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Gulf View Inn

Articles: Sarasota History

Author: Ann A. Shank, former County Historian
Photo Credit: Sarasota County History Center

Sarasota History - Gulf View Inn photo

The Gulf View Inn was built as the Sarasota Beach Lodge on the Gulf side of Siesta key at the beginning of 1925. The Sarasota Beach subdivision had been platted in late 1924 by the Crescent Beach Development Co. and included the area approximately bordered now by Ocean Blvd., Avenida Del Mayo and Avenida Del Mare. The use of Spanish street names reflected the Mediterranean theme in much of Sarasota's 1920s development. Although divided into more than 800 lots, the subdivision was largely undeveloped until after World War II. Perhaps a disincentive to visitors, the road out to Sarasota Beach was reportedly awful sandy, narrow and bumpy. A small item in "This Week In Sarasota" in early 1925 stated that the county, had used a road drag, to smooth out some of the ruts and holes, but the dangerous curves and narrow spots remained.

"This Week In Sarasota" reported the lodge had been built in 16 working days for Traylor and Whipple, a real estate company which needed a place, to entertain and house potential buyers. To introduce Floridian's to the beauty of Sarasota Beach, Traylor and Whipple hired buses to bring the curious and the interested to Sarasota. What better place to house them than in a company hotel on the beach! The above 1925 photo was in the collection of Carlos "Red" Massy, pianist and leader of a band which played at the Gulf View Inn "Lodge" dining room at night. In the afternoons they played at the Mira Mar Hotel (then on Palm Avenue) to attract real estate buyers to Traylor and Whipple's (and then Whipple and Kenny's) real estate offices in the Mira Mar complex.

The architectural style of the Gulf View Inn was an unusual mixture. The exterior was Mediterranean Revival, in keeping with the theme of the subdivision. The interior, in contrast, looked like a rough-hewn hunting lodge. The public area was the full height of the building, with, cypress-timbered walls, tree-trunk pillars, a large coquina-rock fireplace and a pool with a fountain in the center of the lobby. Massy noted on the back of one photo that "there were alligators in the pool" when he played there.

By the 1930s, advertisements for the Gulf View Inn indicate a shift in its function and clientele. Instead of appealing to the potential real estate buyer who was in Sarasota for a short stay, the Inn was portrayed as a winter home for families looking for a social life different from that offered by the "transient" hotels. Steam heat in every room, excellent cuisine and free motor service to Sarasota and, the Bobby Jones Golf course were provided. Wilson K. Whipple, formerly of the Whipple and Kenny real estate company, managed the Inn.

Although the 1925 newspaper announcement promised that a much more elaborate structure would soon replace the temporary lodge, in fact the hotel was used for nearly 60 years. Not until the early 1980s did the Siesta Gulf View Condominiums take its place. While the inn endured, the beach changed. In the 1920's there was a wide expanse of sand in front of the building. By the end of the 1930s, waves lapped a seawall near the building. Today, with much sand accretion, the wide beach has returned.

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