Monday, July 18, 2011

Florida History: Broward County's first tourist hotel in Fort Lauderdale

Hotel Broward opens in 1919

Hotel Broward - 1919
Andrews and Las Olas Boulevard

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By Jane Feehan
Fort Lauderdale experienced rapid growth after World War I and needed a hotel.  When approached about it, George E. Henry, from Massachusetts, decided to help the fledgling town. He owned suitable property on Andrews Avenue and Las Olas Boulevard. In moving forward with the project, Henry had an architect draw up plans and then put out bids for construction.

When the total price reached $140,000, $40,000 more than Henry agreed to pay, he suggested citizens raise cash for the overage. A citizens committee raised $23,000, but was still thousands short. City Council President  Frank Stranahan stepped in and deeded Stranahan Park for $1 to someone who could sell it to Fort Lauderdale (as council president, Stranahan couldn’t sell land to the city). Fort Lauderdale paid $6,000 for the park and that money was turned over to the hotel building fund.

Still short of the $140,000, Henry went ahead and built the three story Hotel Broward in Fort Lauderdale, the county’s first tourist hotel. It opened for the season in 1919 and counted among its first visitors filmmaker D.W. Griffith and his troupe of actors in Fort Lauderdale to make the movie, Idol Dancer.

Political will and community spirit merged to bring about the first hotel catering to tourists; it was far from the beach, though a causeway via Las Olas to the beach was opened in 1917. 

An advertisement for Hotel Broward displays a menu and a $1.50 cover charge for their New Year’s Eve festivities.
Weidling, Philip J., and Burghard, August. Checkered Sunshine. Gainesville: University of Florida Press (1966).
Miami News, Dec. 30, 1919, p. 7.

Tags: Broward County history, Fort Lauderdale history, Fort Lauderdale hotels, Fort Lauderdale historic hotels

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