The Growth & Prosperity of Lake City

The Hotel Blanche is significant because the construction of the hotel and its addition reflected the growth and prosperity of Lake City through its town development as a transportation node and educational center. The Blanche is also significant because it is an example of the work of architect Frank Pierce Milburn, the man who designed the Lake City Courthouse and the additions to the Florida State Capitol in 1902, the same year the Blanche was built.

The Blanche Lake City, FL

The Hotel Blanche—Significance to the Community

The Hotel Blanche was under construction by the spring of 1902. Henry W. Otis, the contractor who built the new courthouse was also the contractor for the Blanche. Upon completion, the new building presented an imposing appearance, it being the only three-story building on N. Marion St., the main thoroughfare of Lake City , and it also 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 .

One of the draws to Hotel Blanche for the local population was the Post Office. Upon completion of the Blanche the Post Office leased the southernmost store - front for fourteen years. A barber was located in the next shop north of the Post Office. The center of the Hotel block was occupied by the Hotel itself, with a large salon to the south of the hotel lobby, which was later converted to a soda fountain and stationery store in 1905. The three stores to the north of the lobby were a dry goods store, a millinery and possibly a boot and shoe store. Other services that the Hotel provided at various times were the location of the bus station in the former Post Office site , and the offices for the city hall and the police department in the 1930's. Various local doctors also had their offices in the Blanche.

The Hotel proper had a spacious dining room on the first floor, famous for its gourmet food. Local townspeople rushed to the Blanche in order to find a vacant table on Sunday afternoons when services at church were over. Table hopping and visiting with friends at the Blanche was a weekly social affair. The dining room was also the scene of the weekly Kiwanis and Rotary Club meetings, as well as the local sorority meetings. Other social events held at the Blanche were weddings, wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, coffees, teas, dinner parties, and high school graduation parties .

The Hotel Blanche—Significance in Terms of Guests

The Hotel was immediately noted as the finest tourist hotel in Lake City after its construction.  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. 

 

The Hotel Blanche—Significance in Preservation

The presence of historic structures such as the Blanche Hotel and recent streetscape improvements along Marion Avenue have been instrumental in reinforcing the charm and character of the downtown; therefore the style and placement of future buildings should be consistent with this established form. The Blanche was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places on January 18, 1990.