Riverside Hotel history

Riverside Hotel, Las Olas Boulevard, Fort LauderdaleOn December 13th 1936, the Riverside Hotel quietly opened on Las Olas Boulevard. At that time, it was called the Champ Carr Hotel. Its grand opening was just a few days later on December 17th.

The hotel was started by two brothers from Chicago named Preston and John Wells. They were from a wealthy family. Their parents had originally been from Shakespeare county in England and as boys, the brothers were taken every year to the family’s country estate there. People often remark that Las Olas Boulevard seems to be European in its atmosphere and the Wells brothers were exposed to Europe from an early age so their influence has been shaping the boulevard for seventy five years.

In the early thirties, John and Preston started coming to Fort Lauderdale for the fishing – sports fishing attracted many people to the area. It was clear that the city needed more accommodation and Preston bought a rooming house on Las Olas Boulevard. It was opposite where the Riverside Hotel now stands. When they went out fishing, they used the services of Michigan native Captain Franklin Merritt and his charter boat. Merritt, his family and his employee – his first mate – used to stay at the rooming house.

When the brothers decided to build their hotel on the river, they needed a manager. Franklin’s employee seemed very suitable. His name was Champ Carr and they named the hotel in his honor.

The hotel was designed by Francis Abreu, who had already built the Las Olas Casino and several luxurious homes in the area. It originally had eighty rooms.

Who were the Wells brothers? You can read more in Spirit of the River. It’s available in hardback or pocket-size paperback.

Posted by Las Olas Boulevard in : History,

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  • LAS OLAS BOULEVARD

    Las Olas Boulevard - there's no other place quite like it. Las Olas offers you the very best in dining, antiques, shopping, fashion, the arts, history and much more.

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    Las Olas Boulevard is located just seconds from the beautiful Fort Lauderdale beach and enjoys the wonderful South Florida weather. When you visit us on the boulevard, why not come by boat? The Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi will bring you right here.

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    We have lots of special events which take place throughout the year and some of the nicest people you'll ever wish to meet are right here. If you're planning a destination wedding, there's no better place.

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    The boulevard has a lot of history too. Stay at the Riverside Hotel - built in 1936, or visit the Stranahan House Museum and see where Fort Lauderdale itself began. Enjoy breakfast, at any time of day or night, in the historic Floridian diner. See the Elbo Room, the place featured in Where the Boys Are - the iconic Spring Break movie made in 1960.

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    Las Olas Boulevard has something to suit all tastes, all ages and all budgets. Dance the night away or enjoy a quiet drink in a relaxing bar. Experience fine dining in one of our many restaurants, or grab a pizza, sandwich, panini or salad. Enjoy cuisine from all over the world right here. And don't miss the treats we have for you - chocolates, ice creams, frozen yogurts, candies, pastries - all made right here on Las Olas. Eat at a sidewalk café, people-watch, visit our world-class museum of art, take the kids to the science museum for a day of fun, sit and watch the water traffic go by on the New River ... there's so much to do.

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    Shop for the finest goods - and bargains too. Our stores sell everything from diamonds to dresses, from gowns to garlic bread!

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    We have all your needs taken care of on Las Olas. We have a pharmacy, dry-cleaners, a deli, dressmakers, gifts, quality cigars ... in addition to pampering services if you're looking for a massage, a manicure or a magnificent haircut. We even have our own Sunday farmers' market.

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    We haven't forgotten the business traveler. If you're in Fort Lauderdale for business, you'll find every service you need on the boulevard and what better place to work? Many of our restaurants have free wifi so you can check your email and write your blog as you sip an Italian coffee and enjoy a snack in a sidewalk café.

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    We'll look forward to seeing you on Las Olas!

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