An Historic Tour of The Pier Hotel
The Pier Hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel in St. Petersburg. Throughout the years, she has seen many changes. Please join us on this historic tour...
The year was 1921. Saint Petersburg was a boomtown both in real estate and tourism. Just 45 minutes to the Northwest was New Port Richey, where the famous silent movie stars of the 1920's built their mansions to escape from the rest of the world. As they arrived by rail at the transportation center in Saint Petersburg, an overnight stay was typically warranted.
The Pier Hotel was built to accommodate these guests and many other early travellers of that era. Never a private mansion, The Pier Hotel was always, as it is today, a boutique hotel accommodating guests with discreet privileges and impeccable European service.
She opened as The Hotel Scott in the early Fall of 1921. The Scotts made a fortune in early real estate investments, and built the hotel to showcase their family name. They soon moved on to other projects, and in 1923 sold the hotel to the Cordova family.
The Hotel Cordova reigned from 1923 until 1999, when she finally closed her doors after 75 years! Although the Cordova was well known throughout St. Petersburg for over 7 decades, the truth is that the Cordova Family sold the hotel in the early 1950's. For the next 50 years Hotel Cordova changed owners several times, though the name never changed -- until 2001 when the extensive renovations done to orginal standards of exemplary workmanship earned her a new name. The Pier Hotel now resonates with a sterling reputation for service, style and value.
Local lore has it that when the Cordova Family purchased the hotel, they brought their personal major-domo from their Michigan estate to manage the hotel. It also holds that this unknown major-domo (no one seems to remember his name) ruled the hotel with a firm hand. Dressed in full formal uniform, he maintained a reputation for impeccable accommodations, personal concierge attention and European service. He passed away in the hotel after providing more than 20 years of service. Legend also murmurs his image has been seen on many occasions throughout the Hotel since his death, perhaps still overseeing the accommodations with loving attention to the last detail.
In 1999 the hotel closed, having been in a state of decline for several years. During the late '80's and early '90's, downtown St. Petersburg as less than a desirable place to be after sunset. She sat empty, waiting to serve again after her long winter sleep. During this time, schoolboys would occassionally break into the old hotel at night, and tell the story the next day of hearing the major-domo howl with disapproval in the empty halls of the hotel. Then, a metamorphosis took place in downtown St. Petersburg!
It was called BayWalk and the Downtown Shops. Seeing the potential of this lady with an aging dirty face, a local investor purchased Hotel Cordova, saving her from the wrecking ball which had claimed her sister hotel next door (now a parking lot). She was completely gutted, then installed with new fixtures, wiring, paint and finally, the period decor. Each detail lovingly restored to the exceptional standards to which it was built in 1921, right down to the water basins in the hall (where servants washed up before serving their wealthy employers).
Today, you'll see the same great arches, the same spacious rooms, the same elegant verandah and the same attention to artisanship from a time gone by. In the 2000/2001 season, she reopened as The Pier Hotel. The major-domo reflection was never seen again. We like to think has was satisfied with the result, and could finally rest at long last!
Today, The Pier Hotel's guests enjoy the same service as was originally provided in the 1920's, coupled with her adjoining BayWalk location, fine museums, ever expanding list of restaurants & night-life venues, recreation opportunities, waterfront parks, and as always, the sparkling, beautiful waters of Tampa Bay!
The Pier Hotel boasts 33 tastefully appointed guest rooms, most with microwaves, refrigerators, wet-bars and all with French duvets, high-speed Internet access.
Many of the guestrooms have the original clawfooted ladies' soaking tubs. Imagine the comfort and peaceful escape from the outside world while soaking leisurely in these tubs, then dressing later for an evening on the town! Today, The Pier Hotel is known for its European service and discreet privacy for both high-profile guests and tourists alike.
The Pier Hotel was awarded the 2002 Restoration of the Year award from the St. Petersburg Preservation Society.