In my previous post I wrote about the town of White Springs and the spring which gave it its name. I mentioned that in the town’s heyday it had fourteen luxury hotels, only one of which survives today. That surviving hotel is the Telford Hotel, and it is the subject of this post.
The Telford Hotel was built by WB Telford in 1902, and was the seventh hotel built in the town. In 1911, the town was ravaged by fire, which destroyed nearly all of the town’s luxury hotels. The number of hotels destroyed differs depending on which website I check; some say four remained while others say only two survived. Needless to say, the Telford Hotel was one of the survivors. Famous visitors to the hotel back in its prime allegedly included Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Howard Taft. As time passed, however, and the popularity of White Springs as a tourist destination began to dwindle, and the community became unable to support luxury hotels. The Telford changed hands numerous times over the years, most commonly operating as a bed and breakfast and/or restaurant.
Telford Hotel, ca 1903 (source)
Telford Hotel, ca1910 (source)
Telford Hotel. ca1903 (source)
Telford Hotel. 1974 (source)
Telford Hotel. 1978 (source)
As someone who grew up in north Florida, I have two distinct personal memories of the Telford. I’m not sure when I first visited White Springs, or even exactly when my first memory of visiting the town happened, but I certainly remember the event. My mother is a retired history professor, and although she was a stay-at-home-mom at the time of my first Telford memory, she possessed an MA in history. The Telford Hotel was open in one of its many modern day incarnations. The owner had hung portraits of all the US Presidents from Washington to whomever was President at the time (Reagan, I believe) in order around the hotel’s restaurant. He had a standing offer that if anyone could correctly name all of the presidents in order from memory, that person would receive a free meal. My mother, expert on all things historical and lover of all things free, was the first (and for all I know, only) person to take him up on his offer and receive a free meal. After we ate, he gave us a tour of the hotel’s facilities.
Several years later my parents and I returned to White Springs and decided to pop into the Telford on the off chance that my mom could score another free meal by naming all the presidents. Unfortunately for her, the hotel was under new ownership. I don’t recall if it was operating as either a hotel or a restaurant at the time, but what it was operating as was (of all things) an alien conspiracy radio station. I have always been fascinated by the concept of space aliens, and have loved reading science fiction from an early age. However, instead of being fascinated or excited, I remember this absolutely creeping me out. Unfortunately, I don’t remember too many details, other than a man telling us that there was a face on Mars constructed by aliens and the US government knew about it and was keeping it secret. This is such a weird thing to remember that I had actually begun thinking it was some sort of childhood fantasy.
I went down quite an internet rabbit hole researching this, and it turns out that I really can trust my memories. Apparently a fellow named Chuck Harder and his wife purchased the Telford sometime in the late 1980s to serve as the studios for the Sun Radio Network/Talk Star Radio and the production location for his show, “For the People.” Harder went off the air in 1996, although I do not know if he had continued to broadcast from the Telford up until that time or not. A fellow named Richard Hoagland was, for a time, the Science Advisor for Harder’s For the People. This is important because in 1987 Hoagland published a book entitled “Monuments on Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever” which was intended as fact, not fiction. He claimed that there was evidence of the remains of a civilization on Mars, including a giant monument in the shape of a face, pyramids, and the ruins of a city. (A defunct civilization on another planet? Talk about Desolation Travel!) There are even audio archives of Harder and Hoagland discussing various alien conspiracies. Apparently they also offered a TV version of For the People for a brief period; below I've added the introduction to the TV show, which features video of the hotel and the radio station. I do not, however, know when the footage was shot. (Warning: the tune will get stuck in your head.)
As I mentioned above, I don’t know exactly when Harder and his radio program left the Telford, but I do know that it was recently refurbished and operating as a restaurant and bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, the most recent incarnation of the Telford went out of business last year, and as of my visit to White Springs last month, it sat empty with a For Sale By Owner sign on the front door. The interior pictures shown below were taken from the Facebook page from its most recent period of operation, and were first posted online in 2014.
The following exterior photos of the Telford were taken by me
during my August 2016 visit to White Springs:
during my August 2016 visit to White Springs:
For more information on the Telford Hotel:
And on the off chance you want more information on Harder or Hoagland:
Spring is the best time of the season and one can really enjoy this by spending time on some good vacation destinations. Great post with wonderful pictures.ReplyDelete
You have a good point here!I totally agree with what you have said!!Thanks for sharing your views...hope more people will read this article!!! Hotel en cancúnReplyDelete
I was Chuck Harder's producer in White Springs Florida in the 90's.ReplyDelete
Chuck Harder passed away last week in Gainesville FL. He was 74.
Could you give me any further info about Chuck Harder 's passing?Delete
I used to listen to Chuck Harder on a small AM radio station near Pittsburgh,PA in the 1990s. He broadcasted from the historic Telfortdd Hotel and I remember this jingle very well! He was very informative on a variety of topics including slef reliance, solar energy and basic homesteading. He also talked about the degradation of America through "free trade" agreements, loss of manufacturing in America and tbe corruption of both major political parties. I learned much from him and sad to see the post above that he just passed away. I recently found a campground nearby White Springs but having been over 20 years since I listened to the show, it took a few days for me to remember why the town sounded so familiar. I finally realized I was right near the town where Chuck broadcast from! I got in my truck and made the very short drive to see the old hotel, from which one of my favorite broadcasters did his show.ReplyDelete
Sorry for typos, I should have previewed ;)Delete
Visited the Telford around 89-92, not sure exactly, but specifically to visit Chuck Harder and his operation on the way to central Florida. Always enjoyed his broadcasts, interesting topics and people. Got to meet him and he was very cordial. I ordered a radio that he sold over the airways. RIPDelete
I worked at the Telford Hotel when it housed the i.e. America Radio Network, which was owned by the United Auto Worker's Union. When I left the job in 2001 (if memory serves me correctly) the Union was moving the network up to Detroit, and Chuck Harder had somehow gotten the building back. I saw him there, wheel-chair bound, at that time. A year later, the i.e. America Radio Network went bankrupt and was shut down.ReplyDelete
If I remember Chuck was in litigation with the union and thought they were trying to steal the property. Sorry to hear he passed. He was from Northern Illinois and his father or grandfather was an industrialist.Delete
I too listened to Chuck Harder back in the 90s as a young man. His program was a refreshing change from celebrated bores like Rush L. Interesting guest and a message that was apparently ahead of it's time, but obvious to many of us. Drove by White Springs during a Thanksgiving trip to Saint Augustine. Was very sad to hear that Chuck had died. His death was ignored by the press and he will be forgotten when we all pass. Phonies and liars seem to always prevail in life. Will there ever be anyone like Chuck again?ReplyDelete
Not reading online reviews. Travel Accessorise The hotel also offers access to the Virgin Active Gym and there is a wellness centre on-site.ReplyDelete
Hello! Good stuff, please keep us posted when you post again something like that! Jurassic coastal toursReplyDelete
The nearby two Suwannee Springs Resort Hotel’s looked very similar. (They burned down a long time ago) The exterior walls were also made from brick and limestone. Same builder maybe? Thank you for the article.ReplyDelete
Wasn't Harder always against NAFTA and the maquiladores? He was like the only guy commenting on this, other than PerotReplyDelete
You are correct, and Perot's running mate in 96, Pat Choate, was once a business partner with Chuck.Delete
Yes Chuck was always warning Amreica about those terrible orgs. If I remember right, he even had a song about it on that was quite a good song. I listened to Chuck all through the late 80's and right through until he no longer had the radio program. I never missed his program. He was a great guy and HE, not Rush, led the way and was the pioneer of talk radio. He never has received the proper recognition for it all. I'm insulted by that ! They have kept Rush's show going re-running his comments. to this day. They treated Rush like a god, and totally ignored and forgotten the one man that really began it all - Chuck Harder.Delete
I once stayed at the historic telford inn and watched chuck harder do his show it was a neat experience.ReplyDelete
Love Chuck Harder's show, very unuque!!!ReplyDelete
I lived at the Telford Hotel for several months in the early 80’s. It must have been the previous owner. I’m pretty sure his name was Jim but can’t recall his last name. I worked in the restaurant while I lived there. It was such an awesome place! We always had packed weekends when various groups would stay while in the area. We had cross country bicycle groups, clogging dancers and so many interesting guests. I have great memories of my time there.ReplyDelete
I love seeing the pictures!! So nostalgic for me!!
I know of Richard Hoagland just through research over the past ten years. I find it fascinating that he was partnered with the beloved Chuck Harder and this radio broadcast! Thanks for sharing what happened after I moved away. I’ll have to see if I can find more on him and his show.
I was an avid listener of the For The People show and stopped briefly at the hotel one Sunday when driving home from South Florida. I saw the studio but the hotel was virtually empty on that Sunday afternoon. If memory serves me right, controlling interest in the show was purchased by the union mentioned above and their first act was to fire Chuck as the host. Turned out to be a political ploy to silence him. As others said, he was ahead of his time and led the effort to inform everyone about NAFTA even ahead of Perot. There are two or three videos of his show still on Youtube, and some other audio only files scattered here and there. I wish he was alive today to see what is going on. I miss his wisdom and insight.ReplyDelete
Hello my name is Joyce and I’m looking for the owner of the hotel. I have pictures i took that the owner would really like to see. If anyone knows who it is or can lead me in the direction to find the owner that would be awesome. I can be found on Facebook as Joyce Graziani Sola. Thank you in advance!ReplyDelete
Joyce, please let me know if you find the last owner. I’d like to contact them. Thanks, Craig ONeal firstname.lastname@example.orgDelete
Living in South Georgia (Waycross),we were avid "For the People/Chuck Harder" fans. My mother and I were always amazed how his stories and subjects would turn up on main stream media weeks or months later! RIP Chuck you are missed by overfly America.ReplyDelete