The Catalyst for Change
The Growth & Prosperity of Lake City
The Hotel Blanche is significant because the construction of the hotel and its addition reflected the growth and prosperity of Lake City through its town development as a transportation node and educational center.
We had the pleasure of asking Christopher Lydick, District Archeologist/Historian for the Osceola National Forest Service and chairman of the Zoning and Planning Board of Lake City, his thoughts on Hotel Blanche and the future of Downtown Lake City.
Why is the history of Hotel Blanche important to Lake City?
"The Blanche was constructed during the same building campaign as the Columbia County Courthouse and both structures were designed by the same architect, Frank Pierce Milburn. He is also the same architect that designed the Florida State Capitol
The Blanche is iconic to the identity of Downtown Lake City. Historically, it was the social, economic, and cultural hub of our Downtown district. It is a defining character in the majority of historic photography of our community, and the backdrop of many of the stories of yesteryear. Although the city has previously had a poor track record of historic structures leveled for parking; now the city is actively engaged in historic preservation through the Zoning and Planning Board. The success of the Blanche rehabilitation will be pivotal to furthering this end," says Lydick.
How has Hotel Blanche impacted you personally?
"The Blanche was the first time that we ever were presented with the opportunity to evaluate a historic preservation proposal and issue a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) under Article 10 of the City's Land Development Regulations (LDRs). Since the Blanche project, we have begun actively requiring historic properties to get COAs prior to modification of historic structures downtown. The Blanch was the catalyst for that change."
How do you think the redevelopment of Hotel Blanche will effect the future of Downtown Lake City?
"Rehabilitation for adaptive re-use of the Blanch property has the potential to offer mixed retail, civic, municipal, commercial, and residential use. If done correctly and responsibly, a project of this caliber has the potential to be a catalyst for additional downtown rehabilitation and adaptive re-use."
Thanks to Lydick for sharing his stories and passion for Lake City. We're excited and proud to be the catalyst for change in downtown and hope many more projects hop onboard to become the new social, economic, and cultural hubs of our great community.