The Friends of the Hacienda and Historic New Port Richey reached out to us, this week, via our friend Laura Sherrod Pence. With changes in how the restoration was going, I think the city wanted a chance to explain why they’ve made changes in how things were going to get done, and who was going to do them.
While I am not a native, I consider New Port Richey my hometown. The Hacienda Hotel, on Main Street, is one of West Pasco County’s most iconic structures…Perhaps only our offshore stilt houses are more iconic. The Hacienda has been a hotel, a boarding house, a senior living facility, and empty. The goal, now, is to restore her to her former glory, and create, once again a living structure, that is part of our social lives, not just a landmark.
The recent overhaul of Sims Park directly north of the hotel seemed to give a sense of urgency to having the Hacienda functional, and occupied. Downtown New Port Richey is having a renaissance, and it won’t seem complete until the Hacienda is done.
The recent departure of the group contracted happened because the vision of the city, and the vision of the developers, began to separate. The developers were more interested in occupancy than in accuracy of restoration…And the city wants both. It’s a bold move to demand that.
Mario Iezzoni, New Port Richey’s Economic Development Director, gave us some excellent insight into why the historic preservation is important…And how the city expects to recoup the expense of renovation. It’s an enormous project, and enormously important that it be completed in such a way that the historicity in play is not lost. There are legends about the Hacienda…But it is important for the reality of the building be preserved. Why it was built, how it was built, and the manner in which it was designed to account for our climate, and suit the needs of a blossoming small city, in 1925 is paramount.
Bert Bender, the project architect, gave us an update on the nuts and bolts…Telling us about the next step, and when we can expect to have public access to the hotel. I liked hearing that he is sensitive to that as a NEED for the project: That in order to keep the public interested, and invested, they’ll need to see what they are paying for. Of course, there are safety concerns, and that is the next step: Making the building safe for visitors (the floors are soft, and there are a TON of dark uneven spaces on the floors inside).
Finally, Gary Gann from Friends of the Hacienda and Historic New Port Richey gave us information on how we can help complete the restoration process, and even how and when we can get a look inside.
I have been privileged to cover some amazing stories, here on So Local Pasco…My hours spent walking through the Hacienda Hotel, learning about the process of restoration, and the how and why of the hotel has been one of my favorite things. When you listen, note that I let ambient sounds of the interior play throughout…The space is supposed to have human voices, and it was wonderful to hear them, filling the old hotel.
I spent a bit of time day dreaming…Looking forward, maybe five years…To the Hacienda being occupied. Perhaps as a hotel, but perhaps also as a kind of open space for us to enjoy the history of our city…In the same way the old Plant Hotel (University of Tampa) allows folks to see a time capsule of life in Tampa. Maybe there’s going to come a day to sit in the courtyard, and watch the Chasco Fiesta Parade roll by, as it has for all the decades since the hotel was built.
It’s a nice dream, and it can come true, if we continue to expect and work for it to happen.
Click the image below to go “Buy a Brick”…Proceeds go to completing the Hacienda Hotel Restoration!
Finally, please enjoy these images…Taken by myself, Laura Sherrod Pence, and Gary Gann. Historic photos courtesy of the West Pasco Historical Society and The Friends of the Hacienda and Historic New Port Richey.
August 22nd, 2016