Model Ts will once again whisk visitors to The Edwinola on Friday as the Dade City landmark celebrates its 100th anniversary.
The original three-story building — a picture of gracious Southern architecture, with its Doric columns, wrap-around porches and a Mansard roof — was built in 1912 as a hotel. The name came from blending the first names of owners Edwin and Lola Gasque.
The Edwinola stood within sight of the Seaboard Railroad station, making it a favorite stop for traveling salesmen and other visitors. The hotel ran a Model T shuttle service to the train depot.
After World War II, however, the Edwinola faced competition from newer hotels. The storied building became a residence for the Gasque family in the 1950s and 1960s.
Then in 1975, Marlene and Robert Sumner purchased the Edwinola and renovated it into a distinctive dining establishment. In the 1980s the building became a retirement home, and the eight-story tower was added.
The Edwinola, at 14235 Edwinola Way, remains a retirement community. American Senior Living Inc., owns the facility, which has independent and assisted living apartments, plus the Edwinola Restaurant.
The Edwinola will celebrate its 100th birthday with a party from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, featuring remarks from local officials, a grilled chicken lunch and cake on the porch. Local dignitaries will hitch a ride in Model T cars. The public is invited to attend.
"It's not only about the milestone, but our way of saying thank you," said Betty Kennedy, outreach marketing coordinator for The Edwinola. "Look at the community that supported it."