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Thomas Rowe migrated to Florida and purchased 80 acres of what is now St. Petersburg Beach in 1924. A year later, construction began on his dream project: the "Pink Castle." The Don Ce-Sar, named for the chivalrous Don Ce-Sar in Vincent Wallace’s light opera Maritana, opened in 1928, nearly 300% over budget, and instantly attracted some of the era's biggest stars, from F. Scott Fitzgerald and FDR to Al Capone.

The New York Yankees signed a three-year spring training contract in 1931, helping the Don through the Great Depression. In 1942, two years after Rowe's untimely death, the U.S. Army seized the hotel and used it as a hospital throughout the duration of World War II and in 1944, the Don entered its "golden age" as an Air Force convalescent center. One year later, the luxurious hotel interiors were stripped bare and painted "government green" as the Don endured its next incarnation as the regional office for the Veteran's Administration.

By 1969, the building had severely deteriorated. The last of the federal offices abandoned the property and it remained derelict until the early 1970s, when William Bowman, Jr., purchased it for $460,000. The Don reopened in 1973 (the name now sans the hyphen) after a $7.5-million restoration. Once again the Pink Castle reigned on the Florida coast. A $15 million renovation, including the addition of a 4,000-square-foot Beach Club and Spa and a new restaurant, occurred between 1994 and '95, and in 2001 another $20 million was spent to renovate the lobby and the guesthouses, just in time for its 75th anniversary in 2003.

Loews Don CeSar, a charter member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2015, dates back to 1928.