Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Florida History: Lauderdale Beach Hotel - once a navy radar school, now a facade

Fusion of old/new
Lauderdale Beach Hotel
101 Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316

By Jane Feehan

(For more Fort Lauderdale and SOFLA history, see my all-history blog at JanesHistoryNook.blogspot.com)

Built in 1937, the Lauderdale Beach Hotel was one of the two largest hotels in Broward County when the U.S. entered World War II (the other was the *Tradewinds Hotel).  The 500-room Lauderdale Beach Hotel, the Tradewinds, the Edmar apartments and adjacent beach were taken over by the U.S. Navy August 1, 1943. They were used as a navy radar training school until the winter of 1945 when they were released to civilian trade.

Today, only the front part of the Lauderdale Beach Hotel remains, occupied by the H2O Cafe and attached via a garage to the upscale Las Olas Club condominium. The hotel with its distinct architecture, a vestige of the 1930s art deco or art moderne style was partially rescued by preservationists when condo developers bought the property. A condition of development was to leave the distinctive facade of the old structure intact.

The Las Olas Club was built behind and attached to the old Lauderdale Beach Hotel in 2007. Condos there range from $799,000 to $3.9 million (about $540 a square foot) – quite a change for the old Fort Lauderdale landmark, site of so many special occasions, conventions and vacations since 1937.

*For Tradewinds hotel history, see my other blog at:

Miami News, May 18, 1943


jim e said...

My father and grandfather built the Lauderdale Beach Hotel starting in 1936. In 1937, the south six story part was added on as there was much interest from "northerners." When I was growing up there during WW2, at one time a German torpedo shot at an offshore ship came up on the beach, having missed its target. Another time, one of our USN mines, which had been laid to protect Port Everglades, floated up onto the beach directly in front of the hotel. Experts to defuse it had to be flown in from Washington, D.C. An area of about one mile was evacuated and cordoned off until the mine was defused.

Jane Feehan said...

Thanks for your comments, Jim. Do you know what sits on the second floor of what remains of the original hotel? Offices?

cary bluhm said...

Jim e thinks his father and grandfather built the Lauderdale Beach Hotel. He needs to bone up on history. James S. Knight (who was perhaps either his grandfather or his great grandfather) bought the land and built the hotel with the help of his daughter Ellen Knight Ogle and her husband (Mr. Knight's son-in-law) Arthur Ogle. Mr. and Mrs. Ogle hired the architect and the interior designer and ran the hotel from the time it opened until the Navy took it over.
Only after the war did Charles Knight, James Knight's son and Ellen Ogle's brother, appear on the scene. Charles had nothing to do with the building of the hotel.

Nina McCoy said...

Charles Knight was my grandfather's closest friend. My family visited the Lauderdale Beach Hotel when we were little kids and spent lots of time with Uncle Charlie and Aunt Dode. Can't remember the year. I'll have to check with my Dad. Thanks for writing about it.

Anonymous said...

Steve J. of Owatonna, MN
Architect was Nels S. Jacobson, an Owatonna native. I live in his house and am seeking any information available. I can be contacted at rosebrockandsons@qwestoffice.net

Michael McGovern said...

I stayed at the hotel during Spring Break 1981 and had very memorable times.

Michael McGovern said...

I stayed at the hotel during Spring Break 1981 and had very memorable times.