The Hotel Venice was the first building constructed by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) in Venice in 1926. This 3-story, wood-frame building, designed in the Italian Renaissance style had 100 luxurious rooms. In 1984 it was restored and now serves as a retirement community.
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.
By the fall of 1927, Ira A. Hines had constructed this office and apartment building for an estimated cost of $22,000. Mr. Hines, described as “noted architect,” designed and built this structure for use as a “tea room and combination gift shop, antique room, drug store, beauty parlor, ladies shop, and tonsorial parlors.”
Prentiss French, the landscape architect hired by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) to supervise plantings within the city, designed the landscape plan for this structure. The fountain, while a recent addition, was described in French’s original landscape plan along with the sidewalks radiating from it. None of the plants described in the plan have survived.
According to the local paper, the Venice News, this building originally housed a tea room known as the “Garden Tea Room” because of its lush tropical plantings. This building has been used as a restaurant and has operated under various names, such as the Copper Kettle, Italian Villa, and Luna’s Restaurant.
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.
This building was originally constructed to house a gasoline filling station, car storage garage, and five storefront shops. It was completed in the summer of 1927. Advertisements in the Venice News, the local paper, state that it housed the repair shop and the Sinclair Gasoline & Oil station of J. Harris Jones.
During the 1930s, it was used by the Kentucky Military Institute (KMI) as an armory, chapel, and basketball arena. KMI had an excellent basketball team and there was a spirited rivalry with local schools. These exhibition games were well attended and were a draw for the community during the winter.
In 1972 following the demise of the KMI, the building was purchased by the community-based Venice Little Theatre organization and remodeled as a performance venue. In 2008 the Venice Little Theatre became the Venice Theatre. Among the country’s 10,000 community theaters, the Venice Theatre has been ranked #1 in the country for towns the size of Venice and #3 in the country for towns of any size.
Completed in October 1926 for an estimated cost of $45,000, this building was to have five shops on the first floor and apartments on the second. The housing market was so limited in the new city that five apartments were rented before the building was completed.
The Venice Pharmacy, declared to be “one of the finest in the south,” was the building’s major first floor tenant. The company signed a long term contract with the Rexall Drug Company in August 1927. Store fixtures were made of solid mahogany with a black walnut finish; the soda fountain counter was made of pink onyx; and the chairs for the round eating tables had triangular-shaped seats so they would fit under the table.
For many years the local phone company operated a switchboard from a rear storefront. At one time a red light was installed on the roof of the building. In the days before radio dispatched patrol cars, citizens would phone the operator to relay a message to the police. The operator turned the red light on, that was visible for many blocks in the sparsely built-up and populated city, and the patrol car would arrive to retrieve the message from the operator.
This was the first commercial building constructed in Venice. It was completed in August 1926 and built of hollow clay tile and brick with steel reinforcing beams.
It housed two retail stores on the first floor and several offices on the second floor. The original first floor tenants were the Dawson Furniture Company and the Venice Hardware Company. The offices of Venice’s first newspaper the Venice News, a weekly publication, were also located in this building.
Originally constructed as a two-story building occupying three lots, it has been divided in half with each side assigned a different parcel-id by the Sarasota County Property Appraiser. Alterations to the street façade have obscured the architectural details (windows and doors) of the original structure. Aerial photos from the 1920s and sidewalk photos from the 1950s show large, two-story arched windows across the front of the building.
The building was originally the location of the Shaw Dry Goods store and is, therefore, sometimes referred to as the Shaw Building. Before the construction of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in 1939, the building housed the Episcopal mission. It has been used as a library, site of Venetian Cleaners, and a hardware store.
The eastern half of the building (213 West Venice Avenue) was renovated in the fall of 1990 according to the design guidelines established by the city’s Architectural Review Board (ARB). The ceramic tile under the store front windows, earth tone roof tiles, and stucco relief details were required by the ARB to replicate key elements of the city’s original architectural style. The western half of the building (217 West Venice Avenue) was also renovated according to ARB guidelines. The most notable addition was the canopy over the city sidewalk.
The shed tile roof on the street façade is the only original architectural feature of the original building that has survived.
Originally the site of Blate’s of Venice Wearing Apparel, this building was constructed at a cost of $22,000. Later it housed Rice’s Nestlewood Shop. It had two stores on the main floor and four apartments on the second. It was designed by architect Guy Johnson and built by Carey and Walters, Inc. of Plant City. The Nickell Building was constructed of hollow clay blocks with a red barrel tile roof.
The Ennes Arcade was completed in January 1927 at an estimated cost of $125,000. This building was owned by Stanton Ennes, the general manager of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) Realty Corporation. It was constructed of stucco-covered hollow tile and brick by the George E. Fuller Construction Company. Rather than the usual red barrel tile roof, this building had green roof tiles.
It was designed as two-story wings facing each other connected on the first floor by a roofed, open-ended arcade. The second floor housed a hotel originally called the Hotel Valencia, with each room facing an open porch. Seven stores, beside the hotel lobby and post office, occupied the first floor, with some opening directly onto the arcade. By July 1927, a newsstand, and an office of Florida Power & Light Company also occupied the building. The ventilated box-like structures on the roof were part of the original solar heating system.