What was the purpose behind tearing down the George Washington Hotel? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_George_Washington_(Jacksonville,_Florida
The Hotel George Washington, on the corner of Adams and Julia Streets in Jacksonville, Florida, was a 15-story luxury hotel that was in operation from 1926 to 1971. The local firm of Marsh and Saxelbye served as architects. In its later years, it was one of only two luxury hotels in the downtown area. By the 1960s, it was the only five-star hotel in the area after the demise of the Hotel Roosevelt.
On Armistice Day 1925, local businessman Robert Kloeppel announced to crowds in downtown Jacksonville that a luxury hotel would be built. Other investors built the Hotel Roosevelt (then called the Carling Hotel) to compete with Kloeppel, and both hotels were constructed throughout 1926. On December 15, the George Washington was complete. The mayor at the time, John Alsop, along with the current and former Florida governor, were on hand for ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Radios were installed in every one of the 350 rooms so visitors could listen to opening-day festivities, broadcast by radio station WJAX.  Kloeppel spent $1.5 million dollars of his own money to construct the hotel. The "Hotel George Washington" sign, built on the rooftop, was the first neon sign in Jacksonville.
The Hotel George Washington, in its heyday, was the center of cultural activities in Jacksonville. The George Washington Auditorium, built in 1941, was the biggest concert hall in town at the time (replacing the Duval County Armory), big enough for classical music events and cotillions. The Hotel housed a steak house, a cocktail lounge, a dance hall called the Rainbow Room, a Rexall drugstore and a barber shop. Charles Lindbergh stayed at the George Washington while visiting Jacksonville.
The Beatles were scheduled to stay there, but due to a mix-up regarding hotel occupancy, they were denied rooms. On September 11th 1964, the Beatles flew from Montreal to Jacksonville, Florida, in a trip that had been time delayed due to recent and extensive hurricane damage along the Florida coast, affecting the Jacksonville area. When attempting their arrival into Jacksonville, the Beatles were detoured to Key West, and were booked into the Key Wester Motel. It was then learned that the Hotel George Washington in Jacksonville would be unable to provide them with rooms at the last second.
Not allowing the difficulties of their arrival and their stay to stop them, the Beatles still appeared for the press conference at the Hotel George Washington, and their concert at the Gator Bowl. With civil rights being a heated issue in America in 1964, the Beatles had refused to accept the booking at the Gator Bowl until they received assurance that the audience would not be segregated by race. While eating with the press, Ringo stated, "We usually eat in the room, but seeing the hotel's got no room for us, we have to eat here." Due to the damage from Hurricane Dora, approximately one quarter of the people who had already purchased tickets were unable to attend the concert.
In 1964, most of the businesses which operated from the Roosevelt's ground floor moved into the George Washington. Despite the new infusion of business, behind-the-scenes turnover caused the George Washington to fall into disrepair. In 1963, original owner Robert Kloeppel sold the George Washington to dog track magnate Bill Johnston, who in turn sold the hotel to other investors in 1969.
After 1969, one by one, the businesses inside the ground floor went out of business. The hotel was closed in 1971 and torn down in 1973. Currently, the site is occupied by the new federal court building in downtown Jacksonville.Bill Foley from the Times Union:http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/111498/nef_allfoley.html
The George Washington loomed, too, on an Armistice Day, but it was one that was far from muted.
Hundreds of marchers paraded through downtown Jacksonville on Nov. 11, 1925. Guns and drums and banners and bands and patriotic speakers and a ball and great huzzahs and cheering marked the end of the Great War eight years before.
It was a grand time to announce a new hotel for downtown Jacksonville.
Not for years would Nov. 11 be a national holiday - in Florida it was proclaimed Liberty Day - but the date of the World War armistice had been deemed for several years a time to mark, revere and observe.
Robert Kloeppel announced the day before the big parade he would build a 15-story hotel at Julia and Adams streets. The news broke in the morning paper.
Kloeppel asked the taxpayers not for a single dime, but then he never had, and I am not sure he ever did.
Kloeppel had arrived in Jacksonville 20 years before, a young and penniless German immigrant with a work ethic and a good set of hands. He became a mechanic, a pioneer of flight, a real estate man and a hotelier.
By 1925 Kloeppel owned the Flagler Hotel, down by the railroad station, and property along Park Street, ''the rapidly developing business artery in Riverside that extends off the Lee Street viaduct connecting Riverside with the business district at the Jacksonville Terminal.''
He had become one of the city's largest tax-PAYERS when he announced he would build what the newspapers said would be ''the largest and most magnificent hotel'' in Jacksonville.
The cost would be $1.5 million, back when that was real money. The hotel would have 350 rooms, each with bath, hot and cold water, ice water for drinking and an electric fan.
The hotel site on the northwest corner of Adams and Julia streets was occupied by three two-story dwellings. On Dec. 15, 1926, the hotel changed the face of Jacksonville forever.
''Society turned out in force, and high officials of the state and city, and many visitors from all sections of the country attended to make the event one of the outstanding affairs of the social season,'' The Florida Times-Union said.
''The mammoth sign 'George Washington' blazed forth on the Jacksonville horizon last night with an added significance, and on Adams Street, automobiles roared up to the entrance to discharge loads of beautifully gowned women and formally attired men to lend a true metropolitan atmosphere to the scene.''
Mayor John Alsop was there, of course, and Gov. John W. Martin, and former Gov. Cary Hardee, and municipal radio station WJAX broadcast the grand occasion. (Each room in the new hotel had a radio loudspeaker and headphones.)
For the next 44 years the GW, as it became commonly known, was the true hub of the city.
Here came the conventions and the big meetings and the very important and the glamorous and the sacred and the profane. The Steak House and the auditorium and the cocktail lounge and the Rainbow Room and the coffee shop and the drugstore became the places to meet, whether for a drink, a seven-course meal, ham and eggs or a grilled cheese and shake.
Lindbergh stayed at the GW, and the Beatles, and me. Big bands played there and the School Boy Patrol danced there.
The GW Auditorium, added in 1941, was the only place in the city big enough for concerts and balls and boat shows, other than the Duval County Armory, which was a tad short of ambience.
Jacksonville revolved around downtown and the GW through the 1960s. By the 1970s, the gloss was gone.
The dynamic that doomed downtown claimed the GW as well. Kloeppel sold to dog track magnate Bill Johnston in 1963 and Johnston sold it six years later to people nobody remembers and it folded.
Brick-by-brick from the top down, the GW was torn down in 1973. We won't see its like again, $23 million from the public sock drawer notwithstanding.