THE OFFICIAL RELOCATION GUIDE
THE CITY OF
CULTURE AND HERITAGE HISTORY n HOMES n HEALTH n ARTS n PARKS n DIRECTORIES
CHARLES CLAYTON CONSTRUCTION
A Rare Lakefront Opportunity In Winter Park CHARLES CLAYTON
NEW CONSTRUCTION ON LAKE MAITLAND I OPTION TO PURCHASE LOT OR BUILD CONSTRUCTION
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT CHARLIE CLAYTON AT 407-832-8725 or PAUL PISTULKA AT 407-341-4144
A LEGACY PROJECT ON
PARK AVENUE Park Hill Raises the Bar on Luxury at a One-of-a-Kind Location.
Hill Gray Seven LLC is offering perhaps the last opportunity to live in a new townhome in the heart of Winter Park’s world-famous shopping and dining district on Park Avenue. Presales are now underway for Park Hill, which will encompass 10 extraordinary, three-story townhomes at the southwest corner of North Park Avenue and Whipple Avenue, across the street from the Winter Park Country Club and Casa Feliz. Features will include:
3,300 to 4,300 square feet of living area Private elevators First-floor courtyards Covered rooftop terraces with summer kitchens Classically stylish architecture Magnificent detailing, unsurpassed craftsmanship Lush, maintenance-free landscaping
Enjoy life in the undisputed retail, dining, cultural and intellectual hub of Central Florida, in an exclusive project that can never be duplicated. Prices start at $2.79 million for the 3,300-square-foot units and $3.39 million for the 4,300-square-foot units, and there are only a few homes still available. So act now on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
For more information, please call Zoltan Kecskes of Fannie Hillman and Associates
Hill Gray Seven is a family owned company that develops high-end residential, retail, office, medical and industrial projects in more than 17 states. The company is a preferred developer to many national firms such as DaVita Dialysis, a Fortune 500 company.
Alice’s Pond at Mead Botanical Garden.
Randy Noles EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Theresa Swanson GROUP PUBLISHER/DIRECTOR OF SALES Jodi Heller DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION Kathy Byrd ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Dena Buoniconti ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE
CONTENTS FEATURES 16 | “LYRIC FLORIDA”
It’s no accident that Winter Park is such a beautiful and gracious city. Its founders planned it that way. By the Editors, photography courtesy of the Rollins College Department of Archives and Special Collections and the Winter Park History Museum 42 | IT REALLY IS THE CITY OF CULTURE AND HERITAGE
Winter Park is a feast for the eye and for the spirit, thanks to its abundance of museums and arts attractions. By the Editors, photography by Winter Park Pictures (winterparkpictures.com) 58 | GOING BACH
The revered German master would have loved Winter Park. By Randy Noles, photography by Rafael Tongol and courtesy of Rollins College
PHOTO BY WINTER PARK PICTURES/WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM
64 | WINTER PARK ON STAGE
Theater-loving Winter Park residents don’t have to go far to see a professional musical comedy or a top-notch college production. By Randy Noles, photography by Rafael Tongol and Winter Park Pictures (winterparkpictures.com) 68 | MR. ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD
The beloved icon of children’s TV attended Rollins College, where he was inspired to a life of service. By Jonathan Merritt, illustration by Don Sondag
70 | JUST FORE YOU
It’s a short drive to Winter Park’s legendary 9-hole golf course, which is inexorably linked to local history. By Dana S. Eagles, photography by Winter Park Pictures (winterparkpictures.com) 74 | WELLNESS WORLD
One-of-a-kind center offers a holistic approach to health. By Randy Noles 84 | AN URBAN OASIS
“Winter Park’s Natural Place” is more than pretty and peaceful. It’s also an important ecosystem. By Leslie K. Poole, photography by Rafael Tongol, Lawrence Taylor, Bobby Fokidis
Dana S. Eagles, Michael McLeod, Leslie K. Poole CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Winter Park Pictures/winterparkpictures.com Rafael Tongol, Bobby Fokidis CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Don Sondag, Chip Weston, Will Setzer/Circle 7 Design Studio CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATORS Marianne Popkins, Ned Popkins, Harry Wessel CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Special thanks to the Winter Park History Museum and the Department of Archives and Special Collections at Rollins College for additional images.
WINTER PARK PUBLISHING COMPANY LLC Randy Noles CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Allan E. Keen CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF MANAGERS Jane Hames VICE CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF MANAGERS Theresa Swanson VICE CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF MANAGERS Rick Walsh MEMBER, BOARD OF MANAGERS Michael Okaty, Esq. GENERAL COUNSEL, FOLEY & LARDNER LLP
DEPARTMENTS 6 | MAYOR’S WELCOME 8 | WINTER PARK CHAMBER WELCOME 10 | FAST FACTS 12 | DIRECTORY 14 | PARKS, PLAYGROUNDS AND GARDENS
COMMUNITY PARTNERS Larry and Joanne Adams; The Albertson Company, Ltd.; Richard O. Baldwin Jr.; Jim and Diana Barnes; Brad Blum; Ken and Ruth Bradley; John and Dede Caron; Bruce Douglas; Steve Goldman; Hal George; Michael Gonick; Micky Grindstaff; Sharon and Marc Hagle; Larry and Jane Hames; Eric and Diane Holm; Garry and Isis Jones; Allan E. and Linda S. Keen; Knob Hill Group (Rick and Trish Walsh, Jim and Beth DeSimone, Chris Schmidt); FAN Fund; Kevin and Jacqueline Maddron; Drew and Paula Madsen; Kenneth J. Meister; Ann Hicks Murrah; Jack Myers; Michael P. O’Donnell; Nicole and Mike Okaty; Bill and Jody Orosz; Martin and Ellen Prague; Serge and Kerri Rivera; Theresa Swanson, LLC; Sam and Heather Stark; Randall B. Robertson; George Sprinkel; Philip Tiedtke; Roger K. Thompson; Ed Timberlake; Harold and Libby Ward; Warren “Chip” Weston; Tom and Penny Yochum; and Victor and Jackie A. Zollo.
40 | PROUD AS A PEACOCK 56 | LIBRARY AND EVENTS CENTER 66 | ROLLINS COLLEGE GETS ANOTHER 4.0 92 | EVENTS 96 | EDUCATION GUIDE
ON THE COVER: Winter Park has a chain of six lakes all connected by narrow, man-made canals. The picturesque Venetian Canal connects lakes Osceola and Maitland. Photography by Winter Park Pictures/ winterparkpictures.com.
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Carolyn Edmunds ART DIRECTOR
Copyright 2019 by Winter Park Publishing Company LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Winter Park Publishing Company LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holder. Winter Park Magazine is published four times yearly by Winter Park Publishing Company LLC, 201 Canton Avenue, Suite 125B, Winter Park, FL 32789.
FOR GENERAL INFORMATION, CALL: 407-647-0225 For advertising information, call: Kathy Byrd, 407-399-7111; Theresa Swanson, 407-448-8414; or, Dena Buoniconti 407-832-9542
24/7 ONLINE SCHEDULING FOR MORE FAMILY TIME. ER VISITS • URGENT CARE • DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS Orlando Health makes it easier for you to schedule the care you need at a time that ﬁts your schedule. With anytime online scheduling, you’ll have more time to get into character and land the role of “World’s Best Dad.”
WELCOME TO WINTER PARK W
elcome! Whether you’re new to the area or relocating within the city, welcome to your new home in Winter Park! The City of Winter Park is well known for many things, including its firstclass shopping and dining experiences along Park Avenue, Hannibal Square, Orange Avenue and other areas. We’re also known for our beautiful chain of lakes, vast parks system, WP9 golf course, extensive tree canopy, popular spring and fall art festivals, Dinner on the Avenue and other exciting annual events. We’re proud to be the home of Rollins College, the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum and the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens as well as many other venues to keep you and your guests busy most any day of the year. As a resident, you’ll be pleased to know that we haven’t raised your millage rate since fiscal year 2009, and the city enjoys the third-lowest operating millage rate of any major municipality in Orange County. At the beginning of 2019 we held approximately 25 percent of our annual operating expenditures in reserve, so we have cash on hand in case of need. We’re very proud of our city and the high-quality services that we offer to residents, businesses and guests. I hope that we exceed your expectations as you live, work and play in the best city in Florida – Winter Park. For more information about Winter Park, please visit cityofwinterpark.org or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Nextdoor, Vimeo and YouTube. If I can be of service to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO BY RAFAEL TONGOL
STEVE LEARY Mayor, City of Winter Park
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lakeside living in Winter Park A secluded collection of new custom homes from the $800’s Tucked along the shores of springfed Lake Killarney, our inviting community blends a serene setting with the relaxed vitality of the Winter Park Village locale.
With increasingly few opportunities for new, custom homes in one of Florida’s most appealing cities, Lake Killarney Shores of Winter Park offers a remarkable location just two blocks from an extraordinary mix of dining, shopping, entertainment and services. Choose your lot today in one of Florida’s most sought-after locations.
9 lakefront lots • 21 additional homesites Community boat ramp with all-resident access
321.203.4740 | LakeKillarneyShores.com Country Club Drive | Winter Park, Florida 32789
EXCLUSIVELY OFFERED BY
CONVENING PEOPLE, IDEAS T
PHOTO BY RAFAEL TONGOL
he mission of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce is to convene people and ideas for the benefit of our businesses and community. Our main goal is to provide community leadership by bringing stakeholders together to inform and empower the business community. Year after year, our chamber hosts more than 110 events and programs that connect our member businesses to the community. Our team works with each business to match opportunities with the message, budget and timing that are an ideal fit for their organization. Our Leadership Winter Park program equips and mobilizes advanced-level leaders and community trustees for Winter Park and our region. It’s a must-do program for those eager to become involved in the decision-making process within the community, as well as for those who have a desire to enhance Winter Park’s quality of life and are already active in local civic or professional organizations. We also host a summertime Youth Leaders program — Central Florida’s premier leadership program for students entering their sophomore, junior or senior years in high school — designed to help participants develop new leadership skills and expose them to opportunities within our community. Our Relaunch: Career Reentry for Professional Women program — designed for women who want to build their resumé, confidence and network — is in its second year. Originally conceived as an eight-month curriculum that covers everything from how to get the most out of LinkedIn to building your personal brand, we now also offer an accelerated, one-week version: Relaunch Bootcamp. Our political advocacy platform continues to grow. This year, we gathered leaders in the arts and business communities to participate in a statewide meeting of arts-funding advocates in Tallahassee. We met with numerous Central Florida legislators to make them aware of the need for restored arts funding. As we made clear: Art Is Good Business. We also continue to monitor issues at the city and county level for our members. Finally, in the past year we continued our tourism outreach campaign, working closely with our Tourism Advisory Committee. We again attended the World Travel Market in London and watched as the world became even more interested in visiting our city’s worldclass museums, upscale boutiques, fine-dining restaurants and sidewalk cafes. The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce is proud to welcome guests, both domestic and international, to enjoy all that we have to offer. All these initiatives give us the capability to provide public relations, marketing and political advocacy for our members. Our staff is equipped with many years of collective experience living and working in Winter Park. We’re always excited to leverage those connections to create value and opportunities for our new and established chamber members. Winter Park is unique because it benefits from its adjacency to fast-growing Orlando while retaining its small-town charm and appeal. We know you’ll love Winter Park. And you can count on the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce to connect you to our community. For more information about the organization, including its upcoming events and opportunities, please visit winterpark.org.
BETSY GARDNER ECKBERT President/CEO, Winter Park Chamber of Commerce
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WINTER PARK FAST FACTS FOUNDED: 1881 FIRST NICKNAME: “CITY OF TREES” with the purchase of 600 acres for $13,000, as a winter getaway for Northern tycoons.
INCORPORATED: 1887 with a city council-mayor form of government and a population of about 600.
LOGO: PEACOCK DEMOGRAPHICS (2017): Persons under 18 years old, 18%; persons 65 years and older, 21%; white, 84%; black, 8%; Hispanic or Latino (regardless of race), 9%; Asian, 3%; two or more races, 2%.
TOTAL RETAIL SALES (2012):
ADOPTED BY THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN 1923.
“THE CITY OF CULTURE AND HERITAGE” ADOPTED BY THE CITY COMMISSION IN 2004.
8.68 5,555 SQUARE TOTAL MILES ACREAGE POPULATION (2017):
30, 1 32 $62,699
PHOTO BY WINTER PARK PICTURES/WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME (2016):
Up 8.0 percent from 2010.
MEDIAN VALUE OF OWNEROCCUPIED HOMES (2017):
$371,300 CITY COMMISSION MEETINGS:
Second and fourth Mondays of each month, 3:30 p.m.
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ELECTION DATES: Primary elections, second Tuesday in February (if necessary); general elections, second Tuesday in March. PERSONS (AGE 25-PLUS) WITH BACHELOR’S DEGREE OR HIGHER (2017):
PERSONS SPEAKING A LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH AT HOME (2017):
12.9 % PROPERTYTAX MILLAGE RATE (2017):
4.2638 ($4.26 in tax for every $1,000 in assessed property value).
TOTAL BUSINESS FIRMS (BOTH EMPLOYERS AND SOLE PROPRIETORSHIPS, 2017):
60.6% 22.3 MINUTES
MEAN TRAVEL TIME TO WORK (2015):
DIRECTORY n AdventHealth Winter Park: 200 N. Lakemont Ave.; administration, 407-646-7495; emergency department, 407-646-7320; patient information, 407-646-7001. n Bright House Networks (cable-TV services): 3767 All American Blvd., Orlando; 407-2912500. n CenturyLink (landline-phone utility): 151 S. New York Ave., 407-830-3115. n City Commission: City Hall, 401 S. Park Ave.; 407-599-3399; Mayor Steve Leary, 407-599-3234; Commissioner Greg Seidel, 407-599-3234; Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel, 407-599-3234; Commissioner Carolyn Cooper, 407-599-3234; Commissioner Todd Weaver, 407-599-3234. n City Manager: Randy B. Knight, 407-599-3235. n City Clerk: Cindy Bonham, 407-599-3277. n Building & Permitting Services Department: Director George Wiggins, 407-599-3237; automated inspection line, 407-599-3350; business certificates, permits and licenses, 407-599-3237; Keep Winter Park Beautiful, 407-599-3364; solid waste and recycling (Waste Pro), 407-774-0800. n Center for Health & Wellbeing: 2005 Mizell Ave., 407-644-9355. n Fire-Rescue Department: Chief Dan Hagedorn; 407-599-3297; emergency, 911; non-emergency, 407-644-1212.
TIFFANY at the
MORSE The Morse Museum houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, including his chapel interior from the 1893 Chicago world’s fair and art objects from his Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall.
n Parks & Recreation Department: Director Jason Sealy, 407-599-3334; Farmers’ Market, 200 W. New England Ave., 407-599-3358; Winter Park Tennis Center (privately managed), 1075 Azalea Lane, 407-599-3445; Winter Park Golf Course, 407-623-3339; Winter Park Community Center, 721 W. New England Ave., 407-599-3275; Azalea Lane Recreation Center, 1045 Azalea Lane, 407-599-3323; Lake Island Hall, 450 Harper St., 407-599-3341; Cemeteries Division, 407-599-3252. n Planning & Community Development Department: Director Bronce Stephenson, 407-599-3665. n Police Department: Chief Michael Deal; 407-599-3380; emergency, 911; nonemergency, 407-644-1313. n Public Works & Electric Utility Departments: Director Troy Attaway, 407-599-3233; power outages, 1-877-811-8700; utilities customer service, 407-599-3220, (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.); Lakes Division, 407-599-3599; Engineering inspection line, 407-599-3329. n U.S. Post Office: 300 N. New York Ave., 1-800-275-8777. n Water & Wastewater Utilities: Director David Zusi, 407-599-3233.
follow us on 445 north park avenue winter park, florida 32789 (407) 645-5311 morsemuseum.org
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n Winter Park Chamber of Commerce: President and CEO, Betsy Gardner Eckbert; 151 N. Lyman Ave., 407-644-8281. n Winter Park Public Library: 460 E. New England Ave., 407-623-3300. n Winter Park YMCA: 1201 N. Lakemont Ave., 407-644-1509.
CN O VNEVNEI N GE P A NI D D E IADS E A S CO N IGN P OE PO L EP LAEN D
W E ED O WHHAAT TWW D :O : C CO ON NVVEENNEE
bringing community and business leaders together through events & programs
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Agrowing C Tyour I Vbusiness A T through E our powerful digital marketing
growing your business through our powerful digital marketing 10,787 5,731 3,575 10,787 5,731 3,575
your business Cadvocating H A MforP IO N at the city and state government level
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822 Members Represented
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Strategic Connections Visibility ME M B E R B E N E F ITS Training & Resources Community Leadership
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CONTACT OUR MEMBERSHIP TEAM:
CONTACT OUR MEMBERSHIP TEAM: 151 West Lyman Avenue Winter Park, FL 32789
CONVENING PEOPLE AND IDEAS
PEACEFUL AND PLAYFUL PARKS AND GARDENS ARE IN PLAIN SIGHT AND TUCKED AWAY FROM IT ALL.
Winter Park boasts 11 major parks and 15 mini-parks, ranging from large, amenity-packed sites to cozy places tucked away in neighborhoods; from manicured showplaces to a vast botanical garden encompassing wetlands and other untamed natural areas. Here they are:
MAJOR PARKS CENTRAL PARK 251 South Park Avenue 407-599-3334 Known as the crown jewel of the city, this 11-acre park in the heart of the vibrant downtown shopping and dining district is the site of many popular annual events, including the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, the Autumn Art Festival and Christmas in the Park. But the beauty of its fountains, rose garden and oak tree canopy make any visit a special occasion. Wheelchair accessible, Wi-Fi enabled. DINKY DOCK Ollie Avenue 407-599-3397 This 1.6-acre park on the shore of Lake Virginia features two docks, boat ramps and a fishing pier. Swimming is also allowed. With grills and picnic tables, it’s an ideal spot for a whole day on the water. Wheelchair accessible. HOWELL BRANCH PRESERVE 1205 Howell Branch Road 407-599-3334 Surrounded by wetlands, this 10.4-acre park offers a boardwalk and observation deck perfect for nature lovers, as well as a fitness trail with exercise stations and a playground. There are also picnic tables and a rental pavilion. Wheelchair accessible. KRAFT AZALEA GARDEN 1365 Alabama Drive 407-599-3334 If Central Park is the city’s crown jewel, then this is its hidden gem. Sometimes referred to as the “secret garden,” this secluded and shady 5.2-acre park on the shore
of Lake Maitland features a grand exedra and even grander cypress trees as well as, of course, azaleas galore. Wheelchair accessible. LAKE BALDWIN PARK 2000 South Lakemont Avenue 407-599-3334 The whole family can romp and play along the sandy beach of Lake Baldwin — including Fido. This 23-acre park, known locally as “the dog park,” is the only one in the city where man’s best friend may be legally off-leash. A playground, picnic tables, dock and boat ramp complete the fun. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. PARK 1050 West Morse Boulevard 407-599-3334 With a magnificent castle-like playground, this park is certainly fit for a king (or a little prince or princess). The northeast corner is where The Canopy, the city’s new public library and events center, is being built. The park’s 23 acres also include a variety of sports facilities. Lake Mendsen, which features a fountain and a community-built bridge, also provides a tranquil walking path and spots for fishing. A smaller lake — more of a pond, really — known as Lake Rose was formed when a massive sinkhole opened in 1981 and swallowed a home and parts of several businesses along Fairbanks Avenue. Wheelchair accessible. MEAD BOTANICAL GARDEN 1300 South Denning Drive 407-599-3334 A wild, wonderful oasis, this 47.6acre park is known for abundant bird life, natural wetlands and lush
foliage. The greenhouse and butterfly garden have recently been revitalized, while the Discovery Barn and community garden encourage all ages to become involved. Boardwalks have been expanded and repaired, and two amphitheaters are available for concerts and special events. Wheelchair accessible. PHELPS PARK Phelps Avenue 407-599-3334 This 5.9-acre park offers a variety of facilities for all ages, including two large playgrounds, and basketball and tennis courts. With two rental pavilions, it’s especially suited to family get-togethers. Wheelchair accessible. SHADY PARK 721 West New England Avenue 407-599-3275 Located in historic Hannibal Square, next to the Winter Park Community Center, the park features a “spray play” water feature as well as benches and a walking path. Wheelchair accessible. WARD PARK AND CADY WAY Cady Way at Perth Lane 407-599-3334 or 2525 Cady Way, 407-599-3397 Bisected by the popular Cady Way Trail, this park offers a tranquil respite for trailblazers — as well as an abundance of athletic facilities across its 66-plus acres, including baseball/softball fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, a football/track stadium and an Olympic-sized pool. There are also two playgrounds, one of which is disabled-accessible. Wheelchair accessible.
MINI-PARKS Alberta Drive Mini Park, Alberta Drive; Alberta/Cortland Mini Park, Alberta Drive and Cortland Avenue; Alfred J Hanna Mini Park, Holt and French avenues; Bonnie Burn Mini Park, Bonnie Burn Circle; Fawcett Road Lakefront Mini Park, Fawcett Road; Hooper Mini Park, Orange and Orlando avenues; Jay Blanchard Mini Park, Aloma Avenue and Sylvan Drive; Lake Knowles Mini Park, Lake Knowles Circle; Lake Wilbar Mini Park, Wilbar Circle; Lasbury/ Maiden Mini Park, Lasbury Avenue and Maiden Lane; Orwin Manor Mini Park, Orange Avenue; Smiley Mini Park, Phelps Avenue; Sunset/Chestnut Mini Park, Sunset Drive and Chestnut Avenue; Tyree Lane Mini Park, Tyree Lane; Via Bella Mini Park, Via Bella.
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PHOTOS BY WINTER PARK PICTURES/WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM
PHOTOS BY WINTER PARK PICTURES (WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM)
Winter Park boasts an abundance of beautiful places for relaxation and recreation. Shown is the iconic exedra at Kraft Azalea Garden and (below) the fountain at the McKean Arboretum in Central Park on Park Avenue.
COURTESY OF ROLLINS COLLEGE
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FLORIDA’ It’s no accident that Winter Park is such a beautiful and gracious city. Its founders planned it that way. BY THE EDITORS
An aerial view of Winter Park from Lake Virginia, with the campus of Rollins College in the foreground, shows the city’s extraordinary and meticulously maintained beauty. LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
DIGITAL ART BY WILL SETZER/CIRCLE 7 DESIGN STUDIO (RAILROAD STATION) DIGITAL ART BY CHIP WESTON (GROVER)
Florida frontier towns like Winter Park owe their very existence to railroads, which in the 1880s offered vacationers and relocators relatively easy access to the state’s alluring but untamed interior. Trains also allowed local commerce to flourish, providing a means for growers to ship their citrus crops north. A train station of one kind or another has abutted Central Park, in the very heart of the city, since 1882.
The very earth is lyric With red hibiscus bloom; The flame-vine and azalea Are threads on beauty’s loom. The orange trees shed incense Along the common road, Then bow them down in worship Beneath their golden load.
dwin Osgood Grover, who rhapsodized so eloquently about Winter Park in the 1930s, was an acclaimed poet and professor of books at Rollins College. Like many Winter Parkers, his roots were in New England. Yet he fell in love with this sophisticated, subtropical paradise, where beauty, education and the arts were celebrated. Grover’s poem, “Lyric Florida,” vividly describes the area as it would have looked during his tenure at Rollins. But it also would have been accurate a half century earlier or a half century later. Winter Park remains lush with foliage and, at certain times and in certain places, the warm air still carries the scent of citrus. It is still a place where a professor and a poet can sip coffee at a sidewalk café alongside a developer, a stockbroker, an activist, an actor or an athlete.
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Founded as a getaway for Northeastern tycoons, today’s Winter Park is considerably more egalitarian than its developers probably expected or intended. Although a Winter Park address carries considerable panache, most residents are not enormously wealthy. The average household income, as of 2017, was $131,224 versus $67,510 for the state of Florida. It’s an impressive number, to be sure, but a neighboring Orange County community, Windermere, is far ahead at $179,000-plus. Money, however, is not the only measure of a community’s worth. Although Winter Park was advertised as a refuge for “men of means,” early promoters also envisioned a place that was enlightened, welcoming and, to use a more modern term, livable. In that regard, today’s Winter Park remains remarkably true to their vision.
PIONEER DAYS Prior to the 1850s, the area that would become Winter Park had few permanent settlers. A rough-and-tumble character named David Mizell Jr., large family in tow, arrived in 1858 from Alachua County, near Gainesville, and bought an 8-acre tract between present-day Lakes Virginia, Mizell and Berry, where he built a cabin and began farming and raising cattle. Mizell named his homestead, appropriately, Lake View, which was also adopted as the name of the fledgling settlement that formed around it. In 1870,
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3432 EDGEWATER DR. ORLANDO, FL 32804
COURTESY OF THE ROLLINS COLLEGE DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
The Seminole Hotel (above) opened in 1886 and was, at the time, the state’s largest hotel. Winter Park didn’t yet have a golf course, but the Seminole offered a driving range, as well as tennis courts and a bowling alley. There were two yachts, one of which launched on Lake Virginia and one on Lake Osceola. Two presidents — Grover Cleveland (1889) and Benjamin Harrison (1890) — were among the guests. The original hotel burned to the ground in 1902, and was replaced by a smaller (but no less posh) version in 1912. Loring A. Chase and Oliver Chapman (left) were the entrepreneurs who decided to develop the area into a resort community for “northern men of means.” A newspaper article called Chapman “cool, quiet, level-headed and judicial in his makeup, but once his mind is made up, he never relaxes his grip until his end is accomplished.” Chase, however, was described as “a rustler, quick to grasp, vigorous to act and relentless in his efforts.”
DIGITAL ART BY CHIP WESTON
Lake View got a post office and a new name, Osceola, in honor of the Seminole warrior who had died in American captivity more than 30 years earlier. In the late 1860s, Mizell was elected to the Orange County Commission and the state Legislature. His eldest son, also named David, was appointed Orange County sheriff, while another son, John, was an Orange County Court judge. The legendary sheriff, who was killed in 1870 while trying to settle a dispute over the sale of two cows, is buried in a small family plot just beyond the entrance to what is now the Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens in Orlando. Father and son are often confused in local histories, but it is the elder Mizell who was arguably Winter Park’s earliest non-native pioneer. A few years later, Wilson Phelps of Chicago visited the area and was entranced by its thick woods and shimmering lakes. In 1874 he bought a sizable tract, including a large part of the Mizell homestead, and began selling lots to fellow Chicagoans.
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IN THE SOUTH
For more than 20 years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Rollins among the top two regional universities in the South and first in Florida.
NO. 1 REGIONAL UNIVERSITY IN THE SOUTH U.S. News & World Report (2006–2014, 2016)
NO. 1 COLLEGE IN FLORIDA
College Consensus (2017–2018)
NO. 1 MOST BEAUTIFUL COLLEGE CAMPUS The Princeton Review (2015–2016)
NO. 1 MBA PROGRAM IN FLORIDA Forbes (2017)
NO. 1 IN LEADERSHIP AND ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS HR.com (2016–2019)
NO. 1 HOTEL IN FLORIDA—THE ALFOND INN AT ROLLINS
Condé Nast Traveler (2015–2017)
Winter Park • Orlando, Florida | rollins.edu
The following year, Phelps built his own home, a rambling cracker farmhouse in the midst of a 60-acre orange grove hugging the shores of Lake Osceola. Interestingly, part of the Phelps home survives as a wing of the Queen Anne-style Comstock-Harris House, otherwise known as Eastbank, which was built in 1883 by William Comstock, a wealthy grain merchant who also hailed from the Windy City. Eastbank is today the city’s oldest home, and one of only three listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In a region that was supposed to be below the frost line, two ruinous freezes — in December of 1894 and February of 1895 — brought temperatures that set historic lows, wiping out citrus groves and devastating the economy. The Winter Park Company felt the sting. It defaulted on loan payments to the estate of Francis Bangs Knowles, who had been the company’s largest shareholder, and surrendered roughly 1,200 lots to satisfy the debt. But by 1914, the citrus industry had come back and Winter Park had its own citrus packing house (facing page).
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The land was beautiful and, in his opinion, would continue to rise in value. Their confidence bolstered, the entrepreneurial New Englanders officially named their holdings Winter Park — a logical decision, since they felt that the words “winter” and “park” would be appealing to potential relocators — and quickly had the land surveyed, platted and mapped. Chapman and Chase clearly made an effective team. A newspaper article from 1886 called Chapman “cool, quiet, level-headed and judicial in his makeup, but once his mind is made up, he never relaxes his grip until his end is accomplished.” Chase, on the other hand, was described as “a rustler, quick to grasp, vigorous to act and relentless in his efforts.”
MASTERFUL PLANNING The two promoters, unlike some others touting Florida real estate deals, were genuinely passionate about creating a special place. The town plan, designed by civil engineer Samuel Robinson, included a central park fronted by lots for commercial buildings as well as tracts for schools, hotels and churches. Curved streets radiated out from the town center. Remarkably, Winter Park today looks very much like the original town plan envisioned that it would. Indeed, Robinson’s work could serve as a template for present-day planners responsible for so-called New Urbanist communities such as Baldwin Park and Celebration. There is, however, one key difference. Establishing a precedent for segregation that would endure for generations, the plan designated a west side tract, dubbed Hannibal Square, for African-Americans. After all, “men of means” would need a labor force to work in their groves, homes and hotels. So, 38 small residential lots were made available to “Negro families of good character.” In fact, Winter Park was a relatively enlightened place, particularly for the Deep South. Many of its early boosters, well-educated Northeastern Republicans, would have held views on race relations that were liberal for the time. In the aftermath of Reconstruction, given the limited options open to them, many displaced former slaves considered it an attractive place to live and work. Chase, especially, strongly advocated education for all races and was outspoken in his belief that African-Americans should be active participants in local government. In 1890, during dedication ceremonies for a school in Hannibal Square, he delivered a speech that would have sounded just as timely during the civil rights movement of the next century. “Knowledge is power,” Chase thundered. “Get knowledge and you shall command the respect of those who would count you out. Then you may stand erect, though your skin may be black, and say, ‘I, too, am a free, intelligent citizen with a thought of my own in my head and a ballot in my hand and I demand recognition and a voice in the management of affairs.’” In the meantime, the marketing campaign orchestrated by Chase and Chapman was working. Winter Park’s population grew from about a dozen scattered families in 1881 to more than 600 people by 1884. The first commercial building, a railroad passenger depot, was completed early in 1882, followed by the town’s first hotel, the Rogers House, located on Interlachen Avenue. Park Avenue’s first commercial building came next. The two-story structure, which is still standing at the corner of Park Avenue and Morse Boulevard, housed the Pioneer Store, with John Ergood and Robert White as proprietors. The second floor of the general-merchandise emporium was used for social
COURTESY OF THE WINTER PARK HISTORY MUSEUM, COLLECTION OF RICK FRAZEE
The 1880s were pivotal years and saw the reshaping of a haphazard frontier settlement into what today would be called a master-planned community. A major catalyst was completion in 1880 of the South Florida Railroad, which connected Orlando with Sanford and continued through to Tampa. The effort to snare the state’s first post-Civil War rail line was led by developer Edward Henck, one of Longwood’s first settlers and a tireless advocate of the town’s growth. The project was bankrolled by R.M. Pulsifer of Pulsifer & Company, owner of the Boston Herald, whom Henck had personally solicited for support. But it was not Longwood that fired the imagination of Loring Chase, a New Hampshire native who was raised in Massachusetts and lived in Chicago. Harsh winters did not agree with the hard-working real estate broker, whose doctors had advised him to seek a warmer climate to alleviate his chronic respiratory problems. Chase, who first visited the area in February 1881, was particularly smitten by the land surrounding lakes Osceola and Virginia. “Never will the delightful impression of that first visit be obliterated from my mind,” he recalled in a speech 10 years later. “Before me lay these beautiful rolling plains, covered everywhere by majestic pines, forming, not an impenetrable forest but a vast grove through which we could drive our team at will.” The land, although beautiful, was basically wilderness. “Save two faint streaks of iron, over which a box car went slowly once a day between Sanford and Orlando, and a rude platform and two or three windowless cabins of the original homesteaders, no sign of civilization greeted the eye,” Chase recalled. Still, once a real estate man, always a real estate man. Where some saw wilderness, Chase saw a winter resort for wealthy Northerners. “The idea of a town … on this delightful spot took full possession of me,” he said. Chase believed his boyhood friend, Oliver Chapman, would be an ideal partner in such a venture. Chapman, a Massachusetts-born importer of luxury goods, had moved to Florida in 1880 and lived in Sorrento, a small settlement in what is now Lake County. The pair met in Sanford and set out to visit the property, which was then owned by B.R. Swoope, superintendent of the South Florida Railroad. Chapman, like Chase, recognized an opportunity when he saw it. By July 1881 they had formed a company — called, appropriately, Chapman & Chase — which bought 600 acres between present-day lakes Maitland, Virginia, Killarney and Osceola. The cost: $13,000, the equivalent of about $290,000 today. Then, while in the vicinity, they sought validation from none other than Phelps, who had already enjoyed success marketing the area to out-of-staters. Phelps, who undoubtedly saw in Chapman and Chase an opportunity to increase the value of his own investments, could hardly have been more enthusiastic and encouraging. He claimed that, prior to relocating to Central Florida, he was “nearly dead with bronchitis of 30 years standing” as a consequence of living in New York, Ohio and Illinois. In a four-page, handwritten letter dated August 12, 1881, Phelps raved about “the beneficial effects of this climate” and even offered to provide the names of other residents, including Comstock, his neighbor, who would confirm his statements about the area’s health benefits. A one-man chamber of commerce, Phelps, then an energetic 59 years old, also provided Chapman and Chase with an almanac of information, including average year-round temperatures. He described the soil as well-suited for growing citrus, noting that Central Florida was “below the frost line.”
LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RKâ€ƒ
COURTESY OF THE ROLLINS COLLEGE DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
When the General Congregational Association of Florida announced plans to found a college somewhere in Florida, competition among cities was intense. An article in the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, at the time the state’s largest city, suggested that it was a bad idea “to locate colleges in out-of-the-way places, and in sparsely settled communities.” Nonetheless, Winter Park won — and the inaugural class in 1885 met in the First Congregational Church until campus buildings were constructed the following year.
functions, church meetings and civic gatherings. Consequently, locals soon began referring to the first-floor general mercantile store as Ergood & White and to the building in its entirety as Ergood’s Hall. Shortly thereafter, downtown Winter Park encompassed a bakery, a watchmaker, a saw mill, a wagon factory, an ice house and a combination livery stable and blacksmith shop. Judge Lewis H. Lawrence, a wealthy boot and shoe manufacturer from Utica, New York, sent the first telegraph message from Winter Park on January 1, 1883, to his friend, President Chester A. Arthur. It read, “Happy New Year. First message from office opened here today. No North. No South.” Prominent people began making the trek southward to visit their wealthy friends. One was President Arthur, who visited Lawrence and declared Winter Park to be “the prettiest spot I have seen in Florida.” He had said essentially the same thing about Sanford the day before, but the sentiments likely were sincere. Some stayed and made more enduring civic contributions. Minneapolis businessman Frederick Lyman, who retired to Winter Park in 1882, led the effort to found what is now the First Congregational Church of Winter Park. Congregationalism is a progressive denomination whose New England roots appealed to Winter Park’s substantial Northern contingent. The church’s first pastor, Dr. Edward Hooker, arrived from Massachusetts in 1883 and quickly mobilized an influential flock. Led by Lyman and Hooker, funds were raised to build a sanctuary, the town’s first, on New England Avenue in 1885. Congregationalists, who consider education to be as much a part of their mission as spreading the gospel, founded some of the first colleges in the
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U.S., including Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth. Adhering to that tradition, the Winter Park church and its members, many of whom were driven by both financial and altruistic motives, acted quickly to bring an institution of higher learning, the first in Florida, to their small but ambitious town.
AN EDUCATED GAMBLE The opportunity came in 1884, when the General Congregational Association of Florida met, prophetically, in Winter Park. Among those pushing for a church-related college in Central Florida was a remarkable woman named Lucy Cross, an Oberlin College graduate who lived in Daytona and founded the Daytona Institute for Young Women in 1880. Cross discussed her notion with the Rev. C.M. Bingham, a Congregationalist minister in Daytona. At the assembly, Bingham presented a paper written by Cross on the formation of a college “for the education of the South, in the South.” In it, Cross posed a challenge disguised as a question: “I ask you gentleman to discuss thoroughly the question, ‘Shall an effort be made to found a college in Florida?’” In response, delegates asked Hooker to prepare a report on education in Florida, to be presented at the 1885 annual meeting in Mount Dora. Hooker, who had been appalled at the crudeness and ignorance he had encountered in Central Florida and worried about the role the church should play in “building a wholesome order” in the area, took his assignment seriously. The paper, read by Hooker at the subsequent association meeting in January 1885, was entitled “The Mission of Congregationalism in Florida.” He began by
ey Smithsummarizing Barneywhatishevery grateful to be located on called “Congregationalism’s mission of Christian education.” Then he directly and forcefully addressed the issue Cross had raised. ue in beautiful Winter Park. That’s why our office No area of the nation, Hooker insisted, was more in need of a college. t the publication of this unique Mr. Europeans had arrived in Florida 50 yearsletter before thefrom Plymouth settlement, he noted. Why, then, should Florida be so far behind New England? ich was written in 1881 to Loring Chase and Oliver Hooker also argued that the growth and prosperity of Florida depended entrepreneurs dreamed of Businesspeople developing just as much who on education as agriculture. from the other parts of the country would not invest in Florida if there were no educational opommunity. portunities for their children, he warned. Spurred to action Hooker’s presentation, the association as an early settler of by what was then known asadopted Os- a resolution agreeing with its premise and appointing a committee of five ovided Chase and Chapman with an outline of for the members, including Hooker and Lyman, to receive “inducements” the location ofeven a college.more Those inducements, it was determined, would be unbut, perhaps importantly, he also gave veiled and evaluated at a special meeting in April. ement they needed insolicited orderoffers tofrom move forward. In the Church leaders then civic leaders who wanted institution in their towns. Among the respondents: Mount Dora, Daytona d that this letter, reproduced for the first time in its Beach, Jacksonville, Orange City and Winter Park, where the indefatigable Park’s true Lymanfounding was already harddocument. at work raising funds. The competition was fierce. An article in the Florida Times-Union in Jackey Smithsonville, Barney is a global leader in wealth manat the time the state’s largest city, suggested that it was a bad idea locate colleges inrange out-of-the-way places, and in sparsely settled commug access“toto a wide of products and services nities.” Perhaps, but Winter Parkers knew that their town would not be an inesses “out-of-the-way and institutions, including brokerage and place” for long, and that a college would boost its profile and its prestige immeasurably. ry services, financial and wealth planning, credit When the association reconvened, it reviewed the five proposals. Lyman’s management, annuities and insurance, retireand Hooker’s membership on the committee worked and to Winter Park’s advantage; they arranged to have their proposal presented last, so they could vices. gauge the strength of the other inducements. ffice employs 58 licensed Financial and Mount Dora offered cash, lumber and land in aAdvisors package valued at $35,564. Jacksonville and Daytona offered $13,000 and $11,500, respectively, along members. We are committed to providing the finwith tracts of land for a campus. Orange City committed about $25,000. Lyman would later write: one proposal after another was read, it became e best-in-class advice to“Asour clients, helping them evident to me … that [the] other towns were hopelessly outdistanced, and I eir mostwas challenging goals. correspondingly elated but managed to maintain a calm exterior, perhaps even to assume an aspect of which was misleading,” do in Winter Park does gloom, not stay within the walls Winter Park’s offer, which encompassed stock, land and cash in a package valemployees are actively involved in$50,000 localof charities ued at $114,180, shocked its competitors. Some that amount was pledged by Alonzo Rollins, a Maine native who made his fortune in Chicago nizations. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney encourselling dyes to woolen mills before retiring to Winter Park for health reasons. oyees to give back annually the Competitors howled that Winter to Park’s Lakecharity Virginia siteof was their basically a swamp, prompting delegates to visit and see for themselves before making ough financial donations but also through their a final decision. Three days later, after judging the land to be high and dry, the association to accept Winter Park’s offer and toin appoint charter are dedicated to voted being deeply involved the21comtrustees. Shortly thereafter, the trustees adopted a constitution and bylaws e live and and work. named the institution for its primary benefactor. Hooker, as he had likelyAvenue, hoped, was appointed the first of Rollur location at 250 Park where wepresident occupy ins College. Cross, who had presented Daytona’s case before the association, y renovated floors. Weofinvite you tothe come becamesixth known as “The Mother Rollins,” and today college’sby Lucy Cross Center for Women and Their Allies keeps her name at the forefront s and consult with one of our Financial Advisors in a way that surely would have pleased her. an Stanley Smith cannever help you achieve Rollins himself,Barney who ironically earned a college degree, attended two annual meetings of the Board of Trustees before he died in 1887. s IT OFFICIAL ard to a MAKING mutually rewarding relationship with Lyman, not content to rest on his laurels, quickly set his sights on another ne and the CityHeofapproached Winter Park. opportunity. Chase and offered to buy his holdings through a combination of cash and stock in a new entity, the Winter Park Company. Chase, who had bought out the ailing Chapman in 1885 for $40,000, agreed. Shareholders in the new Winter Park Company included prominent citizens whose names will still be familiar to anyone who drives regularly along the city’s streets: In addition to Lyman, Chase and Rollins, partners included
k Office of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
nue, Floors 5 and 6, Winter Park, FL 32789
This promotional brochure, distributed in the Northeast by Chapman & Chase, touts Winter Park’s many charms, not the least of which was the year-round temperate weather. The town plan, designed by civil engineer Samuel Robinson, included a central park fronted by lots for commercial buildings as well as tracts for schools, hotels and churches. Curved streets radiated out from the town center.
This promotional brochure, distributed in the Northeast by Chapman & Chase, touts Winter Park’s many charms. But it probably was not any more effective than the LI VI N G IN WIN Tmade ER PA RK the 25 Wilson Phelps letter, which first case for developing the area.
COURTESY OF THE WINTER PARK HISTORY MUSEUM
ADE WINTER PARK HISTORY
COURTESY OF THE WINTER PARK HISTORY MUSEUM
Northern newspapers were enchanted with Winter Park, describing it in an 1886 story headlined as “A Bright New England Town in Central Florida.” An unnamed New York Times reporter described Winter Park as “one of the neatest, cleanest and prettiest towns in Florida, with street after street lined with handsome, modern cottages and larger homes.” It’s lost to history what was happening to draw such a crowd in this circa-1880s photo of Park Avenue.
F.G. Webster, William Comstock, J.F. Welbourne and Franklin Fairbanks. Among the company’s powers were laying out roads, buying and building hotels and “the sole and exclusive right to build, equip, maintain and operate a street railway or railways.” One of its first acts was to borrow $150,000 from Francis Knowles, a retired Massachusetts industrialist, to build the 400-room Seminole Hotel, a luxurious resort between lakes Osceola and Virginia boasting steam heat and private bathrooms. The hotel, which was the largest in the state when it opened in 1886, was served by two yachts — the Alice, which launched on Lake Osceola, and the Fanny Knowles, which launched on Lake Virginia. Guests could listen to an orchestra, use the bowling alley or play tennis and croquet. Fishing on the surrounding lakes was also a popular pastime. The Winter Park Company also built a mule-drawn streetcar line, known as the Seminole Hotel Horse Car, along New England Avenue west to the railroad depot. That first winter season, there were more than 2,300 registered guests. President Grover Cleveland visited in 1889 followed in 1890 by President Benjamin Harrison. Northern newspapers were taking notice. In an 1896 dispatch headlined “A Bright New England Town in Central Florida,” an unnamed New York Times reporter described Winter Park as “one of the neatest, cleanest and
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prettiest towns in Florida, with street after street lined with handsome, modern cottages and larger homes.” The scribe, who stayed at the Seminole Hotel and was accorded red-carpet treatment during his visit, took special pains to mention that Winter Park’s homes were painted, unlike those in other Florida cities “where the use of paint is apparently totally unknown.” As a growing cadre of moneyed Northerners built homes and opened businesses, Hannibal Square was becoming a vibrant community in its own right. Assisted by the white Congregationalists, a black Congregational church was built in 1884. Methodist and Baptist Missionary churches followed. There was also an elementary school and a bustling commercial district. One prominent African-American entrepreneur, Gus Henderson, moved to Winter Park from Lake City in 1886 and founded the South Florida Colored Printing & Publishing Company. He became involved in Winter Park civic affairs, founded a weekly newspaper called The Winter Park Advocate and encouraged his friends and neighbors to support the Winter Park Company’s newly announced plans to incorporate. Nearly everyone thought that incorporation was a wise step. The issue became mired in controversy primarily because some white residents opposed having Hannibal Square included in the town limits. An article in Lochmede, another Winter Park newspaper, noted that there was considerable conster-
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Park Avenue was, is and always will be the vibrant heart of Winter Park. In fact, as these images demonstrate, the city’s signature street looks much the same today as it did in the 1920s and 1950s. A few buildings even date from the turn of the last century or earlier. Consequently, the entire Downtown Winter Park Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.
lando and Winter Park took about a half-hour and cost 15 cents. The two engines were known as the “Tea Pot” and the “Coffee Pot,” and the train itself was the “Little Wiggle.” Cute and quirky though it was, the Dinky Line’s popularity waned as roads were improved and automobiles proliferated, although it managed to hang on until the last tracks were removed in 1969. Today, the site of the Dinky Line’s depot is a public park and swimming and fishing pier on Lake Virginia known as Dinky Dock. As the 1880s drew to a close, Winter Park had attracted 250 families and 600 residents, many of them seasonal, from 29 states and five foreign countries. The Massachusetts and Illinois contingents were the largest, but New York and Georgia were also well represented. According to an 1889 promotional brochure for the Seminole Hotel, occupations of those residents included “lawyers, judges, army and navy officers, civil engineers, college professors, journalists, physicians, ministers, manufacturers, bishops, merchants, bankers, millionaires, etc.” There would, however, soon be a winnowing of millionaires.
COLD AND COLDER In a region that was supposed to be below the frost line, two freezes hit in consecutive years, 1894 and 1895. The first was damaging but the second was ruinous, wiping out citrus groves and devastating the economy. During the second freeze, temperatures dipped to the coldest ever recorded up to that time. Sap froze inside tree trunks, splitting many of them open with pops sounding like gunshots. Even the financial wizards who comprised the Winter Park Company were not immune. After defaulting on loan payments to the estate of Knowles, who had died in 1890, they were forced to transfer ownership of roughly 1,200 lots to satisfy the debt. Adding insult to injury, the Seminole Hotel, which had been financed by a loan from Knowles, burned to the ground in 1902. Enter Charles Hosmer Morse, a Chicago industrialist and recent widower who enjoyed passing icy winters ensconced at the Seminole Hotel. In 1904 Morse bought the Knowles estate’s vast holdings — plus 200 acres that encompassed half of the Mizell homestead — for roughly $10,000, the equivalent of about $250,000 today. That fateful transaction was colorfully recalled by H.A. “Harley” Ward at a 1954 dinner commemorating his retirement from the Winter Park Land Company, which Morse formed to purchase the Knowles properties. Ward was working at the Pioneer Store, which sold real estate as well as provisions. Here’s how he told the story of perhaps the most important business deal in Winter Park’s history: “Well, as I had said, Mr. Morse came into the store and asked if I had the sale of the Knowles estate property. I said, ‘That’s correct. Would you like to buy a lot?’ And we talked a little, and he said, ‘What will they take for the whole shebang?’ That’s the way he expressed it. It like to have knocked me down.” Ward blurted out “the low price they’d given me” and Morse said he’d take it under one condition: “Provided you can get released from your present work here and take charge of the property for me.” After all, Morse noted, his primary home was still in Chicago, and he’d need year-round local management. So Morse — along with his son, Charles H. Morse Jr. (who lived full time in Chicago) and Ward — became the original directors of the Winter Park Land Company. Suddenly, one very rich
COURTESY OF THE WINTER PARK HISTORY MUSEUM
nation over the idea of “residents who did not own land — and who were primarily black — levying taxes upon landowning residents from which they themselves would be exempt.” Some Hannibal Square residents did indeed rent land from the Winter Park Company, which also employed them as laborers. Others, however, were homeowners and taxpayers. Henderson argued that it made no difference. Every registered voter had a right to be heard on this important issue. Further complicating matters, local Democrats feared that the inclusion of Hannibal Square and its solidly Republican voting bloc would skew the balance of political power. In fact, at the time there were more black voters (64) than white voters (47) in Winter Park. Surely the idea of AfricanAmericans holding a voting majority was unsettling to some, even in a community where racial harmony generally prevailed. On the afternoon of September 10, 1887, only 57 registered voters — mostly white — showed up at Ergood’s Hall for a meeting to decide on incorporation. A quorum, however, required a minimum of 73 attendees. Only five more registered voters could be rounded up for a second meeting later that evening. Because no action could be taken, another meeting was called for October 12. Why had black voters stayed away? Winter Park businessman J.C. Stovin, a native of England who favored incorporation but opposed including Hannibal Square, had convinced many west side residents that incorporation was a ruse to make them pay high taxes and lay bricks on city streets. Henderson and others went to work, going door to door and pleading with their friends and neighbors to exercise their rights as free citizens and attend the next incorporation meeting. It was certainly pointed out that the principals of the Winter Park Company, particularly Chase, had treated blacks fairly, and should expect their support in return. A curfew forbade blacks from crossing the railroad tracks that divided east from west after nightfall. But on the evening of October 12, Henderson led a group of black registered voters from Hannibal Square directly to Ergood’s Hall. Some accounts — likely exaggerated — claim that a band and children waving banners accompanied the west side delegation. In any case, a quorum was achieved and incorporation — with Hannibal Square included — was approved by a vote of 71 to 2. In addition, two black men, Walter B. Simpson and Frank R. Israel, were elected aldermen. They were the first, and the last, black elected officials in Winter Park. White, of Ergood & White, was elected as the first mayor. The union of Hannibal Square and the Town of Winter Park was to be temporary, however. In 1893, Comstock led an effort by Democrats to remove the west side neighborhood from the town limits. Although Winter Park officials refused to change the boundaries, the Florida Legislature did so over their opposition. “It is, in my opinion, a scheme originated by those who desire to run the town government and feel that their only chance is to take out the mass of the colored voters,” said a letter writer to the Advocate. Hannibal Square was not a part of incorporated Winter Park again until 1925, when local leaders sought to change its status from town (fewer than 300 registered voters) to city (300 or more registered voters). Immediately upon the heels of incorporation, the Town Improvement Association, later renamed the Winter Park Village Improvement Association and ultimately the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, was organized with the goals of planting trees, repairing sidewalks, maintaining parks and encouraging residents to be sociable. Also in the active 1880s, a reading circle of nine women led by Hooker’s wife, Elizabeth, began an effort to establish the Winter Park Circulating Library Association. The small collection of books was placed in the home of a reading circle member until the library got its own facility, on an Interlachen Avenue site donated by the Knowles estate, in 1902. In 1889, J. Harry Abbott debuted the Orlando-Winter Park Railroad, more commonly referred to as the Dinky Line, a nickname sometimes given to short-haul rail operations. The bumpy, smoky 6-mile trip between Or-
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COURTESY OF THE WINTER PARK HISTORY MUSEUM
Mead Botanical Garden opened on January 15, 1940, in a formal ceremony that included local dignitaries and elected officials. Edwin Osgood Grover, the professor of books at Rollins College, masterminded the project with student Jack Connery. The pair laid out a grand vision for the project of unspoiled natural areas, ornamental plots, greenhouses for exotic plants and even aquariums. The tranquil urban oasis is today billed as “Winter Park’s Natural Place.”
Chicagoan owned half the town. Clearly, had Morse been a less enlightened person, Winter Park would likely be a very different place today. Fortunately for future generations, however, the Vermont native was a visionary who insisted that enhancing Winter Park was far more important than profiting from it. He quickly strengthened his personal connection to the town by remodeling and expanding a home at the corner of Interlachen and Lincoln avenues and using it as his personal winter residence. Under Morse’s supervision, the aptly named Osceola Lodge was transformed into a textbook example of Craftsman-style architecture and filled with custom Mission Oak furniture, walls of books and an array of rustic Indian artifacts. From this cozy and comforting setting, Morse supervised development of his properties and quietly supported community causes. Osceola Lodge still stands, and is today headquarters for the Winter Park Institute, a Rollins-affiliated organization that sponsors seminars, lectures, readings, classes and discussions with prominent scholars and thought leaders in an array of fields. The home and the adjacent Knowles Cottage serves as a study center for scholars-in-residence — a use that the urbane Morse would have appreciated. In 1906 Morse deeded the land that is now Central Park to the town, but only so long as it was open to the public and not developed. He helped form the Winter Park Country Club and, for $1 a year, leased the organization land on which to build a clubhouse and golf course. The recently renovated course, now owned and operated by the city, is still in use today. Morse also donated an Interlachen Avenue site on which the Woman’s Club of Winter Park built its headquarters. He paved roads, funded a citrus
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packing house, gave property to churches and even provided start-up capital for a second Seminole Hotel. He funded numerous civic improvements out of his own pocket, anonymously paying for construction of a town hall in 1916 and for years routinely covering operating deficits as a member of the Rollins Board of Trustees. Morse, who retired and moved to Winter Park permanently in 1915, also personally selected who could buy lots. He refused to sell to speculators, for example, explaining in no uncertain terms that he would do the speculating in Winter Park. Only people who planned to build homes could buy lots. And, of course, the homes had to be of acceptable quality. The city’s benevolent autocrat also recruited potential residents whom he admired, among them novelist Irving Bacheller (Eben Holder: A Tale of the North Country and D’ri and I had been among his bestsellers.) “Now, Mr. Ward, I’ve got to get Irving Bacheller to come down here,” he told his manager in 1918. “He’ll be a real asset to Winter Park, and I want you to land him no matter what you have to do.” Bacheller, though, drove a hard bargain. Morse ended up taking the author’s Connecticut farm in trade and loaning him the money to buy a large lakefront tract on the Isle of Sicily, where he built a handsome Asian-style home he dubbed Gate O’ the Isles. “I think Bacheller missed his calling,” Morse grumbled to Ward. “He should have been a horse trader.” But Bacheller did, indeed, prove to be a great asset — in ways that Morse couldn’t have predicted. In 1925, as chairman of the search committee for a new Rollins president, he pursued a progressive New York magazine editor who had published his poetry. At the author’s behest, Hamilton Holt took
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COURTESY OF THE WINTER PARK HISTORY MUSEUM
In 1882, John Ergood and Robert White opened Winter Park’s first general merchandise store, which was variously known as Ergood & White and the Pioneer Store. The building, located at Park Avenue and Morse Boulevard, still stands, although the business changed hands several times and in 1900 moved to Park and Wellbourne avenues. In 1921, the Pioneer Store was bought by Girard Denning, a former mayor, postmaster and fire chief. Eight years later, Denning held a grand re-opening sale at another new location, 230 South Park Avenue. The Pioneer Store moniker was dropped in 1935 by Roy Hough, who bought the business and changed the name to Hough’s Food Store, which quietly closed its doors in the 1940s. Denning would go on to serve a second stint as postmaster, from 1934 until his retirement in 1954. This photograph was probably taken in the early 1920s and the subjects are unidentified.
the job — and turned Rollins into a nationally acclaimed institution. Morse died in 1921, at Osceola Lodge, secure in the knowledge that his investment had been a wise one in every way possible. In 1937, Morse’s sonin-law, Richard Genius, built a vacation home on the Genius property. It was first dubbed Casa Genius, but later renamed Wind Song. (Genius’ wife and Morse’s daughter, Elizabeth Morse Genius, had died in 1928.) Jeannette Genius McKean, daughter of Richard and Elizabeth, moved there with her husband, Hugh McKean, in 1951. The McKeans brought with them the now-iconic peacocks, the descendants of which still preen noisily around the estate and the adjoining neighborhood. Today the Morse name is on Morse Boulevard and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, which was founded by Jeannette and Hugh. It wasn’t until 1986 that a memorial was erected in Central Park commemorating Morse’s contributions to the city he was instrumental in shaping. The two-sided brick structure, designed by legendary architect James Gamble Rogers II, is impressive. But Morse, “the most modest man I ever knew,” according to Ward, would undoubtedly have considered the thriving, culturally rich city that Winter Park has become to be the only monument to his memory that really mattered.
A NEW CENTURY By the early 1900s, Winter Park’s founders were either dead or in their final years. Many of them ended up in the Palm Cemetery, resting beneath
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ground on West Webster Avenue donated by none other than Chase, the man without whom there might not have been a Winter Park. The cemetery, which was for whites only when it opened in 1906, is notable for the fact that golfers on the adjacent municipal course must sometimes hit errant shots from around tombstones. Pineywood Cemetery had been established in 1890 for black residents. Both are now operated by the city of Winter Park. In 1908, Jerry and Mary Trovillion and their 16-year-old son, Ray, arrived in Winter Park from Harrisburg, Illinois, where Jerry, a medical doctor, had operated a sanitorium. The couple bought Maxon’s Drug Store, located in Ergood’s Hall, and renamed the business Trovillion’s Pharmacy. The mercantile store founded by Ergood and White, now owned by William Schultz Jr., had moved in 1900 to Park Avenue and Morse Boulevard. The Trovillions prospered. Jerry installed a modern soda fountain in the pharmacy and began assembling an impressive portfolio of investment property. High-spirited Ray, meanwhile, tried to acclimate himself to living in what he found to be a rather stuffy community with an absurdly rigid code of behavior. In a 1978 interview with the Winter Park Sun-Herald, the 86-year-old raconteur recalled running afoul of the law by playing horseshoes with friends near the railroad depot. “Up rides our little town marshal on his big bay horse to inform us that we were under arrest … for pitching horseshoes on Sunday,” he said. “It was
rough in those days. No golf or fishing on Sundays. Another law was you couldn’t buy gasoline or kerosene after dark.” In 1912, a second Seminole Hotel was built at the foot of Webster Avenue. With 82 rooms, it was smaller than the original, but still attracted a discerning clientele. Among them: President Calvin Coolidge, who appears to have been characteristically silent about his Winter Park sojourn. The hotel stood until 1970, when it was demolished, and homes were built along what is today Kiwi Circle. Also in 1912, brothers B.A. and Carl Galloway were awarded a franchise for the Winter Park Telephone Exchange. In 1913, there were a total of 35 operating telephones in Winter Park and Maitland, and phone rates were $1 per month. The First Baptist Church of Winter Park was founded in 1913, and a new railroad depot opened along the west side of the tracks facing Morse Boulevard. In 1915, the fire department bought a fire wagon pulled by a single horse. The horse lost its job the following year, replaced by a motorized vehicle. The Woman’s Club was organized in 1915, and the building that the club still uses was completed in 1920. The red-brick Winter Park Grade School, later known as Park Avenue Elementary School, opened in 1916 at the southeast corner of Park Avenue South and Lyman Avenue. Initially there were 150 students in 11 grades. Twelfth-graders attended classes at the Rollins Academy until the school was expanded several years later. The building was bought by Rollins in 1961 and used for the college’s continuing education programs until 1988, when it was razed despite emotional appeals from former students and local history buffs. Today the 400 block of Park Avenue encompasses a Mediterranean-style office and retail complex. A plaque installed by Rollins is the only indication that a school ever stood on the site. By the early 1900s, the citrus industry was finally recovering from the catastrophic freezes of the 1890s. Just as growers were regaining their footing, one Winter Park rookie found himself in possession of a history-making tree that produced a different sort of fruit and attracted worldwide notice. In 1910, while New Yorkers John and Mary Hakes were vacationing in Winter Park, John became fascinated with the area’s citrus groves and resolved, to his wife’s chagrin, to invest in a 17-acre tract of orange and grapefruit trees. Their son, Louis, and his wife, Ethel, later relocated from New York to Winter Park to manage the business. Although neither had any experience growing citrus — Louis had worked in a real estate office and Ethel had been a schoolteacher — the couple made the grove a success. In 1915, Louis noticed that one particular tree produced a different sort of fruit, its color more deep, its pulp more tender and its flavor more exotic. He took one of the curious, sunset-colored orbs to William Chase Temple, a onetime Pittsburgh steel magnate who was now a Winter Park citrus grower and president of the Florida Citrus Exchange. Temple, recognizing that the fruit was unique and potentially valuable, advised Louis to send a box to D.C. Gillett, owner of the Buckeye Nursery in Tampa and, in Temple’s opinion, the best citrus man in the business. Gillett examined the fruit and concluded that it was likely a hybrid of an orange and a tangerine. He also recognized its commercial potential and rushed to Winter Park, where he made a deal with the Hakes family to secure exclusive rights to all the budwood from the parent tree. His nursery would then grow and sell new trees, for which the Hakes family would receive a $2 per tree royalty for three years. The savvy Gillett also applied for and received a patent for the fruit, which he proposed naming the Hakes orange. Louis and Ethel demurred, and Temple suggested that it be called “the Winter Park Hybrid.” Ultimately, The Florida Grower magazine recommended that it be named for Temple, who first recognized its potential. As the Temple orange became popular nationwide, the tree from which it sprang became something of a
tourist attraction, prompting the Hakeses to erect a wire fence around it. But who came up with the idea of crossing an orange and a tangerine? Surely the Winter Park tree, from which millions of others have descended, could not have been the first and only one like it. Tangors, a comparable hybrid, were being grown in the West Indies at the time, and some historians believe that a Florida fruit buyer sent a tangor seedling to Oviedo friends in 1896. About 1900, Allan Mosely, a caretaker in Winter Park, may have obtained budwood from one of those friends, J.H. King. Mosely, then, may have grafted the budwood onto a tree in the grove owned by John Wyeth, who would later sell the property to Hakes. But this is impossible to document with certainty. At the time the Temple orange was patented, Dr. David Fairchild, head of the Bureau of Plant Introductions in Washington, D.C., had definite ideas: “This tree is undoubtedly an accidental hybrid,” he declared. In 1920, Winter Park’s population topped 1,000 for the first time — it would top 4,000 just five years later — and city officials adopted the slogan “City of Homes” as its municipal motto. But the big news two years later was about a hotel, when Ohioans Joseph and Anna Kronenberger completed the 80-room Alabama Hotel on the south side of Lake Maitland. The Alabama changed hands several times and was finally closed in 1979. But in its heyday, it hosted such luminaries as authors Margaret Mitchell and Thornton Wilder and conductor Leopold Stokowski. Today, the impressive old building is a luxury condominium complex. Mediterranean Revival-style Winter Park High School, “the most complete and architecturally perfect school buildings to be found anywhere in the state, according to an article in Winter Park Post, was built in 1923 on Huntington Avenue. The school remained in that location until 1969, when the present campus, on Summerfield Road, was completed. The original campus remains in use as the Winter Park High School Ninth Grade Center. Also in 1923, Austrian-born hotelier Max Kramer opened the 50-room Hamilton Hotel on Park Avenue South. The building, with balconies overlooking Park Avenue and Central Park, replaced a circa-1880s frame office built by the Winter Park Company. Today, it’s the Park Plaza Hotel, a boutique property that charms visitors with its elegant, wood-paneled lobby and posh, antique-furnished rooms. Rollins began getting national attention during the 24-year presidency of Hamilton Holt, which got underway in 1925. Holt’s innovative teaching method, dubbed the Conference Plan, discouraged the rigid classroom lecture format and encouraged student-teacher interaction. Holt, a Brooklyn native who published a liberal magazine called The Independent in New York from 1897 to 1921, made many changes during his long tenure and forever altered the look of the New England-flavored campus by adding 23 buildings in the now-familiar Spanish Mediterranean architectural style. In 1926, Holt and Grover — the previously mentioned professor of books — created the Animated Magazine, a live program in a magazine format that brought speakers on a variety of topics to the college every February. Drawing on his contacts, Holt was able to attract such diverse figures as actress Mary Pickford, novelist Faith Baldwin and RCA Chairman David Sarnoff. Holt served as editor in chief for the Animated Magazine, often sitting on stage with a giant pencil and eraser to “edit” verbose presenters. During the 1930s, the University Club was organized as well as the Hannibal Square Library. Mead Botanical Garden, named for renowned horticulturalist and Oviedo resident Theodore Mead, was also opened. Its amphitheater, completed in 1959, remains a favorite venue for weddings, concerts and other special events. In 1932, the Annie Russell Theatre was built on the Rollins campus in honor of popular stage actress Annie Russell, who had retired to Winter Park in 1918 and had become a professor of theater arts at the college. Construction was made possible by a $135,000 donation from Russell’s friend Mary Louise Bok, a patron of the arts and wife of Ladies Home Journal LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
COURTESY OF THE WINTER PARK HISTORY MUSEUM
The city’s signature event, the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, debuted in 1960. The idea appears to have originated with Darwin Nichols, an artist and owner of Park Avenue’s Barbizon restaurant, and his friends and fellow artists Don Sill and Bob Anderson. Community activist Jean Oliphant headed a planning group, and funds were raised from Park Avenue merchants. This image appeared on the cover of the 1960 Winter Park telephone directory.
editor Edward Bok. The first performance at the new theater, directed by Russell, was Romeo and Juliet. The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park was founded in 1935 by Isabelle Sprague-Smith, a former New York artist and school principal, who was the president and driving force behind the organization until her death in 1950. The future of the festival was in doubt until John Tiedtke, a Rollins vice president and the first dean of the college’s graduate programs, stepped in to serve as chairman of the board of trustees, a position he held until his death in 2004. During the Great Depression, Winter Park benefited from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s various recovery programs. For example, workers from the Federal Emergency Relief Administration widened and deepened the canals connecting Winter Park’s lakes. Still, hundreds of properties went into foreclosure during the depths of the downturn. The Bank of Winter Park and the Winter Park Building and Loan Association closed, while the Union State Bank transferred its assets to the newly organized Florida Bank at Winter Park. In 1932, the city defaulted on $134,000 in bonds and interest, slashing its budget to remain solvent. As the economy began to improve, activity in Winter Park picked up. Between 1940 and 1950, the population increased nearly 75 percent, to more than 8,000 people. Many of them saw the latest movies at the 850-seat Colony Theater, which opened on Park Avenue in 1940. During World War II, matinees at the Colony cost 39 cents and evening shows cost 44 cents. Although the theater closed in 1975 and was converted to
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retail use, the iconic Art Deco sign has been preserved as a delightfully gaudy reminder of a simpler time. Like communities across the country, Winter Park supported the war effort in numerous ways. A variety of relief groups were organized, and Rollins offered courses in War Problems, Literature and Psychology of Propaganda, and Radio Communications. In 1945, architect James Gamble Rogers II was hired by developer Raymond Greene, who would be elected mayor in 1953, to design a fashionable retail complex on Park Avenue South. The result, Greeneda Court, set the stage for the European ambience that would come to define Park Avenue in the decades to come.
MODERN TIMES As World War II drew to a close, the Showalter brothers, Howard and Sandy, along with their cousin, Ford “Buck” Rogers, opened the Showalter Airpark on 100 acres south of Oviedo Road (now Aloma Avenue) and west of present-day S.R. 436. The land had been part of the golf course at the long-defunct Aloma Country Club. For the trio, building an upscale airpark where flying lessons and charter flights could be offered was the fulfillment of a longstanding dream. The Showalter family later opened similar airparks in Sanford and Orlando, where Showalter Flying Service is still in operation at what is now the Orlando Executive Airport.
J. Cheney Mason, P.A.
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VISIT OUR WINTER PARK SALES GALLERY AT 233 WEST PARK AVENUE Sotheby’s International Realty® and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered service marks used with permission. Each office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity. Property information herein is derived from various sources including, but not limited to, county records and multiple listing services, and may include approximations. All information is deemed accurate. *Source: MFRMLS. Sales volume based upon sales from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018.
COURTESY OF THE WINTER PARK HISTORY MUSEUM
When the Winter Park Mall opened in 1964, it was the largest climate-controlled mall in the Southeast. Although the 400,000-square-foot complex was damaged by fire in 1969, it was repaired and continued to thrive until the 1980s. Most of the structure was razed in the late 1990s to make room for Winter Park Village, a sprawling retail and restaurant development with residential lofts. This photograph was taken in the mid-1960s.
The final Winter Park landing took place in 1963 and real estate developers bought the airpark property, which today encompasses the Winter Park Village Apartments and much of the Winter Park Pines subdivision. Also on the site is Showalter Field, where Winter Park High School plays its home football games, and Ward and Cady Way parks, which feature softball fields, tennis courts, a playground and a swimming pool operated by the YMCA. Winter Park’s stature as an upscale retail mecca was bolstered in 1948 with the arrival of Eve Proctor Morrill, a former fashion buyer for major department stores in Philadelphia. Morrill enlivened Park Avenue with The Proctor Shops, one offering sporting goods and the other offering stylish women’s attire. She also championed beautification projects for Winter Park’s quaint but still sleepy downtown, where shop hours were sometimes erratic, and more than a few merchants closed for the summer. The Proctor Shops were sold in 1972 and later became Jacobson’s, a popular department store. But Proctor stayed active for decades to come, buying and selling property and raising funds for her favorite causes, including the Florida Symphony Orchestra and PESO (Participation Enriches Science, Music and Art Organizations), an advocacy group that she helped form. The city honored Morrill with an “Eve Proctor Morrill Day’’ in 1985, during which a garden and plaque in Central Park were unveiled. The plaque is inscribed with lines from a poem by Logan Morrill, her late husband: “Love quietly and greatly. Seek immortality in those around you where we live eternally. In each day’s striving justify the lives we might have lived.’’
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One of the most significant milestones in the city’s history occurred in 1955 with the opening of Winter Park Memorial Hospital, built on a portion of the long-defunct Aloma Country Club golf course. Today the stateof-the-art facility is part of a group of private hospitals owned and operated by AdventHealth Systems. In 1956, Robert Langford opened the thoroughly modern Langford Hotel on East New England Avenue, giving Winter Park its first resort-style getaway. The 82-room Langford, which remained a favorite for locals and visitors until its closing in 2000, hosted an eclectic assortment of VIPs, including Lillian Gish, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mamie Eisenhower, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, George McGovern, Charlton Heston, Louis Rukeyser and Ronald and Nancy Reagan, who spent their 25th wedding anniversary there. Langford, who died the year the hotel ceased operation, was one of the first eight inductees into the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame, along with such luminaries as Walt Disney, Dick Pope, founder of Cypress Gardens, and Henry Flagler, whose Florida East Coast Railway opened South Florida for tourism and development. In the late 1950s, Winter Parkers came together to fight a proposed Interstate 4 route that would have paralleled Orange Avenue and then crossed U.S. Highway 17-92 before it turned north toward Maitland. This route would have destroyed the motels lining the east side of 17-92 from Fairbanks Avenue to Lee Road — colloquially known as the Million Dollar Mile — and would have sliced through property where locals hoped a shopping mall would be built. In addition, many residents feared that an
interstate highway so nearby would impact the city’s tranquility. Winter Park voters strongly rejected the proposed route in a 1958 referendum, much to the consternation of some Orlando movers and shakers, such as William H. “Billy” Dial, executive vice president of First National Bank and a major proponent of the route. In a letter to Winter Park Mayor J. Lynn Pflug, Dial wrote that interstate highways should be built “not on the basis of popular vote or referenda, but on traffic and engineering standards by qualified persons with consideration for the needs of the traveling public, the effect the location might have on existing businesses and residents and by the accessibility of the facility to those who, in their daily lives, require its use.” Greene, the former mayor and developer of Greeneda Court, is credited with effectively scuttling the proposal by persuading the Florida Cabinet to approve construction of the Dan T. McCarty State Office Building — now site of the CNL Heritage Park office complex at the corner of Morse Boulevard and Denning Drive — directly in the interstate’s proposed path. A second route was also scuttled before a third, well to the west, was chosen and approved in 1963. The city’s signature event, the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, debuted in 1960. The idea appears to have originated with Darwin Nichols, an artist and owner of Park Avenue’s Barbizon restaurant, and his friends and fellow artists Don Sill and Bob Anderson. Community activist Jean Oliphant headed a planning group, and funds were raised from Park Avenue merchants. In early February 1960, the Orlando Evening Star announced the venture with the headline: “Date Set for ‘Arty’ Park Ave. Three Days of Bohemia.” Less than a month after the idea was casually proposed among three friends at the Barbizon, the inaugural show was held in Central Park and attracted 90 exhibitors. Today, around 225 artists participate, and some 300,000 people view the displays, listen to live jazz and nosh festival food. With its population now topping 17,000, Winter Park attracted more retail development beyond Park Avenue. The Winter Park Mall, with 400,000 square feet under roof, opened in 1964 and was at the time the largest climatecontrolled mall in the Southeast. The complex was damaged by a major fire in 1969 but was repaired and continued to thrive until the 1980s. The final stores in the mall closed in the late 1990s, and most of the low-slung white structure was razed to make room for Winter Park Village, a sprawling retail and restaurant development with residential lofts. But a generation of Winter Parkers recall buying their school clothes at J. C. Penney and Ivey’s, the two major anchors, and the latest batch of Marvel Comics at Mall News. Winter Park was not entirely untouched by the turbulent 1960s, although it was hardly a hotbed of discontent. Hordes of young people with no apparent political purpose began gathering in Central Park, much to the dismay of Park Avenue merchants, who said they were scaring the customers. And in 1970 about 200 Rollins students protested the war in Vietnam by marching from the campus to the McCarty State Office Building, where the Selective Service offices were located. In 1981, a new attraction opened — literally — when a huge sinkhole began to form in the front yard of Mae Rose Owens, who looked outside the window of her house on West Comstock Street and saw a sycamore tree disappear as if it were being pulled underground by its roots. Owens, who soon realized that a crater was forming in her front yard, packed some belongings and quickly left with her family. Within a few hours, the structure had vanished. To the north, the city swimming pool cracked, and its deep end crumbled and disappeared. The hole expanded eastward, swallowing part of Denning Drive, and southward, creeping uncomfortably close to the back walls of several buildings along Fairbanks Avenue. There were no injuries, although five Porsches and a travel trailer behind German Car Service were devoured. City Planner Jeff Briggs, recalling the scene years later to a reporter from the Orlando Sentinel, said, “Where else
do you get to see Porches in a sinkhole except Winter Park?” No one knew how big the hole would get, and no one knew how to stop it from getting bigger. Within a few days, however, the ground appeared to stabilize, and onlookers could only marvel at how, in such a densely developed urban area, the abyss had formed only on land that was largely vacant. In the coming days, a circus atmosphere developed as vendors sold food, T-shirts and other souvenirs. One Fairbanks Avenue business charged admission to view the gaping maw, which measured 335 feet wide and 110 feet deep, from a rear balcony. Adding to the absurdity, a pawnbroker sued Winter Park for unfair competition after the city began selling sinkhole photos from a tent, which was set up as a shelter for security police, while refusing to issue him a permit to operate a similar enterprise nearby. Local geotechnical engineer Jim Jammal described the phenomenon, which garnered national news coverage, as “the largest sinkhole event witnessed by man as a result of natural geological reasons or conditions.” Today, it’s simply Lake Rose. In the 1980s, Winter Park became synonymous with the so-called quality revolution when Philip Crosby, an author and a retired ITT executive, opened the Quality College in offices on New England Avenue and later Morse Boulevard. For more than a decade, the college hosted as many as 6,000 corporate executives from around the U.S. for weeklong seminars on quality management. Quality College attendees filled rooms at the Mount Vernon Inn on U.S. Highway 17-92 — the only hotel in the city large enough to accommodate them all — and dined in a different Park Avenue restaurant every day. The economic impact on local businesses was tremendous. But more important, the Quality College regularly showcased Winter Park to captive audiences of influential movers and shakers.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED In recent years, as it approached its 125th anniversary, Winter Park has seemed even more cognizant of its heritage. Because the city is largely built out, its population inched up only slightly, from 24,000 to 27,000, between 2000 and 2010. Unlike most Central Florida cities, it is less concerned with growth than with preservation and enhancement. In 2007, the Hannibal Square Heritage Center opened to honor the history and culture of the neighborhood, where the business district has been redeveloped to encompass trendy restaurants and upscale boutiques. The center was founded by the Crealdé School of Art in partnership with the City of Winter Park. And in 2011 the entire Downtown Winter Park Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2016, through a yearlong visioning process that involved hundreds of local residents, a Visioning Steering Committee produced a document meant to identify priorities and to establish an overarching direction that elected officials should consider when establishing policy. Four major themes emerged: n Cherish and sustain Winter Park’s extraordinary quality of life. n Plan our growth through a collaborative process that protects our city’s timeless scale and character. n Enhance the Winter Park brand through a flourishing community of arts and culture. n Build and embrace our local institutions for lifelong learning and future generations. Would Chapman, Chase and other Winter Park founders be pleased with how their city has developed? Almost certainly, they would be impressed at how today’s Winter Park has adhered to their original vision of a beautiful, peaceful, culturally sophisticated community. Late in life, Chapman wrote: “Starting Winter Park was probably the most important event in my life.” Important to a lot of us, Mr. Chapman. LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
PROUD AS A
COURTESY OF THE ROLLINS COLLEGE ARCHIVES (JEANNETTE MCKEAN) WINTER PARK PICTURES/WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM (PEACOCK)
Why does a peacock adorn the City of Winter Park’s logo? It all goes back to Hugh F. McKean (1908-1995) and Jeannette Genius McKean (1909–1989). Hugh — artist, educator, collector and writer — was the 10th president of Rollins College, serving from 1951 through 1969. He then became the college’s chancellor and chairman of its board of trustees. In 1945, while still an art professor at the college, he married Jeannette (above), granddaughter of Charles Hosmer Morse, the Chicago industrialist and philanthropist who helped to shape modern Winter Park. Both McKeans were lovers of nature and cultivated a preserve filled with peacocks around Wind Song, the lakefront estate that Jeannette inherited from her father, Richard Genius. Genius Drive, the dirt road leading through the preserve and to the estate, was open to the public until the 1990s. The property, now owned by the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation and dubbed the Genius Preserve, encompasses the city’s largest remaining orange grove and several structures, including the unoccupied but carefully maintained family home. And it’s still bustling with preening (and noisy) peafowl descended from those the McKeans unleashed in 1950. In 2004, Winter Park officially adopted the peacock as its symbol, along with the tagline “The City of Culture and Heritage.”
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Winter Park is a feast for the eye and for the spirit, thanks to its abundance of museums and arts attractions.
The Cornell Fine Arts Museum, located on the campus of Rollins College, boasts the region’s only “encyclopedic” collection. For example, it’s the only museum in Central Florida to own works by Europe’s Old Masters.
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It really is the city of
CULTURE HERITAGE and
PHOTO BY WINTER PARK PICTURES/WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM
BY THE EDITORS
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ny walk that starts on Park Avenue is a good walk. No need for a guidebook to figure that out — all it takes is a firm grasp of the obvious. Bookended by a tidy golf course and a picturesque college campus, with an engaging array of coffeehouses, upscale shops, wine bars, al fresco eateries and a well-curried park in between, the heart of Winter Park is a what’s-not-to-like delight. Something less apparent is that from any point along Park Avenue’s European-meets-Mediterranean shopping and dining district, you’re within walking distance of no fewer than six eclectic (and in some cases world-class) museums. Another is just a short drive away. Here’s an insider’s tour of the city’s marvelous museums. Once you’re finished, you’ll understand why Winter Park bills itself, quite rightly, as “The City of Culture and Heritage.” Ready? Let’s take a tour.
THE ALBIN POLASEK MUSEUM & SCULPTURE GARDENS 633 Osceola Avenue
On the eastern shore of Lake Osceola, the lushly landscaped grounds and breathtaking statuary of the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens is one of the most hauntingly beautiful — and historically significant — cultural attractions in Winter Park. What’s most remarkable about the Polasek, however, is the spirit of indomitability that hovers over the place. Once you hear the back story, you’ll understand why. Born in Moravia (now the Czech Republic), Albin Polasek worked as a woodcarver in Vienna before immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 22. He continued his career in altar-carving factories in the Midwest and studied sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. For 30 years Polasek was head of the sculpture department at the Art Institute of Chicago, retiring in the late 1940s as an established master. He crafted monumental works: warriors and mythological figures, a 28foot statue of Woodrow Wilson, and a breathtaking rendering of Christ on the cross, who appears, even in his suffering, to be rising up and away, every feature in his face and every sinew in his body reverberating in triumph. Shortly after moving to Winter Park from Chicago, Polasek suffered a stroke. It paralyzed one side of his body — but it didn’t defeat him. He devised a system that enabled him to continue sculpting despite the physical challenges he now faced. He would poise a chisel over a work in progress with his one good hand. An assistant would stand by his side with a hammer and strike the chisel at Polasek’s command. Using this painstaking method, hour after laborious hour, the artist continued his life’s work undaunted, creating an additional 18 major works by the time he died in 1965. Polasek’s Mediterranean-style studio/home — and a collection of 200 works, many of them displayed on the expansive grounds — is now owned and operated by the Albin Polasek Foundation. Its major annual event is the Winter Park Paint Out, held in April, when artists are invited to paint in the open air, creating oils and watercolors of local settings that are then offered for sale. Proceeds support the foundation. Polasek’s home, while beautiful, is unpretentious and compact. The museum needed more room for administrative offices and a space to host events, such as weddings. The solution to the space problem arrived in a form that would have delighted the iron-willed artist. It was dramatic — and it seemed utterly impossible. The Capen-Showalter House, a historic home on the opposite side of
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Lake Osceola from the museum, was scheduled for demolition. Alarmed, a group of Winter Park residents mounted a campaign to save it. When the Polasek offered to relocate the house to its gardens, the preservationists came up with a radical idea. Why not cut the house in half, load it on barges, float it across the water and reassemble it on the Polasek property? It was as crazy as the notion of a paralyzed, 70-year-old sculptor blithely continuing to ply his trade using an assistant’s hands. And it happened, thanks to a campaign that raised $650,000 to fund the 500-meter voyage. At dedication ceremonies in 2014, former Rollins College President Thaddeus Seymour, who had led the fundraising charge, stood on a plaza behind the restored home and raised a glass in the direction of the lake and the sculpture garden. His brief but poignant toast: “To perseverance!” A small, celebratory crowd was there. It’s nice to imagine that Albin Polasek might have been, too. The Polasek is open Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m., and Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for children age 12 through college. Younger children are admitted free. Call 407-647-6294 or visit polasek.org for more information. THE CASA FELIZ HISTORIC HOME MUSEUM 656 North Park Avenue
Winter Park must have a thing about moving old houses. The Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, like the Capen-Showalter House, was transplanted from its original site on the shores of Lake Osceola. Architect James Gamble Rogers II designed the Andalusian-style masonry farmhouse in 1932 for Massachusetts industrialist Robert Bruce Barbour. Most of Rogers’ work at the time was inspired by traditional styles he thought best suited Winter Park and its Old World ambiance. While all of Rogers’ buildings are community treasures, the Barbour House, as it was then known, was arguably the iconic architect’s masterpiece. Suffice it to say, there was quite a commotion in 2000 when a new owner
Located on the eastern shore of Lake Osceola, the lushly landscaped grounds and breathtaking statuary of the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens (facing page, top) combine to offer one of the most beautiful sights Winter Park has to offer. Also on the grounds is the Capen-Showalter House (facing page, bottom), a once-endangered historic home that was floated across the lake via barge and restored for use as offices and an events space.
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PHOTOS BY WINTER PARK PICTURES/WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM
PHOTO BY WINTER PARK PICTURES/WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM
The Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, now a popular special-events venue, is governed by the Friends of Casa Feliz, which also promotes such programs as the James Gamble Rogers II Colloquium on Historic Preservation, held each May. Rogers was the home’s original architect.
bought the property with plans to tear down the now-neglected structure and replace it with a brand-spanking new mansion on the valuable waterfront lot. Preservationists raised more than $1 million to move the home, not by lake but by land, 300 yards across Interlachen Avenue to a city-owned site adjacent to the Winter Park Golf Course. Rather than barges, an array of 20 pneumatically leveled dollies were employed. The museum, now a popular special-events venue, is operated by the Friends of Casa Feliz, which also promotes such programs as the James Gamble Rogers II Colloquium on Historic Preservation, held each May. Casa Feliz hosts “Music at the Casa,” a series of free acoustic concerts, Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. The museum is also open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon, although private tours of 10 or more guests at other times can also be arranged. Admission is free. Call 407-628-8200 or visit casafeliz.us for more information. THE CORNELL FINE ARTS MUSEUM AND THE ALFOND INN n The Cornell: 1000 Holt Avenue (Rollins College) n The Alfond: 300 East New England Avenue
The Cornell Fine Arts Museum and the Alfond Inn have formed a pioneering partnership that has drawn national attention from art lovers and art experts alike. The museum overlooks Lake Virginia from the back side of the Rollins College campus at the southern end of Park Avenue. The hotel was built five years ago on the footprint of the old Langford Hotel, and is just a short walk from campus, across Fairbanks Avenue and two blocks east of Park Avenue.
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Rollins owns the 112-room facility, which is named for Ted and Barbara Lawrence Alfond, both 1968 Rollins graduates. The Alfonds, through a charitable foundation established by Ted’s late father, Harold, provided a $12.5 million gift to jump-start construction. And there was more to come. The couple also donated the 260-piece Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art to the museum, which was established in 1978. Roughly 140 of those pieces, on a rotating basis, now adorn the hotel’s walls, thereby expanding the museum’s footprint into downtown Winter Park. While much of the collection is visually pleasing, even to the untrained eye, none of it was meant to be merely decorative. Some of the pieces are decidedly puzzling, while others are downright provocative. “These works were intentionally acquired to have a teaching purpose,” says Ena Heller, director of the museum. “It’s a collection with a point of view. It’s about issues our students will be confronted with.” Works deal with such topics as war, censorship, critical thinking and relationships between different cultures and religious traditions. There are prints, paintings and photographs — as well as many pieces where words rather than images convey the message. “With this collection, artists expect viewers to participate,” Heller adds. “A number of the pieces are conceptual. So the more you know about them, the more you appreciate them.” Heller, who says her involvement with the Alfond Collection has enhanced her own appreciation for contemporary art, enjoys discussing the pieces on display. Her scholarly yet accessible explanations evoke many “oh, now I get it” moments from viewers who are more familiar with representational art. The hotel was designed with art displays in mind. “To create a focus on the artwork, we used a very neutral field of finishes, and special lighting was selected,” says Monte Olinger, who at the time was an interior designer and principal at Baker Barrios Architects. From her home in Massachusetts, Barbara Alfond says the collection was conceived “to further the understanding of the hotel being a part of an educational institution.” She’s proud of the fact that classes in subjects
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looking for ways to become a more integral part of Winter Park and expand the Rollins boundaries in the community,” she says. “This partnership has allowed us to do both.” Heller has a friendly, ongoing debate with the hotel’s general manager, Jesse Martinez. “I say the Alfond is an art museum with guest rooms,” says Heller. “Jesse says it’s a hotel with an art museum in it.” Of course, they’re both right. Even prior to the Alfond infusion, the museum boasted the region’s only “encyclopedic” collection. For example, it’s the only museum in Central Florida to own works by Europe’s Old Masters. Its holdings encompass more than 500 paintings, some dating from the 14th century. There are 1,600 prints, drawings and photographs, and thousands of artifacts and archaeological fragments from around the world. Heller notes that the museum has enjoyed a large increase in visitors, in part because admission, this year subsidized by PNC Financial Services Group, is free. The Cornell Fine Arts Museum on the Rollins campus is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and weekends from 1 to 5 p.m. Tours are led every Saturday at 1 p.m. For information, visit rollins.edu/cfam, thealfondinn.com or call 407-6462526. THE CHARLES HOSMER MORSE MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART 445 North Park Avenue
COURTESY OF THE MORSE MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
The restored (and breathtaking) Tiffany Chapel, at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, was exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 before being installed at Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall. It now encompasses its own wing at the one-of-a-kind Winter Park institution.
other than art — including women’s studies — have used the collection to supplement the curriculum. Guided group tours of the Alfond Collection are offered every Friday at 1 p.m., and “Happy Hour” tours are led by museum docents at 5:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. Tours are free of charge and no reservations are required. Many Happy Hour-tour attendees choose to remain at the hotel for a glass of wine or dinner at Hamilton’s Kitchen, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant. Many Happy Hour attendees, their curiosity piqued, eventually make their way to the museum to see what’s on display there. It’s all very symbiotic and, to Heller, very heartening. “We’re always
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North Park Avenue is anchored by a shimmering kaleidoscope of a museum that’s not only Winter Park’s cultural crown jewel but one of the most remarkable privately owned museums in the world. The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is named for a Chicago industrialist and philanthropist who made Winter Park his vacation home in the late 1800s and later retired here. In 1904, Morse bought nearly half of Winter Park’s acreage and began developing his holdings with the goal of creating a sophisticated and vibrant community of well-to-do kindred spirits. In 1942, Morse’s granddaughter, Jeannette Genius McKean, founded the museum and named it for her grandfather. Its first location was a small, out-of-the-way gallery on the Rollins campus. It did not move to its present Park Avenue facility until 1995. The museum is inextricably linked to Jeannette’s husband, former Rollins president Hugh McKean. As a young man, McKean had studied with Louis Comfort Tiffany at the artist’s lavishly appointed, 65-room Long Island country estate, Laurelton Hall. Following Tiffany’s death in 1933, the estate fell into disrepair and was further damaged by fire in 1957. The McKeans, determined to salvage what they could, gathered truckloads of art and architectural elements and shipped it all to Winter Park. Tiffany’s work had fallen so far from favor that the now-priceless creations were considered to be of little value at the time. But the McKeans’ decision to bring the gilded art nouveau treasures to Winter Park for safekeeping would help define the city as an arts mecca. After Jeannette died in 1989, Hugh carried on, making plans for a facility to properly display the collection, most of which was stored in an unmarked warehouse. He died in 1995, just months before construction was complete. The museum’s holdings — apart from the world’s most extensive array of Tiffany jewelry, pottery, paintings, sculptures, and leaded glass — also include other late-19th- and early 20th-century American art. Tiffany highlights include a restored Byzantine-Romanesque chapel interior, a terrace from Tiffany’s estate decorated with multicolored glass daffodils, and galleries that evoke the beauty of Laurelton Hall — and the guiding philosophy behind it.
“If the Morse has one controlling belief, it’s that art is life enhancing, and that every individual is better off when art is a present and significant part of their life,” says Laurence J. Ruggiero, the museum’s director. McKean, who hired Ruggiero, would surely be pleased at how the museum has evolved over the past two decades. Since McKean’s death, the breathtaking Tiffany Chapel was opened, and a new wing built in which entire portions of Laurelton Hall have been re-created. The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. On Fridays, from November through April, closing time is extended to 8 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $1 for students. Children under 12 are admitted free. Call 407645-5311 or visit morsemuseum.org for more information. CREALDÉ SCHOOL OF ART 600 St. Andrews Boulevard
At the eastern reaches of Winter Park is the Crealdé School of Art, founded in 1975 by local homebuilder William Sterling Jenkins. It’s a sprawling lakeside haven tucked behind a strip mall where you can take classes in just about every art form imaginable. Behind Crealdé’s yellow stucco walls, instruction is offered in photography, painting, ceramics, sculpture, papermaking, jewelry design, fabric arts and even bookmaking (meaning the literal making of books, not gambling). The school also holds periodic art exhibitions and celebrates an annual “Night of Fire,” which features demonstrations by artists, a bronze pour at the school’s foundry, and storytelling around a fire pit on the grounds of the Spanish-style campus.
It’s said that Jenkins devised the name “Crealdé” by combining the Spanish word crear (“to create”) and the Old English word alde (“village”). And that’s what he meant the school to be: a creative village. Jenkins wasn’t an artist of exceptional complexity. He was, however, certainly devoted to art — and committed to sharing and teaching it. In 1981, he reorganized Crealdé Arts Inc. as a nonprofit with a volunteer board. Ten years later he donated the entire facility to the organization, allowing it to establish complete autonomy and secure new funding sources. At Crealdé today, more than 100 visual-arts classes are taught by a faculty of 40 working artists. There’s also a summer “Artcamp” for children and teens, and a Visiting Artists Workshop series. The school stages art exhibits in three galleries at its home campus, at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center and at an extension campus in Winter Garden. Crealdé is open Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission to the galleries is free, although there are fees for art classes. Call 407-671-1886 or visit crealde.org for more information. THE WINTER PARK HISTORY MUSEUM AND THE HANNIBAL SQUARE HERITAGE CENTER n History Museum: 200 West New England Avenue n Heritage Center: 642 West New England Avenue
Winter Park’s two history museums have distinct but complementary purposes. One encompasses the city as a whole, beginning with its founding as a cold-weather getaway for wealthy Northerners. The other focuses specifically on the traditionally African-American west side, which has its own tales to tell. LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
PHOTO BY WINTER PARK PICTURES/WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM
At the Crealdé School of Art, more than 100 visual-arts classes are taught by a faculty of 40 working artists. There’s also a summer “Artcamp” for children and teens, and a Visiting Artists Workshop series. The school stages art exhibits in galleries at its home campus and the Hannibal Square Heritage Center.
The cozy (900-square-foot) Winter Park History Museum occupies a corner of the old Atlantic Coast Line freight office — the site where the Farmers’ Market is now held — on New England Avenue one block west of Park Avenue. Through March of 2020, the museum is saluting the golden age of local hotels and motels in a new exhibition, Wish You Were Here: The Hotels & Motels of Winter Park. More than a century ago, during the winter months, wealthy Northerners ensconced themselves at luxury resort hotels in fledgling Winter Park. Many visitors ended up investing in the community and ultimately moving here. By the 1930s and 1940s, middle-class families were flocking to more modest accommodations — including tourist cottages — along U.S. Highway 17-92 (Orlando Avenue). And by the 1950s, Winter Park boasted a now-legendary resort hotel where the Empire Room supper club epitomized Rat Pack culture. Wish You Were Here celebrates the role of hotels in accommodating visitors
PHOTOs BY WINTER PARK PICTURES/WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM
The Hannibal Square Heritage Center (left), located in the heart of the city’s gentrified west side, was created in 2007 as an outreach effort of the Crealdé School of Art. Many of the center’s programs and exhibits pay homage to the historically African-American neighborhood surrounding it. The Winter Park History Museum (below) occupies a corner of the old railroad station, along New England Avenue, in a space that was once the freight ticketing office of the Atlantic Coast Line.
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and hosting casual gatherings and civic events for locals. Inside the small space, the luxurious circa-1930s hotel lobby has been re-created. Also on display is the swank and swinging Langford Resort Hotel’s original piano, around which generations of Winter Parkers sipped highballs and tipsily requested “Moon River.” There are also photographs and descriptions of small but architecturally intriguing working-class motels and tourist cottages, along with a reimagined Victorian-era children’s playroom of the sort that guests of the posh Seminole Hotel or Alabama Hotel might have stashed their youngsters. “Our town is built on the foundation of luxury hotels,” says Susan Skolfield, executive director of the Winter Park Historical Association, which operates the museum. “In the 1880s, Winter Park founders assigned lush lakefront sites for beautiful hotels. These accommodations were the draw for well-heeled tourists to become investors in a planned community and, ideally, Winter Park citizens. This is how our town was settled.” The Winter Park History Museum ought to be known as “the little museum that could.” Skolfield and a cadre of volunteers never fail to shoehorn in more creativity per square foot than seems humanly possible, with past exhibitions focusing on turpentine, railroading, peacocks, schools, businesses and the homefront during World War II. Wish You Were Here, like all museum exhibitions, is free and open to the public — although donations are gladly accepted. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit winterparkhistory.org for more information. Museum hours are Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each Monday at 10 a.m., the museum stages a children’s show, Penelope, Princess of the Peacocks. Admission is free. Call 407-644-2330 or visit wphistory.org for more information. The Hannibal Square Heritage Center is set in the heart of Winter Park’s bustling west side, which was platted in the 1880s with lots designated specifically for African-Americans. By the harsh standards of the postReconstruction South, Winter Park was considered to be a relatively welcoming place for black families. However, the stringent east-west racial division continued until well into the 1960s. By the 1990s, the west side’s business district had been redeveloped as an upscale shopping and dining destination, and the neighborhoods surrounding it had begun to gentrify. Created in 2007 as an outreach effort of the Crealdé School of Art, the center is, in fact, two museums in one, pairing revolving art exhibits with vintage photographs and oral histories from west side residents, some of whom can remember working for wealthy Winter Park families by day, knowing they had to be “back across the tracks” by nightfall. Inside, you’ll see the work of African-American folk artists such as “Missionary Mary” Proctor. In one of her pieces on permanent display, an angel is carried aloft on wings that Proctor made by crumpling the pages of a hymnal she carried as a child. “I asked her how she could do that — destroy a precious keepsake from her childhood,” says Cyria Underwood, the center’s manager. “She just smiled and told me, ‘I pay my respect to it better this way.’” Among the many stories you’ll encounter via videotapes and displays is that of a local hero named Richard Hall, who’s now 95 and lives just a few blocks away. A full-sized “lifecast” of Hall, in a red sports jacket and red cap, stands next to the front door of the center. During World War II, Hall served in the Army Air Force as a Tuskegee Airman, from the so-called “red tail” squadron, a legendary group of African-American military pilots who formed the segregated 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Force. The center is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free. Call 407-539-2680 or visit hannibalsquareheritagecenter.org for more information.
AN ALLIANCE FOR ARTS AWARENESS The city’s vision statement says it all: “Winter Park is the city of arts and culture, cherishing its traditional scale and charm while building a healthy and sustainable future for all generations.” Spreading the word about the “arts and culture” part of the vision statement is the job of the Arts & Culture Alliance, which was formed last year as a subcommittee of the city’s Public Art Advisory Board. The mission of the organization — which is comprised of 18 local nonprofits — is to enhance and improve awareness and visibility of arts and culture organizations within the city. Toward that goal, a Weekend of the Arts is held each February, during which participating groups showcase their events and offerings. The city also publishes a comprehensive arts and culture calendar of events at cityofwinterpark.org/ visitors/arts-culture. LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
shop, dine, unwind & live in style!
Enjoy specialty stores, delicious restaurants, luxurious salons, the latest movies, convenient grocery store, lifestyle apartment homes, or sit by a sparkling fountain and watch the world go by. Itâ€™s a one-of-a-kind destination.
MAITLAND IS ALSO A MUST ART & HISTORY MUSEUMS – MAITLAND n Maitland Art Center, Maitland Historical Museum, Maitland Telephone Museum: 231 West Packwood Avenue, Maitland, 32751 n William H. Waterhouse Museum and Carpentry Shop Museum: 820 Lake, Lily Drive, Maitland, 32751
The Maitland Art Center (above), a National Historic Landmark, is one of the few surviving examples of Mayan Revival architecture in the Southeast. Its imagery is drawn from European, Chinese, Christian, African, Persian and, of course, Mayan signs and symbols, which mix and mingle in an otherworldly way. Enzian’s 220-seat theater (below), with comfortable chairs and table service, is a welcoming place to watch offbeat films. Plans are afoot to add two more screens to the Maitland complex.
This charming complex of five museums includes the Maitland Art Center, the Maitland Historical Museum, the Maitland Telephone Museum, the William H. Waterhouse Museum and the adjacent Carpentry Shop Museum. All are worth visiting, but the Maitland Art Center is a must. In 1937, artist and architect Jules André Smith built the center, then known as the Research Studio, to foster artistic experimentation and to provide artists with an inspirational environment in which to work. Over the next two decades, until his death in 1959, Smith lived and worked at the center, as did many other artists. He hand-carved most of the center’s signature sculptural reliefs using a special pivot table that could turn upward. A replica of the table, which Smith invented, is on display in one of the studios. While the center is billed as one of the few surviving examples of Mayan Revival architecture in the Southeast, its imagery is drawn from many sources. European, Chinese, Christian, African, Persian and, of course, Mayan signs and symbols mix and mingle in an otherworldly way. The center has been named a National Historic Landmark, joining such iconic places as the Empire State Building, the Gateway Arch, the White House, Hoover Dam and Walden Pond. The Maitland Art Center is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The other museums are open Thursdays through Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for seniors and children ages 4 to 18. Children age 3 and under are admitted free. Call 407-539-2181 or visit artandhistory.org for more information.
ENZIAN PHOTO BY WINTER PARK PICTURES/WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM (MAITLAND ART CENTER) COURTESY OF ENZIAN (ENZIAN THEATER)
1300 South Orlando Avenue (U.S. Highway 17-92), Maitland, 32751 Central Florida’s only art-movie house is included in this story because it’s a museum, of sorts — one that just happens to curate films rather than paintings or sculptures. Indeed, Enzian is no strip-mall multiplex. It’s one of Central Florida’s most cherished cultural landmarks — one that resembles an understated country club more than a movie theater, with an outdoor restaurant situated beneath towering live oaks and an intimate, cabaret-style movie theater just inside. Enzian is a nonprofit organization with a Winter Park connection. It was founded by the family of John Tiedtke, a philanthropist who for decades ran (and mostly funded) the storied Bach Festival Society of Winter Park. The big event of the year at Enzian is the Florida Film Festival, held every April, which brings dozens of the world’s best independently produced new features, documentaries, animated films and shorts to Central Florida. On a more modest level, Enzian partners with the City of Winter Park to present its “Popcorn Flicks in the Park” series on the second Thursday of each month in downtown Central Park. The family-friendly classic flicks typically start at 7 or 8 p.m., depending upon when the sun sets. Admission is free. Showtimes and ticket costs for other events vary. Call 407629-0054 or visit enzian.org for more information.
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ART ALONG THE AVENUE If people know nothing much about Winter Park — and there are few such people — they at least know about its art festivals. One is approaching its 60th year and attracts artists from all over the U.S. The other, entering its 45th year, spotlights only Florida artists.
THE WINTER PARK AUTUMN ART FESTIVAL October 12-13, 2019
Ordinarily, the Winter Park Autumn Art Festival has at least one thing going for it: the weather. There was a rare exception in 2016, thanks to Hurricane Matthew, when the festival had to be cancelled. But under normal circumstances Central Park is a gorgeous seasonal setting for an event devoted exclusively to Florida artists — and a community that appreciates them. The Autumn Art Festival is, in fact, the only juried fine-art festival featuring only Florida artists. The free, 46-year-old annual event, hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the second weekend in October. The dates for this year’s festival are October 12 and 13. You’ll be able to view the work of 180 artists, whose genres encompass ceramics, drawings and graphics, fine crafts, jewelry, mixed media, paintings, photographs and sculptures. In addition, the Crealdé School of Art presents workshops for children ages 5 and up during the festival, which also features musical entertainment. “We’re very excited about this year’s festival, and the artists who are traveling from across Florida to share their work,” says Betsy Gardner Eckbert, president and CEO of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. “I love seeing people from miles around enjoying the art and our community.” Visit winterpark.org for information.
Downtown Winter Park is the scene of numerous events and festivals, among the most notable of which is the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, which attracts several hundred artists and several hundred thousand spectators. Shown here, throngs are just beginning to arrive as artists open their booths.
THE WINTER PARK SIDEWALK ART FESTIVAL March 20-22, 2020
PHOTO BY WINTER PARK PICTURES/WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM
When the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival made its debut in the spring of 1960, the volunteers who created it wondered if they could attract the attention of enough artists and art lovers to make the event work. So far, so good. The 2020 festival is slated for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 20, 21 and 22. Some 225 artists — selected from among more than 1,000 applicants — will showcase their work for an estimated 350,000 people. Artists compete for 63 awards totaling $72,500. The Best of Show winner is purchased for $10,000 by the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival Board and donated to the City of Winter Park. Previous Best of Show winners are on permanent display at the Winter Park Public Library. Youngsters can create their own artwork at the Children’s Workshop Village. Easel painting is a popular activity, and budding artists can take their creations home with them. The Leon Theodore Schools Exhibit showcases art by students in Orange County schools. There are sculptures, drawings, paintings, photography, mixed media and a variety of other genres on display at the festival, which is consistently rated among the most prestigious in the U.S. Festival traditions include the selection of original art for the official festival poster, which is sold at the event. Posters from prior years are considered collectible by festival fans. Also during the festival, admission to the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is free. The mission of the festival — which is still run entirely by volunteers — hasn’t changed since its beginnings decades ago, says past president Alice Moulton. “The event offers an enjoyable, fulfilling and profitable experience for artists,” she says. “Plus, it enhances art appreciation, art education and community spirit.” Visit wpsaf.org for more information.
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UNVEILING THE CANOPY WINTER PARK’S NEWEST CIVIC SPACE, DEBUTING IN 2021, WILL BE A LIBRARY AND AN EVENTS CENTER FOR THE 21ST CENTURY.
The Canopy project — designed by world-renowned civic architect Sir David Adjaye in partnership with local architecture firm HuntonBrady — is slated to open in 2021. It’s a far cry from Winter Park’s first library, which was on the front porch of Miss Evelyn Lamson (below), whose home was on Interlachen Avenue.
COURTESY OF ADJAYE ASSOCIATES © 2019 (LIBRARY RENDERINGS)
Miss Evaline Lamson’s front porch is long gone. So is Miss Lamson. So are the eight other “well-educated, capable, energetic, and affluent” women who decided, in 1885, that Winter Park needed a library. The front porch of Miss Lamson’s cottage on Interlachen Avenue served as the library’s first home. A year later, progress and good fortune provided another. Owners of a fledgling company that operated a new, mule-drawn streetcar line offered a vacant room in their Park Avenue offices for the “Winter Park Circulation Library Association.” Members only. Dues: $1 a year. It’s not much of a journey from where Miss Lamson’s porch once stood to the future home of the community resource she helped pioneer. Just a mile west down Morse Boulevard, on the northwest corner of Martin Luther King Jr., Park, where the Rachel D. Murrah Civic Center once stood, a $40 million library and events center — dubbed “The Canopy” — is scheduled to open in 2021. The project — designed by world-re-
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nowned civic architect Sir David Adjaye in partnership with local architecture firm HuntonBrady — has been controversial ever since voters narrowly approved a $30 million bond referendum in 2016 for its design and construction. Some insisted that the current library facility was adequate. Others objected to the project’s location in a city park — it will replace an existing building, although the footprint will be somewhat larger — and to the size of the events center, which they said would generate too much traffic. The library will be 35,690 square feet while the events center — which is expected to attract primarily weddings and banquets — will be 13,456 square feet. Nonetheless, The Canopy survived a court challenge by opponents and in April won a $6 million slice of Orange County’s tourist development tax — a 6 percent levy paid by guests staying at hotels and other short-term lodgings. The tourist-tax money and private donations will bridge the gap between the initial $30 million estimate and the $40 million needed to add events center enhancements, such as a rooftop venue, a porte-cochere, an outdoor amphitheater and a raked auditorium as well as upgraded finishes. While much is being made of the events center, the new library will boast many advantages over the dated 1979 facility that it now occupies. Here’s what will be new: n A great hall with a living-room feel for reading and socializing. n An education and performance space seating 150. n Three tech-equipped working rooms for formal or collaborative meetings. n A “huddle room” for spontaneous or planned meetings. n Social spaces near age- and interest-appropriate book sections. n A computer lab where hands-on instruction will be offered.
n Eight two-person study rooms for collaboration and conversation. n An automated collection system that will improve efficiency. Here’s what will be improved: n An upgraded Genius Lab with 3-D printers, a studio with video and audio production equipment and a trained staff to assist users. n More borrowing items including technology, fishing poles, binoculars, musical instruments and more. n An expanded history and archives areas for preservation and research. n A larger “story” room adjacent to a flex-size multipurpose room that will double capacity for early literacy story classes and creative arts events. In an age of insularity and information overload, a public library is a lively throwback, a stubbornly democratic town square where people of all ages, ethnicities and tax brackets still gather on an equal footing for a curated window on the world. It’s free in more than one sense of that word — with no agendas or pop-ups ads. In its visioning document, Winter Park vows to “build and embrace our local institutions for lifelong learning and future generations.” This project gives weight to those lofty words. So does The Canopy’s designer. Adjaye, named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, is best known in this country for designing the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2016 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. A knighted man of color who created a place of communal enlightenment for our country is doing the same in Winter Park. The Canopy will be located in a part of the city that was once segregated housing for those who worked for employers across the tracks. Perhaps Evaline Lamson was among the employers. Perhaps she would appreciate seeing progress and good fortune overtake her enterprise once again. — Michael McLeod
Shown are three views of The Canopy’s library component, including the lobby, the early literacy area and the second-floor stacks. Also shown is a scene from a wedding reception — the sort of gathering that’s ideal for the events center — and The Landings, highlighted by an outdoor amphitheater.
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THE REVERED GERMAN MASTER WOULD HAVE LOVED WINTER PARK. BY RANDY NOLES
he Bach Festival Society of Winter Park stages the oldest continuously running Bach Festival in the nation. It began at Rollins College, on a Sunday in 1935, with a performance to commemorate the 250th birthday of the revered German master. From that auspicious beginning, the Bach Festival has grown to a three-week extravaganza of concerts, lectures and events offered annually in February and March. In addition, the society offers an eclectic, year-round schedule that includes choral and orchestral performances, several of them highlighted by world-renowned guest artists. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) never actually visited Winter Park, of course, but it’s a safe bet the German master would have found a kindred spirit in Dr. John V. Sinclair, 65, chair of the department of music at Rollins College and artistic director of the Bach Festival Society, where he has wielded the baton since 1990. The society boasts a 160-member choir and a permanent orchestra, which have made five European tours and performed in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican and in Royal Albert Hall, London, with the Bach Choir of London. The music is not limited to Bach — or even to classical music. The history of the Bach Festival Society has always been closely tied to the history of Rollins College. By the time Sinclair arrived in 1985, the society and its annual festival had for decades been the personal domain of John M. Tiedtke, a shrewd businessman who had made his fortune growing sugar, citrus and corn in South Florida. Tiedtke was a boyhood friend of Rollins President Hugh McKean, who asked him to take
Against the soaring backdrop of Knowles Memorial Chapel, John Sinclair directs performances of the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra. The Bach Festival was first held in 1935 as a single Sunday performance commemorating the namesake composer’s 250th birthday. Now there are concerts virtually year round — many of which feature internationally renowned guest soloists — leading up to the main event in February and March.
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COURTESY OF ROLLINS COLLEGE
“John [Sinclair] is a natural educator,” says Eric Ravndal, chairman of the festival board of trustees. “I attend nearly every rehearsal, and I can tell you that the musicians never leave a rehearsal without having learned more about the music they’re performing. It’s an incredible gift.”
charge of the Bach Festival in 1950, when founding society president Isabelle Sprague-Smith died and the organization’s future seemed in doubt. The no-nonsense Tiedtke proved a fortuitous choice. He loved music — he played a little piano, but mostly enjoyed listening — and was a consistent and generous donor to community-based arts organizations. At Rollins, he had been treasurer and chairman of the board of trustees. McKean, an iconic Winter Park figure, had been an art professor at Rollins before his elevation to the presidency. He had married Jeannette Morse Genius, granddaughter of Charles Hosmer Morse, a benevolent industrialist who helped shape modern Winter Park. “Mr. Tiedtke and Dr. McKean understood that with great wealth comes responsibility,” says Sinclair, who still refers to both men using formal titles. “They would have lunch together every Saturday. They started inviting me to come along, and those lunches were hugely interesting.” Sinclair, who admits that he sometimes felt “a little like a third wheel,” would listen as the old friends discussed art, philosophy and the events of the day. They would often spar over who should pay the tab. McKean liked to joke that after 40 years of lunches, he remembered only a handful of times when Tiedtke picked up the bill. The society, which is technically a separate organization from Rollins, is funded by grants, donations, ticket sales and an endowment that was initially bolstered by gifts from the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation and from Tiedtke himself, who continued as society president until 2003. He died the following year at the age of 97. Just before Tiedtke’s death, Rollins established the John M. Tiedtke Endowed Chair of Music. For once, the man for whom the chair was named wasn’t asked to write a check. Others contributed generously, including an anonymous $250,000 donation that was later revealed to have come from one Fred McFeely Rogers, Class of ’51. A music composition major who became TV’s Mister Rogers,
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Fred Rogers befriended the Sinclairs during his frequent Winter Park visits. John Sinclair, in fact, was the Tiedtke Chair’s first recipient. “It was an honor to know these two brilliant and good men,” Sinclair says of Tiedtke and McKean, who died in 1995. “They were great role models for me.” Living up to the examples set by Tiedtke and McKean has been a continuing priority for Sinclair. Tiedtke believed that well-run, well-supported arts organizations were integral to any enlightened community, and McKean believed that any academician worth his salt was first and foremost a classroom teacher. Susan Tucker, who sings in the Bach Festival Choir, has admired Sinclair’s synthesis of organizational prowess, intellectual heft and personal empathy for more than 25 years. “John is one of the most intellectual conductors I’ve ever known, as well as being a consummate teacher,” says Tucker. “One of the things I enjoy most is that he informs us about the composers and the works we’re presenting. That allows us to better perform each one. Plus, he’s compassionate and easy to talk to.” Tucker and others say that Sinclair’s expressive, sometimes theatrical conducting style brings out the best in choirs and orchestras — professional and amateur — energizing both familiar masterworks and seldom-heard compositions that Sinclair has chosen to pluck from obscurity. Eric Ravndal, chairman of the Bach Festival Society board of trustees, is a retired Episcopal priest and a Tiedtke cousin. Under his leadership, the organization has been revamped as a more traditionally structured not-forprofit, with a diverse board and a paid staff. “John is a natural educator,” says Ravndal. “I attend nearly every rehearsal, and I can tell you that the musicians never leave a rehearsal without having learned more about the music they’re performing. It’s an incredible gift.” In addition to his duties at the college and with the society, Sinclair is one of the conductors for the wildly popular Candlelight Processionals at Epcot, which have become a holiday tradition. Each year, Sinclair conducts about 150 performances of one kind or another.
“I show up and try really hard. I take my work very seriously, but I try to not take myself very seriously. I also consider myself hugely fortunate to make music for a living. I guess you could say I lead a remarkable, unremarkable life.”
PHOTO BY RAFAEL TONGOL
— John Sinclair
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COURTESY OF ROLLINS COLLEGE
The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park boasts a 160-member choir and a permanent orchestra, which have made five European tours and performed in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican and in Royal Albert Hall, London, with the Bach Choir of London. The music during the season is not limited to Bach — or even to classical music.
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He also serves as music director of the First Congregational Church of Winter Park. He is director of the local Messiah Choral Society and conductor of the International Moravian Music Festivals. His seemingly boundless energy delights and confounds his admirers, who wonder how long he can maintain such a crushing schedule of classes, concerts and clinics. However, the man the Orlando Sentinel once dubbed “Central Florida’s resident conductor” shrugs off the suggestion that what he does is in any way exceptional. Although his music might be described as highbrow, Sinclair is an unpretentious Midwesterner with working-class roots. His students and colleagues address him simply as “Doc.” “I just do my job,” says Sinclair, a native of Kansas City and a graduate of William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. He also attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance, where he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in music education, with an emphasis on conducting. “I show up and try really hard. I take my work very seriously, but I try to not take myself very seriously. I also consider myself hugely fortunate to make music for a living. I guess you could say I lead a remarkable, unremarkable life.” Sometimes it seems that Sinclair, like the music he conducts, simply defies time. Although far more of his career is behind him than ahead of him, he seems to be hitting his stride now, at an age when most people are beginning to consider what they might do during retirement. “No, no,” said Sinclair when asked if he might consider shedding some professional commitments in the foreseeable future. “I always said I wanted to have a 50-year career, so I’ve got at least 12 more years. Anyway, I’ll recognize when I start to slip. I’ll know when it’s time to stop.” For now, Sinclair is adding to his workload by compiling a book on how to stage major choral works. “I’m using only works that I’ve done at least three times myself,” he said. “I want this book to be my gift to the profession.” Visit bachfestivalflorida.org for more information.
2019–20 SEASON n Insights & Sounds: Handel’s Heroines and Heroes: Thursday, September 26, 7:30 p.m. n Sergei Babayan, piano: Sunday, October 20, 3 p.m. n Hayden’s The Creation: Saturday, October 26, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, October 27, 3 p.m. n Insights & Sounds: Bach’s Moravian Music Heritage: Thursday, November 14, 7:30 p.m. n Christmas in the Park: Thursday, December 5, 6:15 p.m. n A Classic Christmas: Saturday, December 14, 2 and 6 p.m.; Sunday, December 15, 2 and 6 p.m. n Insights & Sounds: The Greatest Composers (You’ve Never Heard Of): Thursday, January 23, 2020, 7:30 p.m. n Paul Galbraith, guitar: Sunday, January 26, 2020, 3 p.m.
85TH ANNUAL BACH FESTIVAL n Stefan Kiessling, organ: Friday, February 7, 2020, 7:30 p.m. n Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem and Dvorak’s Symphony from the New World: Friday, February 21, 2020, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, February 22, 2020, 3 p.m. n Concertos by Candlelight: All Beethoven: Friday, February 21, 2020, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, February 22, 2020, 7:30 p.m. n Spiritual Spaces: Reflect, Restore and Revive: Sunday, February 23, 2020, 4 and 6 p.m. n Quink Vocal Ensemble: Tuesday, February 25, 2020, 7:30 p.m. n Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle: Saturday, February 29, 2020, 7:30 p.m. n J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor: Sunday, March 1, 2020, 3 p.m.
AND MORE n Diaz Trio: Sunday, March 29, 2020, 3 p.m. n Mendelssohn’s Elijah: Saturday, April 25, 2020, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, April 26, 2020, 3 p.m. LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
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heater-loving Winter Park residents don’t have to go far to see a professional musical comedy or a top-notch college production. The Winter Park Playhouse, Central Florida’s only professional musical theater and one of just a few in the state, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to producing musicals, cabarets and outreach programs that entertain, uplift and inspire. The founders are stage veterans Roy Alan and Heather Alexander. The Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College has been staging student productions of every kind since 1932. The jewel box of a theater, named for the stage actress who was its founding director, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. David Charles is chair of the college’s Department of Theater and Dance. — Randy Noles Here’s what’s coming for the 2019–20 season at the Winter Park Playhouse. Visit winterparkplayhouse.org for tickets. n How to Marry a Divorced Man: August 2–25. This world premier
follows Layla Diamond who, after listening to advice from her daffy mother, attempts to snare a divorced man with a needy ex and two obnoxious children. n Desperate Measures: September 20–October 13. This critically ac-
claimed off-Broadway musical comedy is set in the Wild West of the 1890s and inspired by Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. Winner of 2018 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. n You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown: November 15–24 and Decem-
ber 5–15. You know this one. Charles Schulz’s beloved comic strip comes to life in this joyful, classic musical. It depicts an “average day in the life” of the Peanuts gang, from bright uncertain mornings to hopeful starlit evenings. n Beehive: The 60s Musical: January 24–February 22, 2020. Told from
Winter Park Playhouse founders Roy Alan and Heather Alexander are old-school troupers. The Winter Park Playhouse (top) and Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College (above) ensure that Winter Parkers never lack the the opportunity to see live performances.
the perspective of six women who came of age in the 1960s, this energetic off-Broadway musical celebrates iconic female artists such as Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Connie Francis, The Shirelles and Lulu. n The Andrews Brothers: March 13–April 11, 2020. When an Andrews
Sisters USO performance is in jeopardy of cancellation, three earnest stagehands are determined to go on with the show. Mistaken identities and madcap adventures ensue — as do 30-plus hit songs from the era.
PHOTOS BY RAFAEL TONGOL (ROY ALAN AND HEATHER ALEXANDER; THE WINTER PARK PLAYHOUSE) PHOTO BY WINTER PARK PICTURES/WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM (ANNIE RUSSELL THEATRE)
n Pump Boys and Dinettes: May 8–17 and May 28–June 7, 2020. In this
twangy extravaganza, which was a hit on Broadway, the Pump Boys sell high-octane gasoline on Highway 57 while the Dinettes’ run the Double Cupp diner next door. There’ll be bright lights and country music. Here’s what’s coming for the remainder of the 2019–20 season at the Annie Russell Theatre. The first show, Sweet Charity, has already finished its run. Visit rollins.edu/annie-russell-theatre for tickets. n The Humans: September 27–October 5. Winner of the 2016 Tony
Award for Best Play, the offbeat drama follows Erik and Deirdre Blake as they break with tradition to spend Thanksgiving at their daughter’s ramshackle apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls and the family reconnects, things begin to go bump in the night. n Private Lies: Improvised Film Noir: November 15–23. Set in a murky
crime-infused city during Prohibition, Private Lies is an improvised detective series that pits an unlucky Private Eye, Richard Lies, against a nefarious underworld and his personal demons. n The Good Person of Setzuan: February 14–22, 2020. Bertolt
Brecht’s powerful parable of good and evil begins as three gods come to Earth in hopes of discovering one truly good person. They stumble upon the soul they’re searching for in Shen Te, a prostitute with a heart of gold. n Mamma Mia!: April 17–25, 2020. On the eve of her wedding, a
daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. The jukebox musical features the hits of ABBA. LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
ROLLINS GETS ANOTHER 4.0
PHOTO BY WINTER PARK PICTURES/WINTERPARKPICTURES.COM
ew colleges and college towns are as intertwined, geographically and historically, as Rollins College and Winter Park. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine one without the other. So locals were understandably proud when, for the 24th consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranked Rollins among the top two regional universities in the South in its annual rankings of “Best Colleges.” Rollins was ranked No. 2 among the 165 colleges and universities in that category, which encompasses schools that provide a full range of undergraduate and master’s-level programs. Elon University in Elon, North Carolina, finished first. “Rollins is proud to be recognized so prominently among the nation’s best colleges year after year,” says Rollins President Grant Cornwell. “Our longevity at the top of this ranking is a testament to the college’s long tradition of academic excellence, the rigor of a Rollins education and the achievement of our innovative faculty and industrious students.” The U.S. News & World Report rankings evaluate colleges and universities on 16 measures of academic quality, including such widely accepted indicators of excellence as student retention, graduation rates and qualifications of faculty members. In addition to ranking among the top regional universities in the South, Rollins was recognized for its strong commitment to undergraduate teaching, its high proportion of international undergraduates and for having one of the best undergraduate business programs in the country. The college was also named one of the South’s most innovative schools. And it made the list of schools whose 2017 graduates had the lightest debt loads. The average was $32,700 for those who completed undergraduate degree programs.
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ILLUSTRATION BY DON SONDAG
Winter Park-based artist Don Sondag painted this portrait of Fred Rogers, who was inspired to dedicate his life to service while attending Rollins College. The portrait hangs in the lobby of the campus’s Tiedtke Concert Hall.
“I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger: I like you just the way you are. And what’s more, I’m so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe and to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods.” — From the final episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
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MR. ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD THE BELOVED ICON OF CHILDREN’S TV ATTENDED ROLLINS COLLEGE, WHERE HE WAS INSPIRED TO A LIFE OF SERVICE. BY JONATHAN MERRITT
red Rogers — or, as his fans knew him, Mister Rogers — was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. But Winter Park claims him as one of its own, in part because he graduated from Rollins College in 1951 with a degree in music composition. It was at Rollins where he met his future wife, Joanne Byrd, and participated in an array of campus activities, serving on the chapel staff and as a member of the Community Service Club, the Student Music Guild, the French Club, the Welcoming Committee, the After Chapel Club and the Alpha Phi Lambda fraternity. But he also formed enduring friendships in the city and visited here regularly for the remainder of his life. When in Winter Park, he nearly always dropped by the campus, swimming in the pool nearly every day — he was an intramural swimmer in his college days — and sometimes slipping into classes that interested him. He counted John Sinclair, chairman of the Department of Music and artistic director of the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, as one of his closest friends. Rogers’ nephew, renowned composer Daniel Crozier, continues the legacy as a professor of music theory at the college. Suddenly, it seems — perhaps because of the turbulent times in which we live — Mister Rogers is more popular than ever. Certainly, his message of kindness and civility, which may have seemed corny to cynics 20 years ago, has never been more timely. In 2018, marking the 50th anniversary of Rogers’ iconic children’s program, PBS broadcast a poignant documentary called Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like. Another documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, was released to theaters last year. A U.S. postage stamp bearing his likeness was recently unveiled. Oh, and there’s more. Tom Hanks has been signed to star in a bigbudget Tristar biopic, You Are My Friend, inspired by a real-life friendship between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. In the film, Junod is shown as a hard-bitten reporter who reluctantly accepts an assignment to write a profile on Rogers for Esquire — and finds his worldview transformed in the process. The article, now considered a classic of magazine journalism, ran in 1998. A release date for the film has not yet been announced. In the meantime, though, here are five things you may not have known about Fred Rogers:
testimony helped save the VCR and paved the way for Netflix. ❶ His In 1976, Universal Studios filed a lawsuit against Sony Corporation to halt sale of the Betamax — the precursor to the VCR — claiming that home recording would damage television and film producers. When the case came before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1983, Rogers testified for Sony, saying he didn’t object to people taping his shows and watching them at a more convenient time — particularly if they were able to do so in a family setting. The court — which cited Rogers’ testimony — ruled in favor of Sony, and the case has served as a precedent for the popular recording and streaming technologies we enjoy today. was inspired by the “Life Is For Service” motto he saw at Rollins. ❷ He The talented music composition major — who transferred to Rollins from Dartmouth — took a photo of the inspirational engraving, which is on a wall near Strong Hall, and carried it in his wallet for years. It was finally framed and prominently placed on his desk. spoke at a kid-friendly speed of 124 words per minute. ❸ He According to research, one reason why children were so captivated by Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood could be that Rogers’ speech was the perfect pace for children ages 3 to 5 to process. The average adult prefers to listen to speech at a pace of 150 to 160 words per minute. sweater and sneakers are housed in the campus library. ❹ His Rogers famously wore zip-front cardigans that were knitted by his mother. A blue cardigan and a pair of sneakers are among Rollins’ most treasured possessions and may be seen in the college’s Department of Archives and Special Collections in the Olin Library. Another cardigan — a red one — is kept at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. weighed exactly 143 pounds for the last 30 years of his life. ❺ He Rogers lived a healthy life and was disciplined in his daily routine. Journalist Tom Junod explained that Rogers found beauty in his weight of 143 pounds because “the number 143 means ‘I love you.’ It takes one letter to say ‘I’ and four letters to say ‘love’ and three letters to say ‘you.’ One hundred and forty-three.” A version of this list originally appeared in Rollins 360, the campus magazine.
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FORE YOU It’s a short drive to Winter Park’s legendary 9-hole golf course, which is inexorably linked to local history. BY DANA S. EAGLES Photography by Winter Park Pictures/winterparkpictures.com
Essentially unchanged is the lovingly maintained but entirely unpretentious clubhouse, with its working fireplace and oak floors. The adjacent pro shop, which was renovated in 2011, features exposed wood on the interior walls salvaged from a 1914 starter shack and from a previous remodeling effort in 1967. LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
The city’s beloved nine-hole course, playfully dubbed “Winter Park National” by PGA Hall of Fame pro Nick Faldo, was plowed under in March and has reopened with a new, more challenging design. The reconfigured course occupies the same footprint and still abuts Palm Cemetery, where errant balls sometimes land. However, the layout makes the most of its 2,480 yards — and in 2017 was ranked among Golf Digest’s Best 9-Hole Golf Courses in the U.S.
he Winter Park Golf Course re-opened three years ago to considerable fanfare following a $1.2 million renovation. Since then, patrons of the city-owned course are giving the upgrades a big thumb’s up. Built in 1914 on property then owned by Winter Park pioneer Charles Hosmer Morse, the 40-acre course — which was founded as the Winter Park Country Club — had aged like a rambling historic home whose outward charm belied an increasingly urgent need for repairs and reinvention. The irrigation system no longer worked reliably, the turf was old and tattered, and the relentlessly flat terrain was uninteresting and offered little in the way of a challenge, even to self-described hackers. Clearly, it was time.
The reconfigured course occupies the same footprint and still abuts Palm Cemetery, where errant balls sometimes land. (The protocol: Retrieve your ball, but please don’t play out of the cemetery.) However, the layout makes the most of its 2,480 yards — and in 2017 was ranked among Golf Digest’s Best 9-Hole Golf Courses in the U.S. Gary Diehl, a resident who served on a city task force that recommended improvements, recalls some skeptics asking: “Why in the world are we renovating that golf course? It’s green.” But Diehl, who spent 37 years in the golf equipment and apparel business, says the more he and his colleagues learned about the course’s condition, the more convinced they became of
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the need to take action. Although it’s more expensive to play than it used to be, fees are still relatively low. Residents who play Monday through Thursday mornings from November through April — the busiest time for the course — pay $13. Annual memberships for residents are $900. There’s a free 10,000-square-foot putting course on Park Avenue near the ninth-hole tee box. The exclusive-sounding “country club” label — a misnomer, since the course is public — was eliminated when the course reopened. The two golf course architects who led the redesign, Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns, both say they recognized the rare opportunity they had
been presented. After all, the course, which Hall of Fame pro Nick Faldo once dubbed “Winter Park National,” is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, it’s only the second-oldest course in the Orlando area. The Country Club of Orlando opened a year earlier. Golf legends such as Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen have played there, sometimes in exhibition matches. It’s been the scene of countless charitable tournaments and has become a second home to many locals, some of whom play nearly every day. But the two architects, who’ve worked around the world, came to the job with different perspectives.
Rhebb, who lives in Longwood, had often driven by the Winter Park course and was impressed by how it cut across the demographics of the game — attracting, as he puts it, “blue-collar, white-collar and no-collar players.” The course had character, he says, “but it could be something better.” Johns, a Canadian who calls himself a “handson golf course architect,” had seen the course only on Google, and says he was unbiased in his initial assessment: “a typical, somewhat neglected Florida golf course.” But what struck Johns about the course was a quality that also attracts many players: its location. “I was fascinated with people walking their dogs [nearby], with the boutique shops,” he says. “It didn’t feel like a golf course. It felt like a city park with some pins in it.” Exactly, says Mayor Steve Leary, a renovation advocate. “One of the reasons we chose these architects was that during the [planning] process it came out that this is a park first — our most visible large park,” he says. “It’s not just a golf course.” A central challenge was making the course more strategic while keeping it inviting for beginners and those who love the game but possess only modest skills. “It’s the easiest thing in the world to make a difficult golf course,” Rhebb notes. It’s also easy to spend money, Johns adds. But the two recognized that on a community course committed to low fees, “we couldn’t go in there and build water features and make it more costly.” Besides adding undulations to the fairways and moving tee boxes, they redesigned the bunkers. A well-placed bunker, they determined, would help “steer” golfers so the balls they hit would be less likely to dent a passing BMW. There was one thing the architects couldn’t change, though: the streets, sidewalks and other landmarks that define the course’s perimeter. “There’s no negotiation with concrete,” Johns says. “We had to work within those constraints.” Unchanged is the lovingly maintained but entirely unpretentious clubhouse, with its working fireplace and oak floors. The adjacent pro shop, which was renovated in 2011, features exposed wood on the interior walls salvaged from a 1914 starter shack and from a previous remodeling effort in 1967. Casa Feliz, a restored Spanish-style farmhouse that was saved from the wrecking ball following an uprising of irate citizens, was moved in 2001 to a patch of unused city property adjacent to the 9th hole and repurposed as a community building. The historic home’s stately presence only adds to the course’s irresistible charm. As far back as 1899, Winter Parkers had a place to play golf. The so-called “Rollins 9” was a ninehole course commissioned by Morse that encompassed the west side of the Rollins College campus and part of what is now downtown Winter Park. But in 1914, Morse and others decided that
a proper country club was needed. The Winter Park Country Club, a nonprofit corporation, was established and a nine-hole course was designed by H.A. “Harley” Ward and Dow George, who became the club pro. The course, and the $3,500 clubhouse, was built on property owned by Morse, who was also elected first president of the nascent organization. Another 18 holes were added the following year. Although the 27 holes were considered two separate courses, they shared the first fairway and green, and extended all the way to U.S. Highway 17-92, where Winter Park Village now sprawls. Play was sometimes interrupted by stray cows, prompting club officials to erect a fence. Some livestock, including sheep and goats, were welcomed, though. The unwitting animals kept the grass in check and were later slaughtered to help alleviate a meat shortage during World War I. A decade later, the club’s heyday had seemingly come to a close. The Aloma Country Club, which encompassed the present-day location of Ward Park and Winter Park Memorial Hospital, opened in 1926 and lured players away. Aloma’s 6,180-yard course and $45,000 clubhouse made the relatively modest Winter Park Country Club obsolete, forcing it to close shortly thereafter. The block bounded by Interlachen, Webster and Park Avenues was bought by the city and repurposed as Charles H. Morse Memorial Park. (The philanthropist had died in 1921.) The clubhouse remained and was occupied for a time by the newly formed University Club of Winter Park. The rest of the land was, thankfully, never developed. Winter Park Golf Estates, the real-estate development surrounding the Aloma course, ultimately failed, and the course itself was abandoned in 1936, a casualty of the Great Depression.
Later that year, led by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, local movers and shakers decided to reactivate the dormant Winter Park Country Club and raise funds to rehabilitate the older course. Donations amounted to $6,250, which was more than enough to do the job. When the club reopened in 1937, the annual membership fee was $44 and greens fees were $1. Jones, who had been snapped up by the ill-fated Aloma Country Club, was rehired as club pro — a position he would hold until his retirement in 1964. The new incarnation of the club leased the property, partially from the city but primarily from the Winter Park Land Company, which had been formed by Morse in 1915 when he acquired the vast land holdings of its defunct predecessor, the Winter Park Company. Later, the Winter Park Land Company’s portion of the property, totaling about 25 acres, was transferred to the Charles Hosmer Morse and Elizabeth Morse Genius foundations, which continued to lease it to the city in 10-year increments. While the land was owned by the foundation and leased to the club, there was no guarantee that this prime swath of real estate would forever remain green space. In fact, as an extension of the lease was being discussed in 1996, foundation officials expressed an interest in selling the land to developers. City leaders and residents weren’t about to let that happen. In a lively referendum, voters overwhelmingly approved a proposal to raise taxes and buy the course. The $8 million purchase price was backed by a 20-year, $5.1 million bond issue. The bonds were paid off in early 2016. Golf courses, many of which have closed, have had an especially hard time attracting millennials. Bloomberg News recently reported that consumer spending on golf has remained flat over the past eight years, and Nike has decided to get out of the golf equipment business. Cast-off clubs go unsold at garage sales and thrift stores. Yet, the geographical limitations of the Winter Park Golf Course could give it an edge as the sport regroups. Busy Americans who can’t spend four or five hours on 18 holes may be willing to spend two hours on nine holes — especially if they can combine golf with lunch, dinner or shopping. “Most golf courses don’t have the luxury of being attached to an asset like Park Avenue,” says Diehl. The new emphasis on the compressed round of golf has given rise to hopeful slogans such as “Quick Nine,” “Nine Is the New 18,” “Time for Nine” and even “Wine and Nine.” Leary is optimistic. “The golf industry has a huge push right now toward nine holes — before work, after work, even during lunch,” he says. And he pledges to do his part: “I love the sport. I don’t play enough, but I’ll be playing more. If you see me out there, duck.” LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
Approaching the main entrance to the Center for Health & Wellbeing from the parking garage, visitors pass through the Bamboo Garden.
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WORLD One-of-a-kind center offers a holistic approach to health. BY RANDY NOLES
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Need to get your bearings? Check out this aerial view of the Center for Health & Wellbeing and a site plan that shows how its 4.2 acres are configured. A portion of Mizell Avenue was rerouted and renamed Crosby Way in honor of Peggy and Philip B. Crosby, whose $1 million gift in 1989 jump-started construction of the original Peggy & Philip B. Crosby Wellness Center.
n Winter Park, healthy living has taken physical form with the grand opening of the 79,000-square-foot Center for Health & Wellbeing, which has brought wellness, fitness and medicine together in a one-of-a-kind building designed to stir mind, body and soul. The $42 million center, created through a partnership between the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) and AdventHealth Winter Park, sits on 4.2 acres near Ward Park and Showalter Field, where the original Peggy & Philip B. Crosby Wellness Center opened in 1989 and operated until 2017.
The two organizations — whose core principles about the nature of whole-person health are in hale and hearty alignment — say the joint project appears to be unique in the U.S. It seamlessly combines health-related disciplines in one state-of-the-art facility where the only goal is to improve the community’s quality of life. “We found individual components of wellness, fitness and medicine in other places,” says Patty Maddox, WPHF’s president and CEO. “But no place had everything co-existing under one roof — and no place had coordination across all platforms.” The center’s completion marks the culmination of an idea hatched six years ago by WPHF, led by Maddox since its inception in 1994, and the hospital, then led by administrator Ken Bradley — who also served as mayor of Winter Park from 2009 to 2015.
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“We found individual components of wellness, fitness and medicine in other places,” says Patty Maddox, president and CEO of the Winter Park Health Foundation. “But no place had everything co-existing under one roof — and no place had coordination across all platforms.”
In 2016, when Bradley became administrator of Florida Hospital Celebration Health and senior executive officer for Florida Hospital’s South/ West market, his Winter Park post was filled by Jennifer Wandersleben, who had been administrator of Florida Hospital Apopka since 2011. “Early discussions identified a need in the community,” says Wandersleben. “We asked, ‘What can we collectively do to prevent chronic disease? Has anyone tried anything like this before?’ We looked at the best of the best all over the country.” Adds Maddox: “This concept, in the case of both the foundation and the hospital, linked back to our core missions. We decided that we could do something significant together.” Such a partnership made sense. After all, the two organizations were not only joined philosophically — they even shared the same DNA.
DEEP COMMUNITY ROOTS Both WPHF and AdventHealth Winter Park can track their beginnings to 1951, when a group of community leaders, frustrated at having to drive to Orlando for care, bought 15 acres on what had been the golf course of the long-defunct Aloma Country Club. The group, known as the Winter Park Memorial Hospital Association, raised more than $850,000 from 2,500 individual donors. Ground was broken in 1953 and the hospital — serving a city of about 12,000 residents — opened its doors in 1955. There were 58 beds, two operating rooms, a fracture room and a delivery room. During its first year, the “hospital with a heart” served 2,000 patients and delivered 200 babies. (Last year, there were more than 64,000 outpatient visits and more than 3,200 babies delivered.) For nearly 40 years, Winter Park Memorial was owned and operated by the association. In 1994, however, the association entered into a partnership with Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation, which assumed management responsibility. The association then became a private foundation. With Maddox at the helm, WPHF initially focused on operating the original Peggy & Philip B. Crosby Wellness Center and opening the nearby Elinor & T. William Miller, Jr. Center for Older Adult Services, a day-services facility for adults with disabilities or dementia-related disorders. In 2000, when Adventist Health System — now AdventHealth — bought the hospital, WPHF sold its remaining interest and shifted its focus to making Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville — with a combined population of more than 60,000 — happier and healthier places. Toward that goal, WPHF quietly funded community health programs — from fighting diabetes to placing nurses and counselors in public schools — through grants and partnerships. It has invested about $100 million in such efforts since it began operating independently, according to Maddox. In the meantime, the hospital grew along with the city, which today has more than 30,000 residents within its corporate limits. In addition to Winter Park, the burgeoning facility’s primary service area includes portions of northeastern Orange County and southeastern Seminole County. Ongoing expansion projects reflect the hospital’s headway. Currently nearing completion is the $85 million Nicholson Pavilion, which will add 140 all-private patient rooms as well as a new main lobby. When the five-story pavilion opens, most of the hospital’s existing 320 beds will become private.
ONE-STOP WELLBEING At the heart of the Center for Health & Wellbeing is the Commons, a lightfilled, two-story space for activities and casual socializing. Flanking the Com-
mons on the first floor is the Community Conference Center — two adjoining meeting rooms that can be combined to accommodate 250 people. Nourish Coffee Bar + Kitchen and its adjoining Nutrition Theater as well as clinical offices are also located on the first floor. A nearby space dubbed the Healthy Living Experience features an exhibition area with interactive displays of new personal medical technology, such as apps and wearable devices that track health measures and wellness activities. The Wellbeing Network — WPHF’s partnership with Bolder Media Group, has a studio within the Healthy Living Experience. There, educational and inspirational videos related to the center’s Seven Dimensions of Wellbeing are shot and disseminated online. Bolder Media Group produces Growing Bolder, a nationally shown PBS TV show about active aging. The Growing Bolder team — with longtime colleagues Marc Middleton and Bill Shafer in front of the camera — also produces a TV show that’s seen nationally on PBS and publishes a magazine containing stories about “ordinary people living extraordinary lives” regardless of age. “Growing Bolder has been a fantastic partner,” says Diana Silvey, vice president for programming for the center who’ll also oversee its array of offerings. “From the start, they’ve shared our vision.” Members of the Peggy & Philip B. Crosby Wellness Center can drop their youngsters off at the Kids’ Corner before seeing a clinician, attending a lecture or working out. (Nonmembers can make a reservation to use the Kids’ Corner.) The 30,781-square-foot Crosby Center — which spans two floors and has a first-floor entrance — is expected to earn Medical Fitness Association (MFA) certification following a year of operation. It’s operated by Chicago-based Power Wellness, which runs 14 MFA-certified facilities around the U.S. On the Crosby Center’s ground floor are two pools — one for swimming laps, the other with warmer water for “aquacise” classes and physical therapy. There are also men’s and women’s locker rooms, each with saunas. A bonus feature on this level is the Kids’ Corner, a space where, for an additional fee, children from ages 6 to 12 can spend up to two hours participating in a youth-focused wellness curriculum while their parents or guardians work out. Upstairs is the Crosby Center’s fitness floor, with a fitness studio for cycling and other high-intensity exercise programs. There’s also a mind-body studio for group classes, the latest Precor and Life Fitness cardio machines and, for traditionalists, tried-and-true free weights. Elsewhere on the second floor are more clinical offices and, around the upper reaches of the Commons, an indoor walking track open to the public (12.5 laps equal one mile). Outdoors, circling the perimeter of the site, are multiple gardens around which loops a walking trail (2.5 laps equals one mile). There is free parking in a five-level garage. Obviously, the center is a busy place — and determining how to take full advantage of its services might seem a bit overwhelming. That’s why WPHF has stationed “wellbeing guides” in first-floor offices close to the welcome desk. The guides, based on feedback received through brief assessments, help visitors identify and meet their wellbeing goals. Physicians also steer patients toward one or more of the center’s services as part of overall treatment plans. “If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as diabetes, the simplest things can often make the greatest difference,” says Wandersleben. “Regular exercise and eating a healthy diet can help you manage your symptoms and improve your overall health. Even though these sound simple, they can be challenging or intimidating for some people to implement.” At least one challenge — access to information and services — has been mitigated with the center’s opening. At a single location, you can visit a physician, receive laboratory tests, fill a prescription at a retail pharmacy, go to a LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
At the heart of the Center for Health & Wellbeing is the Commons, a light-filled, two-story space for activities and casual socializing. Around the upper reaches of the Commons, there’s an indoor walking track (12.5 laps equal one mile). Adjacent to the Commons, is the center’s Nourish Coffee Bar + Kitchen, run by Collette Haw (below), who says that healthy food can also be delicious. Haw, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, offers a creative menu featuring many items reminiscent of old-fashioned comfort food.
rehab session while recovering from an injury or learn to implement lifestyle modifications that can help prevent medical issues as you grow older. “If your physician wants you to start walking, see a physical therapist or meet with a nutritionist, we have all these experts in a convenient setting,” adds Wandersleben, who touts the center as a new model for healthcare. “The best part is, everyone will be working collaboratively to improve the health of not just the individual, but the greater community.” Silvey, who joined WPHF in 2007, couldn’t agree more. She notes that the center’s impact will be magnified because its service area is so specific. Before relocating to Winter Park, she was director of community outreach for the St. Louis-based Sisters of Mercy Health System with responsibility for seven states. “I was traveling around a lot,” Silvey says. “I always thought that focusing on a specific population would be more impactful. With WPHF, our geography is so concise that we can see and measure the ways in which we make a difference.”
DESIGNED FOR HEALTH The building itself might even offer a wellbeing benefit. The project’s architect, Turan Duda of Duda | Paine in Durham, North Carolina, has emphasized what he calls “the healing power of nature and gardens.” A half-dozen gardens surrounding the building have various purposes — one for contemplation, for example, and another for aroma.
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Inside, the Commons offers warm shades of wood, while the thoughtful placing of furniture creates more intimate areas within a massive space. WPHF representatives were wowed by Duda | Paine’s earlier design of the Duke Integrative Medicine building at Duke University, says Maddox. The group had visited other wellness-oriented centers where the programs were interesting but the facilities — not so much. The Duke building, however, exuded warmth and serenity, partly through its use of wood, stone and plants. “We all had the same response — the building was speaking to us,” recalls Maddox, who was surprised to find that the architect was headquartered in Durham. “We all felt this calming influence.” Already, there are ripple effects on property adjacent to the center. Cityowned Ward Park has gotten an upgrade, thanks in part to a $25,000 WPHF grant. An unused corner of the 66-acre, sports-focused park boasts a new trail as well as a lawn for croquet and bocce ball. “Projects like the Center for Health & Wellbeing help make us a worldclass city,” says City Manager Randy Knight, noting that health is specifically referenced in the city’s vision statement: “Winter Park is the city of arts and culture, cherishing its traditional scale and charm while building a healthy and sustainable future for all generations.” For more information about the Center for Health & Wellbeing, visit yourhealthandwellbeing.org. For more information about the Peggy & Philip B. Crosby Wellness center, visit crosbywellnesscenter.org.
The Peggy & Philip B. Crosby Wellness Center offers state-of-the-art equipment for cardiovascular and strength training. The Crosby Center expects to earn certification from the Medical Fitness Association, which means its staff will be able to supervise medically prescribed exercise programs.
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HOSPITAL’S GROWTH WILL ENHANCE PATIENT CARE
PHOTO BY RAFAEL TONGOL (JENNIFER WANDERSLEBEN)
AdventHealth Winter Park’s $85 million Nicholson Patient Pavilion (top) will add 140 all-private patient rooms as well as a new main lobby. The main entrance (above) on Edinburgh Drive is beautifully designed and lushly landscaped. In addition to expansion projects now underway, the hospital will renovate more visible parts of the complex along busy Lakemont Avenue, where the emergency room is located. At the helm of AdventHealth Winter Park during this period of unprecedented growth is administrator Jennifer Wandersleben (left).
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AdventHealth Winter Park, founded by the community as Winter Park Memorial Hospital in 1955, is nearing completion of its five-story, $85 million Nicholson Patient Pavilion, which will add 140 all-private rooms when it opens later in 2019. The addition will also include an expanded same-day surgery center along with a surgical waiting room and a new main lobby. Floors two through five will encompass an intensive care unit, inpatient surgical care beds and an inpatient rehab facility. Another benefit: Semiprivate rooms elsewhere in the hospital will become private rooms. “We’re thrilled to be a part of this latest chapter in the hospital’s history,” says administrator Jennifer Wandersleben. “It’s the largest investment in the hospital’s history and one of the largest in Winter Park.” “We feel blessed to be able to share with the Winter Park community in this way,” says Tony Nicholson, who with his wife is the namesake of the Nicholson School of Communication at the University of Central Florida and Florida Hospital’s Nicholson Center at Celebration. “We’re excited for the impact this patient pavilion will have,” he adds. “Remember, this is where life begins and where we come to get the best medical attention during our lifetimes.” When Winter Park Memorial Hospital opened during President Eisenhower’s first term, about 12,000 people called Winter Park home. The first ambulance was a hearse run by a funeral home. Ninety doctors treated patients at the 58-bed facility. Today, nearly 30,000 people live in Winter Park, and thousands more in the surrounding area. Last year there were 14,463 inpatient admissions, 38,049 emergency visits and 64,682 outpatient visits. There were 3,178 deliveries and 8,536 surgeries. AdventHealth Winter Park is the largest private employer in the city, with 1,445 employees. There are 2,454 staff physicians. Altamonte Springs-based AdventHealth operates nearly 50 hospitals and an extensive network of physician practices and outpatient services across nearly a dozen states, making it one of the largest faith-based healthcare systems in the U.S.
Through the Looking Glass
WELCOME TO Museums & Cultural
Health & Beauty 23 9 12 6
Advanced Park Dental 407-628-0200 Clean Beauty Bar 407-960-3783 Eyes & Optics 407-644-5156 Kendall & Kendall, Hair Color Studio 407-629-2299 17 One Aesthetics 407-720-4242 15 See Eyewear 407-599-5455
Hotels The Alfond Inn Park Plaza Hotel
California Closets Ethan Allen Monark Premium Appliance The Shade Store
800-633-0213 407-622-1987 407-636-9725 321-422-1010
Jewelry Alex and Ani Be On Park International Diamond Center Jewelers on the Park Orlando Watch Company Reynolds & Co. Jewelers
8 11 3
321-422-0841 407-644-1106 407-629-5531 407-622-0222 407-975-9137 407-645-2278
Shoes 25 Rieker Shoes 17 Shoooz On Park Avenue
Specialty Shops 2 5 14 7 15 13 3 13 20 18 19 6
Fig and Julep 321-972-1899 The Ancient Olive 321-972-1899 Brandywine Books 407-644-1711 Christian Science Reading Room 407-647-1559 Frank 407-629-8818 Maureen H. Hall Stationery & Invitations 407-629-6999 New General 321-972-2819 Partridge Tree Gift Shop 407-645-4788 Rifle Paper Co. 407-622-7679 The Spice and Tea Exchange 407-647-7423 Ten Thousand Villages 407-644-8464 Writer’s Block Bookstore 407-592-1498
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Hannibal Square NEW ENGLAND AVENUE
Park 23 Place
7 16 20 15 18 17 12 21
8 3 1 5 4 6 2 9
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Weddings • = Not on Map
The Collection Bridal Winter Park Wedding Co
Park Place Garage
1 Ben and Jerry’s 407-325-5163 1 Kilwins Chocolates & Ice Cream 407-622-6292 14 Peterbrooke Chocolatier 407-644-3200
N 500 N
CHARLES HOSMER MORSE MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART 1
10 Luxury Trips 407-622-8747 18 Winter Park Welcome Center 407-644-8281
P FREE 4 Hour Parking LOT A
11 5 2 15 16 3
10 9 11 5
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Winter Park, Florida
5 Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens 407-647-6294 2 Bach Festival Society of Winter Park 407-646-2182 407-628-8200 2 Casa Feliz 3 Cornell Fine Arts Museum 407-646-2526 1 Morse Museum of American Art 407-645-5311 3 Scenic Boat Tour 407-644-4056 • The Winter Park Playhouse 407-645-0145 10 Winter Park History Museum 407-647-2330
310 Park South Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen BoiBrazil Churrascaria blu on the avenue Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine Cocina 214 Garp and Fuss Laurel Latin Cuisine Luma on Park Maestro Cucina Napoletana mon petit cheri cafe New General Panera Bread Pannullo’s Italian Restaurant Park Avenue Smoothie Cafe The Parkview Power House Cafe Prato Rome’s Flavours UMI Japanese Restaurant The Wine Room on Park Ave
1 1 19 2 2 3 3 6 1 5 4 12 4 2 1 6 7 2 4 7 3
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14 Arabella 407-636-8343 12 Bebe’s/Liz’s Fashion Experience 407-628-1680 2 Charyli 407-455-1983 9 Cottonways 321-203-4733 407-628-1087 6 Current 1 Evelyn and Arthur 407-740-0030 13 Forema Boutique 407-790-4987 15 The Impeccable Pig 407-636-4043 2 J. McLaughlin 407-960-3965 407-629-7944 7 John Craig Clothier 6 Lilly Pulitzer 407-539-2324 407-628-1222 19 Lucky Brand Jeans 5 Maestro Cucina Napoletana 407-335-4548 4 Max and Marley 407-636-6204 16 Siegel’s Winter Park 407-645-3100 407-647-7241 4 Synergy 321-209-1096 • TADofstyle 12 The Grove 407-740-0022 20 tugboat and the bird 407-647-5437 407-628-1609 17 Tuni
THE PARK AVENUE MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION • EXPERIENCEPARKAVENUE.COM
D 17 C 15 B 21 B 12 D 12
B 16 Zingara Souls
Business Services E2
Moss, Krusick and Associates D 18 Forward Law Firm E 8 The Kozlowski CPA Firm
(407) 644-5811 (407) 621-4200 (407) 381-4432
Dining E 10 Antonio’s House of Pizza D 23 310 Park South C7
Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen
D 25 blu on the avenue C 16 Cocina 214 B9 D 21 D 16 B4 E 11 D 29 C2 C 22 D 31
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C 17 The Imperial C 10 The Parkview D 20 The Wine Room E5
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(407) 636-7222 (407) 647-7277 (407) 629-0042 (407) 960-3778 (407) 790-7997 (585) 766-9886 (407) 599-4111 (407) 647-7520 (407) 645-3939 (407) 335-4914 (407) 645-3616 (407) 262-0050 (407) 543-8425 (407) 542-5975
C 11 Be On Park
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B 19 Orlando Watch Company
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D 15 Pristine Nail & Day Spa D 27 See Eyewear D 22 Taylor’s Pharmacy C1
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D 24 Partridge Tree Gift Shop
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C 23 Winter Park Maitland Observer (407) 218-5955
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The Spice and Tea Exchange
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& Sculpture Gardens
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D 17 Ocean Blue Galleries
C 20 Scenic Boat Tour
The Winter Park Playhouse
D 10 Winter Park History Museum
Fannie Hillman + Associates
D 11 Keller Williams Winter Park
Kelly Price & Company
Leading Edge Title
Premier Sotheby’s International Realty
The Keewin Real Property Company
The Winter Park Land Company (407) 644-2900
D 32 The Alfond Inn at Rollins
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D 30 Writer’s Block Bookstore
D 18 Beyond Commercial
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CHARLES HOSMER MORSE MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
4 4 25 3 19 5 6 7 8
FREE 4-Hour Parking 4th & 5th levels
20 12 21 13 22
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(407) 415-8053 (407) 647-9103 (407) 696-9463 (407) 960-3993
2 3 4
7 12 8 9 10 13 11 15
FREE 4-Hour Parking Lot A
N O R T H
3-Hour Public Parking on Ground Level
E. New England Ave. 6 3-Hour Parking Lot B
WELCOME CENTER 11
12 13 14 15
22 23 24 25
K E Y Comstock Ave.
Comstock Ave. 2 13
4 1 6
27 29 31
3-Hour Public Parking Saturday & Sunday
4-Hr Street Parking
Lyman Ave. 1
3-Hr Street Parking
W. New England Ave. 3
7 8 9
(407) 644-5156 (407) 960-4003 (407) 636-7539 (407) 622-1611 (407) 599-5455 (407) 644-1025 (321) 617-5274
(407) 647-1072 (407) 998-8090
Hotels D 13 Park Plaza Hotel
C 17 Luxury Trips
Follett Bookstore at Rollins College
C 14 Frank.
C 19 On The Strip Lash & Brow
Health & Beauty B 13 Eyes & Optics
B 20 Christian Science Reading Room (407) 647-1559
Kilwins Chocolates & Ice Cream (407) 622-6292
Shoooz On Park Avenue
W. Park Ave.
E 13 Ben & Jerry’s
New York Ave.
New York Ave.
(800) 633-0213 (407) 622-1987 (321) 316-4086 (321) 422-1010
B 23 Rieker Shoes
California Closets B 3 Ethan Allen B 24 Piante Design B 16 The Shade Store
P A R K ,
W I N T E R
Charyli Current Dear Jame Evelyn and Arthur Forema Boutique J. McLaughlin John Craig Clothier Lilly Pulitzer Lucky Brand Jeans lululemon Max + Marley Sara Campbell Siegel’s Winter Park Synergy The Grove The Impeccable Pig Tugboat and The Bird Tuni
PA RK AVE NUE
(407) 628-1680 (407) 455-1983 (407) 628-1087 (407) 951-8890 (407) 740-0030 (407) 790-4987 (407) 960-3965 (407) 629-7944 (407) 539-2324 (407) 628-1222 (407) 628-0033 (407) 995-4747 (321) 972-1232 (407) 645-3100 (407) 647-7241 (407) 740-0022 (407) 636-4043 (407) 647-5437 (407) 628-1609
D 14 Bebe’s & Liz’s
500 S 1
ROLLINS COLLEGE 3
OASIS ‘Winter Park’s Natural Place’ is more than pretty and peaceful. It’s also an important ecosystem.
PHOTO BY RAFAEL TONGOL
BY LESLIE K. POOLE
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The snowy egret and the gopher tortoise are among the creatures that share the garden with humans, many of whom enjoy the tranquility or attend events at The Grove, which is one of two amphitheaters on the property. One of the most popular features of the garden is Howell Creek (facing page), which brings water from the wetlands near Orlando’s Spring Lake through Winter Park and into a lake system that eventually connects to the St. Johns River.
small white egret balances on a rock, eyeA year after Mead’s death in 1936, his proing glassy pond water in search of silvery tégé, John “Jack” Connery — who had inherited minnows. Two gopher tortoises wrestle headMead’s teeming greenhouses — approached Edto-head in a slow-motion battle of wills. A bicyclist win Osgood Grover, the “professor of books” at takes a break, peering up into an enormous pine Rollins College. tree from which comes a wind-borne tune. Connery thought — and Grover agreed — These are the creatures of Winter Park’s Mead that there should be a vast garden to memorialize Botanical Garden — humans, birds, reptiles and their mutual friend, and to display his collection fish — that have found relief and sustenance in of amaryllis, hemerocallis, fancy-leaf caladiums its 47 acres of precious green space. and more than 1,000 orchids. Only two blocks from the incessant cacophony But how could such an audacious goal be of four-lane U.S. Highway 17-92, it’s a quiet, verachieved? dant haven from harassment that allows the huNear Rollins College was a low-lying area man spirit to rise while supporting habitats that along Howell Creek that they thought would have disappeared from much of Central Florida. be perfect for the venture. At Grover’s behest, The loveliness that visitors find here is real. But owners of several tracts donated their holdings This lively portrait of Mead was painted in the garden also serves practical purposes: It filto Theodore L. Mead Botanical Garden Inc., a 1932 by Sam Stoltz, an artist and self-trained ters water destined for the St. Johns River, houses newly formed nonprofit. architect whose quirky “Spanish Florida” homes can still be seen in Windermere, College Park, scarce species, and provides layover grounds for Four years later — aided by Works Progress Winter Park and on scattered sites throughout migratory birds in search of food and rest. Administration labor — the dream became a reCentral Florida. It also offers a glimpse into Winter Park’s past, ality. Mead Botanical Garden officially opened when the area was mostly pinelands with trees on January 15, 1940, in a formal ceremony that that extended to the horizon — a rare sight in present-day Central Florida. included local dignitaries and elected officials. Tucked behind a busy municipal tennis complex, railroad tracks, apartment Grover, who presided over the festivities, laid out a grand vision of a garden buildings and homes, the garden is located on the south side of the city, borthat would encompass unspoiled natural areas, ornamental plots, greenhousdered by Pennsylvania Avenue to the east and South Denning Drive to the west. es for exotic plants and even aquariums — which were never built. But beyond its shady bricked entry, the garden offers calm amid chaos, and Perhaps the garden wasn’t everything that Grover and Connery had envian opportunity to experience a different kind of park — one that combines sioned. For years, though, it was arguably the most beautiful spot in Central planted gardens with restored natural areas. Florida — a fitting tribute to the genius of Mead and the persistence of the “Mead Botanical Garden is a little ecological island,” says Forest Michael, unlikely pair who had implemented this far-fetched notion. a landscape architect and master planner who has long been involved in the Then, in 1953, the original nonprofit headed by Grover was acrimonigarden’s restoration. “It’s one of Florida’s most interesting spots, full of hisously dissolved — there was a dispute over the distribution of admission tory and ecological relevance.” fees — and operation of the garden was turned over to the city. The garden is named for Theodore Luqueer Mead, an accomplished natuGradually, it became a mishmash of elements. There were multiple greenralist, entomologist and horticulturist who moved to Oviedo in the late houses, two of which were filled with Mead’s orchids. A garden path was 1880s. There he grew exotic plants — particularly orchids — and became lined with palms and hybridized plants, and the wetlands encompassed an renowned for his hybridization techniques. egret rookery. LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
PHOTO BY RAFAEL TONGOL
But there was also a county-owned clay pit next to a landfill, which contained everything from old tires to chemical waste. And in 1959, an amphitheater was built next to Howell Creek. Decades after its creation, the vision articulated by Grover and Connery had been forgotten — or, more likely, ignored. Non-native invasive trees, plants and vines overwhelmed the wetlands. Wooden boardwalks were built and then abandoned to rot. The city even used the property to store and repair vehicles. Maintenance consisted of mowing over native plants, leaving them unable to naturally grow and reseed. An irreplaceable natural asset was being not only neglected but abused. In 1988, Mayor David Johnson appointed a 15-member Mead Garden Task Force, which recruited the Orlando Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects to assist in formulating a master plan. Perhaps predictably, the plan gathered dust. In 1992, a Rollins class analyzed the site, offering a vision for a boardwalk system that included signage to educate visitors about local ecology. Again, nothing of consequence resulted. Despite fits and starts of ideas and activity, comprehensive management — and adequate funding for restoration — never materialized. By the early 21st century, the property had become not a botanical garden but an oversized and underused city park — breathtaking in places, but in a state of inexorable decline. Enough maintenance was done to keep it looking respectable, and the amphitheater remained a popular venue among event planners. Some boardwalks were repaired, a few trails were built and the entry was rebricked. However, the garden needed new energy to revive the vision of its early
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Volunteers such as Alice Mikkleson and Jean Scarbourgh are crucial to maintaining the 47-acre garden, which is owned by the city, but operated by Mead Botanical Garden Inc., a nonprofit organization.
champions like Grover and Connery. Enter the Friends of Mead Garden, a nonprofit formed in 2003 by concerned residents. The group organized volunteers for cleanup duty and advocated improvement plans to city officials. Those efforts were hampered, however, by the hurricanes of 2004. Charley, Frances and Jeanne — three storms in six weeks — left the wetlands a mess and blew in more invasive species. Optimism was rekindled in 2007, when the city approved a master plan for the garden presented by Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan, a large architecture and engineering firm. But an economic storm — the Great Recession — caused funding for reclamation to be slashed. Still, volunteer “Weed Warriors” and “Butterfly Brigades” soldiered on, mostly on weekends, doing what they could with limited resources and motivated by their vision for the garden’s future. In 2012, the Friends of Mead Garden — now Mead Botanical Garden Inc. (MBG) — signed a multiyear agreement with the city that essentially turned over operational responsibility to the privately funded organization and its 18-member board. The city still owns the property, but the nonprofit — with a shoestring staff — runs its facilities. MBG board members envision a new master plan that’s more ecologically focused and program-driven than past plans have been. Central to MBG’s effort is enhancing and restoring habitats and natural systems. There’ll always be human manipulation of the property, notes Mi-
chael, but improving its ecology will be a boon for flora and fauna. “If the ecology is good,” he adds, “people will love it.”
WATERWAYS AND BIRDS One of the most popular features of the garden is Howell Creek, which brings water from the wetlands near Orlando’s Spring Lake through Winter Park and into a lake system that eventually connects to the St. Johns River. The portion of the creek that runs through the garden is its longest uninterrupted stretch. It winds through cypress trees and Alice’s Pond — named in honor of volunteer Alice Mikkleson — providing an important habitat and travel avenue for wading birds, otters, turtles and fish. During dry periods, the creek almost disappears; during rainy periods, it floods, demonstrating the fluctuations of natural systems and the importance of wetlands to the local ecology. Joining the creek at the garden are two city stormwater pipes that collect water from the surrounding neighborhood and dump it onto the property. The water — teeming with chemicals, fertilizers, leaves, grass clippings and trash — had for years been deposited into an increasingly mucky marsh. But with Michael’s help — and through in-person lobbying of Tallahassee lawmakers by Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary — the city received $450,000
in state grants to remove 17 truckloads of muck and landfill debris from the half-acre site. A clay pit and a plant-lined pond near The Grove — a newer amphitheater built in 2012 — assist in water treatment during storm and high-water times. Now, when water enters the creek, it’s much cleaner than when it arrived. “The garden is going to be a managed system to some extent, but we want it to be managed as close to natural as possible,” says Tim Egan, water quality manager for the City of Winter Park’s Public Works Department. Egan’s department is supervising an ongoing wetlands restoration and reforestation effort, using $100,000 from the city’s stormwater utility capital improvement fund. The entire job may take decades to fully complete. For now, though, the garden provides priceless green space for the city — which is important for people and animals alike. “The tremendous ecological value of the garden is, in part, its proximity to other natural resources,” Egan says. The city’s various parks support many species — particularly birds — that have adapted to living in an urban environment. The garden has long been a popular birding site. Its checklist of almost 180 species, compiled by the Orange Audubon Society (OAS), includes native and migratory birds. “Mead Garden is a supermarket for migratory birds,” says MBG Executive Director Cynthia Hasenau. Birders regularly roam the garden carrying binoculars or cameras with large lenses to “capture” their prey. During the spring and fall migration seasons, OAS conducts guided walks for birders, who come from across Florida in hopes of glimpsing, say, a colorful American redstart or hooded warbler. Scot French, an amateur photographer, usually visits the garden twice a LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
PHOTO BY LAURENCE TAYLOR
The garden has long been a popular birding site. Its checklist of almost 180 species, compiled by the Orange Audubon Society, includes native and migratory birds. Birders regularly roam the site carrying binoculars or cameras with large lenses to “capture” their prey. Among the yearround residents are barred owls, which regularly produce broods of adorable owlets (above).
PHOTO BY RAFAEL TONGOL
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week. “Obviously, I love the place,” says French, who lives in Maitland and is a UCF history professor. “I go there all the time. I find it really peaceful.” The wildlife is always changing, French says. On a recent visit, he realized that a barred owl was directly overhead, staring down at him — and offering an unexpected photo op. “It shot me a look like it was mad,” says French.
SANDHILL PINE UPLANDS The southern part of the garden, which offers the healthiest habitat, encompasses the sandhill pine uplands that once dominated the Central Florida landscape. This tract, while not completely pristine, has the greatest potential to be restored to its natural state. It rises to 89 feet — the highest elevation in the garden. Its central feature is longleaf pine — majestic trees that can reach 50 to 60 feet in height and live up to 500 years. Plant growth in the uplands was once kept in check by forest fires. However, with no fires for at least 150 years, other trees have sprouted, including palms and laurel oaks. In the meantime, native plants have been mowed over by city crews, and non-native plant species have invaded. In 2013, in partnership with MBG, the Tarflower Chapter of the Florida
Native Plant Society began restoring the sandhill area, creating two plots where a variety of plants have been located. Volunteers have planted 160 sandhill plants such as saw palmetto, black cherry, persimmon and native grasses in the deep yellow sand, while also removing invasive plants. Signs to explain the habitat — and the gopher tortoises that thrive there — are displayed. Gopher tortoises are listed by the state as a threatened species, which means their numbers have dropped from historical levels. Gopher tortoises also have an important function in the environment. Their extensive underground tunnels — the entrances are cordoned off at the garden — may be home to some 350 other animal species.
NATURE EDUCATION AND PSYCHIC RELIEF Ecology comes to life during the garden’s educational programs and camps, which aim to be incubators for future environmentalists. One of the most popular such programs is the Young Naturalist Summer Camp, held every June and July for children ages 5 to 12. When it debuted seven years ago, the camp had 35 registered children and ran three weeks. In the summer of 2019 the camp registered more than 400 kids. More than a quarter of the attendees came for multiple weeks, according to Hasenau. The Rotary Club of Winter Park supports the program with a dozen scholarships annually. “The secret of the camp’s success is the awesome camp staff, the amazing natural setting, and the interesting activities and adventures,” Hasenau says. “Children have fun, they explore, they learn, and they don’t have to worry about tracking in dirt.” Centered in the Discovery Barn — originally built as a storage facility for city tractors — and a small environmental building, the camp lets kids get up LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
PHOTOS BY RAFAEL TONGOL
Just beyond the garden’s entrance is its restored greenhouse (above left), which is surrounded by a colorful and meticulously maintained Legacy Garden. Among the unusual plants you’ll find are staghorn ferns (above right), which hang from the large oak trees just to the left of the greenhouse. The ferns are native to Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia. During the most recent Young Naturalist Summer Camp, Shannon Charmley, program counselor, and a group of eager youngsters (facing page) collect samples of aquatic life from Howell Creek.
Educational programs at the garden cultivate — literally — young ecologists. One of the most popular such programs is the Young Naturalist Summer Camp, held every June and July for children ages 5 to 12.
PHOTOS BY RAFAEL TONGOL
close and personal with everything from snakes to minnows to butterflies in the butterfly garden. All the while, they’re learning about Florida habitats from a 14-member staff. There’s not an electronic device in sight — and the kids, some of them soaked through their clothes from wading, are having a ball. “I’m fond of saying that if we can get kids to fall in love with the Earth when they’re little, they’ll love it forever,” says Hasenau as a group of boisterous campers pass. She describes the camp experience as “going green and getting grimy,” a phrase that seems to perfectly fit the bill. Graham Fetteroff, 13, has been coming to the camp for six years, eventually becoming a junior counselor. “It’s my backyard,” he says. “I like to look for the birds.” He’s helped with water quality testing in the garden, and today has been dip-netting for minnows with campers. Notes Graham: “When the kids learn a new thing, they go, ‘Wow!’” A program called Junior Nature Explorers will be held again in Fall 2019 for up to 20 children ages 3-6. The group will meet weekly. Another new program is Muddy Hands Mead Explorers, an after-school program for up to 30 elementary school children. They’ll meet every other Wednesday from 3:30-5 p.m, also beginning in Fall 2019. In addition, the garden has expanded its programming with field trips on
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an appointment basis with public, private and home schools. Rollins classes often walk to the garden, where they’re able to conduct studies in nature’s own laboratory. Students taught by Bobby Fokidis, an assistant professor of biology, have trapped, tagged and collected blood samples from turtles; their biggest catch was a 51-pound female snapping turtle, which they released. Rollins students have also documented fish from the creek and from the stormwater retention ponds, discovering in the process that a South American fish species has somehow entered the ponds. Fokidis, an eco-physiologist who studies the effect of urban environments on animal species, points to scientific studies indicating that a walk in the woods can decrease stress and improve human emotional wellbeing. “Psychologically, it’s important that people have this,” he adds. Researchers have indeed found that people living near green space have less mental distress as well as lower incidences of 15 ailments, including asthma, migraine headaches, depression and heart disease.
THE FUTURE With a staff of two full-timers and two part-timers, the garden is reliant on a combination of taxpayer dollars, private fundraising and literal sweat equity — about 7,000 hours of labor per year — from volunteers. The public-private partnership is proving beneficial to the city, which allocates approximately one sixth of one percent of its annual budget to the garden while earning back more than twice that amount, according to Hasenau. Some of the challenges include reducing the impact of feral cats that hunt avian life — a problem made more difficult by people illegally feeding the felines — and working with local governments to reduce the use of insecticides and herbicides that can harm native biota. Also high on the priority list is improving land-management practices; removing exotic species; and accelerating the wetlands restoration and reforestation program. It’ll take time, money, energy, passion and vision. Michael, the landscape architect, says he’d also like to see markers erected that highlight the historical aspects of the garden, including Mead’s pioneering work. Walking through the garden on a recent muggy afternoon, Hasenau energetically points to garden highlights, notes some problem areas and praises the passionate volunteer efforts. “We’ve made a lot of progress since 2003,” she says. “And, there’s tremendous potential as well. We’re just scratching the surface of what we can do here.” Leslie K. Poole, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of environmental studies at Rollins College. She’s also the author of Saving Florida: Women’s Fight for the Environment in the Twentieth Century (University Press of Florida, 2015). LI VI N G IN WIN T ER PA RK
COURTESY OF BOBBY FOKIDIS
Bobby Fokidis (top), an assistant professor of biology at Rollins College, holds a 51-pound female Florida snapping turtle found in Howell Creek near the foot bridge. The turtle was given a unique mark on her upper shell (carapace) that allowed her to be tracked. “It’s cool to know that even in a small parkland in suburban Winter Park, such large and old reptiles are still out there,” Fokidis says. Former Rollins student Sarah Wright (right) holds a breeding pair of northern cardinals. The birds, captured where the upland area meets Alice’s Pond, were leg-banded as part of a study comparing the role of food on stress experienced by urban-dwelling birds.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR Listed in January-to-December order, so dates for 2020 are shown for events that occurred prior to July 2019. Events scheduled to occur after July 2019 have the current year’s scheduled date. In some cases, dates for 2020 had not been finalized at press time. Call or check the websites provided for the most up-to-date information.
UNITY HERITAGE FESTIVAL
COURTESY OF THE WINTER PARK HISTORY MUSEUM (SCENIC BOAT TOUR)
JANUARY 2020 (DATE TBD) Shady Park, 721 West New England Avenue This annual festival in the city’s historically black Hannibal Square neighborhood promotes awareness of family history and raises money for the Educational Fulfillment Fund, which benefits local economically disadvantaged youth. Activities from 1-5 p.m. include performances by various gospel-music artists, children’s games, food and retail vendors, and presentation of the annual Heritage Award. Free. 407-599-3275. cityofwinterpark.org.
SIDE BY SIDE JANUARY 2020 (DATE TBD) Knowles Memorial Chapel, Rollins College, 1000 Holt Avenue This annual event, inspired by the city’s celebration of its 125th anniversary in 2012, is designed “to pause and honor the gifts of our community.” It features remarks from civic, business and spiritual leaders as well as performances by talented musical groups and soloists. It starts at 8:30 a.m. in the chapel, with refreshments served afterward, outside near the rose garden. The program is presented by the First Congregational Church of Winter Park and Rollins College in partnership with the City of Winter Park and the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. 407-599-3506. cityofwinterpark.org.
local arts and culture organizations and nonprofits, there’s a full slate of cultural events and activities to showcase the city’s wide array of arts and culture offerings. cityofwinterpark.org/visitors/arts-culture.
85TH ANNUAL BACH FESTIVAL FEBRUARY 7 – MARCH 1, 2020 Knowles Memorial Chapel, Rollins College, 1000 Holt Avenue The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park was founded in 1935 to commemorate the
WEEKEND OF THE ARTS FEBRUARY 2020 (DATE TBD) Under the auspices of the Winter Park Arts and Culture Alliance, which consists of 18
A GATOR’S EYE VIEW OF WINTER PARK The Scenic Boat Tour, in operation since 1961, embarks from Lake Osceola and offers hourlong, guided cruises through three of the seven lakes comprising the Winter Park Chain of Lakes, traversing two picturesque man-made canals along the way. You’ll see swaying palms, towering cypress trees, lush ferns and a variety of subtropical flowers as well as breathtaking views of opulent private homes lining the shore. You might even spot a gator or two. The sights are spectacular. But just listening to the jovial tour guides — a hearty band of local historians — spin their yarns is worth the price. (This postcard is from the 1950s.) Tours are offered in a fleet of six 18-passenger pontoon boats. Admission is $14 for adults and $7 for children. Call 407-644-4065 or visit scenicboattours.com.
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250th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s birth by presenting the composer’s orchestral and choral music to the public. More than eight decades later, it offers a diverse program of concerts and educational programs, with choral, orchestral and visiting-artist concerts throughout the year. But for several weeks each February, the society’s renowned Annual Bach Festival features works of Bach and other great composers performed by the 160-voice Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra and guest soloists. Ticket prices vary. 407-646-2182. bachfestivalflorida.org.
WINTER PARK SIDEWALK ART FESTIVAL MARCH 20-22, 2020 Central Park, Park Avenue This annual, nationally ranked juried arts fest features about 225 artists chosen by a panel of judges from more than 1,100 applicants. The three-day outdoor event also features live jazz and children’s activities. (Pets are not allowed in the park or along the avenue between New England and Canton avenues during the festival.) Free. Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. wpsaf.org.
WINTER PARK ROAD RACE MARCH 21, 2020 Central Park, 251 North Park Avenue The Zimmerman Kiser Sutcliffe Winter Park Road Race is a local tradition and the grand
a bike rodeo with safety checks for ages 5 and older, food-and-beverage vendors, and an electric-car show. Those riding bicycles to the 11 a.m.–3 p.m. event will be able to use a free bike-valet service on Morse Boulevard between Park and New York avenues. 407599-3364. cityofwinterpark.org/earthday.
DINNER ON THE AVENUE
finale each year of the region’s Track Shack Running Series. In addition to the 10K main event, it offers a 2-mile race and a kids’ run, so the whole family can participate. The 6.2-mile route features slight inclines, treelined streets, historic homes and views of the Winter Park Chain of Lakes as it passes through several of the city’s beautiful neighborhoods. The first race starts at 7 a.m.; the event ends at 10 a.m. with the Track Shack Running Series awards ceremony.
APRIL 2020 (DATE TBD) Park Avenue between New England Avenue and Morse Boulevard Each year the city shuts down a stretch of Park Avenue for the evening and replaces the cars with tables and white linen for a unique, fun-filled dining experience and social event from 6–10 p.m. Friends, families, co-workers and neighbors organize groups, decorate their tables based on themes of their choosing, then sit down to potluck or catered dinners. 407-643-1613. cityofwinterpark.org/dinnerontheavenue.
EASTER EGG HUNT
EARTH DAY IN THE PARK APRIL 18, 2020 Central Park, Park Avenue This city-sponsored event, presented by its Sustainability and Keep Winter Park Beautiful programs, includes a kids’ zone with games, art projects, an educational planting experience, live music, an art contest, yoga for children and adults, a composting demo,
APRIL 2020 (DATE TBD) Central Park, Park Avenue This city-organized event is BYOB (Bring Your Own Basket). Children up to age 10 may hunt for the more than 10,000 eggs placed throughout Central Park. Anyone who comes up empty-handed can still enjoy special treats distributed at a designated candy area. Children with special needs are
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during which 25 professionally acclaimed plein air artists roam the city to capture favorite landscapes and landmarks with oils, watercolors and pastels. The museum and sculpture gardens, at 633 Osceola Avenue, are open to the public free of charge during the event. Newly finished paintings are hung in the gallery’s “wet room” and may be purchased on the spot. 407-647-6294. polasek.org. encouraged to join in the fun. 9:30-11 a.m., with the hunt starting promptly at 10 a.m. Free. 407-599-3463.
TASTE OF WINTER PARK APRIL 2020 (DATE TBD) Winter Park Farmers’ Market, 200 West New England Avenue This foodie festival, organized by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, showcases more than 40 of the region’s top chefs, bakers, caterers and confectioners. Admission to the event, which runs from 5-8 p.m., includes unlimited samples of signature dishes, beverages and desserts as well as live entertainment and raffle prizes. 407644-8281. winterpark.org.
OLDE FASHIONED 4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION JULY 4, 2019 Central Park, Park Avenue and Morse Boulevard Not surprisingly, Central Park is the site of this annual Independence Day celebration, with patriotic music performed by the Bach Festival Brass Band and Bach Festival Choir. There’s also a sunrise 5K run as well as other musical performances, horse-drawn wagon rides and an annual bicycle parade for children at 9 a.m. starting at City Hall, just south of the park. Free hot dogs, watermelon and water are served. Also, admission is free to the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art from 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m. 407599-3463. winterpark.org.
WINTER PARK PAINT OUT APRIL 2020 (DATE TBD) Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens The museum, formerly the home and studio of the late sculptor Albin Polasek, hosts its annual Paint Out the last full week of April,
The two-day show, which draws more than 40,000 people each year, features work by outstanding Florida artists, plus live entertainment and food. Children’s art workshops are also offered. Free. 407-644-8281. autumnartfestival.org.
NINTH ANNUAL PUMPKINS AND MUNCHKINS OCTOBER 31, 2019 Shady Park, Hannibal Square Business District Children of all ages are invited to enjoy games, bounce houses, a costume contest, a trick-or-treat trail, and fun for the entire family. Sponsored by the City of Winter Park. 6:30–8:30 p.m. Free. 407.599-3334
WINTER PARK AUTUMN ART FESTIVAL
HOLIDAY POPS CONCERT
OCTOBER 12-13, 2019 Central Park, Park Avenue The other shoe drops when the city offers a second juried art show, this one in the fall.
DECEMBER 8, 2019 Central Park, Park Avenue Bring a blanket and a picnic basket and get ready for an Orlando Philharmonic
NATIONAL AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS nB icycle-Friendly Community, League of American Bicyclists (2015) nO utstanding Achievement Award for Overall Impression, America in Bloom (2015) nN ational Award, 25,001-30,000 Population, America in Bloom (2013) n Playful City USA Community, KaBOOM! (2012, 2011) nG reen Local Government, Gold-Level Certification, Florida Green Building Coalition (2011) nC ity of Excellence Finalist, Florida League of Cities (2008)
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n Best-Tasting Water in Central Florida, 2nd Place, American Water Works Association/Florida Section (2007, 2005) n Tree City USA Award, National Arbor Day Foundation (2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002) n International SWAT Roundup for Police Departments with Fewer Than 100 Sworn Officers, Central Florida SWAT Association, First Place (2003) n Presidential Circle Award, Keep America Beautiful (2003) n Rollins College, No. 1 Regional University in the South, U.S. News & World Report (9 of the past 12 years)
Orchestra program of holiday favorites that will be sure to put everyone in the spirit of the season. Free.
41ST ANNUAL CHRISTMAS IN THE PARK DECEMBER 5, 2019 Central Park, Park Avenue Since 1979, on the first Thursday of December, the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art has helped launch the holiday season in Winter Park with a display of Tiffany stained-glass windows in Central Park and performances by the Bach Festival Choir, Youth Choir and Brass Ensemble. The tradition was started by Hugh and Jeannette McKean, the museum’s benefactors, to share a sampling of their rare Tiffany collection with the public in an informal setting. This year’s event, with music on the Central Park stage, is 6:15–8 p.m. Free. morsemuseum.org.
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WINTER ON THE AVENUE, FEATURING HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING DECEMBER 6, 2019 Central Park, Park Avenue The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and the City of Winter Park are proud to host “Winter on the Avenue,” a holiday season kickoff presented by Westminster Winter Park. The street party will include a flurry of activities from 5 to 10 p.m. along Park Avenue and in Central Park. The annual tree lighting ceremony at dusk will include performances by children’s choirs as well as children’s activities. cityofwinterpark.org.
YE OLDE HOMETOWN CHRISTMAS PARADE DECEMBER 7, 2019 Park Avenue, from Cole to Lyman avenues The city’s annual Christmas Parade has been held on the first Saturday in December for more than six decades, making it the longestrunning parade in Central Florida. More than 100 units will march south down Park Avenue between 9–11 a.m.; highlights include local dance troupes, police and fire departments, marching bands, Scout troops, local dignitaries and, of course, Santa Claus. Before and during the free parade, Leadership Winter Park hosts its annual Pancake Breakfast at the Central Park stage from 7–10:30 a.m.; tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for children, and proceeds benefit the Winter Park Improvement Foundation. 407-644-8281. winterpark.org.
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EDUCATION GUIDE PRIVATE-SCHOOL DIRECTORY SCHOOL NAME/ADDRESS
NUMBER OF STUDENTS
STUDENT TEACHER RATIO
THE GENEVA SCHOOL 2025 S.R. 436, Winter Park, FL 32792
JEWISH ACADEMY OF ORLANDO 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751
LAKE HIGHLAND PREPARATORY SCHOOL 901 N. Highland Ave., Orlando, FL 32803
FCIS, FKC, NAIS, SACS
ORANGEWOOD CHRISTIAN SCHOOL 1300 W. Maitland Blvd., Maitland, FL 32751
9::1 / 11::1
CSF, NCPSA, SACS
PARK MAITLAND SCHOOL 1450 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, FL 32751
10::1 / 15::1
THE PARKE HOUSE ACADEMY 1776 Minnesota Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789
TRINITY PREPARATORY SCHOOL 5700 Trinity Prep Lane, Winter Park, FL 32792
*CSF: Christian Schools of Florida (christianschoolsfl.org); FCIS: Florida Council of Independent Schools (fcis.org); FKC: Florida Kindergarten Council (fkconline.org); NAIS: National Association of Independent Schools (nais.org); NCPSA: National Council for Private School Accreditation (ncpsa.org); SACS: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (sacs.org). Tuition was correct as of presstime. Call individual schools for confirmation.
HIGHER-EDUCATION DIRECTORY SCHOOL NAME/ADDRESS/WEBSITE
FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY 3300 University Blvd., Winter Park, FL 32792 407-679-6333 / fullsail.edu
ROLLINS COLLEGE 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789 407-646-2000 / rollins.edu
MA, MFA, MS
Undergraduate PCH: $467-$621 Graduate PCH: $534-$850
Offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs for careers in film, music, gaming, animation and other forms of interactive entertainment.
MA, MEd, MHSA, MPH, MHR, MLS
Undergraduate Full Time PY: $48,335 Undergraduate Part Time PC: $1,780 Graduate PC: $1,530-$2,392
For the 22nd consecutive year, Rollins has been ranked among the top two regional universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report.
PP varies from $55,000-$99,076
Ranked one of the Top 10 least-expensive private business schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Offers three types of MBA, plus an executive doctorate.
ABACS, MA, MEd, MHSA, MPH, MHR, MLS
Undergraduate PC: $1,896 Graduate PC: $1,575$2,556
Named for Rollins’ eighth president; offers evening classes for working adults pursuing bachelor’s or master’s degrees.
Chosen in 2011 as the top U.S. community college by the Aspen Institute; graduates from its five campuses are guaranteed admission to UCF and other public state universities as well as Rollins College.
ROLLINS COLLEGE CRUMMER GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789 407-646-2405 / rollins.edu/mba ROLLINS COLLEGE HAMILTON HOLT SCHOOL 311 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789 407-646-2232 / rollins.edu/holt
VALENCIA COLLEGE 850 W. Morse Blvd, Winter Park, FL 32789 (Winter Park Campus) 407-299-5000 / valenciacollege.edu
AA, BS, AS, Cert.
MEd, MA, MHR
*PCH: Cost per credit hour, PS: Cost per semester, PY: Cost per year, PP: Cost per total program, PC: Cost per course. Note: Costs for in-state residents were correct as of presstime, but are subject to change. Call individual schools for confirmation.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS Aloma Elementary School (Pre-K-5), 2949 Scarlet Road, 407-672-3100; Brookshire Elementary (Pre-K-5), 2500 Cady Way, 407-623-1400; Killarney Elementary School (K-5), 2401 Wellington Blvd., 407-623-1438; Lakemont Elementary School (K-5), 901 N. Lakemont Ave., 407623-1453; Winter Park High School (10-12), 2100 Summerfield Road, 407-622-3200; Winter Park High School Ninth Grade Center, 528 Huntington Ave., 407-623-1476; Orange Technical College Winter Park Campus, 901 W. Webster Ave., 407-622-2900.
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