Florida from heat prostration, tainted meat, malaria, and yellow fever. Actual combat killed less than 400, but almost 5 thousand died of disease. Florida became the ‘real’ battlefield of the war. One soldier wrote ‘We’re gonna lick the Spaniards and make them take Florida back!” They did beat the Spaniards and the fighting was over in just 8 weeks.

The Spanish-American War has tremendous consequences for the United States. Finally Spain is forced out and the US controls the Caribbean. Jose Marti was killed during the war, so never saw victory.

1898 – 12 Cottages surrounded the hotel; built/paid for by wealthy socialites; to be turned over to hotel after 5 years (builders would get first option to rent for the season.) Original bridge to hotel crossed over Corkscrew Creek; w/souvenir shops (now called Rattlesnake Creek?)

1898 – Horse Racing on hotel grounds is very popular

1899 – Bicycle competitions are major events at the Belleview, racing on track originally built for horse races The bicycle track has been described as wooden, asphalt and even brick. However, the Pinellas County Historical Museum lays claim to a section of the old bicycle path which is actually constructed of oyster shell.

1899 – Henry Plant died of a heart attack (6/23/1899) at his 5th Avenue home in New York City. A legal battle ensues to break Henry’s will. Henry had attempted to leave everything to his grandson, Henry II, so that is legacy would remain intact until the child was 21 yrs old. After the will is broken, Morton Plant took over management of Belleview. Henry left behind a dozen hotels and a vast network of railroads and steamships. But his true legacy was the development of southwest Florida.

1899- The six-hole course is redesigned by Launcelot Cressy Servos and becomes a nine-hole golf course with sand greens. But Morton Plant really wanted grass greens. Throughout most of the next decade, he experimented with various grasses and shipped several rail cars of Indiana top soil to Florida. His eventual success allowed the Belleview Hotel to boast the first grass putting greens in all of Florida.

1900- Palm Cottage is built, the first in a series of private winter homes constructed on the hotel grounds for wealthy families.

1900 – Bicycle racing is very popular – hold International competitions at Belleview. Guests use Belleair bicycles for rides on track or throughout grounds (riders wear formal attire, regardless of activity)

1902- Henry Flagler determines that he needs to build his railroad in Florida until it reached a deep water terminus at its most southern point, Key West, despite the fact that over half the distance between Miami & Key West was over open water. He called this section of the railroad the Overseas Railroad and the challenge that it had never been done before was his greatest inspiration. He wanted to see the railroad completed before he died.

1903 – The Belleair Hotel Stone Crab Club is formed. Its membership consists of guests who have spent at least five winters at the Belleview. Members are given a silver buckle in the shape of a crab, and at the annual party, stone crabs and champagne are always served.

1904 – East wing added to Belleview Hotel. The 120-foot wing doubles the size and capacity of the hotel from 145 to 290 guest rooms. A new, much larger kitchen and dining room are established on the north side of the main wing. The original wood exterior, which has faded to a dull color, is painted a bright white and the roof is retiled with green shingles (instead of red). The Belleview then becomes known as the “White Queen of the Gulf”. The entrance bridge provides much more than access to the hotel. It houses a curio shop, antique shop, and two museums (one exhibiting mounted fish and the other mounted animals.)

1904- Morton Plant builds mansion on northeast corner of 5th Ave & 52nd Street in New York (later given as wedding gift to Masie and then sold to Henri Cartier – Still serves as Cartier & Company Jewelers.)

1905- Henry Flagler begins building the Overseas Railroad. It would prove to be his largest and most costly project of his career. He employed 4,000 workers who worked and lived on barges, building bridges & railroad track.

1906- A hurricane tore through the Florida Keys, killing 134 workers and stopping the project for a full year. Henry Flagler, his spirit broken, suffered a nervous breakdown, but recover

1909 Margaret Plant died in New York

1909 Morton Plant expanded the golf course to 18 holes. Even though it was commonly believed that grasses for greens wouldn¹t grow in Florida, Morton Plant had experimented with grasses, fertilizers, and soils for almost a decade and succeeds, allowing the course to be the first with grass greens in Florida.

1910- Still more hurricanes hit south Florida – a total of 5 hurricanes would strike during the seven years it took to build this project.

1910 – North Wing added to hotel & Tiffany Dining Room enlarged

1912- January 22nd – The Overseas Railroad to Key West is opened and Henry Flagler rides the first train to cross the distance between Miami & Key West. He was very old and nearly blind by this time, but it was a very emotional victory for him. Navy gun ships boomed and 1000 school children sang for Henry Flagler, bringing tears to his eyes.

1912- The bicycle track at the Belleview Hotel was demolished between to build two golf courses Donald Ross has been hired to design.

1913- Morton Plant’s wife, Nellie, dies following a fever epidemic.

1913- Henry Flagler dies & is buried in the church he built in St Augustine. He loved riding with the engineers on the Overseas Railroad throughout the last year of his life, blowing the whistle and enjoying the realization of his dream – a Florida that he could transverse from one end to the other.

1914 Morton Plant meets and marries Sara Mae “Masie” Cadwell, following her divorce from Seldon Manwaring, and adopts her 13 yr old son, Phillip Manwaring

1914 World War I – declared state of war July 28, 1914; ended November 11, 1918. After a decade of unstable alliances and military buildups, World War I was triggered in 1914 by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. It ended in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles.

1915- At his wife Margaret’s urging, construction begins on an Olympic-sized swimming pool (200k gallons) and two-story bath house. Dedicated as always to excellence, Plant brings in tile setters from Italy to install the more than one million multi-colored ceramic tiles which line the seventy-five by sixty-foot pool.

1915 – Donald Ross completes 2, 18-hole golf courses on hotel property. Then, in 1915, he commissioned the great golf course architect, Donald J. Ross, to design 36 holes of golf, creating the East and West courses.

1916 – Morton Plant Hospital opens with 21 rooms. Following son Henry’s bad bicycle racing accident, Morton contributed $100,000 to build hospital, provided the community could raise $20,000. (Morton had used his railroad to bring down surgical team and rail car operating room. They remained in Belleair for a month tending to Henry II)

1917- The Belleview Hotel purchases a 1917 American LaFrance fire engine. The hotel was one of the earliest hotels to have its own fire department and police force.

1917 Henry Plant II marries Amy Warren of Connecticut (fathered 2 daughters, Amy Capron Plant and Mary Ellen Plant, both of whom never married)

1918 World War I ended November 11, 1918, with the Treaty of Versailles.

1918 Morton Plant dies suddenly from influenza. Masie inherits the lion’s share of his estate; approximately $50M

1919 – Olympic trials are held in swimming pool

1919 – Following Morton Plant’s death in 1918, John McEntee Bowman of the Biltmore Hotel chain purchases the hotel, and renamed it the Belleview Biltmore. Bowman also purchases the Belleview’s sister hotel, the Griswold, in New London, Connecticut. Throughout his ownership, the hotel remained a winter retreat for the wealthy, continuing to offer 36 holes of golf to its guests.

1920 – Prohibition begins (Coe Casino flourished throughout this time) Prohibition lasted from 1920-1933

1920 – Women’s suffrage movement results in women getting the right to vote

1920 Between 1920-1929, the roster of Belleview Biltmore guests reflect the aura of extravagance and indulgence of the time. Railroad presidents pull up on the Belleview Biltmore’s side tracks in their private cars. The Studebakers, the DuPonts, the Pew family of Sun Oil, the Vanderbilts and others associated with “America’s aristocracy” check in. The golf links are frequented by some of the most famous golfers and athletes in the country, including baseball player Rube Marzard, golfer Gene Sarazen, baseball great Babe Ruth and golfer Johnny Farrell.

1924 – South wing added to hotel (total of 425 rooms), which is the second guest room addition. When complete, the hotel has 425 rooms; of these, 380 are guest rooms. The rest are used for staff and administrative purposes. James H. Ritchie of Brookline, Massachusetts, is the architect for this $1 million expansion, which includes the construction of the South Wing and an addition to the dormitory, as well as enlarging the grand dining room, the Tiffany Room.

1929 – Stock market plummets; marking the beginning of Great Depression. Around the country, the hotel business suffered and the Belleview Biltmore hotel nearly closed its doors.

1933 – End of Prohibition

1939 – Arnold Kirkeby purchases the Belleview Biltmore. The hotel continues to function as a winter resort, offering golf, tennis and beach facilities. Kirkeby started his career as an investment security salesman in 1919. He moved on the become president of the K Corporation, the K Natus Corporation, Warwick Realty and formed the Kirkeby Hotel chain. Kirkeby and his wife, known as “the most gracious hosts from coast to coast,” host the Brooklyn Dodgers for spring training.

1939 The upper deck of the pool house is removed, since sunbathing has become a popular pastime.

1939 – Approximate onset of WWII (War Economy)

1940 The Belleview Biltmore is completely self-sufficient, with its own post office, police and fire departments that also serve the Town of Belleair, with the general manager acting as postmaster.

1941 Phillip Manwaring-Plant dies on expedition, following three failed marriages

1941 The Belleview Biltmore Hotel was commandeered by the Army Air Corps to train troops. The soldiers stayed only 18 months, but made significant changes. They stripped the hotel of it’s elegant furnishings. The owners sold much of the furnishings; stored the rest in warehouses.

The soldiers painted most of the interior drab army green and painted all the windows black (interior and exterior windows alike.) They added phone booths and a sprinkler system, which was finished just as they were exiting the hotel. It’s still in use today.

1941 – Coe Casino closes during WWII

1942 Submarine scares are common as nervous soldiers and Floridians keep watch on the waters of Clearwater Bay and the Gulf of Mexico beyond. The Belleview Biltmore enters the war effort when it is requisitioned by the U.S. Army Air Corps to provide additional housing for servicemen training at MacDill and Drew Air Fields in Tampa. Immediately, the hotel’s ledgers and registers, antique furniture, furnishings, supplies and equipment are removed and stored in warehouses. Later most of these items were used in other Kirkeby hotels, sold at auction, or stolen, resulting in the loss of a major portion of the hotel¹s history. The hotel¹s seventeen hundred windows, as well as the glorious panels between the hallway and the Tiffany Room are slathered with heavy coats of black paint to block escaping light. During the next 18 months, the golf courses were primarily used as a pup-tent city, providing space for training exercises and housing the overflow of soldiers.

1942 The post office, police and fire departments are moved off hotel property and become the responsibility of the Town of Belleair.

1943 August: The U.S. Army Corp moves out. On the last day of their residence, the installation of a brand-new, state-of-the-art $100,000 sprinkler system is completed. The Belleview¹s corridors are silent the following winter for the first time. The government requires the hotel to hook up to Florida Power. Until now, the hotel had its own power plant and water pump system.

1943 The Coe Casino was closed by order of the military while the hotel was occupied during WWII.

• When the soldiers left, the casino was reopened.
• The ornate chandeliers and other furnishings were never returned to the hotel. Some had been sold to other hotels; much went missing altogether.

1944 Kirkeby sells the Belleview Biltmore hotel at auction to Ed C Wright for a mere $275,000. Mr. Wright had purchased the property as an investment and it remained closed throughout his ownership. Wright is a multi-millionaire who made his fortune during the Depression dealing in municipal bonds and defaulted coupons. During Wright’s ownership, the Belleview Biltmore remains closed. Its grounds and golf courses are quite neglected throughout his ownership.

1946 Wright sells the Belleview Biltmore to a group of investors from Detroit headed by Bernard and Mary Powell, his sister Nora Peabody and Roger L. Stevens. Mr. Powell was an attorney admitted to practice before the Supreme Court. Mr. Stevens was a part owner in the Empire State Building in New York City and a Broadway theatrical producer. He was also the guiding light behind the Kennedy Performing Arts Center in

Washington, D.C. In an amazing feat of rapid restoration, the Belleview Biltmore and its golf courses were restored to their former grandeur and reopened in time for the 1947 winter season.

1947 January 10: Somehow the impossible was accomplished in time for the gala reopening of the renovated and redecorated Belleview Biltmore. These years are devoted to restoring the Belleview Biltmore to her original splendor. New plumbing, new wiring, fresh paint, and the reopening of the golf courses highlight the restoration. For the next several decades, there were no changes to the operation. For eight seasons,

Cal Gifford, popular band leader and music director, appears at the Belleview Biltmore. The band plays at the swimming pool every day for lunch, always opening with “Anchors Away.” The band also plays in the lounge before dinner and provides dance music for the rest of the evening as well as for shows in the Starlight Room.

1949 – Raid on Coe Casino results in permanent closure

1953 The Duke of Windsor spends the winter season at the Belleview Biltmore.

1963 Powell builds and equips the Cabana and Beach Club, which provides a beautiful white sandy, gently sloping beach across the Intracoastal Waterway from the hotel.

1975 Aluminum siding is installed on the Belleview Biltmore. It takes a crew of fifteen men, working ten hours a day, six days a week for four months to install the 1,800-plus squares of siding and more than 5.8 miles of aluminum window trim. Previously, it took one thousand gallons to paint this elegant resort.

1979 The Belleview Biltmore is proudly named to the National Register of Historic Places.

1985 The Belleview Biltmore receives two very prestigious designations: Mobil Travel Guide gives the Belleview Biltmore the Four-Star Award and World Tennis Magazine names her a Five-Star Tennis Resort.

1985 December: Powell and his co-owners sign a three-year lease option agreement with a partnership comprised of developer Charles Rutenberg, spa executive Salu Devnani and Belleview General Manager Christopher Reyelt to operate the Belleview Biltmore and to keep her and her golf courses open year-round. The partnership also pours $10 million into a renovation of the guest rooms and the construction of a new, luxurious, state-of-the-art spa.

1986 Bernie Powell sold most of the land surrounding the hotel, including the golf courses, to US Steel for $5,750,000. As part of the sale, US Steel agreed to reserve 10 tee times per day for hotel guests. The tee times alternated days between the East and West courses.

1986 When US Steel presented plans to the Town of Belleair to build condos all along the waterfront, local residents rallied and sued to prevent the loss of their magnificent view and sea breeze. U.S. Steel then presented an alternate plan, which would eliminate the Belleview Biltmore golf courses altogether, replacing them with 692 individual home sites. US Steel and the Town of Belleair finally reached a compromise. US Steel was allowed to build some, but not all, of the proposed condominium towers along the waterfront, provided the golf courses were deemed green spaces forever.

1987 US Steel wasn’t interested in owning/operating golf courses, so they were receptive to a deal orchestrated by real estate developer, Bobby Byrd, which allowed members of a newly-formed country club to purchase the golf course under the name, “Belleview Biltmore Country Club” doing business as “Belleair Country Club.” Golf Club members bought into non-stock ownership via initiation fees and monthly dues (this ownership system is still in use today.) The Country Club was required to honor the deal US Steel had made with Bernie Powell – to reserve 10 tee times per day for Belleview Biltmore Hotel guests. This was a good deal for both the hotel and the country club because the hotel guests enjoyed great golf and were happy to pay the Country Club approximately $1 million in greens fees each year.

1987 Later that same year, Bernie Powell sold the remaining resort property and hotel to the Japanese Mido Corporation for $25 million. Almost immediately, bad feelings emerged between the new hotel owner and the community. The new owner changed the hotel’s name from the Belleview Biltmore to the Belleview Mido Resort. Then the new owner renovated the hotel to include a huge brass and glass entrance lobby, surrounded with koi ponds, which didn’t think blend with the historic charm of the resort (booed by local residents, who promptly dubbed it “The Pagoda”.)

1988 When, when the newly renovated hotel opened for business, Mr. Mido flew a Japanese flag higher on the pole than an American flag, infuriating many who had fought in WWII against Japan. A group of local citizens organized a boycott of the Belleview Mido hotel.

1988 Meanwhile, the Belleair Country Club hired real estate attorney, Johnson, Pope & Blakely to represent their interests. It turned out the agreement between Bernie Powell and US Steel for 10 tee times per day did not automatically transcend ownership. Since there was no binding obligation, the Country Club decided to sever all ties with the hotel and for the first time since it opened in 1897, the hotel could not offer golf to its guests.

1988 The Belleview Mido Corporation purchased the public “Pelican Golf Course” on Indian Rocks Road and renamed it “The Belleview Mido Golf Course”. The clubhouse is fashioned to resemble the Belleview Mido Hotel.

1993 Hulk Hogan announces in a press conference at the Belleview Biltmore that he would star in a two-hour pilot for CBS, entitled, “Thunder in Paradise.”

1995 The Belleview Biltmore becomes a television star, used as a backdrop for the filming of a segment of ABC-TV’s family drama entitled “Second Noah.”

1997 Lady Margaret Thatcher, former British prime minister, is welcomed to the Belleview Biltmore.

1997 The Mido Corporation fell on hard times and was forced to abandon ownership of the hotel.

1997 The Belleview Mido Hotel was sold to the Jetta Family for $15,750,000. The Jetta’s renamed the property the Belleview Biltmore Resort and refinanced it through Urdang & Associates in order to fund a planned renovation while keeping the hotel and golf course open. They did manage to renovate the Belleview Biltmore Golf Course and portions of the Resort, but unfortunately, their overall plan did not succeed.

2001 Shortly after the 9/11/2001 Twin Towers tragedy, with tourism way down, the Jetta Family fell into bankruptcy.

2001 Urdang & Associates took back the property from the Jetta family, via a ‘friendly foreclosure’.

2005 Urdang & Associates entertained a purchase proposal from DeBartolo Development Group, who wanted to demolish the Belleview Biltmore Resort and replace it with hotel condominiums. When the Town of Belleair blocked that plan by instituting a Historic Preservation ordinance.

2007 June 20: Legg Mason Real Estate Investors, Inc. purchased the Belleview Biltmore with plans to fully restore the property beginning in May of 2009. Urdang & Associates sold the Belleview Biltmore Resort and Belleview Biltmore golf course to Legg Mason Real Estate Investors Group (LMREI) for $6 million down; agreeing to hold the note for the remaining $24.3 million of the purchase price.

2008 September: Just before his election to the Presidency of the United States, Senator Barack Obama enjoyed a stay at the Belleview Biltmore. Unfortunately, he had to shorten his planned trip after being called to the White House due to the Wall Street crisis, but said he hopes to return.

2009 Legg Mason Real Estate Investors (LMREI) closed the Belleview Biltmore Resort, planning a major renovation of the property.

2009 Renovation plans are stalled – first by legal issues and then by a poor economy, which cost LMREI its investors. Though the ownership and acronym are the same, the name of the investment group is changed to Latitude Management Real Estate Investors. Unaffected by the delayed renovation, the Belleview Biltmore Golf Course on Indian Rocks Road remains open to the public.


Timeline of the Belleview Biltmore Resort

1895-1896: The original hotel is constructed on 290 acres and has four stories of guest rooms. It runs four hundred feet from east to west and is ninety-six feet wide. A pump house at the end of a long pier provides fresh water to the hotel from an underground stream and a steam generator provides electricity. The Plant System train runs all the way to the hotel and a rail-yard provides seasonal parking for elite guests who own personal Pullman cars. Each guest room features three incandescent lights and a fire place. Many guest rooms have a private bath. Hotel staff lives on-site, in a dormitory and rooms can be rented on the uppermost floor for servants/nannies traveling with hotel guests.

January 15, 1897: Grand Opening – The 145 room Belleview Hotel opens for its first winter season to a gathering of founder and transportation magnate, Henry B. Plant’s friends, family, and business associates. Also at this gathering are a host of area residents who watched in wonder, as an army of workmen toiled for 18 months to construct the magnificent structure.

1898-99: The Belleview horse racing track, which is constructed of crushed oyster shell and includes a grandstand for viewing, is used for international bicycle races. Boats offer sightseeing trips and beach excursions. A six-hole golf course with sand greens is designed and constructed by Launcelot Cressy Servos.
Henry Plant commissioned Miss Stella Spurlin of Camden, Alabama, to compose “The Belleview Waltz,” dedicated to his second wife, Margaret Plant.

1899: Henry Plant dies suddenly at his Fifth Avenue home in New York City. His will is successfully contested by his son, Morton, and wife, Margaret. Morton dismantles the majority of the Plant System, but continues to run the Belleview until his death in 1919.

1900: Palm Cottage is built. It is the first in a series of twelve, individually named, kitchen-less private winter homes constructed on the hotel grounds for wealthy families in exchange for four seasons of free lodging. After four years, the cottage ownership reverts to the hotel and can thereafter be leased for the season.

Early 1900s: The original wood exterior, which has faded to a dull color, is painted a bright white and the roof is retiled with green shingles (instead of red). The Belleview is nicknamed the “White Queen of the Gulf.”

The entrance bridge provides much more than access to the hotel. It houses a curio shop, antique shop, and two museums (one exhibiting mounted fish from the area, and the other featuring mounted animals found in the tropics.)

At Maisie Plant’s urging (Morton’s second wife), construction begins on an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Dedicated as always to excellence, Morton Plant brings in tile setters from Italy to install the more than one million multi-colored ceramic tiles to line the seventy-five by sixty-foot pool. The bathing pavilion becomes quite popular with guests.

The Belleview Hotel proves to be an ideal vacation spot for industry leaders such as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Ford, although on vacation, has to be in constant contact with his plant in Detroit, so the Belleview is an excellent choice as telephone and telegraph services are available on the premises, as well as a post office. Hotel guests can even buy the Wall Street Journal and keep up with the stock market.

The Stone Crab Club is formed. Its membership consists of guests who have spent at least five winters at the Belleview. Members are given a silver buckle in the shape of a crab, and at the annual party, stone crabs and champagne are always served.

After young Henry Plant II is involved in an automobile accident, Morton Plant offers an endowment fund of $100,000 for maintenance of a hospital in Clearwater, provided the community can raise $20,000. Morton Plant Hospital opens in 1916 with twenty-one rooms.
The Olympic swimming pool is used for Olympic Swimming Trials.

1910 and 1914: Donald J. Ross is hired to design two golf courses and, even though it was commonly believed that grasses for greens wouldn¹t grow in Florida, Morton Plant experiments with grasses, fertilizers, and soils. The bicycle track is torn down in order to build the second golf course.

1916: The 120-foot East Wing is added, doubling the size and capacity of the hotel from 145 to 290 guest rooms. A new, much larger kitchen and dining room are established on the north side of the main wing.

1917: The Belleview Hotel purchases a 1917 American LaFrance fire engine. The hotel was one of the earliest hotels to have its own fire department and police force.

1919: Morton Plant dies suddenly of influenza. His estate is liquidated and his wife, Maisy inherits the lion’s share of his fortune. Morton’s son, Henry B. Plant II, and Phillip Manwaring-Plant (Maisy’s son whom Morton had adopted) inherit the balance of the estate.

1920: John McEntee Bowman of the Biltmore Hotel chain purchases the hotel, and renames it the “Belleview Biltmore.” Bowman also purchases the Belleview’s sister hotel, the Griswold, in New London, Connecticut.

1920-1940s
The roster of Belleview Biltmore guests reflect the aura of extravagance and indulgence of the time. Railroad presidents pull up on the Belleview Biltmore’s side tracks in their private cars. The Studebakers, the DuPonts, the Pew family of Sun Oil, the Vanderbilts and others associated with “America’s aristocracy” check in.

The golf links are frequented by some of the most famous golfers and athletes in the country, including baseball player Rube Marzard, golfer Gene Sarazen, baseball great Babe Ruth and golfer Johnny Farrell.

The Belleview Biltmore is completely self-sufficient, with its own post office, police and fire departments that also serve the Town of Belleair, with the general manager acting as postmaster.

1924: The second and final wing addition is built (the South Wing). When complete, the hotel has a total of 425 rooms, of which 380 are guest rooms. The rest are used for staff and administrative purposes. James H. Ritchie of Brookline, Massachusetts, is the architect for this $1 million expansion, which includes the construction of the South Wing, an addition to the dormitory, and enlarging the grand dining room (the Tiffany Room.)

1939: Arnold Kirkeby purchases the Belleview Biltmore. Kirkeby started his career as an investment security salesman in 1919. He moved on the become president of the K Corporation, the K Natus Corporation, Warwick Realty and then formed the Kirkeby Hotel chain.

1940: Kirkeby and his wife, known as “the most gracious hosts from coast to coast,” host the Brooklyn Dodgers for spring training. The upper deck of the pool house is removed, since sunbathing has become a popular pastime.

1942: The Belleview Biltmore enters the war effort when it is requisitioned by the U.S. Army Air Corps to provide extra housing for servicemen training at MacDill and Drew Air Fields in Tampa. Immediately, the hotel¹s ledgers and registers, antique furniture, furnishings, supplies and equipment are removed and stored in warehouses.

The hotel’s seventeen hundred windows, as well as the glorious panels between the hallway and the Tiffany Room are slathered with heavy coats of black paint to block escaping light. Submarine scares are common as nervous soldiers and Floridians keep watch on the waters of Clearwater Bay and the Gulf of Mexico beyond. The post office, police and fire departments are moved off hotel property and become the responsibility of the Town of Belleair.

1942: The government requires the hotel to hook up to Florida Power. Until now, the hotel had its own power plant and water pump system.

1943: August: After eighteen months, the U.S. Army Corp moves out. On the last day of their residence, the installation of a brand-new, state-of-the-art $100,000 sprinkler system is completed. The Belleview¹s corridors are silent for the first time since 1897.

Some of the items stored in warehouses were used in other Kirkeby hotels or sold at auction, but the bulk of items that had been stored in the warehouses came up missing, resulting in the loss of a major portion of the hotel¹s history.

1944: Kirkeby sells the Belleview Biltmore to multi-millionaire Ed C. Wright at auction for $275,000. Ed C. Wright made his fortune during the Depression dealing in municipal bonds and defaulted coupons. The purchase is a real estate investment, so the Belleview Biltmore remains closed.

1946: Wright sells the Belleview Biltmore and twenty acres of the surrounding property to a group of investors from Detroit headed by Bernard and Mary Powell, his sister Nora Peabody and Roger L. Stevens for $500,000. Mr. Powell was an attorney admitted to practice before the Supreme Court. Mr. Stevens was a part owner in the Empire State Building in New York City and a Broadway theatrical producer. He was also the guiding light behind the Kennedy Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. The Powell Group retained egress to the rest of the property, including the golf courses, in return for maintenance and upkeep. The first year is devoted to restoring the Belleview Biltmore to her original splendor, including new plumbing, new wiring, fresh paint, and the reopening of the golf courses.

January 10, 1947: Incredibly, the entire renovation was completed in time for the gala reopening of the Belleview Biltmore for the 1947 winter season.

Late 1940s – Early 1950s
For eight seasons, Cal Gifford, popular band leader and music director, appeared at the Belleview Biltmore. The band played at the swimming pool every day for lunch, always opening with “Anchors Away.” The band also played in the lounge before dinner and provided dance music for the rest of the evening, as well as performing for shows in the Starlight Room.

1953: The Duke of Windsor spends the winter season at the Belleview Biltmore.

1958: The Belleair Fire Department, which had been housed on the grounds since 1917, is relocated to town.

1963: The Powell Group builds and equips the Cabana and Beach Club on Sand Key Beach, which provides a beautiful, gently sloping, white sandy beach across the Intracoastal Waterway from the hotel. The Club features cabanas, showers and changing rooms, restaurants and a ballroom for special events. A party boat ferries guests back and forth from the mainland for dinner on the beach.

1975: Aluminum siding was installed on the Belleview Biltmore. It took a crew of fifteen men, working ten hours a day, six days a week for four months to install the 1,800-plus squares of siding and more than 5.8 miles of aluminum window trim. Previously, it took a year-round crew and one thousand gallons of paint per year to maintain the “White Queen of the Gulf.”

1976: Bob Dylan stayed at the Belleview Biltmore while preparing for his Rolling Thunder Revue tour.

1979: The Belleview Biltmore was proudly named to the National Register of Historic Places.

1985: The Belleview Biltmore received two very prestigious designations: Mobil Travel Guide gave the Belleview Biltmore the Four-Star Award and the World Tennis Magazine named it a Five-Star Tennis Resort.

1985: December: Powell and his co-owners signed a three-year lease option agreement to keep the Belleview Biltmore open year-round. The partnership, comprised of developer Charles Rutenberg, spa executive Salu Devnani, and Belleview General Manager Christopher Reyelt, poured $10 million into renovating the guest rooms and building a luxurious, state-of-the-art spa.

1989: Due to poor financial management by the Rutenberg partnership, the Powell Group was forced to resume control of the Belleview Biltmore.

1990: Ed C. Wright died suddenly and his executor listed all of his real estate holdings in the Wall Street Journal for sale. Within 24 hours, US Steel had a contract on the waterfront and golf course property surrounding the Belleview Biltmore Hotel. However, the deal between Wright and Powell stands and hotel guests are still permitted access to the golf courses and waterfront.

1990: US Steel verses the Town of Belleair in a law suit regarding what can be built on the property. Eventually the suit is settled via compromise – US Steel can build some, but not all, of the condos they want in exchange for naming the two Belleview Biltmore golf courses green spaces in perpetuity.

1990: US Steel sells the golf course property to a group headed by Bobby Bird, a local real estate broker, who forms the private Belleview Biltmore Golf Club. The Powell arrangement with regard to limited access for hotel guests to play on the golf courses remains intact.

1991: The Mido Hotel and Development Corporation of Japan buys the Belleview Biltmore resort from the Powell Group for $27.5 million and renames it the Belleview Mido Resort and Country Club. They hope to recreate “Pebble Beach” in Florida, but a cultural conflict immediately ensues between the property owners and local residents, over the change in the hotel’s name, the Japanese influence in the design of a new lobby entrance, and the new owner’s desire to fly both American and Japanese flags on the property.

1991: The Belleview Biltmore Golf Club goes to court to sever its relationship with the hotel, successfully arguing that the Powell Agreement did not automatically transcend ownership and the Golf Club had the right to determine whether or not they would continue to do business with the Mido Corporporation. The Belleview Biltmore Country Club begins doing business as the Belleair Country Club.

1991: For the first time since 1897, the Belleview could not provide golf to entertain hotel guests. The Mido Corp purchased the public Pelican Golf Course on Indian Rocks Road and renamed it the Belleview Mido Golf Course. They built a clubhouse in the style of the Belleview Mido Hotel. Local residents continued to boycott the hotel and the enterprise faltered.

1993: Hulk Hogan announced in a press conference at the Belleview Biltmore that he would star in a two-hour pilot for CBS, entitled, “Thunder in Paradise.”

1995: The Belleview Biltmore was used as a backdrop for the filming of a segment of ABC-TV’s family drama entitled “Second Noah.”

1995: Urdang & Associates bought the hotel, hoping to develop the property. For the time being, the hotel continued to operate, but little was done to maintain or improve the property.

1997: The Jetha Corporation, a family-owned business purchased the resort from Urdang & Associates. Urdang held the $16 million mortgage. The Jetha family changed the name of the hotel and the golf course on Indian Rocks Road back to the Belleview Biltmore. They decided to attempt to complete the renovations started by the Mido Corporation while remaining open for business.

1997: Lady Margaret Thatcher, former British prime minister, is welcomed to the Belleview Biltmore.

2003: Following the Twin Towers tragedy, the travel market slumped and the Jetha family was unable to make its mortgage payments. The property returned to Urdang & Associates via a friendly foreclosure.

2004: The Belleview Biltmore was hit by three hurricanes in one season. The roof sustained damage, which Urdang & Associates covered with plastic tarps, but did not repair.

2004: The DeBartolo Development tried to purchase the property and replace the hotel with a planned residential and retail community, but resistance from the local community forced them to abandon their plans.

2005: The Town of Belleair instituted a Historic Preservation Ordinance, aimed to protect and preserve the historic hotel from demolition, either by intent or by neglect.

2007: On June 20th, Legg Mason Partners (quickly renamed Legg Mason Real Estate Investors or LMREI) purchased the Belleview Biltmore Resort, which included the hotel property, golf course and Sand Key beach property, for $30.3 million, with plans to complete a $120 million total renovation of all three properties.

2008: September: Just before his election to the Presidency of the United States, Senator Barack Obama enjoyed a stay at the Belleview Biltmore. Unfortunately, he had to shorten his planned trip after being called to the White House due to the Wall Street crisis, but said he hoped to return for another visit following the renovation.

2009: The Belleview Biltmore is closed by LMREI on May 31st. In anticipation of a complete renovation, LMREI stored all historic artifacts and sold the rest of the hotel’s furnishings to the public. Carpets were removed, inspection holes were cut at various locations throughout the hotel to inspect the substructure, and restoration plans were developed. The renovated hotel was scheduled to reopen in January, 2012. Because the renovation called for raising the roof of the structure, the hurricane damage was not repaired. In the meantime, makeshift systems were put into place to control rain water that might penetrate the structure.

2009: Three area residents filed two law suits against the Town of Belleair and Legg Mason Real Estate Investors (LMREI), regarding approved variance requests, stalling renovation plans. The court eventually ruled against residents on both lawsuits, but the timing was devastating to the renovation. In the midst of a nation-wide financial crisis, the group lost its financial backing and folded.

2009: Once again, Urdang & Associates took back the property.

2010: Amidst the near collapse of the nations’ real estate marke, KAWA Capital Management, LLC, owned by Raphael and Daniel Ades of Miami, bought the Belleview Biltmore property from Urdang & Associates for the remaining balance of the mortgage – $8 million. KAWA immediately divided the resort into three, separate segments: The BB Hotel LLC, the BB Golf Course LLC and the BB Cabana Club LLC. KAWA refused to repair the damage to the hotel’s roof, despite accruing a $250/day fine for demolition by neglect of a historically protected property, in violation of the Towns’ Historic Preservation Ordinance. Eventually, the Town filed liens against all three properties for nonpayment of fines assessed for demolition by neglect.

2010: The Belleview Biltmore is featured in the background of a new TV Show, “The Glades” during scenes in the pilot episode, wherein the star of the show played a round of golf at the Belleair Country Club.

2012: Belleview Biltmore Partners LLC of Miami (BBP) signed a purchase and sale agreement to acquire hotel, golf course and cabana club, but the offer fell through, due to a lack of financial backers.

2013: A commissioner announced during a public meeting that the moratorium on developing the Belleview Biltmore Golf Course property had expired, creating pandemonium among government officials, who were concerned development could damage the towns’ primary aquifer, which is located beneath the golf course property. Seizing an opportunity, KAWA threatened to sell the golf course property to a developer unless the Town agreed to release its liens on the golf course and beach properties. The Town agreed and purchased the golf course for $3.5 million. The Town then rezoned the golf course property as green space in perpetuity.

2014: As soon as the lien was lifted on the beach property, KAWA sold the BB Cabana Club LLC to developer Brian Taub for $2.1 million. The new owner raised the Cabana Club to make way for planned condominiums.

2014: JMC Communities, led by CEO Mike Cheezem, entered into a contract for the BB Hotel LLC, planning to demolish the Belleview Biltmore Hotel and replace it with a community of Town Homes, Condo Towers and a small inn. The contract is pending and is subject to the Town agreeing to a number of conditions, including rezoning the property and issuing a demolition permit for the Belleview Biltmore Hotel.

2014: As the economy begins to bounce back, the Belleview Biltmore Partners (BBP) and others have been able to secure investors and have stepped forward, hoping to purchase and restore the hotel. However, JMC Communities currently refuses to consider selling the contract on the property and is continuing to move forward through the steps required to demolish the hotel.

2014: Local residents filed a lawsuit against the Town and KAWA for their actions in violation of the Town’s Historic Preservation Ordinance. This law suit is still pending.