Scientology came to Clearwater 44 years ago today 'wearing a cloak of secrecy' - 2019-10-27
The following is one in a series of stories that won the then-St. Petersburg Times the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. In it, reporter Charles Stafford, who won the prize along with Bette Orsini, details how the Church of Scientology moved into Clearwater with big plans under a false name. The story, originally titled "Church entered Clearwater on path of deceit," was published on December 20, 1979.
The mystery began Oct. 27. The Fort Harrison Hotel was purchased by Southern Land Sales and Development Corp. for $2.3-million hard cash, and then a few days later the old Bank of Clearwater building for $550,000. For whom? And why?