The historic boutique Fenway Hotel is well on its way to opening as the new Fenway Hotel in Dunedin. Led by Joe Collier, president of Tampa-based Mainsail Lodging & Development, special guests recently got a sneak peek at the reconstruction project that is scheduled to be completed in time for a grand opening in late October. Efforts have been taken to retain the historic flavor of the Spanish colonial-style hotel with an Art Deco flair.
A member of the Autograph Collection of Marriott International Inc., the historic boutique hotel is located at 453 Edgewater Drive, just steps from downtown Dunedin. Originally opened in 1927, Fenway Hotel is an icon of the 1920-30s Jazz Age, having played host to notable explorers, artists, politicians, musicians and living legends including civil liberties lawyer Clarence Darrow, Arctic explorer Robert Bartlett, FDR’s White House press secretary Stephen Early and first commissioner of baseball Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
Considered to be the most historically valuable structure in Dunedin, the Fenway Hotel was also home to the first radio station in Pinellas County, WGHB, which began broadcasting from the roof of the hotel in 1925.
“The unique history of Fenway Hotel and the community of Dunedin inspired our vision for the property,” says Collier. “The new Fenway will bring together touches of the past in a modern setting, giving new life to the hotel and restoring a piece of the destination’s charming, offbeat character.”
Until 1961, when it became home to Trinity College, the hotel operated seasonally. Trinity College moved to Pasco County in 1988 and, in 1991, Schiller International University purchased the property and kept it until 2005. It remained vacant for a period of time until the nonprofit Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA purchased the hotel for $2.8 million to use for its national headquarters in 2014. The current renovations are taking place through a cooperative agreement with the society.
“The Fenway is a place humming with soul, where songs of the last century echo with every footstep through the halls. Here, guest and locals will come together to dance the night away,” Collier told the guests at the preview event. “It is a place where touches of the past blend harmoniously with each hand-selected element of the new modern setting –from repurposed jazz instruments in the vibrant lobby to portable turntables and jazz-inspired artwork in guest rooms.”
When it is ready to open, the rebuilt hotel will feature 83 guest rooms and suites. Its featured restaurant will be the HEW Parlor & Chophouse. The restaurant takes its name from the word, “hew,” meaning to cut or chop, and the initials of Fenway Hotel’s original architect, Herman Everett Wendell. HEW will feature a contemporary interpretation of classic chophouse design, with a Scottish accent (perfect for Dunedin) and an open kitchen with interactive experiences.
Guests will be able to listen to the sounds of live music while taking in views of St. Joseph Sound at the Hi-Fi Rooftop Bar, inspired by the surrounding Spanish colonial architecture. The hotel also will feature a combined 10,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, featuring the Caladesi Ballroom with water views, a resort-style pool and an expansive front lawn ideal for croquet, badminton and special events.
For information on the History of Dunedin consider reading this story about the museum. For other great renovations by Marriott in Tampa Bay read this article on the Westshore Marriott.
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