Preservation Magazine, Spring 2016

Transitions: Lost—Belleview Biltmore Hotel

In each Transitions section of Preservation magazine, we highlight places of local and national importance that have recently been restored, are currently threatened, have been saved from demolition or neglect, or have been lost. Here's one from Spring 2016.

The Belleview Biltmore Hotel in Belleair, Florida

photo by: Burgert Brothers Collection Tampa Photographs/Tampa Library Special & Digital Collections

This 1897 hotel was said to be the largest occupied wooden structure in the world when it was built.

At 820,000 square feet, the Belleview Biltmore Hotel in Belleair, Florida, was said to be the largest occupied wooden structure in the world when it was completed in 1897.

Financed by railroad and shipping magnate Henry B. Plant and constructed entirely of Southern loblolly pine, the Belleview was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and as one of the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2005. It continued to serve as a venue for vacationers, special events, and conventions until its closure in 2009 for a comprehensive renovation. The investment group that owned the hotel lost its funding, however, and after changing hands the structure was left vacant.

Local preservation group Friends of the Belleview Biltmore was not able to find an investor to restore the hotel, and a legal battle to prevent its demolition, led by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation in partnership with the Friends and the National Trust, proved unsuccessful. Developer JMC Communities began demolition in 2015, and eventually the historic southern and eastern wings were deconstructed to make way for condominiums. As of press time, JMC had committed to preserving and relocating the original lobby and a group of rooms above it as a small inn and meeting space.

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.

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