Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More History at the Inn; Fernandina Beach: Florida House Has New Ownership

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More History at the Inn; Fernandina Beach: Florida House Has New Ownership

Article excerpt

Byline: Alison Trinidad, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

Whether its history or her-story, a new chapter has started at the Florida House Inn, believed to be the state's oldest surviving hotel.

Diane Warwick, a Tallahassee woman who wed her husband nearly five years ago at the Florida House, bought the historic inn this month from Karen and Bob Warner, who had owned the hotel for 13 years.

Located in the Fernandina Beach historic district, the Florida House Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Famous guests include U.S. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Cuban statesman and poet Jose Marti, and members of both the Rockefeller and Carnegie families.

Warwick said she and the Warners considered the sale about two years ago, but postponed discussions when Warwick became pregnant.

Now that her son is older, Warwick said she was ready to put the business proposal back on the table.

"We all decided it was a perfect time for everyone -- the Warners were ready to retire, and I was ready to go back to work," she said.

Before marrying in 1999, Warwick was a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines. She also ran an 8,000-acre ranch in Argentina, organizing hunting and fishing trips for groups from her Tallahassee home.

Coincidentally, Warwick met Bob Warner and her future husband, Jacksonville native Joe Warwick, through a hunting trip she set up in 1998.

Warwick and her husband since have moved into the inn and are anxious to raise their family on Amelia Island.

"I love Fernandina," she said. "I felt like this would be a great place for my son to grow up -- the area as well as the inn."

Warwick said it's been a rewarding challenge to juggle her new business and family.

"I'm 24 hours a day right now, until I drop," she said. "With a full-service bar, restaurant and hotel, it was like purchasing three businesses in one. But I enjoy the challenge. My husband helps a lot with the baby, and the baby loves the inn. …

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