The Hotel Clarendon & aviator Glenn Curtiss, Daytona Beach, Florida, 1911

Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Cars on beach with airplane overhead and Clarendon Hotel in background, Seabreeze, Daytona Beach, Florida, 1911 (William H. Gardiner / Library of Congress)

Cars on beach with airplane overhead and Clarendon Hotel in background, Seabreeze, Daytona Beach, Florida, 1911 (William H. Gardiner / Library of Congress)

Daytona Beach is a city in Volusia County, Florida, United States.
In 1871, Mathias Day Jr., purchased a 2,144.5 acre tract on the west bank of Halifax River. He built a hotel around which the initial section of town arose. In 1872, due to financial troubles, Day lost title to his land; nonetheless, residents decide to name the city Daytona in his honor, and incorporated the town in 1876.
In 1886, the St. Johns & Halifax River Railway arrived in Daytona. The line would be purchased in 1889 by Henry M. Flagler, who made it part of his Florida East Coast Railway. The separate towns of Daytona, Daytona Beach, Kingston, and Seabreeze merged as “Daytona Beach” in 1926. By the 1920s, it was dubbed “The World’s Most Famous Beach”.
Daytona’s wide beach of smooth, compacted sand attracted automobile and motorcycle races beginning in 1902, as pioneers in the industry tested their inventions. It hosted land speed record attempts, beginning in 1904, until 1935. On March 8, 1936, the first stock car race was held on the Daytona Beach Road Course. In 1958, William France Sr. and NASCAR created the Daytona International Speedway to replace the beach course. Automobiles are still permitted on most areas of the beach, at a maximum speed of 10 mph (16 km/h).
The Hotel Clarendon was built in 1895, when Charles Ballough combined his Seabreeze, Daytona Beach cottage property with a local businessman to turn the properties into a hotel. The hotel was complete with a casino, porches overlooking the ocean and a stable for horses and carriages.
In February of 1909, a fire broke out and the entire hotel was destroyed. A new Clarendon, designed and built to be fireproof, was opened on New Year’s Day in 1911. The seven-story hotel featured a Turkish bath, barbershop, manicure parlor, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, and horseback riding facilities. In February of that same year, hotel management and local leaders hired well-known airplane mogul and pilot Glenn Curtiss to perform flying exhibitions on the beach as a tourist attraction. The resort’s reputation as a chic winter playground for American and International travellers spread rapidly. In 1925 it became the first resort hotel on the east coast of Florida to remain open throughout the year.
In 1942, The Clarendon Hotel closed down for the war effort. For two years, the hotel served as a barracks for the Woman’s Army Corps (WACs). The hotel reopened in June of 1944 with a new owner, and a new name, the Sheraton Plaza.
The hotel was later sold and renamed again as the Craig Hotel. In 1974, many of the furnishings of the hotel were sold, and the top floors of the hotel were removed. The hotel was reopened in 2000. Today is known as The Plaza Resort & Spa.
Glenn Hammond Curtiss (1878–1930) was an American aviation pioneer and a founder of the U.S. aircraft industry. He began his career as a bicycle racer and builder before moving on to motorcycles. As early as 1904, he began to manufacture engines for airships. Curtiss made the first officially witnessed flight in North America, won a race at the world’s first international air meet in France, and made the first long-distance flight in the United States. His contributions in designing and building aircraft led to the formation of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, now part of Curtiss-Wright Corporation.
The 1911 Curtiss Model D (or frequently, “Curtiss Pusher”) was an early United States pusher aircraft with the engine and propeller behind the pilot’s seat. The Model D was a biplane fitted with a wheeled tricycle undercarriage. It was among the very first aircraft in the world to be built in any quantity — all of which were produced during an era of trial-and-error development and equally important parallel technical development in internal combustion engine technologies. It was also the aircraft type which made the first takeoff from the deck of a ship and made the first landing aboard a ship in 1911.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Daytona Beach, Florida
Daytona Beach’s Grand Resort: Plaza Resort and Spa
Wikipedia: Glenn Curtiss
Wikipedia: Curtiss Model D
Wikipedia: William H. Gardiner
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Daytona Beach 1911, detail


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