Tag Archives: orlando

Photo by Nomeus, 2009 - www.flurbex.com

Sunland Mental Hospital Orlando

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, 1939
Photo(State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, 1939): Central Florida Tuberculosis Hospital, later known as the Sunland Training Center for Retarded Children.

Around 1952, a new series of state-of-the-art tuberculosis hospitals opened and were named W.T. Edwards, in honor of an important figure in the state’s healthcare industry who donated large sums of money to have the hospital built. Between 1952 and 1969, a total of 12 hospitals were built all over the state of Florida, including Tallahassee, Miami, Marianna, Tampa, and Orlando.

All the hospital buildings were constructed the same way; the main buildings were all very long and thin, consisting of 5 floors with a few smaller wings branching off from the main building. At the time, it was thought that fresh air was the best treatment for TB, so the buildings were riddled with multi-pane windows which could be opened by cranks. The back side of each building was a wall of windows, while the front windows were more evenly spaced apart, especially in sections that did not house patients.

When a vaccine for TB was discovered, there was no longer a need for tuberculosis hospitals and the W. T. Edwards Hospitals were all closed by the 1960s. The facilities fell under the jurisdiction of the Florida Department of Health and were reopened as Sunland Training Centers by 1961. The main Sunland building, located in Orlando, was the only one not housed in a former W.T. Edwards.

Orlando Sentinel, date unknown
Photo(Orlando Sentinel, date unknown): The main building was a popular hangout with kids during it’s abandonment.

The Orlando Sunland Division was a residential facility which cared for profoundly mentally and physically disabled adults and children. Within a period of 10 years though, the hospital faced some crippling developments, mostly due to under staffing and lack of funds. an investigation was conducted in the 1970s after reports of abuse and neglect, ranging from getting bitten by rodents and pests to physical beatings.

Speaking strictly of the Orlando Sunland Center, investigations found that over 400 patients had gastric feeding tubes and were being fed a cereal-like gruel three times day. Investigations also showed the facility was maintaining unsafe surgical areas and used short-term doctor authorizations to administer treatments on a long-term basis.

The State Division of Retardation and local staff made promises for reform, but reform never occurred. After careful review, the Association of Retarded Citizens(ARC) filled a federal class action lawsuit in 1978, on behalf of the patients for gross neglect and abuse. This move forced the state of Florida to close all Sunland facilities in 1983.

It was reported afterwards that a shortage of staff and equipment led to a “proliferation of deformities” in patients. The deformities included “upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, skin breakdown and nutritional difficulties, all of which are much too common at Sunland Orlando,” Eileen Cox, the investigating therapist reported.

Orlando Sentinel, date unknown
Photo(Orlando Sentinel, date unknown): A crib-like bed, where most patients slept during their stay there.

The building laid vacant for years afterwards, attracting kids because of stories of the building being haunted. In June 1997, a 23-tear-old man and three friends were supposedly playing hide-and-go-seek inside when he was critically injured when he fell down one of the elevator shafts. Pine Hills residents lobbied hard after the accident to have building leveled by the state.

$2 million was set aside by the state and demolition was approved. In August 1998, a pre-demolition ceremony took place outside the old dilapidated hospital, as residents celebrated the building being torn down, ending a painful and controversial chapter in Orlando’s history.

Previous staff and patients were invited as well, some were interviewed of their time there.

Mary Kortes, a floor aide who bathed, fed and dressed patients from 1977 to 1979, remembers how tough it was to work there at first. “For two weeks after I went to work there, I couldn’t sleep because of what I saw there,” she said. “Everybody who worked there saw neglect, whether they admitted it or not. The state never gave us enough money.”

Her husband, Dick Kortes, who was the plant’s operations engineer during the same period, remembers the roaches. “The place was jammed with roaches,” he said. “I mean, they would do pest control, but roaches would get inside the fire alarms and set them off, closing the fire doors. “He also remembers patients being bathed on hard terrazzo slabs and the “clunking of bodies” as they were turned.

Connie Mitchel, who has cerebral palsy and was a patient and Sunland for 20 years, remembered sleeping in a crib-like bed that she would occasionally share with rats. She said she awoke in her 100-bed ward one night to find a large rat sitting on her chest. It wasn’t the first time she had found one on her bed, she said. “All I wanted was for him to get off me,” she said.

After being torn down in 1999, all that remaines of the Sunland facility is the old administration building.

Photo by Nomeus, 2009 - www.flurbex.com
Photo(Nomeus, 2009 – Flurbex.com): The admin building remains there to this day.

Photographer: Nomeus
Year Taken: 2009
Website: FLURBEX

Photographer: Jani77
Year Taken: 2012
Website:

Archive Photos

Resources
Daytona Beach Morning Journal – 1972 article on the ordering of Sunland staff to stop gastrostomies.

Daytona Beach Morning Journal – 1982 article about the death of an 11-year old patient

Lakeland Ledger – 1971 article on the concerns legislators have on the treatment of patients.

Photo by Nomeus, 2007 - Flurbex.com

NNPTC/Baldwin Park Barracks

1990s
Photo: Thought by neighborhood kids as an old mental hospital was actually the barracks for recruits entering power school.

In December 1966, it was announced that Orlando will be the site for the country’s third Naval Training Center due to it’s temperate climate, good transportation network, sufficient family housing and the availability of the nearby Orlando Air Force Base. The Orlando Naval Training Center(NTC) was commissioned on July 1, 1968, it’s primary use being the indoctrination of enlisted personnel at the Recruit Training Command. The campus included five barracks for 3,600 recruits, a mess-hall, a classroom building, a recruit chapel, and a training ship mock-up. By 1973, the facilities were doubled in size to accommodate 8,000 recruits.

In the mid-1970s, the Nuclear Power School relocated to Orlando from California and Maryland. The school trained officers and enlisted sailors on in nuclear propulsion after formal training elsewhere.

In 1993, the Orlando Naval Training Center along with many other military installations across the country were ordered to close by the 1993 Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission. The Recruit Training Command graduated it’s last company on December 2, 1994 and officially closed on March 31, 1995. The base was decommissioned in December 1998 upon the graduation of the final Nuclear Power School class.

Long before it’s closure, a redevelopment plan was created which included approximately 3,000 residential units, commercial space, and a pedestrian-oriented village center. In October 1999, the City of Orlando bought the property from the Navy and immediately resold the land to the developer, Orlando NTC Partners(now Baldwin Park Development Company), as per the plan. Demolition began soon after and was completed by mid-April 2001.

Over the years, as Baldwin Park was being constructed and the community grew, one remnant of the old Navy base remained. This 7-floor building was the first stop after boot camp for going to power school. It housed entering students through most of “A” school. Built in 1990, it was the newest building on the base at the time of base closure. The last entry class to use the building was in 1998 (E class 98-42). Class 98-42 attended only “A” school in Orlando and transferred to Charleston where the Power School Command was relocated to.

Plans to construct 410 apartments units on the remaining empty parcels of land in Baldwin Park were approved in 2008 and preparation for demolition of the barracks building began in May 2009. The building was demolished in May 2012.


Photo(Bluestreak, 2012): The building was demolished in May to make room for a new apartment complex.

Photographer: Nomeus
Year Taken: 2007
Website: FLURBEX

Archive Photos

Photo by Bullet, 2010

South Beach Orlando Luxury Suites

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Opening on July 4, 2008, it featured 144 suites which can be rented out a months at a time at a “reasonable” rate. Within months, it received many poor and rather odd reviews on multiple websites. The following is review from a very former guest there:

mrmadUK on tripadvisor.com,

we travelled with our 2 young children and we were due to stay from the 2nd april until the 10th april 2009, but we checked out after 1 night as the room was just horrible. it was very dated, i ended up scratching myself all night and it was very damp ! not good at all especially with 2 young children in tow.

we paid for the 8 nights upon check in using our debit card, however, upon checking out we did receive a refund for the remaining nights. However, whilst enjoying our stay in new york we noticed our bank balance was less than it should be which were very puzzled about. once we arrived home we checked with our bank, and to our shock we had discovered that they had taken a further £583.14 from our account !

despite an assurance from their public relations manager yvette hart-metzger on the 27th may to say that she had received my email and that she would ask the accounts department to look into my query we are still waiting !!

THIS IS JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH, so we tried calling an emailing but the number on our original invoice is no longer in service and the number advertised on their website actually gets you through to the local pizza hut, and their email address now comes up as invalid. “

Photo by Bullet, 2010
Photo(Bullet, 2010): The buildings were painted different colors from orange to green to pink.

According to former employees, the establishment was forced to closed down in June 2009 after the electricity and water were cut off due to unpaid bills. The owner, Ravi Roopnarine, had an outstanding balance of about $47,150 and had broken about a dozen payment arrangements. Additionally, the owner had faced liens in 2008 by three companies – Total Enviro Services Inc., Fence Outlet Inc., and HD Supply Inc. – for unpaid bills totaling $17,5000.

In July 2009, the owner tried filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization to stave of a foreclosure by New-Jersey based lender Kennedy Funding Inc., but the case was dismissed in September 2009 when he failed to attain legal counsel. That was followed up by a voluntary Chapter 7 liquidation petition in November, but that was also dismissed when he failed to file the necessary documents within the allotted time. Attempts to reach Roopnarine to file an emergency Chapter 7 petition to stop a foreclosure sale were unsuccessful.

According to former employees and guests, the FBI came in looking for the owner, Ravi Roopnarine, but he could not be found. Ravi as well as his lover, Kamal Seecharan, are said to be involved in the embezzlement of over $1.5 million from a First Horizon Bank and is also thought to be connected to other cons and scams in Canada and New York. His last known whereabouts were in Trinidad and Tobagos.

Esperance Riley on merchantcircle.com,

“HELLO TO ALL OUT THERE!!! I WAS A WORKER THERE APRIL UNTIL SEPTEMBER OF 2008. IM STILL OWED MONEY I KNOW I WILL NEVER EVER SEE. RAVI KEPT PROMISING MONEY MY PAY CHECK AND I HEL OUT AS LONG AS I COULD THEN I LEFT I HAD A FAMILY TO TAKE CARE WHICH WE ARE NOT TOGETHER DO TO LACK OF FUNDS I KNOW IN MY HEART I TRIED EVERYTHING TO GET THIS RESORT RUNNING BUT WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH . SO I HOPE THE FBI REALLY GETS THIS GUY!! I STILL THE FBI CONTACT WHO I SPOKE WITH PERSONALLY ON THIS MATTER. HOPING AND PRAYING FOR MY [SEVEN] THOUSAND PLUS DOLLARS OWED TO ME”

The property was repossessed in 2010 by Kennedy Funding and contracted Commercial Building Consultants, a third-party property manager, to secure the hotel but by then, the damage had been done. During it’s closure, the property had been neglected by the former owner and faced up to $5 million in damages after vandals took appliances, destroyed doors and ripped apart air-conditioning units to get to the copper wiring. Kennedy Funding planned to repair the broken doors and windows, and then either selling the property as-is or investing in renovations. As of 2013, the property has been further neglected as vandals have ripped out pipes and graffiti covers the walls.

Photo by Bullet, 2010
Photo(Bullet, 2010): Today, the grounds are still being maintained but the buildings have been extremely vandalized.

Photographer: Bullet
Year Taken: 2010
Website: Abandoned Florida