In Advance of 95th Anniversary Historic Fort Harrison Stories Sought

Top Quote As the 95th Anniversary of the Historic Fort Harrison approaches, residents are encouraged to share their memories of the Fort Harrison. These stories will be used to preserve a written history of the facility. End Quote
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL (1888PressRelease) August 13, 2020 - The story of the Fort Harrison begins on a fateful day in 1925 when real estate broker Ed Haley was encouraged by friends to take a shot at building a great commercial hotel. The Fort Harrison still stands as a Clearwater landmark.

    In 1925, Florida’s population was 75,000—a third of whom were said to be real estate agents. The City of Clearwater had been incorporated for 10 years and was experiencing a boom similar to other Florida cities. Tourists and settlers were drawn to the Clearwater area because of the climate and wanting to own their piece of paradise.

    The idea of building a hotel that would eclipse any other Clearwater hotel sparked Mr. Haley’s imagination and he swiftly gathered the funds for this project. Within a year of taking that shot of faith, the Fort Harrison stood 11 stories high, the tallest building in Pinellas County, designed by New York architect Robert Smallwood. The grand opening took place on the 10th floor Crystal Ballroom, named after the crystal chandelier displayed in the ballroom. Ironically the Crystal Ballroom was an addition by Mr. Smallwood who insisted on the inclusion of a dance hall and adjacent terrace.

    On opening day, the Clearwater Sun said: “Although the opening tonight is an event which many citizens of the city spoke of with pride today, the excellence of service and cuisine and appointments of the hotel will tonight serve alone as an introduction for the guests and visitors.”

    Even when the Florida land boom went bust and the nation staggered under the Great Depression, the Fort Harrison winter calendar included fashion shows, wedding receptions, card parties, bridge teas and Kiwanis and Rotary meetings. The Fort Harrison Orchestra performed in the ballroom.

    The Fort Harrison is now the International Religious Retreat for the Church of Scientology.

    If you have any stories, photography or memories you would like to share please contact the Community Affairs Director, Clemence Chevrot by email at clemence ( @ ) cos dot flag dot org dot

    About the Fort Harrison
    The Fort Harrison is the center of the international Church of Scientology religious retreat. Scientology is an applied religious philosophy developed by L. Ron Hubbard, which offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual nature. To find out more about Scientology, visit

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