During the 1920s, Florida experienced a land boom, a period in which tourism was on the rise and many hotels 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.

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.




Harder Hall | Photo © 2014 Bullet, www.abandonedfl.com




17 Comments

  1. Having been a resident of Highlands County for over 30 years, I have always marveled at this beautiful old hotel. She deserves to be brought back to her original grandeur. I hope someone with money and patience with see her beauty. Such a lovely location in a beautiful city!

  2. Elizabeth Mullen

    This is such a beautiful place. I imagine in its day, it was amazing. I long for the good old days. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I miss the days of the Eddie Stephens Memorial Golf Tournament!

  4. I too spent a good amount of time in highlands county, and this is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places! It has been said many times that Harder Hall is haunted, and the reason that it has never had a completed renovation is because, suspicious deaths surround anyone trying to renovate. They have round the clock security because of the many people desperate to get into Harder Hall. I used to work very close and would sometime have lunch on the grass in front of HH it was such a peaceful place, I have always and WILL always want this place. There is also another abandoned hotel near the “circle” in Sebring, I want to get my hands on that one too! Honestly I wish I could get more information on it, but i have no Idea where to start, but thank you for this Site, there’s something beautiful in abandoned places, knowing that people used to live and love these places <3

  5. I went to camp at Harder Hall and recently went back to Sebring. I was lucky enough to get a personal tour of the once magnificent hotel. I was heartbroken to see the condition of the hotel. I lost numerous nights sleep. I too hope it can be restored.

  6. I have been looking at a timeshare exchange and the one that came up was Harder Hall. I am very curious now, after reading that it was empty and abandoned and wonde4r what I am getting into. Is it now open or what?

  7. Went today, no security but couldn’t get in without breaking a window which I’m not okay doing. Beautiful but very very overgrown.

  8. They redid the Don Cesar, why not Harder Hall? Harder Hall is such a beautiful piece of architecture. There should be no reason this hotel cannot be restored to it’s original grandeur. It seems like such a waste to leave it standing there unused!

  9. I had the privelige of visiting this glorious building in 1984 for a timeshare promotion. I was blown away by the magnificent architecture and ambiance of this grand lady. I too hope someone can restore her to her elegance of yore and perhaps I’ll have the privelige of visiting again.

  10. Bullet, how can I get a personal tour. I want to take non professional pictures but I don’t want to do anything illegal to get into the building.

    • I don’t think it’s no longer possible as it’s currently in the process of being sold. You can always try calling the Sebring city hall and find out.

  11. I have lived in Sebring for about 16 years since completing my obligation to the Navy. I would treasure a tour of the hotel. I am going to go downtown and see what I can find out.

  12. Going camping at Highlands Hammock, I’ll plan to pass by Harder Hall and Kenilworth Lodge when I’m there.