Technically it's a hotel renovation – but it's become a treasure hunt.
Developers renovating a historic Florida hotel once visited by John F. Kennedy were surprised by a series of incredible discoveries that were discovered when walls were torn down and wallpaper peeled off.
They found a hand-cranked elevator, stairs that lead to nowhere, brick chimneys, an original wooden switchboard, hand-painted wallpaper, hand-carved pillars and newspaper clippings advertising horse-drawn carriages.
Developers renovating the historic Detroit Florida hotel were surprised by a series of incredible discoveries that were discovered when walls were torn down and wallpaper peeled off. Pictured on the left is an elevator from more than 100 years, which is located behind Sheetrock next to a carved wooden post. On the right is the elevator hand crank
The elevator's gears, motor, and cables are intact on the left. The coach is to be converted into a photo booth in a new restaurant
Behind one of the sheetrock walls, a brick fireplace with soot in the chimney was discovered on the left. Another find can be seen in the picture on the right – a newspaper clipping with advertisements for horse-drawn carriages that reveal its age
The incredible discoveries took place at the Detroit Hotel in St. Petersburg, which opened in 1888.
It was the first significant building in the city to grow around it. It was made of wood, with a 70-foot tower being one of the distinctive features.
Jack Spinrad, a St. Petersburg resident and author of the community magazine Green Bench Monthly, wrote, “When the 40-room hotel was completed, it was literally in the middle of nowhere on a dusty street with no other buildings nearby. except for the railway terminus.
"It was built in the Queen Anne style of the time and was three and a half stories high."
An archive photo of the Detroit Hotel in St. Petersburg. The venue, which opened in 1888, was the city's first significant building – the metropolis grew around it
The west and east wings were provided with brick structures that covered the original wooden structure. Above, how the landmark at 217 Central Avenue appears today
The hotel became a popular tourist attraction and the St. Petersburg History Museum confirmed that John F. Kennedy had visited it once.
Over the years the venue at 217 Central Avenue has expanded to include 63 rooms, added in the early 20th century.
But also the west and east wings were provided with brick constructions, which covered the original wooden construction.
In 1993, the historic venue closed and converted to condominiums almost a decade later. On the ground floor there was a restaurant area – the renovated area -.
The original switchboard is mounted on a wooden wall panel, the room numbers are handwritten in pencil
A newspaper clipping was found in one of the elevator bars on the left. One of the most amazing finds was a staircase that led to nowhere, right
In 2010, the former Detroit Hotel was listed as a Historic Landmark in the St. Petersburg Register of Historic Places and is one of the stops on the St. Petersburg Ghost Tour.
According to an article in the Northeast Journal, the building is haunted by a "Lady in Red" who once owned the hotel and was despised by her captain's lover.
Apparently, his portrait was found hidden in the attic during an earlier renovation, confirming the myth that the lady in red sealed the painting behind a wall so she would never see his face again before leaving town.
The article states: “Shortly after she left, a mysterious lady dressed in red was often seen on some balconies around the courtyard – sometimes her ghostly image would appear in one of the taverns near the hotel.
"When someone approached, the apparition suddenly vanished into thin air."
Some of the ornate metalwork on the elevator doors is from the late 19th century
A rendering shows how the ground floor area of the former hotel will look after the redesign by the Segretis Hospitality Group
Two new restaurants are in the pipeline – a pizzeria and a restaurant serving American cuisine. This rendering shows what future customers can expect inside after the renovation is complete
The renovation work is being led by the Segretis Hospitality Group, who are transforming the restaurant on the ground floor into two dining concepts – a pizza restaurant and a restaurant specializing in American cuisine.
Nova Segretis, the hospitality group's creative director, told MailOnline Travel that the "recently exposed features have been masked and hidden in the walls" and the "construction team is currently uncovering more ancient architectural features".
The old Ohio-based Warner Elevator was discovered behind Sheetrock.
All original parts, including the cage-like door, hand crank, gears, motor and cables are retained.
The original switchboard has a blackboard with the room numbers written on it in pencil.
There are plans to show the treasure trove on the walls, revealing some of the original features – and the elevator will be accessible to guests as a photo booth.
Segretis added, "We hope it will recognize local history for those who will experience its timeless grandeur."