Miami History Podcast: Royal Palm Hotel

This podcast episode features Miami’s first luxury hotel. As part of his agreement with Julia Tuttle, Henry Flagler built the Royal Palm Hotel on the north bank of the Miami River in an area that became downtown a few decades later. Shortly after the signing of the agreement between Tuttle and Flagler, Joseph A. McDonald and John Sewell got to work to build the iconic hotel.

The structure was a five-story, wood-frame building with an observation tower at the top and a wrap-around veranda on the first level. The hotel was painted in the customary Flagler yellow. For the better part of thirty-three years, the place was the focal point of social activities and celebrity sightings during the winter months. During the summer, local-residents got to enjoy the pool attached to the hotel.

Royal Palm Hotel

Figure 1: Royal Palm Hotel

While there were many circumstances that led to the end of the Royal Palm Hotel, the Great Hurricane of 1926 was the last blow. The hotel experienced significant damage and the FEC decided to close the iconic structure. Demolition was slow and methodical, but by 1930, the Royal Palm was mostly erased from downtown Miami.

Although it has been nearly ninety years since its demolition, the Flagler hotel is still fondly remembered on social media and picture sharing sites on the Internet. There are many Miami history enthusiasts with Royal Palm Hotel post-card collections that highlight its beauty arising out of the piney woods on the north side of the Miami River.

Tune into this week’s podcast episode to hear more about Flagler’s Royal Palm Hotel. Below are additional resources and articles that tell the story of the hotel and the time-period when it was erected until it was razed.

Please note that the audio describes the podcast as episode #9, but it was reordered and is in fact episode #10.

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Further Reading:


  • Cover: Royal Palm Hotel in 1910s. Courtesy of Florida Memory.
  • Figure 1: Front of Royal Palm Hotel. Courtesy of HistoryMiami.