Photo: A postcard depicting Harder Hall, circa 19-.
During the 1920s, Florida experienced a land boom, a period in which tourism was on the rise and many hotel were built such as the Dixie Walesbilt Hotel, the Don CeSar and this one. Construction began in 1925 and was carried out by Schultze & Weaver, who were also responsible for the construction of the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables and was designed by William Manly King who designed many buildings in the Palm Beach area such as the historic Boynton Beach High School.
Harder Hall was named after it’s developers, Lewis F. Harder and Vincent Hall and opened in 1927 on the shores of Little Lake Jackson.
In 1953, it was bought by Victor and David Jacobson and partners Larry Tennenbaum and Sam Levy. Victor commissioned acclaimed golf architect Dick Wilson to transform the resort’s golf course into a championship layout. Victor and Eva Jacobson operated Harder Hall Golf and Tennis Camp at the hotel and was the first and last co-ed, teenage golf and tennis camp in a resort ever. During this time, the resort was host to many famous guests such as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Ali MacGraw and Mario Andretti.
Victor operated the hotel until 1982 when he sold it to Land Resources Corp., a North-Miami based time-share developer. After a fair amount of work done on the inside, the group went bankrupt and were unable to complete their plan. The hotel has sat empty since.
Photo: A photograph of Harder Hall from the 1940s.
Over the years, many groups have tried completing the renovation project but none got far. Demolition looked imminent for the building until it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
The last attempt was by an investor in Florida, who worked on the project between 2005 and 2006. Though this group got more work done than previous attempt, they ran out of funds and work stopped again. Harder Hall was put up for auction in 2007 and was purchased by the city of Sebring. The golf course is still in great condition and is used on a pay-to-play basis.
The city of Sebring is currently looking to sell the property. More information can be found on the city’s website.
Photo(Bullet, 2014): The main lobby as you enter the hotel.
Year Taken: 2014
Website: Abandoned Florida