Real Estate

Ten Iconic Miami Hotels That No Longer Stand

Miami would be nothing without its hotels. Never mind that some of the juiciest bits of Miami history took place within their walls — the walls themselves are basically Miami history. These days, South Florida, especially Miami Beach, is known for its zeal for historic preservation. The Beach is home to the largest collection of art deco hotels in the world. Once-great resorts that were in danger of fading, including the Fontainebleau Miami Beach and the Biltmore in Coral Gables, have been reinvigorated and continue to thrive.

However, that wasn't always the case. For every historic hotel that still stands, there's another that met its demise by wrecking ball. Here's a look at ten historic Miami hotels that are no longer with us.

The Royal Palm
Location: The Miami River's north bank in downtown Miami
Architect: Unknown
Opened: 1897
Demolished: 1930
The Royal Palm was Miami's first true luxury resort. Built by railroad magnate Henry Flagler, it established in the late 1800s what Miami would come to be known for: luxurious tropical vacations in fancy digs. This place was truly luxe for its time. One hundred of the guest rooms even had their own private bathrooms, which was an extravagance back in the day.

It was also, for a while, the only place in Miami where one could toss back a drink. City founder Julia Tuttle insisted that alcohol would not be served in Miami. The Royal Palm was the only exception for a number of years, and even then, booze was served only for three months, during tourist season.

Unlike some of the other hotels on this list, it's unlikely the Royal Palm would still stand today even if someone had wanted to preserve it. The hotel was made of wood and suffered extensive damage during the hurricane of 1926. It briefly reopened afterward but was condemned and torn down after a nasty termite infestation.

The McAllister Hotel
Location: 10 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Architect: Walter De Garmo
Opened: 1917
Demolished: 1988
Despite standing just ten stories tall, the McAllister was considered Miami's first skyscraper when it was built in 1917. It held the distinction as Miami's tallest building for only eight years but held its designation as a Miami icon for decades. Designed by the first registered architect in Miami, Walter De Garmo (whose other buildings include the Miami Beach Community Church and the mansion that a Real Housewifes of Miami star demolished on Star Island), the McAllister was knocked down in 1988. It was replaced by a strip mall, but that was later demolished to make room for 50 Biscayne.

The Roney Plaza
Location: 22nd Street and Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
Architect: Schultze & Weaver
Opened: 1925
Demolished: 1968
The Roney Plaza Hotel was Miami's first grand beachfront resort. It was the Fontainebleau before the Fontainebleau existed. Built by N.B.T. Roney, a New Jersey lawyer who decided to become a Miami real-estate magnate instead, the resort attracted a who's who that included Hollywood stars and even the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor. The hotel's Bamboo Room & Restaurant was the place to be seen on the Beach for decades.

If the architecture looks a bit familiar, it's because the firm Schultze & Weaver was also responsible for the Freedom Tower and the Biltmore hotel (plus other grand hotels such as New York's Waldorf-Astoria and the Breakers Palm Beach). Alas, the hotel simply couldn't compete when megaresorts such as the Fontainebleau opened. The Roney was demolished in 1968. A new Roney Plaza was built in its place, but it has since been known under a number of names, including the Gansevoort and currently 1 Hotel & Homes.

The New Yorker
Location: 1611 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Architect: Henry Hohauser
Opened: 1939
Demolished: 1981
Ah, the great art deco martyr of Miami Beach. In the '70s and early '80, some locals were ambivalent about the city's deco identity, and developers wanted to raze the old buildings in favor of more modern hotels. It was the destruction of the New Yorker, considered by some the masterpiece of local architect Henry Hohauser, that really sparked the historic preservation passion in Miami Beach. In fact, the Miami Design Preservation League uses an image of the New Yorker in its logo.

The Everglades Hotel
Location: 253 NE Second St., Miami
Architect: Unknown
Opened: 1926
Demolished: 2005
The Everglades Hotel's stormy history was foreshadowed by the fact that it opened just before the great hurricane of 1926. The storm flooded the new hotel's lobby, but the Everglades would survive and thrive for a number of years. During World War II, the hotel was used as military housing, and in the '50s, the rooftop became the location of Miami's first TV transmission antenna (which some locals bemoaned as an eyesore). However, the hotel struggled to compete with those in Miami Beach. It was eventually bought by none other than Jimmy Hoffa. Renovations were made to the hotel's historic architecture. A nightclub was installed. Hoffa would eventually be jailed for taking kickbacks during the deal. The hotel bounced around for decades more under numerous owners but was demolished in 2005. Today, the Vizcayne building occupies its location.
The Senator
Location: 1200 block of Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
Architect: L. Murray Dixon
Opened: 1939
Demolished: 1988

If the demolition of the New Yorker spurred efforts to save Miami Beach's art deco jewels, the 1988 destruction of the Senator (which was simply replaced by a parking lot) cemented them. The "Save Our Senator" battle was eventually lost, but its demolition led to tougher preservation laws.

The site sat as simply a parking lot for decades, but plans to build a new hotel with modern architecture inspired by the Senator are underway.

Hotel Halcyon
Location: Flagler Street and NE Second Avenue, Miami
Architect: Stanford White (probably)
Opened: 1903
Demolished: 1930
The Halcyon was Miami's second grand hotel during the city's early years, and is alleged to have been the only building in town designed by famed beaux-arts architect Stanford White. It was also Miami's second grand hotel to be destroyed. The site is now home to Alfred I. DuPont Building, which itself is a historic site.

The Flamingo
Location: 1500 block of Bay Road, Miami Beach
Architect: Price & McLanahan
Opened: 1921
Demolished: 1960
While one Miami Beach pioneer, John S. Collins, concentrate on the ocean side of the island, another, Carl Fisher, focused on the bay side. The Flamingo was his original foray into constructing an opulent hotel on the bay. He built a golf course next door and held speedboat races on the bay to entertain his guests. He also bought Rosie the Elephant, a baby elephant that served as a mascot for the beach, to help promote the resort.

Fisher even persuaded Warren G. Harding to stay at the Flamingo when the president made a trip to Miami. The stop was unplanned, but the Flamingo garnered national exposure because of it.

The building was demolished in 1960. The massive apartment complex on the site now is also known as the Flamingo.

The DuPont Plaza Hotel
Location: Former site of the Royal Palm, Miami
Opened: 1957
Demolished: 2004
The DuPont would rise on a portion of the land that was once home to the Royal Palm, and was a major part of downtown for decades. Though, its popularity ebbed and flowed with the fortunes of the city. Eventually, it was torn down, and the towering Epic stands in its place.

The Nautilus
Location: 43rd Street on the bay, Miami Beach
Architect: Schultze & Weaver
Opened: 1926
Demolished: 1968If you wanted to throw a memorable daytime party in 1920s Miami, the Nautilus Hotel was the place to host it. Another one of Carl Fisher's bayside resorts, the luxury hotel was famous for its tea dances. Schultze and Weaver designed the hotel in an X-shape so that every room commanded a view, and Fisher had two private islands made off of its shores for the private use of guests.

During World War II, the Nautilus was used as a military hospital, and it never returned to its hotel roots. It was eventually purchased by Mount Sinai Medical Center and demolished to make room for the hospital that stands there to this day.
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Kyle Munzenrieder