LAKE PLACID — It was nothing special: four walls, some windows and a roof. The old classroom-turned-meal-site at 541 E. Interlake Blvd. was razed this week because it was no longer cost effective to keep repairing it.
Cross Environmental Services Inc. Environmental & Demolition Contractors out of Crystal Springs were contracted to bring the building down.
Although it was severely compromised, there was no current worth to the building. However, according to the Highlands County Property Appraiser’s office, the new replacement cost would be $30,546.
Built in 1935, the building was used primarily as a classroom for agriculture and shop classes, according to former students.
The current South Florida State College building on the south side of Interlake Boulevard was the original Lake Placid High School. The agriculture/shop building across the street was added after growth forced the addition.
As the walls tumbled down, the history of the old building was revealed. In between the old cement blocks, an old newspaper was found. The edition of The Miami Herald dated Sunday, June 22, 1947 was probably used as insulation.
Mat Delaney has fond memories of his agriculture and shop classes from the mid- to late-1960s.
“Probably every boy in the 1950s and 1960s had at least one class there,” he said. “It was also the easiest class to skip out of and leave the property.”
Bill Brantley, a contractor who ironically was also a student at the school, owns a business next door to the now razed building. Brantley thought the newspaper was a neat piece of history. He also looked about the site with the eye of a builder and saw South Dade Pine used in the construction.
Brantley said the pine was a popular choice around the time the facility was built. It was imported from South Florida.
About 1984, Brantley took agriculture classes there. The 1,122-square-foot building was not built for function and not fashion.
“When you walked in, there was a small classroom that had a bathroom,” Brantley said. “Once you stepped out the back, there was an elevated roof for the shop equipment. We had to get tractors back there. That portion was torn down probably 20 years ago.”
Not too long after Brantley’s agriculture classes, the school was no longer using the property. Nu-Hope Elder Care needed a site for their congregate meals for senior clients.
On Oct. 28, 1987, Nu-Hope entered a lease for $1 per year. The lease lasted 30 years until September 2017. At nearly 100 years old, the facility was falling into disrepair and was taking money to maintain.
The final blow was dealt to the building when Hurricane Irma blew through Lake Placid in September 2017.
“The property was just irreparable then,” Brantley said.
A new roof was needed among other expensive repairs. The School Board did not have the money, nor did Nu-Hope, for the necessary repairs.
Nu-Hope Executive Director Ingra Gardner said the building was a blessing for a long time. Since the hurricane, they have opened a new congregate meal site in Lake Placid at 212 N. Main Ave.
“With community support, our newest meal site, The Diamond Bistro, opened its doors on June 4,” Gardner said. “This meal site addresses both the nutritional and social needs of seniors by providing nutritious meals, health and wellness activities, information about vital resources, and opportunities to participate in games, art sessions, and other fun activities.”
The School Board of Highlands County did not immediately return phone calls for comment.