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A busy, growing community with a unique sense of civic pride, part of Belleair’s uncommon personality lies in its brief but colorful history. The beginning of the Belleair community lies in a decision made by railroad magnate Henry B. Plant to construct a showpiece hotel on a high bluff south of Clearwater in the late 1890s. The Belleview Hotel had its grand opening in January 1897, and guests enjoyed the amenities of regal, rustic living from yachting on Clearwater Bay to horseback riding in the piney woods south of the hotel, golfing, tennis, skeet shooting and bicycling. In 1920, the hotel became known as the Belleview Biltmore when it was purchased by John McEntee Bowman, international sportsman and owner of the Biltmore chain of hotels.
The good life at the seasonal Belleview Biltmore naturally led to the desire among some guests to live in this pleasant place year-round. Some of Belleair’s first homes were constructed on North Indian Rocks Road overlooking the Belleview’s golf course, and still stand today.
Belleair continued to develop and gradually grew south, resisting annexation moves by the City of Clearwater. In 1925, the Town of Belleair was incorporated and the noted town planner, John Nolen, was hired to lay out the streets that constitute most of Belleair today.