When the Florida Southern Railway decided to extend its line to Charlotte Harbor, Punta Gorda’s Founder, Isaac Trabue, persuaded them to build their southernmost terminal in Punta Gorda. He gave Florida Southern half of his land for a waterfront resort hotel. Construction started in 1886 and the Hotel Punta Gorda opened its doors to guests in January 1888.
The hotel was a vast sprawling wooden structure complete with a tower for viewing the busy river traffic. It contained 150 rooms with only 4 bathrooms on each floor and was the largest hotel in south Florida. The hotel tower was always well lighted at night and boats on the bay used it as a beacon.
The hotel brought new business and prosperity to the town. Rich and famous people from all over the world came to the hotel to relax, sail, hunt, and fish. Names such as Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill appeared on the guest registry. The hotel was open to the public only in the winter. It did not open at all in 1896 due to the national financial depression and remained closed until 1902. The hotel closed for good in 1914 and was sold in 1925.
This mural is a recreation of the first mural painted in Punta Gorda in 1995 which was destroyed by Hurricane Charley on August 13, 2004. The mural was recreated breaking it into two murals featuring the hotel as it originally looked and its original name, the Hotel Punta Gorda, and its successor, the Hotel Charlotte Harbor.
The 7 famous guests featured on this mural are – from left to right: Clarence Darrow (Attorney and Labor Leader), Henry Ford (Automobile Manufacturer), Daniel Beard (Founder of the Boy Scouts of America), Thomas Edison (Inventor), Patty Berg (Lady Pro Golfer), Harvey Firestone (Tire Manufacturer), and Andrew Mellon (Steel Manufacturer).
The mural was dedicated on September 15, 2011.