Clearwater, Florida – As part of its continuing expansion, on March 14th, 2009 the Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization Religious Retreat held the grand opening of the fully rebuilt Clearwater landmark Fort Harrison.
Given its age, over three quarters of a century, and the desire to see the Fort Harrison stand even grander through the next century, beginning in April 2008 the building was stripped virtually bare and rebuilt from its core. This included installation of new state-of-the-art systems, as well as fully modernized professional kitchens to service the retreat’s three restaurants. Particular care was taken to make the work and the final product environmentally friendly. This included using recycled “blue jean” insulation, low emission air conditioning and generators, as well as energy-efficient lighting, electrical and air conditioning.
Despite all the modernization, the Fort Harrison still bears its hallmark historical touches, including the replication of the lobby’s original black wrought iron work and gold leafed moldings. The resurfacing of the entire exterior with added architectural detailing makes the hotel even more beautiful than its legendary beginning in 1926, when she was known as “the Aristocrat of Southern Florida Hotels”.
General Contractor, Nova Hotel Renovation and Construction, hired over 350 local workers to complete the building. 30,000 feet of plumbing, 17,000 feet of air conditioning ducts and pipes and 66 miles of electrical wiring were used.
Completed in just eleven months, the Fort Harrison opening represents the next phase in the creation of an ideal religious retreat for the Church of Scientology. This expansion enables the Church of Scientology to provide better service to the tens of thousands of Scientologists who annually travel to Flag from over 60 nations to participate in the highest levels of Scientology training and counseling. Additionally, in keeping with the Church of Scientology’s history of service to the community and the heritage of the Fort Harrison itself, the re-built Grand Auditorium and historic Crystal Ballroom will be available for use by community organizations and other non-profits. Open houses and other events will make the facility available to the local community at large.
Acquired in 1975, the Fort Harrison was the Church’s first building in Clearwater and marked the beginning of Flag as the spiritual headquarters of the Scientology religion. Since that time, the religious retreat has rapidly expanded into over 40 buildings, totaling 2 million square feet of facilities, to service the rapidly growing numbers of Scientologists traveling to Flag for advanced religious services.
Saturday’s opening marks the end of the second phase of the Church’s on going Clearwater expansion. Phase one was the January 2008 opening of the newly renovated 172,000 square foot Oak Cove. With the Fort Harrison now complete, the Church has begun the final phase of its expansion program, the completion of its new 360,000 square foot Church building. This Church will provide the necessary facilities to make all Scientology services available in one building, both for the burgeoning community of Clearwater Scientologists as well as the dynamic and expanding congregation of Scientologists traveling to Flag from around the world.