On January 22, 1897, Hotel Miami officially opened its doors on South Miami Avenue just north of the Miami River. South Miami Avenue was called Avenue D in 1897 and was considered the main street of early Miami.
Julia Tuttle was hoping that this would be Miami’s first land based hostelry, however, due to delays, several other hotels opened prior to Hotel Miami’s opening. The large wood frame hotel was accepting guests long before its official opening. Dr. James Jackson, considered one of Miami’s pioneer physician, and his wife stayed at the hotel when they first arrived in Miami. Their room wasn’t quite complete, so every night Dr. Jackson had to lean the door to his room over the entrance way in order to provide some privacy for he and his wife.
Although Hotel Miami would out live Julia Tuttle, who died on September 14th in 1898, it would be burned to the ground on November 12th in 1899. It was considered ground zero for the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1899. This was Miami’s second major fire and also spread to the nearby Miami Metropolis wood frame building. The next day, the Metropolis had to borrow a printing press in order to tell the story of the fire.
Some believe that the fire was set intentionally due to Yellow Fever, but the fire started in one of rooms in the hotel where Mrs. John Smith was preparing food for an ill patient who had been struck with Yellow Fever. A blue flame oil stove was the cause of the fire, which quickly grew out of control.
Picture from Florida Memory. Click here to access the photo.