Gulf Beach Hotel

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The Gulf Beach Hotel was a resort that was planned and partially constructed on Perdido Key between 1924-1926 by Theo Baars, Sr., who owned thousands of acres of surrounding land.

Baars had envisioned the hotel as a seven-story, 275-room tourist destination on what was then largely uninhabited beachfront. Estimated to cost $1.5 million when completed, the hotel would include a bath house, dance pavilion, cafe and tea room. Convinced that the project would be a boon to the local economy, Escambia County Commissioners agreed on April 7, 1922 to construct a 13.7-mile highway from Warrington to the hotel's site on Perdido Key. They issued a $2 million bond to pave the road, Gulf Beach Highway, which opened two years later on April 13, 1924.[1]

Without benefit of outside financing, Baars sank around $470,000 of his own money into the initial construction, which included driving steel pilings 75 feet into the subsurface to help withstand hurricanes, before a real estate bust and various cost overruns forced him to halt development.

After sitting unfinished for decades, the skeletal concrete frame of the hotel was finally demolished in June 1993. The Beach Colony Resort now stands on the former Gulf Beach Hotel site.

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  1. "After 60 years, Baars' dream may come true." Pensacola News Journal, May 25, 1986.