Stop 28: The 1912 Edwinola Hotel
The 1912 Edwinola and Park was previously the site of the 1880s Dade City Hotel.
The beautiful Edwinola Hotel was the epitome of post-Civil War Dade City. Folks were said to depart the Seaboard Coastline Train Depot and meander the sidewalk and up the hill for an elegant dinner in the hotel’s dining room and then stay to enjoy the charming town of Dade City.
The location of the Edwinolg Hotel dates back to the Delcher House, often referred to as the Dade City Hotel which was built by James Albert Delcher soon after he arrived in Dade City in 1884. The Dade City Hotel succumbed to a fire in 1909.
The Edwinola was constructed in 1912. The make-up was the unique creation of poured cement into the concrete block frame that featured Doric columns with two levels of verandas and mansard roof, covered with metal fish scale shingles. The result was a version of neoclassical architecture.
Folklore is everywhere regarding the Edwinola Hotel. Often legends are spun from a tragedy and that may be the case for the Edwinola. Seymour Gerowe, the original owner of the site and the developer of the vision of an elegant replacement Dade City hotel to accommodate the burgeoning visitors was killed when he tripped and plunged from a second story window while assisting with the construction.
Seymour Gerow was the brother-in-law of Edwin J. Gasque. Gerowe and his sister, Lola Gerow Gasque were both eager for the hotel project to be completed. Edwin and Lola Gasque who had been in the turpentine business previously, bought out Gerowe’s interests from his widow, Florence after Gerowe’s heart-rendering death. They originated the ingenuous name, which is reminiscent of a modern celebrity twenty-first century combination of names, such a J-Lo, etc. In this case they combined each of their first names in a clever pattern; “Edwin” and “Lola” for “Edwinola.”
The Edwinola Hotel was the leading hotel of the area for many decades. Popular with traveling salesmen, it was the first sight of the Seaboard Railroad as they entered Antebellum Dade City and was a destination site for northern visitors. The previous Dade City Hotel had included a sampling building (which remained on the Edwinola grounds) for the traveling salesman that might be analogous to a wine cellar of modern times, but utilized for the salesman to store their perishable products and to provide a space for interested merchants to sample the wares. The sampling room was eventually purchased by the Dade City Woman’s Club as one of their early buildings.
The hotel served as instructional space for the Florida East Coast University from 1969 to 1971. In addition, state-wide events were frequently held at the location including a Florida Statewide Press conference in 1924, and the hosting of a professional baseball team such as the Syracuse Chiefs who used Dade City as their training location in 1962. (Arrangements for housing at the Edwinola was in place during Jim Crowe, for the white members of the team while the Black members were housed in area residents in 1962).
In 1975, Robert D. and Marlene Sumner purchased and renovated the building and operated it as the Edwinola Restaurant.
Vacant for a period of time, The Edwinola was converted into a retirement home. A looming eight-story annex was added in 1983, to create additional space. After closure for a few years, it reopened in 2017 as a Priority Care Center.