There are so many things to do in Florida like frolicking out in the beach all day or maybe having a great time at night at the upscale South Beach. Florida is also known for theme parks like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
A scenic view of Florida. (Link: https://www.royalcaribbean.com/cruise-to/miami-florida)
Florida is also famous for its Latin-American cultural influences and the arts scene in the area. However, Florida is also famous for having one of the most haunted hotels in the United States. This hotel is the Don CeSar Hotel located in St. Petersburg, Florida.
An aerial shot showing the Don CeSar Hotel. (Link: http://www.hotel-r.net/fr/hotel-don-cesar)
The History Of Don CeSar Hotel
The Don CeSar Hotel was built by Thomas Rowe. It first opened to the public in 1928 and quickly became famous because it was dubbed as the playground of the rich and the famous in the United States.
An undated photo of Thomas Rowe. (Link: https://gulfbeachesmuseum.com/article/life-pink-palace-%E2%80%93-don-ce-sar)
During the time it became operational, it was the height of the Jazz Age so rich people went to this hotel to get pampered. The hotel was named after Don Cesar de Bazan, the hero in the opera “Maritana.”
An advertisement for the ‘Maritana’ opera. (Link: https://philsoperaworld.music.blog/2018/05/19/william-vincent-wallace-maritana-1845/)
The architect who worked on the Don CeSar Hotel was Henry Dupont alongside contractor Carlton Beard. The design of the Don CeSar Hotel is a mix of Mediterranean and Moorish styles. Initially, it only had 110 rooms and baths but over time, it was expanded to 220 rooms and 220 baths.
The facade of Don CeSar Hotel. (Link: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/st-petersburg-florida-hidden-architectural-hideaways)
Later, Rowe died suddenly and he did not leave a will. The hotel was then left to his estranged wife and it began to deteriorate during World War II. The Army purchased it for $450,000 and it was then converted to a military hospital. By 1944, the Don CeSar Hotel became a United States Army Air Corps convalescent center. A year later, it was closed down but towards the end of that year, it became a Veterans Administration Regional office.
The Veterans Administration left the Don Cesar Hotel in 1967. In March of 1972, it was bought by one C.L. Pyatt and William Bowman Jr. It finally reopened as a hotel again in November 23, 1972. Since then, there have been many renovations and additions made onto the hotel.
The Legend Behind Don CeSar Hotel
The Don CeSar Hotel wasn’t always called as such because Rowe referred to it as the “Pink Palace.” Legend has it that Rowe was in love with one of the Spanish singers from the opera “Maritana” named Lucinda but he was forbidden to marry her by her parents. He then decided to build the hotel to commemorate the love of his life. Accordingly, Lucinda and Rowe referred to each other as Maritana and Don CeSar, respectively. They always met by a secluded fountain somewhere in London.
However, Lucinda’s parents took her back to Spain and Rowe had to go back to the United States. He tried countless times to reunite with Lucinda. He wrote her love letters but they always returned to him unopened because her parents never gave them to Lucinda. Later, he received a note addressed to “My beloved Don Cesar.” Along with that note was the news that Lucinda has died and they claim that it was because she was brokenhearted. Reports claim that the note by Lucinda said, “Time is infinite. I wait for you by our fountain.”
The lobby courtyard of the Don CeSar hotel has a courtyard and a fountain. Allegedly, this fountain is the exact replica of the one where the lovers used to meet.
The courtyard at the Don CeSar Hotel. (Link: https://www.pinterest.ph/pin/272045633717117961/?lp=true)
The Ghost Of Don CeSar Hotel
According to the staff at the Don CeSar hotel, since Rowe passed away, they see a gentleman wearing an old-fashioned white summer suit strolling the grounds and greeting the guests. Whenever they try to approach him, he disappears into thin air.
Also, they have reported strange happenings at the fifth floor, which is where Rowe lived when he was still alive. Housekeepers have heard knockings on doors while they were cleaning the rooms and when they went outside, there was nobody there. Doors on that floor also swing open by themselves. They believe that Rowe’s ghost is behind this because this happens mostly when staffers’ hands are full and they cannot open the doors immediately. They believe Rowe is still looking out for the people at his hotel.
Others also claimed to have seen Rowe and Lucinda at the area where the fountain was at the lobby. The fountain has already been destroyed. The gentleman could be seen wearing the aforementioned white suit while the young lady wears a traditional Spanish peasant dress and they just stroll around the area.
Other Ghosts At Don CeSar Hotel
Aside from the ghost of Rowe and Lucinda, many are saying that they have seen the ghost of a nurse. The Don CeSar Hotel was once a military hospital so this could be the main reason why some say they saw the ghost of a nurse in the hotel. The nurse is often spotted on the second and sixth floors as well as near the kitchens.
An area inside the Don CeSar Hotel. (Link: https://www.hotelsclick.com/hotels/united-states/saint-pete-beach-fl/76939/hotel-the-don-cesar.html)
Some guests also claimed that they have this uneasy feeling of being watched or that someone else was in the room with them. Like any haunted place, the lights at the Don CeSar Hotel also flicker on and off without any reason.
One guest also shared her experience that she woke up in the middle of the night and saw a man standing at the foot of her bed. She was not aware that the Don CeSar Hotel was haunted but when she knew about it, she realized that that man might have been a ghost.