An article and an event inspire me to write this letter. Robert Miller’s article under the headline, “A Faded Star,” centered attention on the Kenilworth Lodge which George Sebring, the founder of Sebring, Florida, established in 1916 on over 300 acres overlooking Lake Jackson. This treasure is still here in Sebring, but for the past three years has been unusable, but as the last seven lines of Mr. Miller’s article states, “Now at 103 years old, the grand hotel still stands, but sits empty and boarded, looking out over Lake Jackson, waiting to rise from the ashes and shine once again.”
Most of the Kenilworth Lodge’s original 300-plus acres are filled with other buildings and streets. Other hotels and motels exist in Highlands County, but the Hotel Jacaranda in Avon Park is still in operation thanks to individuals and groups who invest time and energy and funds to keep it alive.
Here in Sebring, a precious piece of local and area history could live again. Does Sebring really need more vacant lots, unrented store fronts, etc? I don’t believe it does!
The event that inspired this letter occurred on the Sebring Circle on New Year’s Eve. A car show, a concert, a very busy ice cream shop and a number of food trucks, and crowds of people ranging from very young to quite a bit older walked and talked and looked at the various vehicles on display and sat on their lawn chairs and listened to the live music.
George Sebring envisioned our community early in the 20th century. Now, as we begin the next decade of the 21st century, may we honor his memory by more events like the one on The Circle and around it on New Year’s Eve. Among all the motored vehicles there was a horse-drawn carriage that gave many people an opportunity for 19th century transportation.
May we also imagine and envision the Kenilworth Lodge brought back to life not as it was in 1916 when it opened, but definitely not as just a photograph on the front page of a newspaper.