• Instagram Icon
  • Vimeo Icon
  • YouTube Icon
  • Snapchat Icon
  • Nextdoor Icon
  • Search Icon
Contact Us
main content
The Lake Mirror Promenade was designed by New York architect Charles Leavitt and dedicated in 1928. It was the first public structure in Lakeland to be named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Lake Mirror Promenade was designed by New York architect Charles Leavitt and dedicated in 1928. It was the first public structure in Lakeland to be named to the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1901, the classic Craftsman bungalow at 319 Lake Avenue is one of Lakeland's cherished "Century Homes."

Built in 1901, the classic Craftsman bungalow at 319 Lake Avenue is one of Lakeland's cherished "Century Homes."

The iconic Southgate Shopping Center arch was built in 1957. Designed by architect Donovan Dean, it is 70 feet tall and includes 67 tons of steel. (Photo by Karen Moore Vintage Sign Photography)

The iconic Southgate Shopping Center arch was built in 1957. Designed by architect Donovan Dean, it is 70 feet tall and includes 67 tons of steel. (Photo by Karen Moore Vintage Sign Photography)


Historic Preservation

 

With a history going back to Florida’s pioneer days in the 1870s, the City of Lakeland is proud of its unique architectural and cultural heritage. Boasting the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings on the campus of Florida Southern College, as well as notable buildings and structures designed by Donovan Dean, Franklin O. Adams, Edward Columbus Hosford, and Charles Wellford Leavitt, Lakeland’s architectural history reflects a diversity of styles and character.

 

Established in 1980, Lakeland’s historic preservation program protects the irreplaceable architectural, cultural, and historical character of our community. Historic preservation maintains the integrity of the City’s historic districts and local landmarks and ensures that changes to these areas and structures are done in an architecturally appropriate manner that preserves their character. Long-term outcomes of this program have strengthened the local economy by attracting and stimulating private investment, creating new jobs, stabilizing and improving property values, and increasing heritage tourism opportunities. Lakeland was named a Certified Local Government by the National Park Service and Florida Division of Historic Resources in 1989, one of the oldest such designations in the state, which enables it to administer federal and state historic preservation programs. Within the City of Lakeland Land Development Code, Article 11: Historic Preservation Standards defines Lakeland’s historic preservation program.

 

The City of Lakeland has seven local historic districts, protecting more than 1,600 historic buildings and 13 individual landmarks. Historic designation is a means of identifying and classifying various sites, buildings, structures, and districts as historically and/or architecturally significant.


Historic Preservation Resources


Lake Morton Resurvey Kicks Off in October 2022

The resurvey of the East and South Lake Morton Historic Districts is starting soon! Historic preservation experts in neon vests will be doing field inspections from October 10-19.

The city received a $50,000 matching grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources (FDHR) to help fund Phase 1 of an expected three-phase project to resurvey all seven of Lakeland’s historic districts. The plan is as follows:

  • Phase 1 (FY 22) – East Lake Morton and South Lake Morton
  • Phase 2 (FY 24) – Dixieland and Downtown/Munn Park
  • Phase 3 (FY 26) – Beacon Hill, Biltmore-Cumberland, and Lake Hunter Terrace

Four firms responded to the city’s request for proposals for Phase 1. The City Commission approved awarding the contract to PaleoWest LLC, a cultural resources consulting firm based in St. Petersburg. Here is more information about the project:

  • What is the purpose of the survey?

    The goal of the survey is to identify structures that are historically significant and contribute to the character of the historic district. Contributing structures must be at least 50 years old and have a distinct architectural style that is authentic to the era in which it was built.

  • When will the survey begin?

    Phase 1 of the project (East and South Lake Morton) is expected to begin in October 2022 and take about four months. Surveyors will be in the field from Oct. 10-19.

  • How will the survey be conducted?

    A team of 2-3 credentialed surveyors in neon vests will do field inspections to evaluate all structures built before 1973. They will look at the architectural features, materials, and the impact of any modifications.

  • Will the surveyors come onto my property?

    No. Surveyors will take notes and pictures from the public right of way (road, sidewalk, alley). They will not access private property.

  • How many contributing structures are currently in the Lake Morton districts?

    There are currently 563 contributing structures in South Lake Morton and 170 in East Lake Morton. Here is the breakdown:

    South Lake Morton:

    • Total buildings: 1,079
    • Currently contributing: 563
    • Built 1943 to 1972: 108
    • Built 1973 to present: 98

     

    East Lake Morton

    • Total buildings: 439
    • Currently contributing: 170
    • Built 1941 to 1972: 93
    • Built 1973 to present: 58
  • Will all the previous contributing structures retain their status?

    Not necessarily. Neighborhoods sometimes lose historic homes to fires or other disasters. Homeowners sometimes make alterations that negatively impact historical integrity. The city expects that 3 to 5% of previously contributing properties may no longer meet historic standards.

  • Is the number of contributing structures likely to increase?

    Yes. When the initial survey of South Lake Morton was done in 1984, only structures built before 1942 were eligible for consideration. And when the initial survey of East Lake Morton was done in 1992, only structures built before 1940 were considered.

    There are more than 200 structures built in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s that may now meet contributing eligibility.

  • When will I find out if my home is a contributing historic structure or not?

    The final survey report is expected in April 2023.

  • What will change if my home is identified as “contributing”?

    Not much. Chances are, if your home is recognized as a contributing structure, it’s because you appreciate its history and have taken good care to maintain its original architectural features. The classification officially recognizes the historic qualities that you already value. All structures in historic districts, both contributing and non-contributing, are subject to design review. The only difference is that the Design Review Committee and its staff will want to ensure that future modifications are compatible not only with the district as a whole, but also consistent with the Design Guidelines for Historic Properties.

  • Do homes the survey team identifies as “contributing” automatically become designated, or is there another step?

    The consulting firm will complete a Florida Master Site File form for each property that qualifies for contributing status. These are bundled together and submitted to the Florida Division of Historical Resources. Both the National Register of Historic Places listing and the City’s local historic district designation ordinances for East and South Lake Morton will be updated, which will officially designate the new contributing buildings.

  • If my house is not identified as “contributing,” can I appeal the decision?

    No. You can contact Emily Foster at the City of Lakeland and ask what the surveyors noted about your address. Fortunately, all property owners in historic districts benefit equally from designation, regardless of an individual property’s status.

  • If my house is identified as “contributing,” can I decline the classification?

    No. The classification of buildings as contributing and non-contributing within a historic district is a technical responsibility of the Historic Preservation Board, which is delegated to credentialed, professional staff and consultants. Assigning these statuses without bias or an “opt-in/opt-out” from individual property owners ensures the full historic and architectural integrity of the district.



The Polk County Tax Collector's Office Lakeland Service Center is a celebration of art-deco style. It was built in 1953 as a Publix grocery store.

The Polk County Tax Collector's Office Lakeland Service Center is a celebration of art-deco style. It was built in 1953 as a Publix grocery store.

Lake Mirror Tower was originally built in 1926 as the New Florida Hotel. The eight-story structure was purchased by the City of Lakeland and renovated in 2004. It now has 76 apartments.

Lake Mirror Tower was originally built in 1926 as the New Florida Hotel. The eight-story structure was purchased by the City of Lakeland and renovated in 2004. It now has 76 apartments.

The Keslinger Antiques Complex on N. Kentucky Avenue has housed a number of businesses over the years before becoming part of the Lakeland Antiques District. It was built in 1925 and renovated in 1987.

The Keslinger Antiques Complex on N. Kentucky Avenue has housed a number of businesses over the years before becoming part of the Lakeland Antiques District. It was built in 1925 and renovated in 1987.