This three-story, steel-reinforced, concrete block, stuccoed building was commissioned by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) as the 92 room San Marco Hotel with 13 shops on the ground floor. It was completed in the fall of 1926 after only 90 days of construction at an estimated cost of $300,000.

The concrete block and original red tile for the roof were produced locally by the Venice Tile Company located in the city’s industrial section east of the railroad tracks. In 1932 the empty hotel was leased by the Kentucky Military Institute (KMI) for use as its winter headquarters. The first floor was used for classrooms and the upper floors for cadet living quarters. Every other weekend on the parade grounds south of this building between Tampa and Venice Avenues (now the municipal parking lot), spectacular parades were presented by the cadets in full dress uniform. These parades attracted visitors from many nearby communities.

In the 1970s after the close of KMI’s winter quarters in Venice, the building was renovated and converted to condominium ownership with residential units on the upper floors and retail units on the first floor. On November 8, 2010, this structure was listed in National Register of Historic Places as a contributing structure in the John Nolen Plan of Venice, Florida Historic District.

In 2020, a permanent exhibit about the KMI opened at the San Marco honoring the school’s legacy. Funded by the KMI Alumni Association, in partnership with the Venice Centre Association and its collection, the exhibit includes memorabilia, photographs and a documentary on the fascinating history of the military school in Venice from 1933 to 1970. To learn more CLICK HERE.

Photograph provided by Venice Museum & Archives