Clio Logo
Although it has been closed since 2016 due to fire code violations, the Kenilworth Lodge hotel remains an important landmark in Sebring. It was originally built by its original owner and founder of the city, George E. Sebring, in 1916 and is a striking example of Mediterranean Revival architecture. The Kenilworth was part of Sebring's vision of developing a prosperous resort town and he targeted the hotel to wealthy vacationers. Notable elements of its design include seven domed towers with round arched openings, four eyebrow dormers on the roof, and decorative tile, terra cotta, carved stone, and wrought iron, especially around windows and doors. As of April 2021, the future of the Kenilworth is uncertain as a result of legal proceedings surrounding its closure.

The now-closed Kenilworth Lodge hotel was originally built in 1916. A fine example of Mediterranean architecture, it was forced to close in 2016 after fire code violations were discovered.

Cloud, Plant, Sky, Building

George Sebring was already a successful businessman from Ohio when he bought 9,000 acres next to Lake Jackson in 1911. At the time, the area was wilderness and eleven miles south of the closest railroad or road. He hired a surveyor to plat the land and started to sell lots within a year. The main part of the development was the circular-shaped commercial section, called the Circle, located north of where the hotel would be. The first residential area was located to the west of the Circle.

The Kenilworth was built in 1916 on a 320-acre property that featured an 18-hole golf course, a terraced lawn, an orange grove, a formal garden, and a bathing beach. The hotel was built in two stages. The original part erected in 1916 and was a three-story structure that is now the center of the hotel. The wings were added in 1922. The next year, Sebring sold the Kenilworth to New York hotelier John Connelly. In 1924, the hotel hosted an annual convention of U.S. governors. A group of businessman bought the hotel in 1925 but the collapse of the Florida land boom forced them to file for bankruptcy. The Kenilworth continued to operate in the coming decades. By the 1990s, much of the original property had been sold and developed.

On May 11, 2016, a wall air conditioner set off a small fire that activated the building's sprinkler system. During a routine inspection of the building, many code violations were found including no fire alarm system, open electrical wires, and taped-over sprinkler heads. As a result, the city's fire chief declared the building condemned, which forced the hotel to close. In response, the hotel owner sued the city, the fire chief, and the contractor hired to fix the violations. The case appears to still be unresolved.

Anders, William & Jones, Robert O. "Kenilworth Lodge." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. June 15, 2000.

"Kenilworth Lodge." Abandoned Florida. Accessed April 2, 2021.

Meisel, Jay. "Kenilworth lawsuit remains pending." February 22, 2018.

Valero, Marc. "Kenilworth Lodge legal battle continues." Highlands News-Sun. December 2, 2020.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Wikimedia Commons: