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Florida - Coral Gables: The Biltmore Hotel
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The Coral Gables Biltmore, located at 1200 Anastasia Avenue, was designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style by Schultze and Weaver and built in 1926 by John McEntee Bowman and George Merrick as part of the Biltmore hotel chain. At its completion, the Giralda-inspired Tower was the tallest building in Florida, surpassing the Miami Daily News Tower in Downtown Miami.
In its heyday, The Biltmore played host to royalty, both Europe's and Hollywood's. The hotel counted the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Al Capone and assorted Roosevelts and Vanderbilts as frequent guests. Franklin D. Roosevelt had a temporary White House office set up at the Hotel for when he vacationed on his fishing trips from Miami. Its pool, at one point the largest in the world, drew crowds of 3,000 people every Sunday through the depression to see Alexander Ott's Water Follies, featuring Jackie Ott the Aqua Tot and other headliners such as Olympic skater Sonja Henie, the Flying Wallendas and magician Harry Houdini. Johnny Weissmuller, an Olympic swimming medalist who later went on to play Tarzan, was a swimming instructor at the Biltmore pool.
During World War II, the Biltmore was converted to an Army Air Forces Regional Hospital and a campus for the University of Miami's School of Medicine. It remained a VA hospital until 1968. In 1973, ownership was transferred to the City of Coral Gables and it remained unoccupied until 1983, when the City oversaw a full -million restoration. The Biltmore reopened as a hotel and resort on December 31, 1987 and in 1992, Seaway Hotels Corporation assumed operations.
The hotel has been used as a setting for the movie Bad Boys and television programs like CSI: Miami and Miami Vice. The hotel was also a major setting for Ken Wiederhorn's 1977 cult horror film Shock Waves, starring John Carradine and Peter Cushing. There are some reports that claim this hotel to be "haunted" in the paranormal sense. Grey foxes, descended from the original ones hunted on these grounds, still roam the neighborhood.
National Register #72000306 (1972)
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Image by Innisfree Hotels
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