As a premier destination of the Roaring 20s, New Port Richey has an endlessly unique and fascinating history that still resonates powerfully today – especially regarding its crown jewel, the Hacienda Hotel. Since 1927, this iconic property has offered visitors Mission Revival architecture, first becoming popular amongst Hollywood movie stars who would winter there, before ultimately attaining its place on the National Register of Historic Places.
New Port Richey, located beside the beautiful Pithlachascotee (Cotee) River, is a city with a rich history of Roaring 20s glamour. The city has attracted many famous people, such as silent film star Thomas Meighan and celebrated golfer Gene Sarazen, and remains an exciting and rewarding destination for visitors today.
The Iconic Hacienda Hotel
The Hacienda Hotel, designed by Thomas Reed Martin and opened in 1927, was once the crown jewel of the area, known as the “Hollywood of the East”. It featured beautiful Mission Revival architecture and was popular amongst movie stars who would winter there. Despite its many changes of ownership and business incarnations, the hotel has managed to retain much of its original grandeur, with its ornate plaster mantle and family crest above the fireplace still intact. Recently, the property was purchased for renovation, offering a unique opportunity to experience this iconic building.
Achieving National Register of Historic Places
On October 24, 1996, the Hacienda Hotel proudly achieved a well-deserved place on the National Register of Historic Places. Its hollow tile construction and stucco facades are classic examples of Spanish-style architecture popular in the 1920s. Notoriously known for its ‘secret’ floor, the Bordello, and the Prohibition-era tunnel leading to the river, the Hacienda Hotel has become an iconic part of New Port Richey’s cultural history. In 2014, the Florida legislature allocated $1 million to fund the restoration of this beloved landmark, demonstrating the commitment of the citizens and government entities alike to preserving its legacy.
A 1920’s Day on the Pithlachascotee River
The downtown area of New Port Richey is enhanced by the presence of several murals, adding an extra layer of charm to the city. One particularly notable mural is “A 1920’s Day on the Pithlachascotee River,” by Keith Goodson, which incorporates local people’s faces into the characters of the 1920s. This unique piece of art serves as a beautiful example of how past and present can be merged. Furthermore, Sims Park, the Hacienda Hotel, Main Street, and Orange Lake are all features of this wonderful area that add to the exciting atmosphere. All these elements combine to make downtown New Port Richey an amazing place to explore.
The Meighan Theatre
The Richey Suncoast Theatre is a historic landmark, having been built in 1925 and named the Meighan Theatre after silent film star, Thomas Meighan. Opening its doors to the public with his film, the theatre was equipped with a pipe organ in 1927 and became the center of a debate regarding Sunday activities in New Port Richey. Ultimately, the vote of the city’s citizens allowed for the theatre to remain open on Sundays, along with baseball games being okay, though dancing was not allowed.
The Great Depression hit and in 1934 the magnificent theatre was closed. However, in 1972 it was reopened as The Richey Suncoast Theatre, featuring live performances. In 2007, the theatre underwent a complete remodel, including air conditioning, lighting, carpeting, walls, and seating. Today, the theatre is fully functional and active, with numerous live productions taking place for the public to enjoy.
Unique Dining Experiences in Downtown New Port Richey
New Port Richey’s downtown dining scene is alive and well, boasting a wide variety of restaurants and taverns. From the home-style Greek food at Christina’s Restaurant to Dulcet, an upscale restaurant and lounge offering live music and delectable cuisine in a sophisticated atmosphere, there is something for every palate. There are also pizza places, fresh soups and salads, a unique tea room, bars and pubs, an ice cream parlor, a bakery, a coffee shop, and a shaved ice store, all adding to the rich dining experience available in Downtown New Port Richey.
On December 31, 2014, Dulcet opened its doors after a complete renovation of a broken-down building at Grand and Missouri. In recognition of their efforts to beautify the downtown area, Greater New Port Richey Main Street proudly presented the owners of Dulcet with their Downtown Beautification Award.
Explore New Port Richey
New Port Richey is a popular city on the Nature Coast, located just off US 19 at Main Street. The city boasts Sims Park, a favorite for events and concerts situated right on the banks of the Pithlachascotee River. It features a playground with handicapped-accessible equipment, a bandshell, and boat launches. In addition, downtown the city has a great library, and a few blocks north lies the recreation and aquatic center with multiple pools, workout equipment, meeting rooms, and much more. With so much to enjoy, New Port Richey is worth a visit – come explore and find out why it’s a beloved destination!