The Historic Peninsula Inn and Gulfport’s Art Scene
In the 1990s, James Lodato purchased the building that is now The Historic Peninsula Inn. His idea was then to create an art center right in the middle of Gulfport, FL. Reminiscent of the Parisian Bohemian lifestyle, the Historic Peninsula Inn became an artistic community where local artists spent their weekends. Musicians came down here to play, and painters set up their easels to paint outside. Amongst them was Keith Stillwagon, bit instead of using canvas, he decided to start a mural…
The Story Behind the Mural
Keith Stillwagon started with the emblematic Florida panther, his favorite subject. He proceeded to add the American eagle and a selection of various local landscapes, wanting to convey what Boca Ciega Bay and the surroundings looked like 100 years ago. When the building was later bought by a new owner who completely neglected it, the mural slowly faded away and soon became a blurry memory from the past.
It took Veronica Champion, the current owner of The Historic Peninsula Inn, for the forgotten mural to come back to life. An art lover herself, she found it to be a beautiful heritage of the Inn and wanted to honor Stillwagon’s creation. She naturally asked him if he was interested in the project: “Of course I said yes, he said. “I had given up on it years ago. Veronica is my hero. To care so much about art in general and mine, in particular, was wonderful.”
Art plays an important role in Veronica Champion’s life, especially when it comes to providing her guests with an authentic experience: “My taste is very eclectic, and we have started putting various art that I have collected in different parts of the Inn.” The rooms were named (for the most part) after British colonies of the 19th century so the artwork and furniture reflect that theme as well as Gulfport and Florida.”
About the Artist
Born in Maryland on June 3, 1944, Keith Stillwagon was raised in Flint, Michigan. He was drawn to art from a very young age but never found the platform to develop his skills. It was during the Vietnam War in the 1960s, when Stillwagon was serving as an infantry soldier, that he bought his first set of paints and taught himself the fundamentals. His quest for self-expression made him the talented artist he is today, and The Historic Peninsula Inn’s mural is here to prove it.
“After twenty five years of painting murals on interior and exterior walls, I am still in the business of turning virtually any blank space into a magical world that you might like to enter and have a look around”
Admire Keith Stillwagon’s mural yourself in our beautiful gardens during your stay at The Historic Peninsula Inn. Explore our rooms and suites and book your getaway today!