Can this historic hotel be restored? - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Can this historic hotel be restored?

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NEW PORT RICHEY (FOX 13) -

In a day when Gloria Swanson was the world's most famous movie star, the pink hotel called the Hacienda was her personal paradise. Built in 1927, it even had a tiny hidden staircase leading up to Swanson's private tower overlooking the town.

The hotel has been a part of Kay Wadell's life since she was little.

"Of course, as a young person, it was quite an exciting adventure," she recalled.

Legend has it that her grandfather, who once owned the hotel, won it in a poker game. Photos show her with other little girls visiting the Hacienda 65 years ago, around the same time her family evacuated to the hotel to ride out a hurricane.

"And around outside everything was blowing and booming and we didn't really know, but we stayed here. Little did I know as I was growing up, we'd be going to proms here."

It was a social center for much of a century. Legend has it that during Prohibition, there was a tunnel from the nearby Cotee River used to smuggle booze into the Hacienda. Some also say there was a bordello there.

Now, the town may be rediscovering the Hacienda, which was later used as a mental health facility and a nursing home and is owned by the city.

If it's not haunted, it is mysterious. Fifty-year-old renovations are hiding long-forgotten details that many people are curious to see.

"It's part of the heritage of the community, but it can also be a launching place for our new future," offered John Hagen, Pasco's economic development chief.

Hagen is helping raise money to pay engineers and architects to assess the project.

"Yeah, there's a lot of aesthetics that need to be cleaned up, but the building actually looks a lot better than you might think when you walk in," he continued.

Some already see beyond the boards, and look forward as they look back.

"It represents a lot to those of us who grew up here," Kay Wadell added.

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