Real Estate News for North Pinellas County

Archive for the 'hotel' Category

The Hacienda Hotel, once the jewel of New Port Richey, now slowly decays

The 1920s was a decade not unlike the last 10 years here in Florida; the economy was overheated, people (some people, anyway) had plenty of money, and the real estate market was going crazy. Investors were looking for new ways to make money. With all the people who were flooding into the state on vacation, the hotel business seemed like a pretty sure thing.

The Hacienda Hotel, once the jewel of downtown New Port Richey, Fla., now sits empty and forgotten

The Hacienda Hotel, once the jewel of downtown New Port Richey, Fla., now sits empty and forgotten

Hotels popped up all over the state, and some of them are still standing. One of those is the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey.

It seems a bit hard to believe now, but some people thought that Pasco County would be a likely spot for a sort of East Coast version of Hollywood. Some actors and movie producers of the day thought the west coast of Florida would be a natural movie-making site, and a number of silent movies were actually shot on location in the area.

Some of those Hollywood types joined with wealthy Pasco County people and hatched an idea for a swanky, Spanish–style, 100-room hotel in downtown New Port Richey, just a stone’s throw from the Pithlachascotee river.

Here is what the St. Petersburg TIMES said about the project in 1925:

The Hacienda's courtyard. That once-beautiful fountain has been seriously vandalized.

The Hacienda's courtyard. That once-beautiful fountain has been seriously vandalized.

“Plans have been set on foot at an enthusiastic meeting of New Port Richeyites for the construction of a 100-room fire-proof hotel. Within a few minutes after the meeting was called to order nearly the entire capital required was subscribed.

“The site selected is a tract overlooking the beautiful Pithlachascotee river, north of the Gulf high school building, and in the exact center of population. The site has the further advantage of being located within a short distance of the proposed station of the West Coast railway, now an assured fact.”

The article said the hotel would be of either Moorish or Spanish-style construction, and would cost about $150,000, pretty big bucks for the day.

A mural on the side of a downtown New Port Richey building depicts a 1920s party in the Hacienda's ballroom

A mural on the side of a downtown New Port Richey building depicts a 1920s party in the Hacienda's ballroom

James E. Meighan, one of the Hollywood types, donated the land. The final design called for a $250,000 building housing 50 rooms and including a steam-heating plant, an open-air dining room, and beams in the dining room and lobby. Ground was broken on Aug. 11, 1926, and the Hacienda’s first guests were welcomed 184 days later.

More than 800 people attended the grand opening on Feb. 5, 1927.

Some pretty famous folk visited or stayed at the Hacienda in those early years – Ring Lardner, Mrs. Arthur Hammerstein, attorney Clarence Darrow, and actress Gloria Swanson among them.

The hotel did reasonably well, and it managed to survive the Depression, which came along not too long after the Hacienda opened its doors. It changed hands a number of times over the years. By the time the 1950s came around, the hotel was being sold fairly regularly, and management changes were frequent. 

The Hacienda, from an old postcard

The Hacienda, from an old postcard

In 1985, the Hacienda was acquired by Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services Inc., and the facility became what would be known today as a group home or assisted living center. Later, it became a home for elderly people with mental disabilities.

The city of New Port Richey acquired the property in 2003. It has been vacant since 2006.

The old hotel looks pretty sad today. It would make a great boutique hotel, but restoration costs would probably be very high. If you know of any plans to resurrect the old Hacienda, please let me know.

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