Friday, November 14, 2008
The Historic Hotel Grand: Lake Wales Florida
The Hotel Grand is the most prominent structure in downtown Lake Wales and has always attracted my imagination. It was built in the 1920s, at the end of a Florida real estate boom.
The inside is quite ornate, and the place must have been really something in its day. I'm told many famous people stayed there.
In my childhood, the hotel (then called the Walesbilt) was well past its prime, but it did have habitable rooms and a number of businesses on the ground floor. Soon after I graduated from high school this was no longer the case. Today the building is in full disrepair, with all entryways boarded up. It makes me sad when I drive by it.
There is hope. Development plans are often discussed but so is the possibility of demolition.
When I was in high school, one of my classmates fell from one of its upper stories and died. I don't know if it was an accident or suicide.
The Grand makes an occasional appearance in my prolific dream life, especially in dreams of the acrophobic variety. Usually, I am at its top and terrified about this prospect. In the worst cases, I am hanging out of a window, legs dangling, my fingertips slowly losing their grip.