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    Small Town Zen
    Being aware of what’s in your own front yard
    Number One:

    The “Green Monster” of
    Lake Wales, Florida

    The Dixie Walesbilt / Grand Hotel

    National Register of Historic Places
    115 North 1st Street, Lake Wales, Florida
    “You can’t miss it.”

    by Johnny Stucco
    First of all, I didn’t call it the Green Monster, but evidently there are people in Lake Wales who do. It has also been called an “eyesore” according to the local newspaper.

    It wasn’t green originally and it was never intended to be a monster or eyesore. It’s original color was tan (so I read) and for awhile (until the Florida boom collapsed and the Great Depression arrived) it was “the” place to be and be seen in Lake Wales.
    Florida - Lake Wales - Grand Hotel
    The Dixie Walesbilt / Grand Hotel
    TE photo, January 2011
    Florida - Lake Wales - Grand Hotel Detail
    Grand Hotel architectural details
    TE photo, January 2011
    Constructed as the Dixie Walesbilt Hotel, it opened in January of 1927. This was two years before the nearby (and slightly more famous) Bok Tower was completed. After 1929 tens of thousands of people visited the latter – most of them staying at the former.

    The building was renamed the Grand Hotel in the 1980s but the lofty name didn’t help. Neither did its being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. After years of neglect and standing vacant, the D-W Grand was acquired, somewhat reluctantly, by the City of Lake Wales in 2007.
    Florida - Lake Wales - Downtown mural
    TE photo, January 2011

    "The Dixie Walesbilt / Grand doesn’t dominate the skyline of Lake Wales – it is the skyline of Lake Wales. Lovingly remembered in a finely-detailed, recently-painted downtown mural, the building is shown in its current pale green color – not the original tan. It’s not historically accurate, but I’m told these things are done to avoid confusion." - J. Stucco, February 2011

    Florida - Lake Wales - Bok Tower
    The Bok Tower
    TE photo, January 2011
    Florida - Lake Wales - Grand Hotel
    Another view of the Grand Hotel
    TE photo, January 2011
    Florida - Lake Wales - View of Grand Hotel

    The "green monster" peeks into most photos of downtown Lake Wales
    TE photo, January 2011

    Florida - Lake Wales - Hotel  Floridan

    The newly restored Hotel Floridan in downtown Tampa
    Another National Register Hotel built the same time as the Dixie Walesbuilt, the restoration of this hotel (19 stories) cost an estimated $20 Million.
    TE photo, January 2011

    In 2010 hope for the monster arrived in the form of investors who wanted to restore the building to its former glory. The plan was to invest $6 million in the building, putting retail stores on the ground floor and using the upper floors for as many as 40 condominiums. Upon completion, the city would deed the property to the investors.

    According to a newspaper article from early 2010, work was due to start within “a few months” but a visit in January of 2011 found only a chain link fence and warning signs.

    It is hoped by many that a solution can be found. Perhaps the recent restoration of the (much) larger Settles Hotel in Big Spring, Texas will serve as an example. Another consideration might be conversion to a retirement hotel like San Antonio’s Robert E. Lee or the successful Hotel Beaumont in downtown Beaumont, Texas.

    © J. Stucco
    February 2011
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    This page last modified: February 24, 2011