Old Lakeside Hospital Building in DeFuniak Springs given historic designation

Special to Gannett
Modern photo of Old Lakeside Hospital Building on the corner of Live Oak Avenue and Circle Drive in DeFuniak Springs.

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — City of DeFuniak Springs leaders welcome the news of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s designation of old Lakeside Hospital Building to the National Register of Historic Places.

The deteriorating structure on the corner of Live Oak and Circle Drive opened in 1939 as a one-story clinic and in 1949 as a two-story hospital. The medical facility had an enormous impact on rural healthcare on the Florida Panhandle until it closed in 1972. 

“The city is grateful to the Florida Chautauqua Association leaders for purchasing the building in 2013, repairing the roof and getting the building on the National Register of Historic Places,” said Mayor Bob Campbell. “Lakeside Hospital has had an enormous emotional impact on our community throughout the years it operated as a medical facility.

"So many in our community delivered babies there, were born there, were vaccinated there, or treated there when no other facilities of this magnitude existed in this region," he added. "Many of our lives were saved at this hospital from tragic accidents while some of our loved ones lost their lives as doctors tried desperately to keep them alive from tragedies and declining health. I don’t know anyone who lived here from 1939 to 1972 who were not directly impacted by the hospital’s history. We applaud the community’s efforts to save this historic structure.”

The old hospital building is owned by the Florida Chautauqua Association, a nonprofit organization that hosts the official Florida Chautauqua Assembly at the end of each January.

Organization leaders have informed the city staff of their plans to fully restore the structure. The Florida Division of Historical Resources has provided a $50,000 architectural assessment grant to the nonprofit owners to begin plans for the full restoration. The assessment will be complete by the end of July 2022. 

The organization’s board members will then share the completed assessment with grant-making agencies and foundations for major funding opportunities.