Bradenton's antique hotel gets a face lift

nwilliams@bradenton.comDecember 29, 2012 

BRADENTON -- Termites, weather damage, neglect and Father Time have all played a part in the aging of The Pink Palace.

Bradenton's 1920s-era hotel, formerly known as Manatee River Hotel at 309 10th St. W., was visited by the some of the most well-known celebrities in human history, like Babe Ruth and Al Capone, and regarded as a luxurious hotel.

At first glance today, such recognition seems unimaginable. Thanks to new-age technology, however, the building is being brought back to life.

When The Pink Palace officially reopens as a Hampton Inn and Suites, the

hotel will still maintain its one-of-a-kind craftsmanship, only restored.

On Friday, workers from Tampa-based Wood Window Makeover.com were busy reinstalling restored windows and wood frames on the second floor. Half of the original windows, made from hand-blown glass, remain intact, but several, either cracked or broken entirely, were replaced over time. There are more than 300 window sashes at the historic hotel, with five to six in each window unit. As for the original wood window frames beyond repair, the company was able to re-create the exact style for the remodeling.

The revitalization process also includes restoring leaded glass on the former lobby, which offers a store-front, industrial appeal.

It's a hefty task, to say the least.

"This is very large for us, but we're capable," said Danny Moody, the foreman on site for Wood Window Makeover.com

The six-month process involves more than just using Windex, nails and a hammer.

The crew must first delicately remove the window units from the 80-year-old wall, scrape off coats of pink paint, clean the windows, repaint and reglaze the wood, then put it back in its original place.

"This is all that's left and the city wants to save these," said Steve Quillian, owner of Wood Window and Makeover.com,

An official groundbreaking ceremony for the $15 million renovation of hotel is slated for 4 p.m. Jan. 17. The hotel was purchased by Widewaters Bradenton LLC and will reopen as a Hampton Inn and Suites featuring 115 rooms, which will include king- and queen-sized suites, along with traditional rooms.

The hotel closed in 1960 and reopened as a senior citizens residence renamed the Riverpark Hotel, which closed in 2005. The building has remained vacant since.

Quillian and Moody said infrastructure used in the hotel has been discontinued or now made by machine.

"A place like this was built by a master craftsman who doesn't exist anymore," Moody said. "They used materials no one uses anymore. The wood was cut at the turn of the century and it's probably in a protected forest now."

Moody said restoring historical sites like The Pink Palace is a more reasonable choice, rather than tearing them down.

"As much as people want to tear sites down," he said, "people are cognisant of the impact on the community and environment."

Nick Williams, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams

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