Don CeSar celebrates 40 years since reopening - FOX 13 News

Don CeSar celebrates 40 years since reopening

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

The Loews Don CeSar Hotel in St. Petersburg is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its reopening after being saved from demolition back in 1973. Employees are holding an intimate private reception to thank the community for supporting the historic hotel.

The history of the Don CeSar dates back to 1924. Thomas Rowe purchased 80 acres of land in St. Pete for $100,000 and began his dream of building a pink castle.

The hotel opened Jan. 16, 1928, and quickly became a favorite for the rich and famous, including Scott Fitzgerald, Lou Gehrig, Franklin D Roosevelt and Al Capone.

However, after the sudden death of its original owner, the Don CeSar began to fall into despair.  The United States entered into World War II and hotel was bought out by the Army for $450,000. It was converted into a military hospital and reopened again in December 1942.

In February 1944, the hotel became an Air Force Convalescent Center. In June 1945, it was ordered closed and was taken vacant by September of that year.  It was converted into a Veterans Administration regional office by the end of 1945.

In November 1967, the Veterans Administration began moving out of the Don CeSar.  By spring 1969, the once grand hotel was vacant and there were talks of demolition.

Then in March 1972, it was sold to the Holiday Inn franchise owner.  The Don CeSar reopened on November 1973 and underwent multiple renovations from 1985 to 2001.

The pink castle was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and became a founding member of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America and 1989.

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