How Real Estate Rogues ‘Invented’ Florida on Cheddar

While the state of Florida is lauded for its sunshine, great weather, and tax-free income, its journey to becoming the state we know today is somewhat checkered. 

The Sunshine State has a significant place in American history as home to the country’s first European settled city, St. Augustine. The city was founded by Spanish conquistador Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565 but with the help of real estate promoter and pioneer Carl Fisher some 345 years later, Florida would begin to morph into one of the most geographically desirable locations in the United States.

When the U.S. acquired Florida from Spain in 1819 and began occupying it in 1821, it was a relatively uninhabited place, likely due to its low lying lands and an abundance of swampy locations. It wasn’t until 1845 when the territory joined the Union as a slave state that its economy began to expand.

In addition to slave trading, the state’s geographic makeup made it ideal for farmers to produce a wide range of products including cotton, tobacco, sugarcane, and oranges; but in order to turn a profit, there had to be a way to easily move goods in and out of the not yet fully

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In Florida, Historic Hotels Continue to Delight Thanks to Timeless Design

“From the moment Andrew and I purchased The Colony Palm Beach, we wanted to restore the lobby back to its original glamorous stature,” Colony co-owner Sarah Wetenhall says of herself and her husband. “Hospitality is all about first impressions…[and] I had this dream of visually immersing our guests in the Colony experience in a truly unique way.” 

Although the Wetenhalls went about this by installing a perfectly pink custom de Gournay wallpaper mural (more on that later), they’re not alone in partaking in what seems to be a Floridan hotel renaissance. Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and its notably high rates in the Sunshine State, a slew of hospitality ventures are piquing interest and turning heads—thanks in no small part to their emphases on historic design.

A newly aqua-tinged space inside the Fisher Island Club.

Photo: Courtesy of the Fisher Island Club

On Fisher Island, designer Adriana Hoyos has been hard at work on the resort component of the Fisher Island Club after recently completing a series of refreshed common spaces within the famously exclusive members-only social club. Notably, the Vanderbilt Mansion is the keystone of the property. “I wanted to know a little bit about its history,” she says

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