Kentucky Military Institute

Kentucky Military Institute (HM1NZR)

Location: Venice, FL 34285 Sarasota County
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Country: United States of America
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N 27° 6.043', W 82° 26.78'

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"The Military School with a Winter Home in Sunny Florida"

Text on the Front Side of the Marker:

During Florida's Boom Period, 1922-1928, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) purchased 30,000 acres in Venice, believing it was a sound investment where "rail, trail, and water meet." They hired renowned city planner John Nolen to design Venice. Construction soared, but land sales soon slowed and eventually halted. The BLE pulled out in 1928, and as a result of the economic bust and the Great Depression, Venice became a veritable ghost town.

West Point graduate Robert T. P. Allen established the Kentucky Military Institute (KMI) near Frankfort, Kentucky, in 1845. In 1906, KMI established a Florida winter campus in Eau Gallie, near Melbourne, to improve the cadets' health and academic performance by reducing sick leave through Florida's available year-round recreation. In 1932, Colonel Charles B. Richmond selected Venice as its new winter campus as the previous one had burned. KMI initially rented and later bought the San Marco Hotel (today's Venice Centre Mall), the Hotel Venice (now a retirement center), and the Annex between the two to provide housing for the faculty and cadets, as well as classrooms, kitchen, dining hall, offices, and infirmary.

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Text on the Back Side of the Marker:

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On January 5, 1933, 1500 people welcomed the first KMI contingent of students, faculty, and staff. Venice soon benefitted from the infusion of funds spent by the newcomers and their visiting families and friends; one report stated, "The school breathed new life into the discouraged city." The colorful and inspiring Sunday dress parades, held on the parade grounds (today's Centennial Park and municipal parking lot), quickly became a favorite attraction for residents and tourists; for the cadets it was "testing time" as they were inspected and graded. The cadet band and the Kentucky Rifles, a precision drill platoon, also participated. The Sweetheart Parade, held close to Valentine's Day, honored five local young ladies, each sponsored by one of the five cadet corps. Athletic competitions, such as track meets, were held on the parade grounds, too. In 1970 the Venice campus closed, and KMI sold its Kentucky properties in 1973. Decreased enrollment, higher operating costs, and anti-war sentiments during the Vietnam War contributed to the school's closure. Venice, however, has never forgotten the cadets and their important role in the city's history.
Placed BySarasota County Historical Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, September 17th, 2015 at 9:02am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)31N E 166021 N 0
Decimal Degrees27.10071667, -82.44633333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 27° 6.043', W 82° 26.78'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds27° 6' 2.58" N, 82° 26' 46.8" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)941
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 211-299 Tampa Ave W, Venice FL 34285, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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