Saturday, July 13, 2024

History in the Making

It’s not just “old world,” it’s old school. And we don’t mean fusty. We mean mannerly—steeped in decorum but with a warmth you’d find in most small Southern towns.

These are the hallmarks of the venerable Gasparilla Inn & Club, a Florida landmark that was started by the Boca Grande Land Company on Gasparilla Island. The hotel, designed back in the day to attract wealthy seasonal residents, opened in time for the 1913 social season.

Fresh off its centennial celebration, the Inn continues to charm visitors, earning a reputa-tion over the past century as a graceful winter getaway in Boca Grande, arguably one of America’s finest sport-fishing destinations. (As far back as 1914, a well-heeled contingent of Northern businessmen formed a fishing club, the Pelican Club, headquartered at the Inn.)

The Inn’s first guests were blueblood Bos-ton society people, but over the years the guest list has included the likes of tycoons J.P. Morgan and Henry du Pont, Florida railroad and resort magnate Henry Plant, and the George H. Bush family. Guests arrived by private yacht or railroad until the Boca Grande Causeway was built in 1958.

Over the years, The Inn changed owner-ship; Barron Collier added the grand neoclas-sical façade in 1931 that defines the Inn today, and du Pont heir Bayard Sharp was next in line. The Inn is now owned by the William Farish family; Farish is a former United States ambassador to The Court of St. James; his wife, Sarah, is the only daughter of the late Bayard Sharp. It’s no wonder that the Inn has maintained a certain pedigree over the last century, a quality that persists to this day.

To continue reading, please pick up a copy ofthe March/April Boca Raton magazine.

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