ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Developers are working to renovate sections of the historic Detroit Hotel in downtown St. Petersburg.
But as they’ve torn away the walls and plaster from previous renovations, they’ve uncovered some remarkable artifacts from the building’s original construction.
Now, as construction continues, the hotel’s past is being made a part of its future.
The Detroit Hotel is cemented in St. Petersburg’s history as the city’s first building. Since its construction in 1888, it’s been many things as the city grew around it and in it.
Now that new developers bought it, they’ve started peeling away the decades and found history waiting to be discovered.
“At first we thought it was going to be just like any other project,” said Dana Spear, the Director of Segretis Hospitality Group. “However as we got into the project it became like a treasure hunt of sorts.
Detroit Hotel, 1912 (St. Petersburg Museum of History)
“Well this all started back in August when construction workers discovered this 115-year-old elevator behind sheetrock, and from then on they found treasure after treasure.”
The elevator pre-dated electricity it even has the handcrank.
“We found hand carved columns that had been covered with drywall for 100 years,” Spear said. “We found original wallpaper that was hand-painted.”
Workers have also uncovered the other side of a two sided fireplace, a staircase leading to nowhere, a mural painted in the 70’s and the hotel’s switchboard – which was so old, it’s made of wood.
The handwritten numbers for each of the hotel rooms look like it was written in pencil on the wood.
Now, with all these historic treasures in hand, the Segretis Hospitality Group is taking its concept of a 1920s steam-punk club and pizzeria, to a whole new level, incorporating what was here into what will be here.
Developers expect to the new pizzeria and steam-punk venue to be opened by December.
“If somebody else had found it and not wanted to preserve it and torn down, honestly it would’ve broken my heart,” Spears said. “You don’t get that stuff back.
“Preserving historical items when you don’t necessarily have to isn’t cheap, but we certainly wouldn’t do it any other way. And they hope in some way, the Detroit Hotel will live again.”