Florida’s boom of the 1920s was not limited to the coasts.
Towns in the center of the state also saw great development after World War I, as Americans took advantage of cars, roads, higher incomes, and the emerging vacation industry.
Avon Park, settled in the 1880s and named by the English founders of Stratford-upon-Avon their home, benefited from the boom. To accommodate investors and tourists from the North, he needed a nice hotel, and he got one at the Jacaranda Hotel.
More buildings in Florida that I like
“The Jac”, designed by William Heim in brick, was home to the usual lineup of 1920s celebrities, including Babe Ruth. The baseball legend visited Florida during the winters and was highly sought after as a guest to spruce up the various cities and resorts. George Burns and Gracie Allen also stayed at the Jac.
During World War II, Avon Park Airport was used by the United States Army as a bombing range and training center, and servicemen were housed at the Jacaranda.
Florida’s postwar growth, however, largely bypassed Highlands County, and a stroll through downtown Avon Park, home to 8,800 people, reveals that although the Mile Long Mall in the center from Main Street is attractive, the town is quiet.
Luckily for the Jac, it was saved by adaptive reuse.
The South Florida State College Foundation purchased the hotel in 1988. The college uses the back section as a dormitory for 68 students, while the foundation has office space in the arcade it restored downstairs. -pavement. The hotel section has 30 updated rooms, with prices starting at $69 a night, even in season. Culinary students are trained in the hotel kitchen.
The Sunday Grand Buffet is a tradition in Avon Park, where locals flock for the $10.99 feast.
Friends who live on opposite coasts of Florida often meet at the Jacaranda due to its central location 70 miles east of Bradenton via State Road 64. They have lunch in the large dining room which is just exit from the Old South and linger in the elegant lobby. , which has a library, old chairs and couches, and a collection of Florida Highwaymen paintings. The antique elevator is operated manually.
“Florida Buildings I Love” is Harold Bubil’s tribute to the Sunshine State’s built environment. This story was originally published on February 22, 2017.