What’s behind the metal gate at Lake Mirror, Florida?

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A retro view of the loggia, circa 1994 | Photo via Florida Memory

Have you ever walked around Lake Mirror and noticed a gated-off portion of the walkway? That mysterious feature has a name; it’s called a loggia.

Architecturally speaking, a loggia is an Italian word for “lodge,” which typically includes a covered section of a building, which runs the length of the structure, featuring exposed archwork or columns. Most commonly, these architectural features are found in Spain, Italy, and Greece.

Stateside, loggias are found in warmer cities (like Lakeland), and, while they typically adorn palatial architecture abroad, they tend to accompany residences here in the US. Lakeland’s loggia sits facing the Texas Cattle Company and is accompanied by metal gates, deterring wandering residents.

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The loggia, situated beneath the Summit Building | Photo via LALtoday

Part of the walkway connecting to the Frances Langford Promenade, the loggia was designed by New York landscape architect, Charles Wellford Leavitt, between 1926-and 1928. The promenade was named after Frances Langford and included in the City Beautiful Movement in Florida, as part of a civic center.

Modeled after Chicago’s Court of Honor, the structure is missing an obelisk, ticket booth, and an amphitheater to complete the feel of a civic center, but was eventually scrapped due to poor economic conditions. With the center left incomplete, rumors have swirled for years regarding the loggia. While its original intent was to be a stage, some residents think there’s more to it than that.

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1931 view of the promenade and the loggia | Photo via Florida Memory

Some of the local lore behind what the loggia holds (or once held) include:

  • Blinky the Alligator’s home
  • The passageway to secret underground tunnels
  • A lion’s den
  • Ghosts of Lakeland’s past

Today, curious visitors can partake in a historic tour of Lake Mirror, hosted by Stacy Smith. The tours occur on the fourth Tuesday of the month and must be reserved in advance. Event planners can also host events here, coordinated by the Terrace Hotel, via the Lakeland Parks & Rec Reservations & Rentals Office.

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