Tuesday, November 14, 2017

January 1st, 1942. Celebrating the New Year at Gulfstream Hotel: “Everything Florida Has — We Have”.

Below are images from the menu and cocktails at the “Gala New Year’s Party” from 75 years ago at the Gulfstream Hotel in Downtown Lake Worth.

Of course, this historic hotel remains shuttered since being purchased the last time in May 2014, 3½ years ago. Below is a chronology, the highs and mostly lows, about our Downtown historic hotel. Five years ago I spent a day touring the hotel whilst it was under previous ownership and you can read more about that below.

It’s very important for the public to know that a designation of “historic” is no protection from the wrecking ball. I’ve been through this process before: documenting a structure’s significance, showing it once existed, then torn down and hauled away. And also, over and over again, the public is misled about historic preservation by those who should know better, like the editor(s) at The Palm Beach Post when they published this nonsense:

“The Gulfstream Hotel should be taken back by the city and made into an affordable destination for tourists who would generate income and provide jobs for our community.”

The City of Lake Worth, never in the history of the Gulfstream Hotel, ever owned that structure and could not ‘take it back’. But since that nonsense got published how many in the public think the City is responsible for this historic structure?

Since May 2014: The highs and the lows.

For a brief time in August 2016 we gathered to celebrate good news on the hotel’s patio and to honor an old friend, Loretta Sharpe, who devoted so much of her time and energy to save this historic structure, our Gulfstream Hotel.

Sadly, Loretta had passed away, but her strong
spirit was there that day.
On March 31st, 2017 came the best news of all, or so we all thought at the time: “The Petition for
Writ of Certiorari is DENIED
.”

Then on April 14th, 2017 came this news from Sun Sentinel reporter Arlene Satchell headlined, “Lake Worth’s historic Gulfstream Hotel slated for $80 million makeover”, an excerpt:

“Our plans are to rehabilitate this hotel [and] bring it back to its historic significance in the public areas, the lobby, corridors etc.,” said Steven Michael, principal of developer Hudson Holdings during a tour Friday. “We’ll do a complete rehabilitation of the whole building from top to bottom.” [emphasis added]

And now here we are, 7 months later, and the Gulfstream Hotel remains shuttered. But since May 2014 no event or news has stood out more than what happened on January 5th, 2016 at the Lake Worth City Commission when a very well-respected land use attorney then representing the owners of the Gulfstream Hotel said:

“I have to tell you, in 23 years I’ve never, ever seen so many people come out, leave their homes at dinner time to speak in favor of an application. It just doesn’t happen. People come to speak against, but people don’t come to speak in favor. So I am overwhelmed by the volume of people that have been here this evening.”

A month later I published this video to YouTube:


Let’s take a stroll back to 2012. . .

I toured the Gulfstream Hotel from the roof all the way down to the maintenance room five years ago while under previous ownership and the structure is indeed impressive. From the roof the views are vast of “the Palm Beach Area” (note the first image below).

The roof was (and still is) used by a cell phone company with an array of equipment outside and inside the building that made a constant ‘whirring’ sound. The hallways and stairs I noticed were completely clear of any debris or obstructions but the individual rooms were torn apart like they were being renovated. It was like the crew doing the work went on lunch break, years ago, and haven’t returned to finish the work. On the top two floors there was some water damage which is to be expected.

Interestingly, the hotel had running water when I was there. The rooms have very small bathrooms, tiny closets, and barely enough room for common amenities the modern-day hotel customer is accustomed to. Most of the rooms I looked through were on the top four floors and surmised all the hotel’s rooms were in a similar condition. A renovation will lower the number of rooms and increase room sizes as tourists and business travelers expect in this modern era.

The lobby and first floor are incredible and you can imagine a visitors’ joy arriving to the hotel fresh off a Henry Flagler train to escape the northern cold. Most of the first floor, when I was there, was being used for furniture storage and it was all kept in an orderly fashion. Below the hotel’s first (main) floor is the boiler room and maintenance areas and was like a step back in time, like a movie scene from the 1930s or 1940s.

I’ve made this observation many times on this blog and will do so once again: it’s a near miracle this hotel is still standing tall in our downtown. So many of these historic structures are long gone now and are just memories in a book or computer file that nobody, or very few, care to look at any more. 

I hope you enjoy this look back at New Year’s Day at the “Gulf Stream”* Hotel 75 years ago:

“Everything Florida Has — We Have”

New Year’s Dinner at the “Gulf Stream” Hotel: January 1st, 1942.

The Gala: New Year’s party on the “Gulf Stream” Patio and Cocktail Lounge: December 30th, 1941.

*“Gulf Stream” (historic name for the hotel) and “Gulfstream” (2 words ‘blended’, a portmanteau) are used interchangeably over different eras for many reasons, e.g., commonly accepted title by the public, news reports, public relations, advertising, etc.

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