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Park View Inn | Photo © 2009 YourMainParadox

Park View Inn

City/Town:
Location Class:
Built: 1966 | Abandoned: 2000
Status: Demolished
Photojournalist: David Bulit

heart of jacksonville hotel postcard 1965
Park View Inn was previously known as the “Heart of Jacksonville Motor Hotel”

At the corner of Main and State Streets in Jacksonville sits the remnants of the Park View Inn, previously one of the city’s premier lodging destinations. Built in 1966, the hotel was originally known as the “Heart of Jacksonville Motor Hotel” before it was renamed Park View Inn in the 90s. The hotel was condemned in 2000 because of fire damage and multiple code violations, including electrical and fire code hazards, making the building dangerous to live in.

The hotel had been plagued with fires throughout its later years. In 1996, a fire in a vacant room was caused by an electrical shortage. In January 1997, a three-year-old girl woke her mother because her two-year-old sister had set the bed on fire. In 2000, three fires were set inside the hotel with the third occurring in November after a man deliberately set himself on fire. The man was rushed to the emergency room with second and third-degree burns over half his body. Later inspections of the building found the hotel didn’t have a working fire alarm, had exit doors chained shut which would prevent people from escaping. Electrical wires protruded from walls and overhead lighting, fire extinguishers were either missing or broken, and many of the smoke detectors did not work properly. The building was condemned in December 2000 and residents were given a day’s notice to vacate the property.

That same year, a study made by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection found tar residuals underneath the hotel, barring any current or future plans for the redevelopment of the property. The coal gasification plant which operated on the site between the 1880s and the early 1900s had no real regulations to protect the public from contamination.

After its abandonment, the former hotel became a haven for transients and vandals. In April 2007, police arrest a 48-year-old man after he was found throwing pieces of aluminum off the balcony of the Park View Inn. After attempting to flee by scaling a wall, he was arrested and charged with burglary. The fires never stopped even after its closure, although it’s unsure if the fires were set deliberately. The property owner presented a plan to convert the old hotel into a housing facility for students, but the plan quickly fell through as the real estate market collapsed soon after.

In 2010, the city planned to demolish the building but stopped due to a proposal made by the property owners to convert the building’s first floor into storefronts while demolishing the top floors. Floors 2-5 would be demolished and a parking deck will be built on top of the first floor, which is currently the original parking garage built in the 60s. That proposal was ultimately shot down and demolition of the hotel was completed in September 2011. All that remains is a portion of the parking garage where you can find homeless people finding shelter from the rain or local police parked inside having lunch.

Bullet

David Bulit is a photographer, author, and historian from Miami, Florida. He has published a number of books on abandoned and forgotten locales throughout the United States and continues to advocate for preserving these historic landmarks. His work has been featured throughout the world in news outlets such as the Miami New Times, the Florida Times-Union, the Orlando Sentinel, NPR, Yahoo News, MSN, the Daily Mail, UK Sun, and many others. You can find more of his work at davidbulit.com as well as amazon.com/author/davidbulit.

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