SEBRING —Back in 1926 when a former Cleveland, Ohio, mayor and another businessman built a clubhouse near Lake Sebring, they called it the Lake Sebring Casino.
But, Mark Baker, who owned the property when it was named the Sebring Lakeside Golf Resort, decades later told a newspaper reporter that in the 1920s the name casino meant a clubhouse rather than a place where you played poker, blackjack and craps.
Since the 1920s, the property has served several uses, most recently a tea room. It’s now slated to become a youth treatment center for alcohol and drug abuse and eating disorders.
The property was sold within the last year.
A golf course that was part of the resort was sold separately from other property, which included a clubhouse and tea room.
The golf course will remain open, and Advanced Recovery Systems, which operates a treatment facility for adults in Umatilla in central Florida, is going to convert the clubhouse and tea room into the youth treatment center. Its property owner is listed as Sebring Acre LLC of 633 Umatilla Blvd., Umatilla.
Allison Kreiger Walsh, director of business development and branding for Advanced Recovery Systems, said Advanced Recovery was formed in 2004 and operates a treatment facility for adults in Umatilla. That facility has been successful so Advanced Recovery decided to open a juvenile facility.
Plans are to demolish the existing building and build a private treatment facility that will have 20 rooms for the youth, ages 13 to 17, Walsh said.
They could stay at the facility several months, depending on their needs, she said. It will be called Next Generation Village, she said.
She said the plans are to have a grand opening in February 2015. She anticipates it will have 50 staff members at the outset.
“It’s going to be a very nice facility,” Walsh said.
Highlands County officials determined the property’s existing zoning allowed for the land to be used as a drug treatment facility and did not hold a zoning hearing.
In the more than 85 years since the facility was first built, this would be the first time it’s been used as a drug treatment and eating disorder treatment facility.
After the clubhouse went bust during the Depression, it was used as a speakeasy, housing for the Civilian Conservation Corps when Highlands Hammock Park was built, later as a private residence and then for seasonal apartment rentals, according to a Highlands Today article in 2002.