Explore Venice History

Although many buildings in the downtown area look old, only those constructed during the 1920’s have been included in this tour. In 1987 the city recognized the need to continue the architectural character of the original city and established the Architectural Review Board. The downtown area is part of the Historic Venice District administered by this Board. Any new construction or modifications to the exterior façade of a building in this district must conform to guidelines established by this Board. These standards will ensure the continuation of the “Northern Italian Renaissance” style of architecture within the city. Because of these efforts, the City of Venice will continue to be the beautiful "City on the Gulf".

238 W. Tampa Avenue: Originally San Marco Hotel

238 W Tampa Ave 3 This three-story, steel-reinforced, concrete block, stuccoed building was commissioned by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) as a 92 room 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 up floors for cadet living quarters. Every other weekend on the parade grounds south of this building between Tampa and Venice Avenues (now 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.238 W Tampa Ave 1

Historical documentation provided by:
Venice Heritage Inc.
Photographs provided by:
Venice Museum & Archives





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