Many years ago (possibly 2006?), I got to visit the Pink Lady at the abandoned Harder Hall in Sebring, Florida. Although remnants of her heyday lay scattered, tossed and littered throughout, her vibes were still in the building.
Her birth all began with a dream.....95 years ago, her parents, two developers from West Palm Beach named Lewis Harder and Vincent Hall, imagined a glorious hotel on a 2,000 acre tract of land on Little Lake Jackson.
Folks would come from far and wide to visit their girl and delight in her activities because duh, Sebring had a stop on the Atlantic Coast Line railroad. The tower would rise 108 feet above the ground. It would have six floors of guest rooms totaling 134 rooms and an observation tower to beat the band. A series of porches, patios and arcades and winding paths would allow corseted guests and their smelling salts to serenade ducking golf balls through tropical flowering plants and palm trees.
The classic Spanish Style hotel and golf resort, opened on the shore of Little Lake Jackson for the first time in January, 1928. The staff consisted of over 100 trained workers stolen from summer resorts in the northeast. A six-course dinner featuring normal heavy fares of the times would be eaten in the massive dining hall. The formal and official opening of the hotel was given on Jan. 21, 1928, attracting 250 guests. They came in all their finery....parading around the lake in their hoop skirts, dabbing their foreheads with monogrammed lace hankies and delighting in the hotel's activities; all the while the Pink Lady stood silently looking down on them.
Ultimately, the opening celebration dinner proved to be the high point for the hotel. It stayed open for a few years during the Depression but never showed a profit for its owners. If it had been built in West Palm Beach where the developers lived, it would have given Henry Flagler some competition. It was sold throughout the years many times, only to go bankrupt each time as the different groups tried their luck taking on the extensive renovation project; always running out of money and steam, as the Pink Lady took their upgrades in stride and shooed each one of them on their way, inwardly smirking while rubbing her crystal ball and resetting her egg timer.
Harder Hall has been vacant since 1982. A few times the building barely escaped demolition. The City of Sebring has owned the hotel since 2007. You can still golf at Harder Hall though....costs about $20 for 18 holes.
Placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1990, the Pink Lady proudly and silently files her nails, in all her faded glory awaiting further upgrades, on that little lake in Sebring.
None Shall Enter.