About The Hotel Jacaranda
Nestled in a quiet corner of Florida’s Heartland, The Hotel Jacaranda is the picture of Southern repose. Built in the 1920s and listed on the National Historic Register, Avon Park’s “gracious lady” boasts high ceilings and quiet hallways. In years gone by, the Jacaranda played hostess to the likes of Babe Ruth and Clark Gable. Today, the hotel radiates unequalled elegance, with a lobby that invites visitors into the warmth of its green, mauve, and beige furnishings. Guest rooms are comfortable and spacious. A sprawling veranda overlooks tree-lined Main Street and serves as a favorite gathering place for avid card players. The Jacaranda lies within easy driving distance of Cypress Gardens, Historic Bok Sanctuary, and Orlando’s numerous theme parks. After a day of sightseeing, guests can relax in the hotel’s swimming pool. As a South Florida State College facility, the hotel and its grounds are tobacco-free.
As a true example of living history, The Hotel Jacaranda is one of the oldest continuously operating hotels in Highlands County. When the Jac opened in 1926, it took its name from a 150-year-old jacaranda tree that had been removed to make way for the hotel. Among its first guests were members of the St. Louis Cardinals, who came to Avon Park for spring training from 1927 to 1929. Photos of its famous guests, from Babe Ruth to Hollywood celebrities George Burns and Gracie Allen, adorn its dining room. During World War II, the grand hotel played a hand in the war effort by housing hundreds of servicemen who had come to the area to train as military pilots.
In 1988, the South Florida State College Foundation, Inc., purchased the Jac with an eye toward preserving its historic character. As part of that ongoing effort, the Foundation has undertaken a major restorative project that is returning a street-level business mall to its original design. Through a partnership with South Florida State College, culinary students perfect their talents by training in the Jac’s modern kitchen.