AVON PARK — While the closing draws near for the sale of Harder Hall, another area landmark is up for sale. The former Pinecrest Hotel property is on the market.
Local Realtor Robert King is handling the listing, He said it has been on the market for several months now. The asking price for the historic property has been set at $3.5 million.
Originally built as a luxury resort hotel, the facility on the shores of Lake Lotela more recently has been known as the Maharishi School of Vedic Science.
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Sam Farling, a co-director at the operation, said the plan is to sell its current facility south of Avon Park and search for a new location.
Although he said they would be looking in Central Florida, it might not be in Highlands County.
“We’re looking for a place between here and Orlando,” he said. “We’d like to be in a rolling area with lakes.”
Its current location is on 10 acres adjacent to the Pinecrest Golf Course.
The group is looking to construct its new facilities in consort with the principals of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi known as stphapatyaved.
“You need to build in harmony with natural law so that you get maximum support of nature,” Farling explained.
He said the building they currently are using does not comply with some of the ancient provisions.
For instance, the lake should be on the north or the east of the building. It now sits to the west of the complex.
The Mediterranean Revival-style complex is listed on the National Register of Historic places. Built in 1925, there were 82 original rooms, another 24 were added along the lakefront in 1950 with the addition of 20 motel rooms in 1957
“It’s a pretty neat old building and it’s still pretty much intact,” said Realtor Robert King. “All the old fixtures and the like are still there.”
In 1964, the Civil Air Patrol sponsored a school called the National Aero Space Academy for a year. It then was purchased by a North Carolina couple who ran the place as the Highlands County Girls School until 1972.
In 1978, it was sold to the Florida Capital of the Age of Enlightenment and used for retreats, seminars and instruction on transcendental meditation.
It was one of the group’s proponents from the West Palm Beach area that found the property and urged the group to purchase it.
Ten years ago it became a preventative health care center with clinics for pulse diagnosis, massage treatment and nutrition lectures.
The complex also is the home of the Maharishi Vedic Health Center. According to the group’s Internet Web site, it offers both the Marishi’s rejuvenation and vibration technology programs.
Those programs reportedly are purification treatments. The group claims the plans counteract “the effects of stress, fatigue, improper diet and environmental impurities” that have accumulated over time.
The facility plays host to meditation retreats, many times during holiday weekends.
“We’ll probably have 25-35 people from Florida and the Southeast over the Memorial Day weekend for instance,” He said.
The building’s listing on the National Registry has been a two-edged sword. Farling said while it has enabled the group to get help with some of the repairs, it has limited the group in other ways.
“We were able to get funds to re-roof it and take care of the fire system — but it limits the kinds of changes you can make,” he said.
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