Built in 1910 and today the Florida Hotel, this historic building was once the Fernald-Laughton Memorial Hospital, which operated from 1919-1955. It was built as a home for George Fernald, a native of Boston and co-founder of a hardware company, and his family. After George passed away in 1919, his wife, whose maiden name was Laughton, decided to sell the house to the city so it could become a hospital. It became a boarding house hotel in 1955 and has essentially remained so ever since. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. During the 1980s, there was an effort to close the hotel because it tended to attract transients.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Sanford was a small but a thriving town. Railroads and riverboats were key drivers of the local economy. The railroads were also important in that they provided medical services beginning in the 1890s. This continued until 1904 when these were moved to Georgia. The closest medical facility was in Orlando, which was 20 miles away. Mrs. Fernald recognized this problem and decided to donate the house to the city. The building was expanded twice in the coming years and had a total of 30 beds. In 1945 the hospital’s facilities were moved to the Sanford Naval Base. The base closed in April of 1951 and the hospital facilities were moved back to 500 Oak in September and remained there until 1955.