Harder Hall was updated 20 years ago with various electrical and plumbing improvements, so the next step will be to see which of those are operational. Blackmon ensures that if any element of Harder Hall needs to be updated, they will do it.
One piece of history that the Blackmon family is excited to restore is the original wrought iron in the main lobby. Another main lobby addition is a 7-foot chandelier, which is already waiting in a storage unit for its big day.
Blackmon ensures that this resort is going to be something that the Sebring community will have a huge stake in and won’t just be for tourists to enjoy.
“What I stress to everyone is that Sebring is one of the most well-defined secret southern cities that exists,” Blackmon states excitedly. “There is a huge sense of place here and sense of place is all that anyone is looking for these days in tourism and culture. Where else are you going to find a city on a circle and on the water? Every single building on the circle is a contributing National Register Property, which is unheard of. I’m hoping that everyone will see that we care a lot about this town and making this right for generations to come.”
Waterside, Blackmon plans to install floating docks. The hope is to have boat rentals and boat slips for guests of the resort as well as visiting locals. This will allow for traveling on Lake Jackson so that the waterfront areas and surrounding locations can be utilized by the community and not just residents who live on Lake Jackson. Blackmon states, “We want there to be community ownership of not only the hotel and the hotel grounds but the waterfront as well.”
There is no shortage of challenges surrounding this project, but one that the Blackmon family hopes will soon subside is the vandalism and looting. There are many historical pieces that have been stolen from the hotel during its many years of vacancy, but more have gone missing in just the short time that the Blackmon family has taken ownership.
One way that Blackmon hopes the community can help in preserving the history of Harder Hall is by donating historical pieces to help build a museum at the resort. He jokes, “Even if you didn’t steal them, if you have any historic pieces, we would love to see them. We are hoping to showcase the history, so if you have china, architectural elements, programs or photos, please share them because we want this to be a real community asset to the resort. We want to try and bring as much of the historic elements back as we can.”
More than anything, the Blackmon family is so appreciative of the excitement that the City of Sebring and the community have shown to them at the news of having Harder Hall rise again. It is going to take a lot of time before any signs of change are visible from the outside, but this will be a true labor of love. You can’t reverse the momentum of a downslide without first taking the time to stabilize it, and that is just what the Blackmon’s plan to do.
Out of respect for Sebring, they want to take the time to do everything right for the Lady in Pink. They hope to become one of those families that you run into at the grocery store, because they are here to make a lasting impact on our community, and theirs.