Old Carrabelle Hotel, one of the oldest buildings on forgotten coast

Posted at 8:53 AM, Apr 11, 2021

CARRABELLE, Fla. (WTXL) — Driving along the Forgotten Coast, you'll find the town of Carrabelle made up of 2,500 people and buildings dating back to the early 1900s.

This includes the Old Carrabelle Hotel that is owned by Skip Frink and his wife Kathe.

He believes the hotel was established after the last major storm in 1899.

"They still call that the storm with a capital 'S.' When that storm hit, according to the newspaper records, both of our offshore islands dog island and St. George, as well as the whole Carabelle coast was absolutely, totally flatten. No trees, no buildings, nothing," Frink said.

Franklin County started keeping records of their buildings back in 1930, which is when they say this building was built.

Before it was a hotel, Frink believes it was a boarding house for business travelers.

"Because the old railroad line from Tallahassee came down to the coast, ran along the coast and the final siting came right here to the intersection in front of the hotel, and there was a major lumber mill operation right in this block," Frink said.

Then, in the 1960s, it was privately owned by a man who would take 100s of tourists out fishing to catch grouper.

This is around the time Skip's wife Kathe would visit the forgotten coast with her family, a memory that sparked the Frink's interest in buying property here.

"We were staying on St. George Island, and Kathe my wife was reading the newspaper and she goes oh look! The Old Carrabelle Hotel is for sale and one month later our name was on it,"

Skip and Kathe were in the remodeling business in Atlanta, so they jumped on the opportunity to restore this historic site to the hotel it once was.

They wanted to keep the original infrastructure so guests can feel like they're walking through old Florida with every step, but with air conditioning and indoor plumbing.

"Sometime during the last century they installed one bathroom and that was the bathroom for the whole house, which had about 12 to 13 rooms," Frink said. "Now we have five each with their own bathroom."

They even added their own twist an area that Skip calls the monkey bar, an addition travelers from all over enjoy as they come to see the ocean views.

"Highway 98 runs along the water," Frink said. "We never get tired of the view."

He hopes, even after he retires, someone continues the tradition of restoring the history of this building for this small town.