It is official. The iconic Gulfport Casino has joined the National Register of Historic Places, according to Fred Metcalf, the city’s director of community relations. (Tampa Bay Times, 2.6.2015) It joins the Peninsula Inn (on Beach Blvd), the first property in Gulfport to receive the coveted designation.
Although the historical status offers no direct economic benefit to the Gulfport, it does recognize the importance this community focal point has played in Gulfport’s history. There was the casino even before Gulfport was officially known as a city.
Three dates are important to the casino’s history:
- 1906: It was built as a two-story structure with a dance hall on the second floor. The casino was demolished after suffering structural damage in the hurricane of 1921. (FYI: The first US named hurricane (unofficially named) was George. It hit Fort Lauderdale in 1947. The next one was given the name Hurricane Bess (for First Lady of the USA, Bess Truman, in 1949). It hit the Bahamas and Miami up to St. Augustine.
- 1924: A second casino was built closer to the shore but was later deemed inferior and was demolished in the 1930’s.
- 1934: The third casino, built with money from President Roosevelt’s Work Projects Administration program, remains today and has undergone only slight renovations.