History of Laurel Park

case leftThis area houses the Golden Age Part 2 exhibit exploring the development of Laurel Park. With the coming of the train and the influx of new residents and many, many tourists, the Town of Laurel Park came into being as a popular place to live and to play. Tourists from the downtown inns would ride the “Dummy Line” rail car from Main Street out Fifth Avenue to Laurel Park to enjoy the lovely lakes and pavilions. They enjoyed swimming and boating in the daytime and dancing at night at Rainbow Lake and Rhododendron Lake (also called Laurel Lake). It would have been too bad to choose to be at Rainbow Lake and then find that other friends had chosen to go to Rhododendron Lake. And so it was that a canal was built to connect the two lakes. There was also a “counterbalance railway” that took sightseers to an observation tower up the mountain a bit for a panoramic view of Hendersonville and the surrounding area.

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It was during this era, in 1925, that Commodore J. Perry Stoltz, who had built the Miami Fleetwood Hotel, undertook the building of a Fleetwood Hotel at the top of the mountain near Jump-Off Rock. The framework rose to 13 of the intended 15-stories. But the Hendersonville Fleetwood was not to be. A hurricane that hampered Stoltz’s Miami hotel operation and a failing economy in general combined to doom the plans for the new hotel. The shell of the hotel was finally torn down in 1939. Many celebrities were drawn to the area, such as professional boxer Jack Dempsey. Dempsey was paid a sum of money to come for a month to train for his upcoming title fight aginst Gene Tunney. He stayed at the old Kentucky Home Hotel in downtown Hendersonville and trained in Laurel Park.