Florida Art Moderne Hospital in Limbo
By Margaret Foster | Online Only | Sept. 23, 2009
A pink Art Moderne hospital that opened in 1950 faces an uncertain future. Located about a mile from the shore in Lantana, Fla., A.G. Holley State Hospital occupies a prime location that both the town and state want to develop.
Last year the state legislature voted to build a new 50-bed tuberculosis hospital, and invited proposals for the 155-acre site. Orlando-based developer Lauth Property Group submitted its plan, which includes a new hospital, housing, and stores. "Lauth and its team propose to demolish the existing A.G. Holley facilities, freeing the land on which the hospital sits for new economic development," the company's Oct. 8, 2008 proposal reads. "We feel that this property, with appropriate development, could become a 'town center' for Lantana, and a major driver for the local and regional economy."
The state, which owns the hospital, hasn't announced final plans for the building, which was painted and upgraded last year at a cost of $6.5 million. (Town Manager Michael Bornstein did not respond to requests for comment.) But locals aren't particularly interested in its history.
"I see it as a 55-year-old building that needs to be totally renovated or removed," Lantana Mayor Dave Stewart told the Sun-Sentinel in 2005. "I don't see any historic value."
Preservationists tried to nominate A.G. Holley Hospital to the National Register of Historic Places, but the state, which wants to build the Florida Institute of Public Health on the site, blocked the nomination.
"How can you just demolish that kind of building and putting it in a landfill? I don't understand, especially as tight as money is," says Bonnie Dearborn, director of the Preservation Alliance of Palm Beach County.
The hospital continues to operate, but under increasing pressure. Earlier this year its CEO and three other employees were fired for misconduct. In February, hospital officials said that only 32 patients were being treated at the facility; 70 percent of them had no health insurance and were therefore a cost to the state.
"Hopefully [Lantana] will continue to stand, whether as a hospital or something else," Dearborn says. "We hope they would include the A.G. Holley Hospital building into their rebuilding plans."
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