Cassadaga Hotel

Cassadaga Hotel & cornerstone 2002

Cassadaga Hotel 2002

356 Cassadaga Road

Cassadaga, Florida

This hotel, designed by Architect Wm. J. Carpenter AIA in 1927, has become, second only to the Temple, the showplace of the Cassadaga Community.  After a disastrous fire destroyed the original wooden hotel in 1926 the directors of the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Campmeeting Association commissioned Mr. Carpenter to design the  new facility, undoubtedly influenced by his recognition as an expert on fireproof design following the successful design of the Putnam Hotel in nearby DeLand in 1923. Begun in mid 1927, the Hotel was finally completed in 1928 and opened to guests November 28 of that year, but closed from time to time as demands of visitors  changed.  After standing unused for several years, the hotel was purchased by the Morn family in 1979.  They sponsored extensive interior renovations, but fortunately they did not change the classic Mediterranean Revival look of the exterior.

 Hotel photo WVHS

 

Originally the Hotel provided simple, unadorned accomodations, with large rooms, but there were no private plumbing facilities, no closets, and unimpressive beds, hardly more than cots.  The Morn family renovated it to the  present  status, and it is again a popular destination for those seeking an unusual experience.

 A visit and brief tour of the building in the summer of 2002 and again in 2003 provided pictures and further information on the construction of the building.

Main Floor, left & right

Main Floor, Left & Right from Entrance

Arched entryway & 2002 postcard

Arched Front Porch, Top

Artist’s sketch of original building from hotel postcard

The following excerpts from “Cassadaga-The South’s Oldest Spiritualist Community”, by Guthrie, jr., Lucas, & Monroe,  University Press of Florida and the chapter on Architecture by Sidney P. Johnston give us the most complete information available in one place on any of Wm. J. Carpenter’s designs in the DeLand area:

 A disastrous fire on December 26, 1926 consumed the original wood-frame Cassadaga Hotel “…The loss, estimated at $50,000 and attributed to faulty wiring, provided the hotel company and association directors with an opportunity to put a new face on the camp…The directors insisted on a fireproof building and in May commissioned architect William J. Carpenter to design it.  New foundations were laid in the summer of 1927…

 “Carpenter worked closely with the directors to design the new building.  Their choice of mission architecture for the Cassadaga Hotel transformed the entrance of the camp and linked it to the temple farther south on Stevens Street. (Also mission style architecture, a revival form that gained popularity in the 1890s and flourished in Florida during the 1920s…)  Monumental in form and presence, the hotel façade was reoriented to the north, rather than repeating the east/west axis of the original building.  The building was protected by a cross-hip roof adorned by a central shaped parapet.  A one-story central block, embraced by projecting cross-hip extensions and containing the front entrance, vestibule, and a second story balcony, softened the fortresslike appearance of the front façade.  A one-story veranda welcomed patrons and shaded visitors along the west elevation.  Textured stucco on the exterior walls contrasted with the foundation of rusticated cast block.  Arrangements of French doors and double-hung sash and fixed windows helped illuminate the hotel’s interior…” (also transom windows, now closed).

 “The temple and hotel, the largest construction projects undertaken in the history of the association, stood out from the community’s preponderant wood-frame architecture, lending a significant 1920s character to a setting otherwise cast in strong Victorian lines…”  The final cost of the project is not known, but it is reported that $111,535 was raised during the various phases of construction.

 It is noted that “The association directors consistently hired professional architects to design buildings for public use and sacred architecture…The resulting intimacy of buildings and site expressed the integration of religion and retreat, built fabric and natural landscape.”  The selection of Wm. J. Carpenter as architect for this project was possibly influenced by knowledge of his successful integration of the Parish House and the Trinity Cathedral in Pittsburgh before he came to DeLand, as well as his successful design of the nearby Putnam Hotel in DeLand..

The community of Cassadaga is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but so far I haven’t found any specific references to the hotel, although the Site Survey states that the building itself meets the National Register requirements.  The community was listed March 14, 1991 as the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Campmeeting Association.

 The following quote is from the Florida state archives Site File No. VO 2828:

“This two-story masonry hotel is located at 355 Cassadaga Road.  It has Mission Revival styling expressed by its hip roof with shaped parapet, gable top chimney crowns, verandah with squared post supports and balustrade, second story balcony, arcaded front entry portico with pent visor, 3/1 double hung sash windows, and stucco exterior finish.  This building retains much of its original integrity…

 “…In Florida, the Spanish Mission style was among the most dominant building styles during the decade before the collapse of the Florida land boom in 1926.  It was adapted for a variety of building types ranging from grandiose tourist hotels to two room residences.  It was so popular that many commercial buildings were renovated in the 1920s to reflect the style.  Identifying features of the style include flat (sometimes hip) roofs, always with a curvilinear parapet or dormer either on the main or porch roof; ceramic tile roof surfacing; stuccoed facades; flat roof entrance porches, commonly with arched openings supported by square columns; casement and double-hung sash windows; and ceramic tile decorations…”

We have been told there may be some of the original architect’s plans archived in the community, but have been unable to locate them.  If you have any information about the subject that you think would be of interest to our readers please comment below.  Thank you.

 

 

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