The Hotel Ormond

Hotel OrmondThe Hotel Ormond was the skyline signature of Ormond Beach for more than 100 years. It was built in 1887 by John Anderson and Joseph Price and opened January 1, 1888. Two years later, Henry Flagler bought the hotel and made it into one of the best-known hotels in the world, a playground for the rich and famous of the time.

Over the next 15 years, Flagler added three new wings, expanding the number of rooms from 75 to 400, added elevators and a saltwater swimming pool, and built a railroad bridge from the mainland to the doors of the hotel.  At the time, it was the largest wooden structure in the United States and included 11 miles of corridors and breezeways. The hotel was located on 80 acres stretching from the Halifax River to the Atlantic Ocean.

Hotel Ormond 2One of the hotel’s most famous guests was Flagler’s partner in the Standard oil Company, John D. Rockefeller, who spent several winters in the hotel before buying The Casements across the street in 1918. Other prominent guests included The Prince of Wales, Will Rogers, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison, President Warren Harding, Harriet Beecher Stowe, George and Babe Zaharias, John Phillip Sousa, the Astors and Vanderbilts, and Al Capone. In 1923, Ed Sullivan became the golf secretary after he lost his newspaper job in Miami.

When John D. Rockefeller died in 1937, the period of elite patronage began a steady decline.  A succession of new owners took over.

All three of the photographs included above show the hotel in its turn-of-the-century heyday. Notice the hotel’s Cupola, especially prominent in the center photo on the right. The Cupola, now preserved in Fortunato Park, is the only remaining part of the original Hotel Ormond.
All three of the photographs included above show the hotel in its turn-of-the-century heyday. Notice the hotel’s Cupola, especially prominent in the center photo on the right. The Cupola, now preserved in Fortunato Park, is the only remaining part of the original Hotel Ormond.

In 1949, Robert Woodward bought the hotel from Flagler’s Florida East Coast Hotel Company. In 1951, C.A. Maddy purchased the hotel to sell lifetime contracts to the elderly. Edgar Cook bought the hotel in 1955 at public auction when Maddy almost went bankrupt.

His partners, Thomas Cobb and Thomas Wetherell, became the new hotel owners in 1957 after converting it to a retirement hotel. From 1978 until 1986, there were three more owners, when the city of Ormond ordered the building be evacuated, believing it to be hazardous to residents. The final owner was Milton Pepper, who purchased it at auction in 1987. After numerous attempts to preserve the hotel, it was finally demolished in 1992. The Ormond Heritage Condominium now occupies the site.

The only remaining part of the original hotel is its rooftop Cupola. After being rescued from demolition, it became the centerpiece of Fortunato Park, located at the northeast corner of the Granada bridge, across the street from the site of the hotel. It is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 2-4 p.m., September through May. Click on Calendar & Events for visitor information about the Cupola.