Downtown Jacksonville has a shortage of hotels. It’s an issue that has existed for decades and even resulted in national ridicule for the city when it hosted the Super Bowl in 2005.
But there was a time, several years ago, when downtown Jax boasted over two dozen hotels. It was back in the heyday of the area, when theaters, restaurants, and streetcars lined its streets rather than empty buildings and skyscrapers.
Most of those hotels were demolished long ago. The rest have either been adapted for another use or continue to sit unused.
We’ve chosen a handful of these historic hotels to highlight; this is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a good sampling of the type of hotels that once graced downtown Jax.
The luxurious 335-room Carling Hotel first opened its doors in 1926. The hotel was named for Carson Dinkler, founder of Dinkler Hotels which acquired the hotel during construction. Its building at 31 Adams Street was designed by New York-based architecture firm Thompson, Holmes & Converse.
In the mid-‘30s, the hotel was purchased by hotelier Robert Meyer and rebranded as Hotel Roosevelt. The company would operate the hotel until 1957, when it began construction on a new hotel nearby.
Hotel Roosevelt thrived for many years as one of a few luxury hotel options in the area, but it met its end after a tragedy in 1963. A large fire caused by faulty electrical wiring erupted in the midst of Gator Bowl weekend, killing 22 people and causing major damage to the building.
The hotel shut down permanently as a result of the fire, and the property was later converted into apartments for retirees. The apartment complex shut down in 1989, causing the building to sit empty for over a decade.
Fortunately, in 2005 the building reopened as The Carling, a 100-unit apartment complex from Vestcor. The building is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.