Voted #1 Beach In The Country By TripAdvisor in 2012
St. Pete Beach and Pass-a-Grille Beach
In the last fifty years, St. Pete Beach, Florida has developed its own identity and become a vastly popular vacation destination, but years ago, that wasn’t the case. In fact, at one time, the islands that made up Tampa Bay’s Beaches were known as four different keys rather than a cluster of beaches: Long Key, Treasure Island, Sand Key and Clearwater Beach Key.
Long Key, the most southern island, was originally made up of four areas: St. Petersburg Beach, Pass-A-Grille Beach, Don CeSar Place, and Belle Vista Beach. In 1957, the four communities merged and formed the City of St Petersburg Beach. Later, in efforts to achieve its own identity, the City voted to shorten its name to St. Pete Beach, not to be mistaken with “St. Pete’s Beach,” which some travelers have been known to do.
Pass-A-Grille Beach, the most southern tip of St. Pete Beach, is thought to have gotten its name from the Cuban fishermen, known as "Grillers", who camped along the waters edge of the island and would smoke their fish before returning home. Traveling thru the pass, you could see the fires on the beaches, hence Pass-A-Grille. Soon residents began to make Pass-A-Grille their home and in 1902, the first store was built on Long Key Island in Pass-A-Grille.
In 1905, Pass-A-Grille opened a Post Office and in 1911, State Legislation declared Pass-A-Grille a town and twenty-one residents voted at the first election. In 1914, electricity came to Long Key Island (St. Pete Beach) and in 1922, the island's first fire station was established - Pass-A-Grille Engine Company Number One.
St. Pete Beach is filled with an enormous amount of history. A historic landmark known around the world is the famous Don CeSar Beach Resort, A Loews Hotel. In 1928, Thomas Rowe built the Don CeSar for 1.5 million dollars. It has 275 rooms and is ten stories tall. Opening night, the Don CeSar hosted over 1500 guest who paid $ 2.50 each to enjoy dinner and dancing. The depression hit the Don CeSar hard, and in the early 1940's, the government purchased the hotel for $440,000 and turned it into a hospital and rehabilitation center.
In 1944 it became one of the area's first hurricane shelters for residents and pets. In 1945, the Regional Office of Veterans Administration was moved into the Don, and it was stripped and painted army green. In 1969, facing 3 million dollars in renovations, the government left the facility and the County was prepared to tear it down and place a park in its place. Due to an active citizens group, Mr. William Bowman learned about the Don CeSar, and in 1972 purchased the building. After major renovations, the Don CeSar was reopened in 1973. Today, it is only one of eight hotels in Florida that is listed on the National Trust for Historical Preservation, Historic Hotels of America.
St. Pete Beach and Pass-a-Grille Beach are both filled with great stories, wonderful restaurants, beautiful sunsets and picture perfect weather. If shopping interests you, visit the "Historic Corey Avenue Shopping District" or any of the other great shops located on Gulf Blvd.
Address: 155 Corey Ave, St. Pete Beach, FL 33706
Phone: (727) 367-2735
Mayor: Steve McFarlin
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