Today in Fort Lauderdale history – November 4th, 1935

It’s pretty rare for a hurricane to come along to South Florida in November but that’s exactly what happened on this day in history in 1935. It wasn’t a terrible hurricane, it was just a category one, but one thing it did do was blow Fort Lauderdale’s floating hotel, the Amphitrite from her moorings near Las Olas Beach onto Idlewyld.

The Amphitrite started life as a naval vessel, being built in the latter part of the 1800s. The ship was used in the Spanish-American war – bombarding San Juan, for one example – and was a navy ship until after WW1.

In the First World War she was put to work in New York harbor. After the navy, she was sold to A.L.D Bucksten for $35,000, converted and used as a hotel in Beaufort, North Carolina, later in Georgia.

Newspapers of 1926 reported that the ship was being converted into a floating hotel. It would be moored ‘off Miami’ with a fleet of launches available to transport guests to and from the hotel.In 1929 the vessel arrived in Miami but it was much to the horror of locals and officials. In 1930 the Miami News referred to it as ‘an abandoned freak that suggests nothing as much as a ramshackle frame tenement house on water’.

However, Fort Lauderdale needed hotels and the Amphitrite arrived here and was moored behind the Las Olas Casino. The hotel proved to be popular. It had 72 rooms and prices were reasonable. In its restaurant, breakfast was 50 cents and dinner one dollar. For its opening dinner dance, the hotel featured the Royal Hawaiian Orchestra from Honolulu. In it’s later years it was said that illegal gambling took place aboard and that it was also a base for ‘ladies of the night’.

After the hurricane, and the vessel’s unplanned relocation, Idlewyld homeowners insisted that she be moved. The board of health agreed. In its present location, water couldn’t move freely around the floating hotel – not a good idea for the ships ‘waste products’.

In 1942 it was requisitioned by the war administration and was moved to North Carolina for the duration of the war where she provided accommodation for workers building a new naval station. The ship then became housing for those who were building the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

In 1951, ownership changed. Plans to refit the ship for work supporting oil exploration in the Venezuelan oil fields simply didn’t happen and she was scrapped in 1952.

Would you have spent a vacation on the Amphitrite? I think it’s just too spooky.

Photo: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Posted by Las Olas Boulevard in : History News,

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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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