As the city continues to grow and build new bed-and-breakfast establishments, the new Hampton Inn on the Dunedin Causeway, and other Airbnbs that add to the list of places to stay and visit within our community, many people do not realize that at an earlier time in Dunedin’s history the community had quite a few of motels, apartment buildings and fancy hotels like the Fenway to stay at.
Starting in the 1870s, one of the first accommodations the settlement had was the George Jones home known as the Blue Moon Inn, which was located approximately where the Best Western Hotel is today. Jones would rent out rooms to passengers and guests who had stopped for a night from their journey by waterway on a flatboat or small paddlewheel ferry. Later in the 1880s, two larger hotels were built, one being the Yacht Club on Broadway and Monroe Street, and then there was the well-known seasonal lodge right on the Edgewater Drive waterfront called the Dunedin Lodge.
The Dunedin Lodge was maintained by two women who were the sisters of A.J. Grant and family. The “Bull Family Sisters,” Lydia and Matilda would open the lodge during the winter months for guests during the months of September through May, then they would travel back to Cape May, New Jersey, where they owned their own private house and another lodge for beach visitors to the Jersey shore. While in Dunedin, Lydia and Matilda also rented the former J.O. Douglas house on the corner of Scotland Street and Edgewater Drive, right across from their lodge, which made it convenient to stop over when necessary during the evening or for emergency situations.
The lodge was situated approximately south next to Edgewater Park, and the entrance faced the street side of the road. Ironically, when it was renovated all the spacious and luxury rooms faced the street side, and the best bay view and sunsets were ironically on the same side as the hotel kitchen and cleaning area, so the lodging staff got the best views every evening.
The front of the lodge was painted all white with high steps, tall white columns, and a front porch with rocking chairs for the guests to enjoy the passing horse wagons and early automobiles going by. Because of the location of the lodge and the distance between hospitals, the lodge was sometimes used as a facility by midwives to deliver local babies, especially if residential homes could not accommodate the necessities for delivering a baby.
In the 1940s, the lodge became the Marine Corps headquarters for the officers and non-commissioned officers that were stationed in Dunedin for training with the Amphibious Alligator Tanks, near the marine base next to Cedar Creek.
Finally, by the late 1960s, the lodge had fallen into disrepair and was no longer available for lodging with other motels and hotels around, so it was sold in the early 1970s for phase one of the future new condominiums called Edgewater Arms. Mostly today, the land that the lodge once occupied is now part of the Edgewater Park playground and the parking lot for the marina boat ramp and garages for residential car parking.
Even though Matilda and Lydia Bull are no longer around, every now and then there are stories that the two sisters still occupy the J.O. Douglas house and wander the halls looking for something to do since their lodge is no longer there.