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Progress Report: DeFuniak Springs’ Historic Lakeside Hospital

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Lakeside Hospital in better days, when it opened in 1948 with new surgical facilities added to the second floor. A new roof is needed to preserve the hospital—for starters.

Saving the historic Lakeside Hospital at 1290 Circle Drive in DeFuniak Springs has been a priority of the Florida Chautauqua Association since its purchase of the property in 2013. The structure is situated on a prominent corner of Circle Drive, across the street from the longest operating library in the state of Florida and next door to the family home of Dr. Spires, the original builder of this local icon of early healthcare in the area.

 

The first floor of the building was erected in 1938 with the second floor added in 1948, making it possible to supply surgery to the services already provided. After the hospital closed in the early 1970s, it was used for dentist and doctor offices and as a family home. Unfortunately, maintenance of the facility was not a priority for subsequent owners. This past July, Florida Chautauqua submitted a grant to the state of Florida for funds to begin necessary repairs, with the roof of the building being the top priority.

 

Fortunately, some area residents were able to provide the seed money in order to meet the monetary requirement to make it possible to apply for the state grant. Additionally, dedicated local professionals volunteered their services to help meet the threshold for needed local support for this project. Becky and Leslie Miller in Freeport, owners of Freeport Metal Roofing, generously donated $10,000 worth of material for the roof. Regrettably, a local roofer has not yet come forward to donate services to patch the leaks in the hospital until money can be raised for a permanent fix.

 

With the monetary resources met, the paperwork for the Department of State’s Historical Preservation Grant was submitted in July 2017 and approved. Originally, 80 historic properties around the state submitted proposals. Florida Chautauqua’s Lakeside Hospital was one of 60 proposals that passed muster to be presented to the Florida Historical Commission in Tallahassee.

 

In November, the case for funding $272,000 to repair the roof of the hospital was made before the commission. There were many worthy projects around the state of Florida in need of funding, and Lakeside Hospital was ranked number 31 out of 60 projects.

 

After review by Florida’s Secretary of State, the commission has now submitted recommendations to the State Legislature. In March or April, the legislative body will decide on the specific amount to be spent on historic preservation across the state. Last year, of all of the ranked projects on the 2016 list, only the top 12 were funded. The previous year, the legislature funded the top 37 preservation sites.

 

In order for Lakeside Hospital to be funded as project number 31, it would be necessary for the legislature to appropriate at least $9.8 million for the top preservation efforts across the state to receive necessary funding. Florida Chautauqua is reaching out to local residents asking you to please contact local legislative representatives to press the need for funding this effort.

 

The local representatives at the state level include Representative Brad Drake, House District 5, brad.drake@myfloridahouse.gov; and Senator George B. Gainer, Senate District 2, gainer.george@flsenate.gov.

 

In contacting the legislative representatives, you will also be helping to fund the Hall of Brotherhood, which was ranked number 14 in the state to receive the monetary resources to complete the renovation efforts begun in the last few months.

 

Visit FloridaChautauquaAssembly.org for updates on the grant process. Roof contractors able to volunteer services to patch the existing roof are asked to email dns1mck@yahoo.com.

– Denise Mack
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