LuRae Hotel in Casselberry

The Lurae Tourist Court, known today as the Lu-Rae Motel, dates back to 1951. It is located at 3400 S US Hwy 17 92 in Casselberry, Florida.

A 1953 postcard boasts the motel’s amenities, which included a private beach on Lake Ellen, tiled baths, and unique panel ray heaters. These heaters, popular in the 40s and 50s, functioned like stoves and required ventilation while in use.

Howard Hamer opened the hotel with his wife Edith in 1951. The couple hailed from Lionville, Pennsylvania, and became active members of the Presbyterian Church after moving to Longwood, Florida, in 1950. The couple’s ownership of the Lurae was short-lived, lasting only a year before selling it to Paul C. Altman in 1952. Hamer later made an unsuccessful attempt to ban Sunday alcohol sales in Casselberry in 1953. He passed away in 1957.

Altman, a retired accountant and real estate broker, entered the political sphere in 1957 when he was elected to the Casselberry board of alderman. He defeated Hibbard Casselberry and eventually became chairman of the board. However, Altman was forced to resign in 1959 after moving outside the city limits. An interesting note is that Casselberry eventually went dry on Sundays in 1959, with Altman presiding over the vote. The Altmans later sold the Lurae to Milton Freeman around 1960.

The Lurae Motel still operates as a mom-and-pop style motel as of writing in 2024. The property is managed by Tracy Putnam, former president of the Longwood Historic Society. It stands as a testament to a bygone era, a time when small motels lined the highways. While the establishment has seen changes over the years, including the filling of its pool with dirt and grass, it remains a reminder of Casselberry’s past.

The scarcity of similar small motels along 17-92 today highlights the evolution of the hospitality industry. Just down the highway, the Lake Fairy Motel is still in business; however, the Lake Kathryn Motel (on the east side of 17-92) went under during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

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