Hotel Information, Amenities & History
Our relaxing 21-room hotel fosters the nuance of a 1920's Florida Beach Inn while providing modern comforts, including:
- Patio and pool area
- 32" flat screen TV's
- Discounted hot breakfast
- Suites & standard rooms
- Meeting & banquet rooms
- The Thirsty Goat Beer, Wine & Spirits
- Complimentary high speed internet
- Oversized boat parking
- Complimentary rental bikes
We are 105 year old inn lovingly restored, in 2002, in the old Florida style. We are completely non-smoking and offer a discounted full breakfast served daily in our Florida room, with coffee and tea available throughout the day. We also provide daily housekeeping service. In 2013 we opened our 10 brand new Port Cottages. Each individual unit is 2 BR/2 BA and pet-friendly.
History of the Port Inn
In 1909 the original Port Inn was built and owned by the Saint Joseph Land and Development Corporation at its current location at the crossroads of US Highway 98 and State Road 71, the center of town in Port Saint Joe, Florida. 100 years ago, in the days before air conditioning, the sprawling Inn with its broad open-air veranda and stately columns was a favorite getaway for those seeking a quiet retreat near the cooling breezes of Saint Joseph Bay. Early photos show Model T Fords lined up in front of the Inn with free range cattle grazing in an adjacent field.
By the time Port Saint Joe became a city in 1913, the Port Inn had developed a reputation as the center of social life in the small developing town. “Excursion” trains transported hundreds of good-timers from neighboring towns packing the park in front of the Inn. A long boardwalk connected the Inn to a pier that reached out into the Bay.
High wooden slides shot thrill-seeking swimmers into the cool, aqua-green waters of the refreshing Bay. A unique over-the-water, merry-go-round swing, powered by an ingenious sail system was a delight for the young and old alike. You could say it was one of the first water parks in North Florida. Early residents report that other favorite visitor activities were boat rides to Saint Joseph Peninsula, scalloping, fishing and bicycling, much as it is today.
In the 1930’s Ed Ball and Bill Edwards acquired the Inn as part of a massive land purchase that included the entire city of Port Saint Joe. The Inn has been rumored to have served as a guesthouse for the many friends of the duPont and Ball families. It has recently been told by Mr. Jake Belin Jr., son of legendary resident Mr. Jake Belin, that his parents met at the Inn. “My mom and Dad lived in the Port Inn during the first two weeks of their marriage in November 1940.” Ironically George Tapper is the father of current owner Patricia (Trish) Tapper Warriner.
During World War II tragedy struck the Inn. On the morning of October 17, 1944 a fire that started in one of the many fireplaces got out of control and swept through the building. Again, ironically, the fire was reported by Capt. Robert Tapper and his good friend W.O. (Otto) Anderson. First-hand accounts have said the heat of the flames caused a tremendous explosion that catapulted the Inn’s boiler right out of the building nearly missing the DuPont home “Chateau” next door. A series of photographs captured during the fire show the entire progression of the blaze from roof line to total destruction. Residents and evacuated guests gathered about the grounds, helplessly watching the conflagration. A few pieces of furniture and luggage hastily rescued from the building and the Inn’s chimneys jutting from the smoldering ruins were all that was left. The loss was estimated by the local paper as $35,000. The property sat vacant for three years.
The “new” motel began on Monday, January 5, 1948. Roy and Josephine Hallman of Saint Augustine and Panama City hired the Anderson Construction Co. with R.C. Brock supervising. New hotel was reported by The Star Newspaper to have 24 rooms with 22 baths and estimated the reconstruction cost at $45,000.
Long-time resident Joe Paffe returned to Port Saint Joe in late summer 1949 from an assignment to build a box plant in Houston, Texas. Upon his return he reacquainted with the Hallman’s who were his neighbors in Saint Augustine when he was young. He recalled the new town doctor and his wife, Wayne and Ruth Hendrix were living at the hotel until they could get settled.
In the 1950’s, Red Gunn, a well known local contractor, purchased the hotel from the Hallman’s. It operated for many years as the St. Joe Motel. Throughout the years and subsequent owners the historic building offered comfortable rest and country home cooking to travelers and locals alike. After several owners and many years, however, the motel fell into disrepair.
In recent years, it was rumored that developers were interested in acquiring the site and demolishing the Inn to make way for modern townhouses. Local investors and residents David and Trish Warriner came to the rescue and purchased the St. Joe landmark. After a multi-million dollar, complete renovation and restoration, the Port Inn has been returned to its rightful place as the centerpiece of Port Saint Joe history.
Come and see for yourself and experience a bygone era. You can almost hear the soft voices of the past as you relax on the porches watching the same beautiful sunsets that have been enjoyed from this spot for over 100 years.