Kenilworth Lodge Receives Historic Designation ::
The hotel was built by the town founder, George Sebring, in 1916. Mr. Sebring pictured the new Sebring as a "delightful, wholesome community" which would be populated with "contented and happy people seeking health, pleasure and happiness." Early brochures described Mr. Sebring's dreams for his town in terms not far removed from those used by the founders of the various "utopias" which sprang up from time to time in earlier history of the United States.
Kenilworth Lodge was constructed for "well to do" Northern travelers to enjoy Mr. Sebring's town for the winter -and possibly relocate later - and many of them did! It had a short season of 3 months, frequently the usual pattern for grand hotels in resort areas of the day. Many of them came to enjoy golf, swimming, fishing, concerts, dinner shows and relaxing in Florida's sunshine. The season ran from just before New Year's Day to late March or mid-April. Mr. Sebring was good friends with Mr. S. Davies Warfield, president of the Seaboard Atlantic Railway, and every train stopped in Sebring. This certainly made it easy to winter in Sebring at a time when railroad travel was the only practical way to travel very far.
The building was designed in the Mediterranean Revival style - quite new to Florida in the early 1900's. George Sebring used the most modern methods and floor plans. The lodge featured pre-hung doors, a very modern method in 1916, electricity throughout, an Otis elevator and more than the normal amount of bathrooms. All guest rooms had private baths, with the exception of 6 pairs of rooms which shared a bath between them, planned for families. Those are now suites with sitting rooms. The Kenilworth was built with a center, 4000 square foot lobby and a grand staircase, with two wings - one on either side. The Lodge was opened in the season of 1916. By 1919, the Kenilworth was under construction again to enlarge it by extending the wings on either side to include more guest rooms. This construction brought the main building to its present size.
The Kenilworth was the grandest resort in the area. It has hosted a number of celebrities and notable guests over the years. One of the most important events was a portion of the 1924 Governor's Conference which included "governors of all the 42 states." Other prominent guests include:
Mr. & Mrs. C. W. Nash, president of the Nash Motors Company
Mr. H. C. Hawk, Battle Creek, MI of the Postum & Post Toasties fame
Senator Richard Ravenhall of Brooklyn, N.Y. (Kenilworth Lodge gardens were named Ravenhall Gardens.)
Mr. Adolf M. Ochs, owner and publisher of the New York Times.
Samuel Undermeyer, the most prominent lawyer in New York, known for oil investigations at Washington
Cyril Walker, national golf champion (1925)
Jim Malden, golf player of national base and reknown
Dr. Harry Fosdick, nationally known radio preacher from New York
Evangeline Booth, national head of the Salvation Army
William Jennings Bryan, lawyer in the Scopes monkey trial, also ran for president of the United States several times
Important Dates in Kenilworth Lodge History
1916 The Kenilworth Lodge, built by George Sebring, opened for the winter season.
1923 Sold to the Kenilworth Lodge Company, consisting of L.F. Williams & A.D. Taylor & F. A. Sebring.
1924 it was sold to Charles L.F. Wilber of Cuyohago County, Ohio.
1929 John E. Connelly & William W. Wyckoff purchased the Kenilworth as the Kenilworth Operating Co.
1942 Hosted portion of the National Governor's Conference - "governors of all of the 42 states" present
1962 the Lodge was purchased by the Kenilworth Investment Corp., Bernard Gray, president.
1964 The Kenilworth was purchased by Flank I. Rose. It was operated as an all-inclusive resort.
1972 Thomas Wohl purchased the lodge.
1987 Mark & Madge Stewart leased the lodge.
1995 Mark & Madge Stewart (Kenilworth Properties, Inc) purchased the Kenilworth Lodge.
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