Restoring the historic value of a grand hotel
Constructed in the 1920s, the stone architecture for the Fort Harrison Hotel has through the years served as a symbol for the Clearwater, FL, area. And because of the building’s historic significance, any type of restoration work needed to fit the hotel’s five-star setting, while also utilizing materials and installation methods that would convey the original design intent.
The Fort Harrison Hotel originally opened in 1926 as the New Fort Harrison Hotel. It was often considered one of Clearwater’s most lavish hotels, serving as a focal point for the community during tougher times, such as the Great Depression and World War II.
“You’re working with an historic context - taking old photographs and trying to recreate them,” said Mullenex. “We did some demolition to see what was under the layers and replicated that.”
“We had great success with the travertine from Peru,” said Chuck Fazio, who worked on the project for Nova Hotel Renovation & Construction in Clearwater, FL, the installer for the job. “It was a sandpaper installation, and we used a thin-set acrylic adhesive to help ensure the adhesion.
In the guest rooms, the primary stone material is Crema Marfil marble, which was used for the vanity tops as well as bathroom floor and wall tiles. “Basically, all of the bathroom walls are done in Crema Marfil,” said Fazio, adding that many of the presidential suites utilize about 10 different marbles.
Fabrication took 10 weeks, while the installation took close to three months - with as many as 40 to 45 installers on site at once. Typically, though, there were 10 to 12 workers present on average. “The project took a lot of coordinating between the field, supervision and stone fabrication,” said Fazio.
Members of OPX were on site during the entire installation, and the project was completed in January 2009. “The hotel has been restored to its grandeur,” said Mullenex. “While the hotel is only open for Scientology guests, the public spaces are open to everyone - for instance the ballroom on the top floor can be rented out. The rooftop of the hotel is prominent. It’s on the skyline of Clearwater. It’s such a symbol to the area - this project has been a community event. It’s a beautiful project, one that you don’t get to do very often.”
Sidebar: Fort Harrison Hotel renovationClearwater, FL
Architect: OPX Architects, Washington, DC
Stone Supplier: Andean Stone Co., Miami, FL (Peruvian travertine)
Stone Installer: Nova Hotel Renovation & Construction, Clearwater, FL