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Tourism has long been important to Sarasota's history and economy. Winter visitors began coming to the area in the 1880s with some staying in Sarasota's first hotel, The DeSoto Hotel, which was completed in 1887. Tourism increased in the 1920s as automobiles became more popular and affordable, requiring better roads. Florida's "Good Roads" program supported a west coast highway. In 1915 the proposed highway became known as the Tamiami Trail, named for its terminal cities Tampa and Miami. The highway opened to traffic on April 25, 1928; since then, millions of motorists have traveled the Tamiami Trail. Following World War II, as more people traveled to Florida, more lodgings became necessary. In the 1950s, the motel (a word combining motor and hotel) became a popular accommodation. Motels tended to be one-story structures located on the outskirts of cities, making them more affordable and appealing, especially to families. With Tamiami Trail (U.S. Highway 41) running through Sarasota and the increase in tourism, several motels were built along Sarasota's North Tamiami Trail (the North Trail), including the Twin Motel.
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Completed in 1950, The Twin Motel was owned by Ture Gemzell at the time of its construction. Gemzell,
along with business partner Arne Petterson, also owned the Gulf Beach Motel on Lido Beach. Architect Ivo A. DeMinicis, along with Frank C. Martin (son of notable Sarasota architect Thomas Reed Martin), designed this one-story, ranch-style structure with Mediterranean influences. The motel, constructed with materials prevalent in the 1950s (concrete, steel and iron), had a concrete-barrel style roof with an overhang which created a covered walk in front of the room doors. The original motel included two properties, 1750 and 1770 North Tamiami Trail, which Gemzell separated in 1955. Beginning in 1957 the two properties changed ownership and names several times. In 2003 the northernmost portion (1770) of the original Twin Motel became the first historically designated motel in Sarasota.
Over the years, this section of Tamiami Trail (known as the North Trail) lost its pre-eminence. There are plans to revitalize the area by adapting then properties for modern uses while preserving its mid-twentieth century history and charm The Twin Motel exemplifies this concept.