Modern Spirit & Southern Soul
Welcome to The Blanche — a landmark in downtown Lake City, Florida for the past 100 years. A three-story structure providing public meeting and community gathering space, short- and long-term apartments, office and retail space. An exciting new chapter to the historic Hotel Blanche that reflected growth and prosperity of Lake City through its town development as a transportation node and educational center.
Built in 1902, the hotel was once considered a luxurious place to stay, full of posh furniture and amenities. When its doors opened, it immediately became the center of activities in town due to the services offered in the storefronts, as well as, the social life offered by the hotel. The Hotel Blanche was significant from the start thanks to the work of architect Frank Pierce Milburn, the man who designed the Lake City Courthouse and the additions to the Florida State Capitol.
Mr. Milburn was reported to have the largest architectural business in the South at the turn of the century and won numerous architectural competitions. He also has five books published on his work that illustrated some of the 250 projects he undertook during his 36-year career. Therefore, the Hotel Blanche is also significant as the work of a master.
The Hotel was immediately noted as the finest tourist hotel in Lake City after its construction. The hotel was the first building in Florida to have an elevator. Many famous figures stayed at Hotel Blanche, including Johnny Cash and Al Capone. Capone would stop here fairly often when traveling between Chicago and Miami. The Central Hotel and the Lake City Hotel, and the Gainey House and the Edwards House all provided rooms for travelers, but could not compare to the Blanche.
A 1912 brochure bragged about the Hotel Blanche:
Lake City has a number of hotels and boarding houses where the tourist can find the best of accommodations at reasonable rates, but the pride of the city and county is the Hotel Blanche, located on the main thoroughfare, Marion street, directly facing the courthouse grounds and overlooking the beautiful Lake DeSoto.
It is the consensus of opinion of both commercial travelers and tourists that Lake City in possession of the Hotel Blanche has the best hotel in the South. The Blanche is a new and modernly equipped first-class house, entirely screened throughout, and furnishing a table superior to any found in the average hotel.
While comparing favorably with the most luxurious tourist hotels in Florida, the rates at the Blanche are far lower; first-class rooms with meals being given for $2.50 per day. Rooms with private baths are from $3.00 to $4.00 per day, and weekly rates are from $14.00 to $22.00. The swimming pool and shower baths free to guests are other appreciated features of life at the Hotel Blanche. The absence of "style" necessitating a change of dress for certain hours of the day, makes a direct appeal to those who like solid and homelike comfort, to go hand in hand with out-of-door pleasures.
During the hotel's mid-period of its life, the management of O.K. Holmes, and Rebecca Holmes Morrison from 1924 to 1955 kept the hotel standards high, and it was considered an outstanding hotel, especially then. It was popular for conventions where people could enjoy ample facilities, as well as the social life. The Holmes kept up the friendly atmosphere of the Hotel Blanche and decorated it with seasonal flowers. During their management about 30 to 40 hotel residents were permanent guests. They included several school teachers, the Trailways and Greyhound bus drivers, and during the 1940's the naval officers who were training at the airport. Other guests returned annually, such as traveling businessmen and the many tobacco buyers who swarmed over Lake City each season.
The Blanche was widely known and sought after as a tourist and business hotel due to its hospitable facilities, the social stature of its residents, and its prime location in the center of a lively downtown.On January 18, 1990, The Blanche was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.