Hotel Punta Gorda




Keith Goodson


Springhill Suites Punta Gorda Harborside
Hotel Lobby
101 Harborside Avenue


3′ h x 13′ w

Mural Creation Sponsor

Springhill Suites Punta Gorda Harborside

About the mural

Once the railroad arrived in the town of Trabue in 1886, The Florida Commercial Company, a subsidiary of the Florida Southern, immediately started work on constructing the Hotel Punta Gorda on the land Trabue deeded to the railroad. The train brought the lumber and marl fill as well as workmen, said to be 200 in number and majority Black, to build the massive hotel.

An excerpt from a 1939 Punta Gorda Herald interview with Dan Smith, a member of Gilchrist’s surveying crew, provides insight on what it was like back then. He said “I…came…to Punta Gorda in 1885 with General Gilchrist who brought a bunch of us–Sam Kenedy and five others, Graham, Fuller, and Ransom being three of them–to grub and clear the land for the town. We got here a week ahead of the railroad tracks, though the grade had been completed to this point and the track had been laid to Cleveland.”

“With our gang, it made a population of 15 here then. All camped in front of where the hotel now stands. After the railroad tracks were finished, we occupied the section houses that were built. Things began to get pretty lively then, with people coming and going on the railroad. Sam Kenedy and I helped unload the first railcar of bricks used in the foundation of the big hotel.” (Photo of hotel during construction below)

Courtesy of Punta Gorda History Center

The hotel opened in January 1888 and served over 3300 guests in its first season.  The hotel was a vast sprawling wooden structure complete with a tower for viewing the busy river traffic. A railroad spur brought passengers down King Street (now 41 north) to the door of the hotel and wealthy guest parked their private railroad cars alongside the hotel.

Hotel contained 135 rooms all facing the bay, had only 4 bathrooms on each floor but it 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.  As the southernmost resort in the US, the rich and famous people from all over the world came to the hotel to relax, sail, hunt, and fish.  Yachts sailed in and out of the harbor.

Some of the rich & famous who appeared on the guest registry are John Wanamaker (Wanamaker Dept Stores), John Irving (British Steel Empire), Henry Ford, Thomas Edison,  Harvey Firestone, Clarence Darrow (attorney & labor leader), and Andrew Mellon (steel manufacturer), to name a few.

The original Hotel Punta Gorda mural was painted in 2011 on the south-facing wall of the Charlevoi Condos by artist Charles Peck and dedicated on May 19, 2011. It was lost in April 2019 when the wall was restucco’ed. This new mural was designed and painted by artist Keith Goodson and is located in the lobby of the Springhill Suites hotel. The mural was dedicated on April 30, 2024.