Historic Beachside Hotel in Florida
The Casa Maria was our second stop on our southeastern road trip. Don and I were excited when we pulled up to the Spanish Mediterranean hotel from 1925. The awning and palms, stucco and tile, looked inviting.
Once inside, the hotel had a homey feel. There was no grand lobby, just a corner office for checking in. I wonder what the interior looked like in 1925, when Florida was in the height of its land boom and this hotel was bustling.
Hall of Photos
I could get a little bit of an idea about the hotel's past by studying all the old photos in the halls. Jacksonville Beach must have been quite the place with boardwalk and carnival rides.
Just off the lobby there were doors to the patio area. I could see strings of lights and a wooden walkway leading to the beach.
Palms and Stucco
The courtyard on the ocean side, looked fairly impressive with some outdoor seating. The wind was pretty fierce on that January afternoon, so the buildings did a good job of blocking the wind.
To the Beach
The afternoon light was glowing on the surf. I took a quick walk out toward the beach.
I didn't see a pool, but evidently there was one in the past. I liked this old postcard image of the colorful umbrellas. There were probably a few swim caps in that pool.
Don and I asked for a room with a view, but turned down the $40.00 upgrade. Our check in host said she could give us a partial view, so we headed up the stairs, happy.
Corner Room - 208
It's hard to get too much of a view, with a 2-story building, but at least we had more than one window. Corner rooms are always a perk. The side window even had a side view of the beach. However, the aged window screen was so loose and wavy, that I had a hard time seeing the view! Amusing.
Curious Set Up
The bed with unusual frame, was squeezed in next to one bedside table. There was some extra space outside of the bathroom, with a sink built into a dresser. I liked that. But there was no chair and the TV was on an awkwardly low table, beside a dusty bible.
So we helped ourselves to one of the chairs in the hall and brought it into our room. Then I made a luggage rack out of a wobbly ironing board. The bathroom at least had good light from a window.
The north end of the building showed the entrance to the restaurant.
Once inside, we discovered a nice dining area with wood beams and white tablecloths. Unfortunately, there was no dining for us. The area is now an event space, so just took the stairs on up a few levels, where food was available.
The Penthouse Lounge
From a distance you can see the covered stairs, leading up to the Penthouse Lounge. The third floor was added in later years and in recent years has become a popular gathering place for locals.
Too Cold on Deck!
The outdoor deck had a great view of the beach and pier. The photo doesn't reveal how fiercely that wind was whipping. We opted to stay in the indoor bar and enjoyed drinks and appetizers, where we still had a decent view.
Tempted by the View
I kept looking out at the view and finally could not sit any longer. I just grabbed the camera and headed down the staircase, from the outdoor terrace.
Bridge to the Beach
I headed down the wooden walkway, away from hotel.
The further away I got, the more the hotel looked its age. It made me think more about the famous people who stayed in the early years, from Al Capone to Charlie Chaplin.
The Colorful Days
I wanted to see all the people who romped in the waves over the years... in all the various styles from the modest 1920's to the bikini days.
But instead, I saw this lovely old hotel, with the sun sinking behind.
There were no sunbathers on a cold January day, but I did spot some brave souls with surfboards. What a a lovely spot this hotel has held, for over 90 years.
In the morning I finished studying the last of the old photos in the hallways. Then, we headed towards the lobby bar, where a complimentary breakfast awaited. Determined to make use of our little beach hotel's location, we moved outside with our coffee and rolls.
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!