SEBRING HISTORICAL SOCIETY NEWS AND FEATURED ARTICLES

Filling in the Gaps in the Highlands Bank and Trust Building History

February 28, 2018

 

Tampa attorney John Anthony had grown fond of Sebring and the many historic buildings on the Circle over the years he had tried legal cases at the Highlands County Courthouse. 

 

In 2016, he purchased the 99-year old Highlands Bank and Trust Building, located on the corner of Circle Park Drive and North Ridgewood Avenue (shown above), intent on restoring it and committing it to new uses. It took two and a half years to renovate the building which was in a very deteriorated condition, despite its structural integrity. The building has been redesigned to house an upscale restaurant on the first floor and 2,300 sq. ft. of offices on the second floor.

 

We know a lot about the history of the building in its early years and in recent years, but we don’t have much information on its history from the 1940s up to 1999. Who were the owners and who were the tenants? The building stood empty for a time.  When was that period? We’re hoping you can help us.

 

Early History

 

The Highlands Bank and Trust Building was built by the Sebring Real Estate Company in 1919. The bank moved into the building in the summer of 1920. The building to the left in the photo below was torn down in 1923 and replaced by a building which later became the Circle Theater.

 

 

The bank housed a Western Union office, shown in the photo below, which was located on the first floor at the back of the bank building facing North Ridgewood Drive. Also in the photo is a beautiful Victorian building  constructed in 1920 to house the Sebring Real Estate Company. The building was sold towards the end of the decade to the Highlands Security Abstract and Title Company owned by pioneer family members Fairfax T. Haskins and Chelsea A. Skipper.

 

The bank housed a Western Union office, shown in the photo below, which was located on the first floor at the back of the bank building facing North Ridgewood Drive. Also in the photo is a beautiful Victorian building  constructed in 1920 to house the Sebring Real Estate Company. The building was sold towards the end of the decade to the Highlands Security Abstract and Title Company owned by pioneer family members Fairfax T. Haskins and Chelsea A. Skipper.

 

The Great Depression resulted in the bank’s closing in February 1929. In the mid 1930s, following the Depression, the building was rebranded the Highlands County Bank. It housed the Heacock Agency with first-floor offices accessible through an entrance on the side of the building. 

How long did the Highlands County Bank own the building? Who moved in after that? How long did that tenant stay? These are the unanswered questions with which we need your help.

 

Here’s what we do know. With the decline of the commercial downtown district and the move by businesses to more lucrative areas on U.S. Highway 27, beginning in the 1960s, the building did eventually become an empty shell. 

 

 

Recent History

 

Then, in May 1999, an entity associated with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Highlands County bought the building, which it owned until Mr. Anthony bought the building in June 2016. The first floor was intermittently operated as a second or third hand clothing store. The second floor was unoccupied and became a repository for decades of unwanted material. Mr. Anthony’s contractor removed seven tons of trash. 

 

Mr. Anthony is currently looking for the right restaurant team to bring the building and its heritage back to life and for the right tenants for the offices on the second floor.

 

Did you or your family members work in this building? utilize the bank’s services? Please tell us what you recall about the building’s history.

Tag: Buildings, Commercial

 

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