The Larkin House.

The Larkin House as it appeared in the 1884 Bird's Eye View of Palatka.

Although it survived only eight years the Larkin House has become one of the more famous structures in Palatka's history. The hotel was the most prestigious address prior to the rebuilding of the Putnam House in 1885. Its waterfront location, boathouse and docks, cupola, and imposing size all contributed to its attraction. The hotel, designed by Jacksonville architect R. N. Ellis for Daniel Franklin Larkin, was built in 1876. Actual construction was carried out by Clarence H. Reid and W. E. Hogg working under a contract that paid them $2,900.00.

Daniel Franklin Larkin was born in Waverly, Rhode Island on June 10, 1817. He served as keeper of the lighthouse at Watch Hill, Rhode Island from 1861 until 1868. In 1868 he built, in partnership with Harvey and William Chapman, a hotel in Watch Hill that was named the Larkin House. This hotel, after some enlargement, could house 260 guests. In 1874 Larkin, according to one source, came to Palatka and purchased a one-half interest in the Putnam House but sold his interest in 1875. One year later he built the Larkin House in Palatka in the middle of the waterfront block on which sat the Presbyterian Church. In the summer of 1883 the hotel was expanded with the addition of a wing containing forty-five rooms bringing the hotel's capacity to 300 guests.

On the night of November 7, 1884, a devastating fire destroyed a large section of downtown Palatka including the Larkin House. Its loss was estimated at $110,000 for which only $63,000 was covered by insurance. It was reported that the hotel took only twenty minutes to burn down once the flames reached it.

Larkin did not rebuild in Palatka. He continued to actively run the Rhode Island Larkin House until he retired in 1890. Subsequently, the hotel was run by his son Frank Larkin until it was sold. Daniel Larkin died at his hotel on the morning of July 31, 1900. The Larkin House at Watch Hill was razed in 1906.

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