Island Hotel, Cedar Key, Florida


2nd Lieutenant
Silver Patron
Jul 30, 2018

During my recent Florida trip, I stayed two nights at the Island Hotel at Cedar Key.

The house was built in 1859/1860. The owners, John Parsons and Francis E. Hale, opened the Parsons and Hale General Store in anticipation of business to come as soon as the railroad connecting Fernandina at the Atlantic coast with Cedar Key at the Gulf coast was completed. But the outbreak of the Civil War ground business operations to a halt.

Cedar Key is on an island and was thus an important port. It was also hardly defendable. Furthermore, just days before the Union navy came steaming in, most of the troops defening Cedar Key had been called to Fernandina because everyone believed an attack was imminent from the Atlantic. The remaining 23 men of the 4th Florida Infantry stood no chance against the USS Hatteras. 15 were taken prisoner, the rest managed to escape. The Union soldiers destroyed the railroad buildings and everything else that they wouldn't need. That the Parsons and Hale General Store survived the burning suggests it was used either as troop barracks or warehouse.

After the war, business began blooming and Parsons and Hale General Store opened again. The building also housed the post office and customs house. At some point before 1884, the general store began accomodating boarders on the upper floor.

The building was damaged during the 1894 hurricane. After the original owners had died, the house was sold in 1914. Just a year later, Simon Feinberg acquired the property and converted it into a hotel. He added the interior staircase as well as the second floor balcony.

Since Feinberg, the hotel has seen many owners come and go. Each left their marks of renovations and improvements on this Old Lady, but some never stayed very long. From 1946 to 1973, the hotel was owned by Bessie and "Gibby" Gibbs who arranged with artist Helen Tooker to paint the murals behind the King Neptune bar and upstairs in the hallway.



First floor "parlor"

My room, no. 35.

The door to room no. 30 stood open so I snuck a peek and took a picture.

The floors are uneven and creak. But it's a charming bed & breakfast and I know I'll be back when I return to Cedar Key one day.

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