Gingerbread House
This 4-ft. gingerbread house is on display in the lobby of the Fort Harrison Auditorium in Clearwater, Fla. Photo provided by the Church of Scientology.

It’s 11 stories tall, features a large, grand entrance and an electric train circles the property. But while you may not be able to walk through the front doors, you can eat them — the entire building is made of gingerbread, candy, and frosting.

It’s the annual gingerbread house at on display at Clearwater's The Fort Harrison in Clearwater, Fla., and it’s among the largest there is in Florida.

Nearly a month in the making, the gingerbread house is a scaled replica of the historic property, which now serves as the international religious retreat for the Church of Scientology.

The house was designed by Fort Harrison Chef Sharni Locatelli. It stands 4-feet tall in the lobby of the Fort Harrison Auditorium and was created with:

  • 185 pounds of gingerbread
  • 95 pounds of frosting
  •  2,000 plus pieces of candy
  • 1,652 individual gingerbread-cookie shingles that cap the roof.

An electric train circles the winter landscape setting, and non-native Florida wildlife, including polar bears and elk can be seen amongst another thing rarely seen in Florida – snow.

"Scientologists from all over the world will spend the holiday season at the Fort Harrison," says Church spokesperson Pat Harney. "The gingerbread house, 20-foot Christmas tree, and magnificent Christmas ornaments throughout the hotel make them feel at home."

It is believed that gingerbread was brought to Europe with the Crusaders. It was eventually popularized by the Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis (later Saint Gregory) and rapidly became a part of the Medieval European culinary tradition. Not only did ginger taste good, it also had properties that helped to preserve the cake in the days before refrigeration.

The gingerbread house will be the centerpiece of the annual Fort Harrison Holiday Brunch on Dec. 14, and more than 600 neighbors and friends are expected to attend.

Those interested in seeing the gingerbread Fort Harrison and holiday decorations should call (727) 467-6860 to set an appointment.