Winter Park Magazine Fall 2014

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©Everett & Soulé 2014

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FEATURES 28 | HE MADE US FEEL SPECIAL TV star, minister, educator and icon, Rollins grad Fred Rogers was a gentle and reassuring presence during turbulent times. By Jay Boyar, illustration by Jim Zahniser


54 | FALL FUN Start the season with fashionable looks that are both cool and contemporary. By Marianne Ilunga, photographs by Rafael Tongol, hair and makeup by Elsie Knab



presented by harriett lake 4

departments COVER ARTIST 8 | PORTRAIT OF A PLACE Winter Park native Don Sondag, perhaps best known for his portraits, has local roots that run deep. On the cover is Sondag’s portrait of Fred Rogers, better known as Mister Rogers.

THE DESIGN TOURIST 20 | AGAINST THE GRAIN At Hog Eat Hog, reclaimed wood is cut, scraped, smoothed and shaped into warm, wonderful (and sometimes weird) pieces of custom furniture. By Karen LeBlanc, photographs by Rafael Tongol

DINING 82 | JOHN RIVERS WINGS IT AGAIN The creator of 4 Rivers Smokehouse brings gussied-up Deep South cuisine to Winter Park. The fried chicken has customers lining up, but there’s a lot more to love about the homespun menu. By Rona Gindin, photographs by Rafael Tongol



Theodore L. Mead’s namesake urban oasis is a tribute to imagination, beauty and persistence. But the path has taken some twisted turns. By Randy Noles, with additional material by Richard C. Adicks and Elizabeth Camm; photographs by Rafael Tongol


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ount me among those who would likely have never attended a Brevard Manatees game, even if a deal could have been struck to build a spanking-new stadium to host the minor-league team. Maybe I’ve just never gotten accustomed to the leisurely pace of baseball. Maybe it’s because I was raised in football country — Roll, Tide! — where there was no professional baseball tradition. America’s pastime? Not where I came from. Yet I was sorely disappointed when the effort to bring minor-league baseball to Winter Park fell apart. You know the story by now. When stadium locations were being considered, Winter Park Tech, Martin Luther King Jr. Park and the current site of Rollins College’s Harper Shepherd field were ruled out for various (entirely valid) reasons. Ravaudage, the fledgling 72-acre mixed-use development at U.S. Highway 17-92 and Lee Road, then emerged as the top contender for a proposed $22 million complex that would have been home to the Manatees and the Rollins Tars. The City of Winter Park, Rollins, team owner Tom Winters (a Winter Park resident) and Sydgan Corp., developer of Ravaudage, tried to work out what City Manager Randy Knight later described as a “win-win-win” to get the local field of dreams built. If baseball was to come to Winter Park, this option seemed to be ideal. The land has mostly been cleared and the location is comfortably removed from the city’s core. It’s just minutes from I-4 and sits squarely in the middle of a redeveloping commercial corridor that sorely needs something other than more new shopping centers. Minor-league baseball typically is not a huge financial boon to a city, say experts. But it is a wonderful asset that offers wholesome, inexpensive family entertainment and engenders civic pride (something that Winter Park, understandably, isn’t currently lacking — but you get my point). So, the little city that has everything could also


have had its own baseball team. And at Ravaudage, a quasi-civic facility such as a sports complex would have been infinitely preferable to a Walmart or whatever other big-box retailer might ultimately end up there. I don’t know exactly what happened to sour negotiations. Sports-team owners are often reluctant to risk much of their own money, preferring taxpayers to pony up. Cities are often reluctant to be seen as subsidizing private businesses, especially when the economic benefit of doing so is somewhat nebulous, as is the case with baseball. And landowners are often reluctant to give away their property so someone else can operate a moneymaking venture on it. When talks collapsed, all sides issued civil but vague statements to effect of, “we did our best — it just didn’t work out.” Only the Manatees took a direct swipe at one of the principals, Dan Bellows, developer of Ravaudage. “Perhaps our discussions can renew if a new owner of Ravaudage emerges with a different vision and valuation,” Winters was quoted as saying. In baseball, three strikes and you’re out — usually. But the interested parties should take another swing at this project. Team owner Winters lives in Winter Park, as does Bellows, who has made huge investments here and transformed swaths of the city from blighted to beautiful. The Tars could be playing in a bigtime stadium, and the city could offer its residents (and visitors) an amenity that would delight generations of families. Maybe they need to talk it out over hot dogs and beer.




Copyright 2014 by Florida Home Media LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gulfshore Media 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 Florida Home Media LLC, 2700 Westhall Lane, Suite 128, Maitland, FL 32751

Randy Noles Editor/Publisher



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n a city that’s home to more than its fair share of fine artists, Don Sondag Jr. ranks among the best — and the best known. He’s been commissioned to paint portraits of Winter Park’s most prominent movers and shakers. And his local landscapes and street scenes are in private collections and galleries all over the country. Sondag’s local roots run deep. His father, Don Sondag Sr., was a prominent local physician and a founder of the Interlachen Country Club. His mother, Liz, was a civic activist and a leader in the Orlando Museum of Art’s Council of 101. The artist’s portfolio includes a canal scene that was selected for use as the official poster for the 2000 Winter Park Art Festival. He’s also a regular participant in the annual Paint Out, sponsored by the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens. Sondag’s portrait of Fred Rogers, which was done from a photograph, hangs in the Fred Rogers Lobby and Patio of the John M. Tiedtke Concert Hall on the Rollins College campus. A Sondag portrait of Teidke also hangs in the lobby. Sondag earned a B.A. in fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1986. He studied painting and portraiture at the Art Students League in New York City in 1995 and 1996. He has a studio at McRae Art Studios in Winter Park, and has taught portraiture and painting at the Crealdé School of Art, Seminole Community College, Walt Disney Imagineering and Walt Disney Feature Animation. For more information, visit


From landscapes to street scenes to still lifes, Sondag’s work runs the gamut. But locally he’s probably best known as a portrait painter. His subjects have included many of the region’s most prominent residents.


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ver notice how many internationally known trendsetters use only one name? You’ve got Madonna, Cher, Adele, Oprah, Bono and many others. On Park Avenue, you’ve got Tuni, which refers to both a delightful person and a stylish boutique. Tuni the boutique arrived on Park Avenue in 1986, a collaboration between Fortunata “Tuni” Blackwelder and her daughter, Paige. Since then, the mother-daughter venture has become a Winter Park fixture and a mecca for local fashionistas. When I first began traipsing Park Avenue I remember a business owner telling me, “That Tuni is one smart retailer.” No question about it. I talked to Paige recently about what’s in for the fall. But it was hard to maintain eye contact because I was distracted by the fabulous jewelry she was wearing, including an intriguing spiked bracelet. “Crystals are big this year,” Paige says. “You’ll see lots of crystals on shoes on bags. And yes, spikes are still in, for two years now at least.” We talked about an outfit on display near us. It was a dusty golden dress with a strapless bodice and a voluminous bottom, paired simply with a denim jacket by Citizens of Humanity. “Gaucho,” Paige adds. “That’s also a big trend coming up.” As we talked, store manager Angel Hubble and creative director Brittnie Gallo worked nearby. Both are instrumental in operating the boutique and anticipating what will appeal to its discerning clients, who are referred to as “Tuni Girls.” “Do I dream of fashion? Oh yeah!” says Paige. “Nothing is constant. What might be big one season is not so big for the next one.” The store’s namesake, Tuni herself, joins us. She and Paige agree with my layman’s observation that fashion in general seems to be more fun these days. So, what should we expect from Tuni during Park Avenue Fashion Week, slated Oct. 25 through Nov. 1? Lots of creativity and lots of fun, they tell me, but beyond that no specifics yet.


Stylish P.R. pro Beth Cocchiarella checks out what’s new at Violet Clover, one of her favorite boutiques. Her son, Joey, and her husband, Dave, also fill their closets with clothes from Park Avenue shops.

“People should expect a fabulous show,” says Paige. “Sometimes we know months in advance what we’ll show; sometimes we know a day in advance. It just depends on what the inspiration is, and when it hits.” nnn Another veteran of Park Avenue Fashion Week is Kristina MacKinder of Eyes & Optics, who works alongside optometrists Phillip MacKinder and Lisa Gibbons. Yes, Phillip and Kristina are husband and wife. How does an eyewear company participate in a fashion show? “We do our own thing,” Kristina says. “We’ve done it for seven years now. We’ve always done our own looks so we can focus on whatever the trends are.” This year, she adds, eyewear design is taking

a cue from the psychedelic ‘60s. She shows me some “modern prep” frames with the bottom rims in bright greens and oranges. In tortoiseshell, they’d be standard-issue retro. But these colors really make them pop. Kit Stephenson of iLashWorks also focuses on eyes – or, more precisely, eyelashes. “If we can do something special to bring attention to eyelashes, then we do it,” she says. “We did peacockfeather lashes last year, and the photos ran in an international magazine.” Kit admits that “the stuff we put on the runway is more over the top than our regular everyday business -- sometimes way over the top.” But, she adds, outrageousness brings press and publicity. Kit’s son, Colton, 18, modeled last year for the first time and will be back for the 2014 event. Last year, the iLashWorks models were all male and wore only black jeans, body paint and, of course, lavish lashes. “Modeling the eyelashes was a great experience because it wasn’t about the clothes,” Colton notes. “It was about the detail and time required to make simple eyelashes look like wings or a rainbows. My favorite thing was dressing up in blue body paint and walking down the runway watching the audience reaction.” He credits veteran model coach Roquois Roquois with helping him feel comfortable. “Roquois was especially helpful in teaching me how to walk properly like a runway model,” he adds. “She’s is an amazing person. But when she’s training you, she’s strict. She has to be, because no one likes watching a sloppy model.” Olivia Ashton, 17, was also a first-time model last year. She, too, sings Roquois’ praises. “I adore Roquois,” she says. “Even though my agency had sent me to ‘learn to walk,’ I didn’t really learn until Roquois. She helped me to understand that half the battle of being a great runway model is having the confidence to know, ‘You’ve got this.’” Last year Olivia, who plans to work next summer in Milan, modeled the peacock-feather de-


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signs for Emerging Designer winner Julia Chew of Xioalin Designs and Carrlyce Buford of Red Carpet Couture. ■■■ When it comes to fashion that young guys prefer, I’ve found it’s impossible to take young girls out of the equation. I met with Winter Park High School students Will Duff, Robert Graham and Patrick Daniels at Downeast to talk about what they like to wear, and why they like to wear it. Says Will, “Vineyard Vines and Southern Tide are probably my favorites. They just look so classy and you feel great when you wear them. But it’s for the girls, mostly.” “Plus they’re really well made,” adds Patrick of the labels he and his pals like. “When you wear nice clothes, people notice that. It’s really good for first impressions. People will automatically give you more respect. Teachers definitely notice. They assume that a kid who’s dressed well is going to be a good student.” Rob says he also likes Ralph Lauren and outdoor lines, including fishing gear-type clothing by Guy Harvey. All three are into bowties, which are making a comeback, and cite Vineyard Vines as their favorite brand. “They have the sweetest bowties,” says Patrick. “They have the coolest designs.” Joey Cocchiarella is another local teenager who’s into fashion. He describes his style as “preppy” and credits his mother, Beth, a public relations pro, for his love of Vineyard Vines. “That’s what pretty much fills my closet,” he says. Robin Siegel, owner of Siegel’s, says that prior to Winter Park High School’s prom, “we had 20 kids in here at one time, and John (Siegel) was teaching them all how to tie a bowtie.” Joey’s dad, Dave, chief meteorologist on Central Florida News 13, is also a fan of Siegel’s. “My personal style is traditional and it’s not much different than what you see on television,” he says. “I was preppy back in school, but not as much as my son. He has his mother as his personal shopper. After college I became a victim of the ’80s — and I am sure you remember that style.” Indeed, Beth is cited by both son and husband as the most fashionable member of the household. I met with her at Violet Clover, one of her favorite shops for labels such as Parker and Uprichard. It’s owned by Katie Morgan. “I feel like it’s so personalized here,” says Beth. “Katie makes you feel like you’re a friend, which you don’t find in larger stores.” She describes Violet Clover as “fashionable and very trendy, but not in an over-the-top way. It’s fun, with a lot of


different choices.” Beth says she likes classic pieces, which she can wear for years, and prefers to use intriguing shoes and handbags, not clothes, to make of-themoment fashion statements. ■■■ Cida’s, a popular consignment shop owned by Janice Stewart, has been in Winter Park for 37 years. Says Karen Burnstine, who describes herself as a lady who loves to shop, “I’ve been a steady customer at Cida’s for 15 years. I believe it’s the best upscale resale shop in all of Orlando.” What’s the most unusual item Janice has ever consigned? That would probably be an Hermes Birkin bag, which retails for $14,000 and up. “We’re not vintage, but we do carry high end labels such as Chanel, Armani,” she adds. “Those labels, we would be willing to accept vintage. But most of our items are three years old or less.” ■■■ A few quick local shout-outs to close. Two new boutiques with unique personalities have opened not far from Park Avenue: Chasing Venus on Orange Avenue and Susie Q in Winter Park Village. … And speaking of Winter Park Village, check out Owen Allen, where you can get custom dish- and glassware featuring Winter Park scenes drawn by artist Alberto Rivas. I agree with owner Marilyn Williams that locals appreciate Winter Park-specific products for their homes. … Have you seen those “I LUV Winter Park” t-shirts? I designed them as a fundraiser for The Peacock Project, spearheaded by Boy Scout and future Eagle Scout John Michael Thomas to honor his friend Elizabeth Buckley, lost far too young. Thanks to John, a spectacular bronze peacock memorial fountain should soon be sitting at the center of the rose garden in Central Park. So many Park Avenue businesses have helped, financially and otherwise, including Lilly Pulitzer, Sassafras Sweet Shoppe, Scenic Boat Tours, Lighten Up!, Ivviva, Nature in Beauty, The Bistro on Park Avenue and an array of others. What a wonderfully caring community Winter Park is.

From top to bottom: John Michael Thomas with Melissa Caligiuri of Lilly Pulitzer; Robin Siegel of Siegel’s; and Winter Park-themed dishware from Owen Allen.

Clyde Moore, whose alter ego is Parker the Owl, owns I LUV Winter Park Inc., a company that promotes the city and its businesses. He has a degree in journalism and advertising from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Follow him on social media at #ILUVWinterPark #ILUVParkAvenue




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Blair Sligar says he’s a craftsman, not an artist. But his customers would say he’s both.

AGAINST THE GRAIN At Hog Eat Hog, reclaimed wood is cut, scraped, smoothed and shaped into warm, wonderful (and sometimes weird) pieces of custom furniture. BY KAREN LEBLANC PHOTOGRAPHS BY RAFAEL TONGOL



inter Park-based custom-furniture maker Blair Sligar has an oddball sense of humor that helps define the brand of his quirky company, which is named, apropos of nothing, Hog Eat Hog. Sligar recently posted a selfie on Instagram in which he modeled a bikini assembled from scrap wood. All I could think of was “ouch.” But for the 32-year-old art-school dropout, it was a tongue-in-cheek social statement about the virtues of reuse. “In my mind, what I do is a cause,” Sligar says. But he insists that he’s a craftsman, not an artist. Art, Sligar says, has a voice and a point of view. Tables and cabinets don’t, regardless of how beautiful they may be. On a recent visit to the Hog Eat Hog headquarters, located at 678 Cherry Street, I got a tour of Sligar’s busy workshop, where he and three other craftsmen turn castoff materials into attention-getting furniture for clients who share his aesthetic and, more often than not, his worldview. “To me, it’s about creating a value system,” he says. “I want to do what’s good for me, good for my employees, good for my clients and good for the world in terms of how


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“Woodworking gives me a space to think,” says Sligar. “It’s dirty, hot, uncomfortable work. But it gives me a space to work things out.” The artschool dropout loves the unique beauty of aged wood — the warm colors, the intriguing grain patterns, the nicks and notches.


we use resources.” But if Sligar is a crusader, he’s not a strident one. He’s polite, self-effacing and prone to using such adjectives as “cool” and “weirded out.” Between his laid-back demeanor and his creative vocation, he seems more like an earnest 1960s hippie than a successful millennial entrepreneur. “I just like word play,” says Sligar when asked how his company was named. “And I love animals. I wanted the name to have nothing to with woodworking — but I also wanted a name that would stick in peoples’ heads.” Hog Eat Hog is certainly a memorable moniker. But Sliger says he can’t take credit for it. “It was my ex-wife’s idea,” he admits with a chuckle. It’s easy to mistake the Hog Eat Hog “factory” for one of the unassuming mid-century modern residences surrounding it. But inside, power saws buzz and the air smells of sweat and sawdust. Vintage hand tools hang from the walls, giving the space a distinct, museum-like vibe. But these old-school implements aren’t for show; they’re for hammering, scraping, cutting, gouging and shaping reclaimed wood into one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture for both residential and commercial use. And it’s busy. Sligar, who founded Hog Eat Hog five years ago, says his company could grow even more. But then he’d have to become less hands-on and morph into more of a businessman than an artisan. Not that he’d rule out someday licensing his designs to a major manufacturer. For now, however, he’s happy to look for more efficiencies in his small-scale operation and take on carefully selected clients who appreciate what he does, and why he does it. “I was allowed to hold a knife early on,” says Sligar, whose dad had a well-equipped garage woodworking shop. “My parents gave me a lot of leeway with making things, and I did a lot of wood carvings, architectural drawings and clay sculptures.” Sligar, a Winter Park native who was homeschooled, says his dad was “cool” about letting him tinker with tools. He was also inspired by visits to the Carpentry Shop at Maitland’s Waterhouse Residence Museum, which was built — and built to last, obviously — in the 1880s. Wood was, and remains, Sligar’s muse and his material of choice. He enrolled in the University of Central Florida’s School of Visual Arts and Design intending to study sculpture, but lasted just two years. A professor, he says, encouraged him to forget about school and begin plying his trade. Right away, Sligar landed work. A neighbor


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Hog Eat Hog’s work is evenly divided between residential and commercial clients. One of the company’s most intriguing projects was for the Imperial Bar, where Sligar’s team pulled out all the stops.

who was designing and building his own home recruited him to craft the furniture and decorate the interior rooms. At the neighbor’s request, he used reclaimed wood for most everything. During that project, Sligar learned to fully appreciate the unique beauty of aged wood — the warm colors, the intriguing grain patterns, the nicks and notches. “As long as wood isn’t petrified, you can work with it,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how old it is. It’s like a living, breathing thing. And every piece is different.” Certain that he had found his calling, Sligar opened Hog Eat Hog shortly after the home was complete. “Woodworking gives me a space to think,” he adds. “It’s dirty, hot, uncomfortable


work. But it gives me a space to work things out.” I first saw Sligar’s work when reporting on the 2013 New Southern Home, a showhome built in conjunction with the Southeast Building Conference, held in Orlando. His asymmetrical, organically shaped tables caught my attention because of their on-trend appeal. Sligar, however, doesn’t do trends. He does what he likes. And if you like it, too, all the better. He’s an aficionado of Googie architecture, a futurist style that emerged in the late 1940s and was used frequently in the design of motels, coffee shops and gas stations through the mid-1960s. Frank Lloyd Wright ranks among his major influences, although he prefers the legendary architect’s structures to his furnishings. He’s also drawn to the simplicity of Danish and Shaker looks. At the opposite extreme, Sligar appreciates rococo “because it’s all weird and ornate.” His midcentury modern designs reflect some of rococo’s playfulness, but none of its frivolity. “I have kind of a modern, masculine aes-

thetic,” says Sligar. “It’s not rustic, but the label fits because I work with wood and I like organic shapes and natural materials.” On the day I visited Hog Eat Hog, Sligar and his team were working on a “Brain Bar” for IZEA, a Winter Park-based social media marketing company that urges its employees to “keep IZEA weird.” Small interlocking triangles made of plywood will frame colored translucent windows, symbolizing the nooks and crannies of the brain, Sligar explains. Reclaimed wood and painted and weathered signs will serve as a backdrop for the installation, which will anchor a hospitality space. Hog Eat Hog has completed projects for Cask & Larder, a popular Winter Park restaurant, and Imperial Bar locations in Winter Park and Sanford. The company also creates pieces for architects and custom builders as well as a growing cadre of private clients. “I think part of our appeal is that we do strange things,” Sligar says. “For better or worse, we’re about exploring this aesthetic that I have.


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I’ll continue doing it the rest of my life, whether it’s wood or something else.� Sligar, however, is perfectly capable of dialing back the strange when he needs to. He recently designed and built a fun but functional custom kitchen with white lacquered panels and a monolithic laurel-oak slab bartop. The room, which features wood salvaged from a demolished barn, became a hit with home-design enthusiasts on Houzz and Pinterest. A coffee table or a dining-room table designed and built by Hog Eat Hog takes about 25 hours to complete, not including a trip to pick out materials. Sligar says tables range between $2,000 and $12,000, depending upon an infinite number of variables. Most Hog Eat Hog pieces are custom made for specific clients, but there are a handful of ready-to-buy offerings at the shop. Sligar plans to launch a retail line of custom furniture that will be sold through the company’s website. Just about the only thing Hog Eat Hog doesn’t make is chairs — at least, not yet. “I like the idea of making something that has

meaning, that people appreciate,� says Sligar. “If you’re going to create something, it shouldn’t be disposable. You should do it well.� That philosophy is working for Sligar and Hog Eat Hog. And the off-kilter branding isn’t hurting, either. After posing in his wooden bikini, Sligar landed a new client — an architect who appreciated his gutsy, irreverent humor and originality. Clearly, Sligar can be outrageous — but his work is no joke. In fact, he can get downright poetic when rhapsodizing about his material of choice: “Wood shows evidence of how the tree that you’re working from grew. As you shape it, you reveal this layered history — this never ceases to fascinate me.�

Vintage hand tools hang from the walls, giving Hog Eat Hog’s space a museum-like vibe. But these old-school implements aren’t just for show. Sligar and his team know how to use them.

Karen LeBlanc is a Design TV host, writer and blogger. Her show, The Design Tourist, airs on and offers a global dose of design inspiration. Subscribe to her blog,, for news on the latest trends and tastemakers in art, architecture, home fashion and design plus more videos.

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SPECIAL TV star, minister, educator and icon, Rollins grad Fred Rogers was a gentle and reassuring presence during turbulent times. By JAY Boyar ILLUSTRATION by Jim ZAHniser


n 1968, a mild-mannered Rollins College graduate began appearing on television sets all across America. A fortyish beanpole with a generous smile and a voice of melted cheese, this neighborly fellow didn’t look or sound much like a TV star. And, unlike many other people on television in those days, he certainly didn’t appear to be angry about anything. The Vietnam War, racial unrest, student protests and high-profile assassinations combined to make the late ’60s far from tranquil. But Fred Rogers — or, as his fans knew him, Mister Rogers — definitely was. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the long-running PBS series that he created and hosted, was aimed squarely at children ­— specifically children ages 3 to 6. It was a little like other kids’ shows that followed, most notably Sesame Street and later Barney & Friends, but only a little. In any case, it was very, very nice. From its lilting theme song that the host himself sang and wrote (“It’s a beau-ti-ful day in the neighborhood...”) to its simple, nonthreatening characters (speedy Mr. McFeely, lofty King Friday XIII, demure Daniel Tiger, etc.); from the tinkle of its trademark trolley to its wholesome life lessons about friendship and family, the show was by far the most gentle-spirited thing on the tube, if not the planet. In Mister Rogers’ neighborhood, every day was a beau-ti-ful day. nnn Fred McFeely Rogers — yes, McFeely really was his middle name, as well as his beloved maternal grandfather’s surname — left us on Feb. 27, 2003, about a month shy of his 75th birthday. He was mourned around the world, but particularly in Winter Park and especially at Rollins College, which claims him as a star alum. Although Fred was a Winter Parker by choice, he was born and raised in another “neighborhood.” That would be Latrobe, Penn., near Pittsburgh, where, by all accounts, his parents doted on him, their only son. (They adopted a daughter when he was 11, but the doting reportedly continued unabated.)

Young Fred was fascinated by music and puppetry, both of which would famously become mainstays of his career. “Music was my first language,” he once said, adding that if, as a child, he ever felt angry or sad, he was more likely to express those feelings through music than words. Fred’s son, John, recalls that when he and his older brother, James, were kids, their father would often use puppet voices and music around the house. “I remember a marching song,” says John, who lives in Winter Park with his own son, Ian. “He would have us march through the living room when he would play this tune on the piano.” When it was time for Fred to head off to college, Rollins was not his first choice. In fact, he spent a year at Dartmouth before transferring to Rollins, which had a more developed music program, graduating in 1951 with a degree in music composition. “One should not play him as a lightweight musically,” cautions John Sinclair, current chair of Rollins’ music department and a friend in Fred’s later years. “He had a formidable ability to write songs and to play [piano].” Joanne Rogers (née Byrd), who Fred married soon after graduating, was already a music student at Rollins when he arrived. “One of our buddies had a very old car,” she recalls. “I can’t remember what kind it was, but it was big. We all piled into it and off we went to the airport to pick him up.” Fred immediately impressed Joanne as “fun and nice and energetic.” It wasn’t long before they were attending dances together. As a student, Fred received the Canadian French Scholarship Award and participated in numerous organizations and activities, including Alpha Phi Lambda, Chapel Staff, After-Chapel Club, French Club, Student Music Guild, Chapel Choir, Bach Choir, Welcoming Committee, Intramural Swimming and Pi Kappa Lambda. “He loved Rollins,” offers Thad Seymour, a former Rollins president and now president emeritus. “He was very loyal and grateful to the place.” But Joanne points out that Fred — like others at that time — didn’t much care S U MME R 20 1 4 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E

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for Paul Wagner, the 33-year-old wunderkind who had recently been installed as president and quickly enraged students and faculty with his aggressive costcutting and autocratic management style. “Fred was one of the rabble-rousers,” she adds. Wagner was eventually fired by the board of trustees and had to leave campus under police escort. “I think it was the most activist kind of thing he did in his life, probably.” That is, unless you count his Senate testimony in 1969, when Congress seemed determined to cut funding for public television in half. Fred’s sincere and compelling testimony saved the day. Or, as Joanne says, it was “sort of a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington kind of a thing.” ■■■ After college, the plan was for Fred to become a minister. All that changed when, on a break from Rollins during his senior year, he visited his parents, who had acquired a newfangled device known as a television set — quite a rarity in those days. Far from being enchanted, Fred was appalled by what he considered the low quality of the programming. “He saw people throwing pies at each other to be entertaining,” Joanne explains. In Fred’s opinion, that was violence and, therefore, inappropriate for young viewers. “He [also] wasn’t a great fan of Disney for children,” she adds. “Everything’s violent and scary.” With the blind confidence of youth, Fred announced he would put divinity school on hold and seek employment in television, where he would set about raising the standards of the medium. So after graduation he headed to NBC in New York, where he began working first as a gofer and then in better behind-the-scenes jobs on such programs as The Kate Smith Hour, The Lucky Strike Hit Parade, The NBC Opera Theatre and The Gabby Hayes Show. Fred learned an important lesson from Hayes, a rootin’-tootin’ western star. Hayes told him that when he spoke to the camera, he imagined “just one buckaroo” and spoke directly to that single young viewer. As anyone who has ever seen an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood well knows, Fred took that advice to heart. “Television is a very, very personal medium,” he said in a 2004 documentary, Fred Rogers: America’s Favorite Neighbor. With his New York career gaining momentum, Fred then made a puzzling decision to return to Pennsylvania, where WQED-TV, the nation’s first community-sponsored educational television station, was soon to begin broadcasting. There he helped to launch the Pittsburgh sta-

Before he was known to the world as Mister Rogers, Fred Rogers was a Rollins College music major who was involved in an array of activities.

tion as well as his first kids’ show, The Children’s Corner. In 1963 he developed an early version of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in Canada, but soon returned to Pittsburgh to recreate the show there. Five years later, that program debuted for a national American audience. And for 33 years, tiny tots sat transfixed as a reassuring adult removed his coat and shoes, donned a zip-up cardigan and sneakers, looked them squarely in the eye, and told them they were each special. Along the way, he attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and was ordained as a minister with a mission to work with families and children through the mass media — “the only ministry of its kind in the Presbyterian faith,” his son John points out. “We all have only one life to live on earth,” Fred said in 1999, when he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. “And through television, we have


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the choice of encouraging others to demean this life or to cherish it in creative, imaginative ways.” In other words, no pies in the face. ■■■ In the course of his TV career, Fred received countless honors and accolades including two Peabody Awards, four Emmys and, in 2002, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. For some reason, though, he also attracted a surprising amount of conspicuous ridicule. Probably the most famous spoof of his program was Saturday Night Live’s “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood,” sketches that featured Eddie Murphy as an inner-city version of Mister Rogers who sang, “It’s one helluva day in the neighborhood!” But even before those SNL bits, funnymen Christopher Guest and Bill Murray teamed up to perform an interview routine in which a sunny, Mister Rogers-like host (Guest) questions a hungover, jaded jazz bassist (Murray). Host: When you were playing, I thought of things like sheep and things like that, little candies, fresh little candies, and things like that. Do you think of those things, too? Bassist: Oh, I basically think about my financial situation. I count every beat I play, every note I play, and I figure how many notes I’m giving out into space and how much I’m being paid. And I am workin’ cheap! Such parodies addressed the vast disconnect between the cheery, fanciful neighborhood where Mister Rogers lived and the perilous, often impoverished real-life neighborhoods of far too many children and their parents. Fred appears to have taken the jibes in stride. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood did, on occasion, explore difficult subjects like divorce and death, but in general it was — as some of its biggest fans have always made a point of saying — safe. “It’s amazing, the peace that he was able to put in any scenario,” notes Mary Rogers, John’s former wife and Fred’s former daughter-in-law. “When he spoke, people quieted down to listen.” ■■■ One place Fred himself felt especially at peace was Winter Park. In his later years, in fact, he became something of a fixture locally during winters. “We came after Christmas and would stay as long as Fred could stay,” reflects Joanne, a native Floridian who still spends part of her year hereabouts. “It was homelike for both of us. To me, it’s the most interesting part of Florida, that little part of New England sitting there like a gem. And while Rollins College is not New England, it certainly is a jewel.” Fred swam every day at the Langford Hotel; when it closed, he used the pool at Rollins. And


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PARTING WORDS “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 the final episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

he liked to wander the campus, sometimes slipping into lecture halls for classes that interested him, but never calling attention to himself. “That would be Fred’s way,” Thad Seymour offers. “Fred never wanted to intrude.” How to classify Fred Rogers as a public person? For most baby boomers he remains an iconic figure. Perhaps a little less so to their children, who were weaned on video games and edgier televised fare. Although he was the host of a television program for many years, it wouldn’t be quite accurate to call him an entertainer. Joanne Rogers says he was an “educator.” Mary Rogers, meanwhile, thinks of him as a sort of secular clergyman who gave “little sermons to children.” Then there’s Seymour’s perspective. “I would in no way think of him as an entertainer or as a TV personality,” he explains. “He was someone who wanted to reach out and care about children, and television was a good way for him to do that.” Fred once called himself an “emotional archeologist,” and that may well be closest to the mark. Mister Rogers was a sort of Dr. Phil for the very young, someone who could help them explore life’s craggier caverns. The songs, the puppets and television itself were merely tools he employed to do his own truly unique thing. On Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred would often remind his young viewers, “There’s only one person in the whole world like you.” He might have been speaking of himself. “It’s a oneof-a-kind thing,” says John Rogers of his father’s show. “And how do you explain that?”


Editor’s Note: Jim Zahniser is an illustrator based in Pittsburgh. The print used for the lead illustration, as well as many others, is available for purchase at etsy. com/shop/redrobotcreative.



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POETRY OF THE EARTH Theodore L. Mead’s namesake urban oasis is a tribute to imagination, beauty and persistence. But the path has taken some twisted turns.

By RANDY NOLES With additional material by Richard C. Adicks and Elizabeth Camm

Photographs by Rafael Tongol



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Mead Garden remains an urban oasis, refreshingly unspoiled and sculptured. Tucked away at the end of South Denning Drive, across the railroad tracks and bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue and Howell Creek, it has enchanted casual visitors and serious naturalists for decades. FA L L 20 1 4 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E

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into a beautiful botanical garden that would pay tribute to their recently deceased friend, horticulturalist Theodore Luqueer Mead. Today, Mead Garden is an ecological jewel, albeit an unpolished one. Tucked away at the end of South Denning Drive, across the railroad tracks and bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue and Howell Creek, it has enchanted casual visitors and serious naturalists for decades. By the 2000s, however, this urban oasis was in decline. Beyond mowing the grass, the City of Winter Park did little to improve the site. It was simply too big and too expensive to maintain as a true bo-

tanical garden, so it became an oversized park, breathtaking in places but marred by overgrown pathways, rotting boardwalks, a handful of ramshackle buildings and even city vehicles parked adjacent to a metal maintenance shed. What a difference a few years — and a small army of volunteers — can make. Today, Mead Garden is being reclaimed, revitalized and reinvigorated. And, although plans are preliminary and funding has not been secured, there’s serious discussion of a new multipurpose facility being built on the grounds. “This is a place that has meaning to

Theodore Luqueer Mead didn’t live to see the garden bearing his name open. A renowned horticulturist, he lived and worked in Oviedo. But he formed fateful friendships with Jack Connery, a Rollins College student, and Osgood Grover, a Rollins College professor.




magine a sprawling, primeval jungle nestled the heart of Winter Park, unchanged and untamed for centuries, surrounded on its periphery by attractive homes and located just minutes from Park Avenue and Rollins College. In 1937 an intrepid former Boy Scout and an urbane professor explored the 48acre site, on which they discovered a small lake and encountered deer, bobcats, wild boar and, not surprisingly, an alligator that they later estimated had to be at least 18 feet long. Undaunted, the duo decided that the mysterious morass should be transformed


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a lot of people in Winter Park,” says Cynthia Hasenau, executive director of Mead Botanical Garden Inc., the nonprofit organization that now leases the park from the city and operates its facilities. “And what’s happening here now is the result of exemplary volunteers.” Mead Garden isn’t, and never will be, a meticulously manicured and skillfully sculptured picture-postcard of a place. The setting is meant to be natural and unspoiled; an anomaly in a city where everything appears preternaturally orderly. But its origins are quintessentially Winter Park, from the interesting characters who founded it to the fierce protectiveness of the citizens who have cherished it and nurtured it through nearly 75 years.


A rustic pole barn (above), one of the original structures in Mead Garden, was rebuilt by volunteers to look exactly as it did 75 years ago. A picturesque pond (below) was dredged and restored several years ago and named in honor of longtime volunteer Alice Mikkleson.


In 1867 a 15-year-old boy stood admiring a Jacquard loom at the Industrial Exhibition in Paris, absorbed in the complex working of the machinery. It had been easy for Theodore Mead to talk his wellto-do parents, Samuel and Mary, into letting him leave school and their home in Fishkill, N.Y., to tour France, Italy, Germany, Russia and Scandinavia. It was so much fun seeing modern machines at the exhibition, as well as such oddities as Galileo’s dried index finger at an Italian museum, that the youngster didn’t want the trip to end. His mother, who had accompanied him, was compelled to bribe him with $50 worth of butterflies before he would agree to return. During this and previous European vacations, “Teddy” much preferred inspecting collections of machines and insects to marveling over great works art. Consequently, he was thrilled with the butterflies his mother had bought him and soon became obsessed with the winged creatures. He spent the summer of 1869 at the West Virginia home of William H. Edwards, the acknowledged North American expert on lepidoptera, the study of moths and butterflies. Two years later, Mead accompanied the Edwards family on a government-sponsored mapping expedition of the Colorado Rockies There they discovered 20 new species — and named three of them “meadii.” While in Colorado, Mead also explored on horseback what would become the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and later collected more butterflies in Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. In 1874 Mead enrolled at Cornell University, where three years later he earned a degree in civil engineering. Upon graduation Mead sold his burgeoning butterfly collection, which


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WPA workers extracted clay from an on-site clay pit (above left) and used it to build trails throughout the garden. A relatively new feature is The Grove (above right), an amphitheater that’s home to the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra.

he claimed had become one of the largest of its kind in the world, to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. He then turned his attention, for the most part, to horticulture. As always eager to facilitate their son’s interests, Mead’s parents took him on a six-monthlong nature trip to California, travelling by steamer from New York through Panama and up the coast to San Francisco, then returning via Salt Lake City and Chicago. Along the way he collected new species of cacti and, despite his avowed pivot to plant life, even more butterflies. In 1881 the Meads moved to Florida, where Samuel bought his accomplished but indulged 29-year-old son a 200-acre grove in Eustis. The family hoped that citrus and other cash crops would fund his increasingly ambitious horticultural experiments. Mead married Edith Edwards, daughter of his butterfly-hunting mentor, the following year and settled into a quietly satisfying life as a gentleman grower. An 1886 freeze, however, wiped out his citrus crop, prompting him to move further south. He

bought 85 acres, including a 22-acre grove, around Lake Charm in Oviedo. That same year, the Meads’ daughter, Dorothy, was born, “charming and strong and robust.” But the child contracted scarlet fever at age 4 and died “after 17 dreadful days and nights.” Following the loss, Mead spent even more time gardening. He ordered palm seeds from England and Italy and patiently waited years for them to germinate. By 1894 he had as many as 250 palms in pots. But he gave up on palms after losing them all in yet another freeze. This time, however, something positive came from the frigid blast. Mead hypothesized that overhead water irrigation of citrus trees might allow them to survive by encasing the fruit in a 32-degree ice cocoon. He installed a pump and irrigation system and proved the concept on several dozen of his own trees. It’s a technique still used by growers today. Regardless, Mead’s attention increasingly turned to flowers. His approach to hybridization was to create new types of plants that combined beauty and commercial value, whether the process was difficult,

as with orchids, or simple, as with daylilies. According to horticulturist Henry Nehrling, who then lived and worked in Gotha, the lowkey Mead was a more accomplished hybridizer of plants than the far more famous Luther Burbank. The childless Meads also took an active interest in the young people of Oviedo. Edith taught several young girls to play the piano and was a founder of the Oviedo Woman’s Club. Mead, with his jolly demeanor and white beard, played Santa Claus in local Christmas pageants and became Oviedo’s first Scoutmaster. It was through the Boy Scouts that Mead met John “Jack” Connery, an eager troop member who would later join forces with Rollins professor Edwin Osgood Grover to make Mead Garden in Winter Park a reality.

THE PROF AND THE SCOUT Edwin Osgood Grover is barely remembered today. There is one small street named for him — Grover Avenue, near Mead Garden — and a commemorative stone along the Rollins Walk of Fame. But he’s ubiquitous in Winter Park history as a dreamer and a doer; a writer and a poet who frequently descended from his ivory tower to make a practical difference in the community. Grover was born in Minnesota in 1870, but

Mead Garden isn’t, and never will be, a meticulously manicured and skillfully sculptured picture-postcard of a place. The setting is meant to be natural and unspoiled; an anomaly in a city where everything appears preternaturally orderly.



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Air orchids (top left) absorb nourishment from the humid environment. This one is likely a remnant of Mead’s collection. Other vegetation found throughout the grounds includes species of coleus (center left) and trandescantia pallida (bottom left), a type of spiderwort more commonly known as the “wandering Jew.”

cident, Grover asked that funds in her name be was raised in Maine and New Hampshire, where donated for the establishment of a children’s lihe wandered in the thick woods and developed brary on the predominantly black west side. a love for nature. A man of varied interests, Grover was a friend of While attending Dartmouth College he worked Mead’s and a follower of his work. Coincidentally, as a reporter for the Boston Globe and edited the one of Grover’s brightest students was Connery, Dartmouth Literary Monthly. After graduating in who had been one of Mead’s Boy Scouts and, 1894 with a degree in literature, he enrolled in while attending college, had continued to assist graduate school at Harvard. However, instead of the aging horticulturalist. earning an advanced degree he Upon Mead’s death in chose to visit Europe and the 1936, Connery inherited his Middle East, an adventure he grateful mentor’s collection of managed despite having only amaryllis, hemerocallis, fan$300 to his name. cy-leaf caladiums and more Upon his return to the U.S. than 1,000 orchids. Mead’s in 1900, Grover worked as a young protégé had been a textbook salesman in the Midstudent curator of the Rollins west and shortly thereafter beMuseum of Natural History, came chief editor of Rand Mcso he knew horticulture. And Nally in Chicago. He formed he had been faithfully caring his own publishing company for the plants at Mead’s nowin 1906, but sold his interest unoccupied estate. six years later and became presBut he knew that a more ident of the Prang Company, a permanent, long-term solumanufacturer of crayons and tion was needed if the collecwatercolors. tion was to be saved. After “serving a sentence of Connery and Grover hoped [almost] 30 years in the pubto establish some sort of melishing business,” Grover was morial garden that would pay ready to retire. Then, in 1926, homage to a man they both a call from Rollins President Mead Garden co-founder Edwin admired while providing stuHamilton Holt prompted a Osgood Grover is little remembered change of plans. Holt wanted today. But the erudite and accomplished dents a place to study plants and nature. Grover as the college’s “pro- Rollins professor made a huge impact on Winter Park. But where? Grover had confessor of books,” making him sidered pushing Rollins to buy the first academic in the U.S. Mead’s Oviedo property. Conto hold such a title. Intrigued, nery, however, thought he had a better idea. Would he accepted. Grover be willing to join him for an expedition? At Rollins, Grover helped students publish That’s when the duo explored the untamed site the college’s first literary magazine, Flamingo, of what would become Mead Garden. Excited in 1927, and for the next two decades was “ediby the possibilities, they hurried to the office of tor” of the Animated Magazine, which was not a real-estate developer Walter Rose, who owned 20 published work but a series of lectures featuring acres buffering his subdivision, Beverly Shores. national figures from politics, literature, the arts After hearing out Grover and Connery, Rose and even show business. agreed to donate his property to the city. Grover was also a charter member of the UniJames A. Treat, a former Winter Park mayor, versity Club of Winter Park and helped found gave another six acres that included an egret Winter Park’s first bookstore, The Bookery. He rookery and the heretofore hidden lake that Groencouraged his wife, Mertie, to spearhead the ver and Connery had discovered. The diplomatic opening of a day nursery for the children of Grover promptly named it “Lake Lillian,” for black working mothers. one of Treat’s granddaughters. When Mertie was killed in an automobile ac-



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The Legacy Garden and Greenhouse, just inside the garden’s entrance, had fallen into a state of disrepair. Now, thanks to volunteers, it has been restored and is filled with, and surrounded by, an array of colorful exotic plants.

R.F. Leedy, a Park Avenue clothing merchant, was persuaded to kick in a tract bordering Pennsylvania Avenue, and a Jacksonville woman, Mary Bartell, turned over 20 acres of high ground where today’s entrance greets visitors. Orange County owned a quarter-acre encompassing a clay pit. But the county agreed to give it up and the clay was eventually used to bolster the garden’s meandering nature trails. On May 11, 1937, Theodore L. Mead Bo-


tanical Garden Inc., a nonprofit organization that would operate the garden, was formed. At its helm were Grover as president and Holt as honorary president. Connery was named director and executive secretary. Thanks to Grover and Connery, the acreage had been assembled. Now what?

THE SOWING AND REAPING During the Great Depression, the city certainly

didn’t have the funds to transform nearly 50 dense acres into a botanical showplace. Luckily, however, neither Grover nor Connery was easily daunted. Grover secured a $20,170 grant from the Works Progress Administration. But the grant required that the city, which was already in default on $90,000 worth of municipal bonds, put up matching funds. Connery saved the day when he gave the city an assortment of palm trees and Mead’s plant collection, which the WPA agreed to accept as the equivalent of a cash contribution. With funding in place, WPA workers fenced the property and built and landscaped two main entrances, one in Winter Park and one in Orlando. That way, Grover noted, “the two cities could be tied together with a bond of beauty.” Swiftly flowing Howell Creek was deepened between Lake Sue and Lake Virginia, a distance of more than a mile, and three waterfalls were created along the route. Three miles of clay trails were carved through the tangled vegetation and a half-mile trail was built along Howell Creek from Lake Virginia to Pennsylvania Avenue. Plants from Mead’s collection were placed along “Brookside Trail.” Two greenhouses sheltered the remainder of Mead’s plants while a broad, sloping area was cleared in preparation for an amphitheater, which wouldn’t be built until 1959. Azaleas, daylilies, amaryllis, gladiolas, caladiums and gardenias were planted everywhere, along with hundreds of palm trees. Mead Garden was informally open to visitors during construction. One of those visitors — who, fortunately, bought ink by the barrel — would make the project a pubic crusade. Martin Anderson was on an afternoon stroll with his two young daughters when he encountered Grover and Connery, busy inspecting progress, along one of the completed paths. “This is the finest thing ever to happen to Central Florida,” Anderson told the duo. “Who is responsible for this?” Anderson was not only publisher of the Morning Sentinel. As luck would have it, he was also an avid gardener and a collector of orchids. Grover and Connery won an enthusiastic and influential patron in Anderson, who wrote an editorial the following day extolling the garden and donated substantial advertising space to its promotion. Mead Botanical Garden officially opened on Jan.15, 1940, in a formal ceremony that included local dignitaries and elected officials. Grover, who presided over the proceedings, laid out a grand vision of a garden encompassing unspoiled


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natural areas and greenhouses for exotic plants and even aquariums, which were never built. For years, though, Mead Garden was arguably the most beautiful spot in Central Florida and a fitting tribute to the genius of Mead and the persistence of Grover and Connelly. “The project represents the value of $43,000 and thus far has cost neither Winter Park nor Orlando anything,” Grover pointedly noted, presaging a dispute that would contribute to the garden’s decline more than a decade later.

THE WINDING PATH By the early 2000s Mead Garden was showing signs of neglect. Perhaps its relatively obscure location in the midst of a residential neighborhood meant that it received less attention than parks in high-traffic areas. Perhaps it lacked a new generation of tireless champions like Grover and Connelly, for whom the garden was quite literally rooted in friendship with Mead himself, now dead for 16 years. Or perhaps it’s because, in 1953, the original nonprofit headed by Grover was acrimoniously dissolved and operation of the garden was turned over to the city. The rift opened when the city refused to allocate $7,500 for upkeep unless the garden began turning over admission fees, which then amounted to about $10,000 a year, and unless the garden’s private creditors agreed to write off funds they had advanced. An impasse was reached, and suddenly the garden was entirely the city’s responsibility. “I think my husband would refer to this episode as a ‘pissing match,’” notes one present-day volunteer. With taxpayers footing the bill, there were seemingly always more pressing priorities for city funds. The contentious admission fee, ironically, was eliminated. But the garden began a long, sad decline that no one seemed to have the power to reverse. Over the years, various restoration plans were proposed and shelved. In 1988 Mayor David Johnston 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. Predictably, the document gathered dust. Enough maintenance was done to keep the property looking respectable, and the amphitheater remained a popular spot for weddings and other special events. Some boardwalks were repaired, a few trails were built and the entry was rebricked. Generally, however, Mead Garden seemed to have become an anachronism in a city known for


“What a wonderful spot and a precious jewel for the community. This could be a legacy project; something that will endure 100 years from today.” — Phil Kean its posh shopping district and its luxurious lakeside mansions. Everyone agreed that something had to be done; no one agreed on exactly what. In 2003 the Winter Park Garden Club, whose headquarters is within the garden, formed the Friends of Mead Garden Inc. The new organization made progress in cleaning up the nowovergrown site. Although the volunteer “Weed Warriors” and “Butterfly Brigade” were tireless workers, their reclamation efforts became all the more difficult in 2004 after Hurricane Charley tore through Central Florida. In 2007 the city approved a master plan for the garden presented by Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan, a large architecture and engineering firm. Two years later, however, the national economy collapsed and funds for major improvements had dried up. Still, lovers of the garden soldiered on, mostly on weekends, and did what they could with limited resources. “People came out every Sunday and volunteered,” Mayor Ken Bradley told Winter Park Magazine in 2009. “How can the city not support this park? The city would be worse without the park and the Friends of Mead Garden.” In late 2012, FMG, now called Mead Botanical Garden Inc., signed a multiyear operating agreement with the city that essentially turned

over control of the garden to the nonprofit. Although there are gray areas regarding the division of responsibilities, essentially the city still owns and maintains the property. But for the next 50 years the privately funded organization will run the visitor facilities. MBG hopes to eventually make the garden self-funding, although there are no plans to begin charging admission, as Orlando’s nearby Leu Gardens does. Income will come from rental fees, which are expected to increase as the facilities are expanded and improved. Architect Jeremey Blydenburgh, a longtime volunteer and member of the MBG board of trustees, became the first paid executive director. But he quickly realized that a fulltime staffer — one without another business to run — was required. Enter Cynthia Hasenau, previously director of management and executive education at Rollins. Hasenau will have plenty of help from a cadre of hands-on volunteers, including the garden’s own trustees and advisors as well as members of such organizations as the Winter Park Garden Club, the Florida Native Plant Society, the Winter Park Rotary Club, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops and an array of other civic groups. She’ll also have guidance from experts such as landscape architect Forrest Michael, who as a child attended family gatherings at Mead Garden. “We’re all researching what the garden used to be in the 1940s,” says Michael, whose work includes the area around the new Winter Park SunRail station. “There are still remnants here. You can still see some of the original palms.” Michael’s long-term vision includes connected bicycle paths that traverse the garden and join the SunRail station, Rollins and Florida Hospital. Another key player will be John Holland, director of the Winter Park Parks and Recreation Department and the city’s representative on the MBG board of trustees. When he started working for the city as a horticulturist in the ‘70s, he actually lived in a small house on the grounds. “I’m so proud of what’s been done here, says Holland as he points out improvements during a recent tour. “Everybody involved in Mead Garden is very passionate about it.” Phil Kean, president of Winter Park-based Phil Kean Design Group, has jumped on the bandwagon. The architect has agreed to donate design services for a proposed multipurpose facility on the grounds. He recently led a charrette with MBG boosters to discuss the garden’s future. “I regularly run through Mead Garden,” says Kean, whose home designs have won a ware-


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Boardwalks wind through the lowlands, giving wildlife a habitat and offering visitors a glimpse of Florida as it looked centuries ago. It’s hard to imagine that Park Avenue and Rollins College are just blocks away.

house full of national awards. “What a wonderful spot and a precious jewel for the community. This could be a legacy project; something that will endure 100 years from today.” Kean envisions a two-story building, modest in scope and organically designed to harmonize with the natural surroundings. It could contain meeting and event space, a reception area and possibly a gift shop. There isn’t a firm timetable for construction of the facility Kean has agreed to design. Nor is there a budget or a funding source — at least not yet. But lately, after a long stretch of painfully incremental steps forward, improvements at Mead Garden seem to be happening in leaps and bounds.

THE LEGACY RENEWED If you haven’t been to Mead Garden lately, you’ll notice right away that it’s changing. In fact, if you glance to the right just beyond the entry gate, at the Legacy Garden and Greenhouse, you’ll get a glimpse of the garden’s future. The greenhouse, which had fallen into a state of disrepair, has been restored and now anchors a colorful botanical oasis, all thanks to volunteers. The garden’s charming Butterfly Garden has also been revitalized.


And there’s The Grove, a new amphitheater that features a 40-by-60-foot stage, an overhead sail, wooden support poles with Florida limestone at the base and trellises on each side. Spectators bring blankets and lawn chairs and sit on a grassy area facing the stage. The Grove, home to the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, cost about $700,000 to build, with an anonymous donor contributing $250,000, the city allocating $200,000 and the rest raised from individuals, organizations and foundations. The Discovery Barn, formerly a city maintenance warehouse, hosts an array of activities for youngsters, including an annual Young Naturalist Summer Camp. At the Community Garden, started with a grant from the Winter Park Community Health Foundation, weekend farmers can rent plots and grow their own organic vegetables. Some of the produce is given to local food banks. A small pond has been restored and named “Alice’s Pond” in honor of volunteer Alice Mikkleson. The pond is traversed by “Rene’s Trail,” which was named in honor of volunteer Rene Kelly, who died in 2009. In fact, Mead Garden itself is a tribute to volunteer-

ism and the power of persistence and imagination. Yet, a fundamental question remains. What, exactly, does Mead Garden need to ultimately become? Can it ever again be an elaborate 19th- century-style botanical garden, replete with unusual and exotic plants? More to the point, should it be? Sue Foreman, a garden trustee, has given the matter considerable thought. She and others believe that the acreage should combine elements of classic botanical gardens with unadulterated natural expanses. And she believes ecological responsibility should be the guiding force behind redevelopment. “We’re finding that the trend for botanical gardens around the world is to have them look more like nature, and what’s real today” says Foreman. “Anybody can use Google and see exotic plants. We have an opportunity to build the botanical garden of the 21st century, which encompasses biodiversity, nature and collections.” She also notes that with 12 acres of wetlands, Mead Garden drains into Howell Creek and carries pollutants to Lake Virginia. In Mead’s day, no one was particularly worried about water management. But now it’s a crucial issue, particularly in Florida. Mead himself was, first and foremost, a scientist. That’s why Foreman believes he would recognize that today’s botanical gardens need to factor environmentalism into their designs. Notes Foreman: “I think Mead would be right there with us on this.”

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FALL FUN Start the season with fashionable looks that are both cool and contemporary.

Welcome to Casa Feliz, the beautifully restored Spanish-style farmhouse originally designed by acclaimed architect James Gamble Rogers II. Overlooking the Winter Park Country Club’s historic golf course, Casa Feliz is now a sought-after setting for weddings, parties, business gatherings and photo shoots — such as this one featuring fashions for fall. Kylie, of The New Version Agency, wears cabernet skinny jeans, $120; a black patent belt, $48; a burgundy multi-print scarf, $54; a black felt Fedora hat, $58; laced-up black gladiator heels, $135; a silver tone and jet stone necklace, $60; four silver tone and jet black bracelets, $55 for the set; and a layered pearl necklace, $70. All from White House Black Market, Winter Park Village.

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Kylie wears a black crepe A-line skirt, $98; a wool herringbone cape, $248; a long pearl necklace with spikes, $88; and she carries a suede tote bag, $248. All are from C. Wonder. She also wears a long-sleeve turtleneck by Kate Spade, $198; gold tone pavĂŠ hoop earrings, $39; five deco stackable rings, $59 for the set; and a gold geometric cutout cuff, $59. All from Ann Taylor. All shops are at The Mall at Millenia.

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Kylie wears a navy blue and black plaid shirt dress, $378; a standcollar wool parka vest, $338; black leather stretch leggings, $378; and black weathered leather booties, $300. All from Eileen Fisher, Park Avenue, Winter Park.

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Kylie wears a white sleeveless shirt, $69; a jeweled grey sweatshirt, $79; a color-block tweed flounce skirt, $98; a matching jacket, $169; and embossed leather peep-toe shooties, $148. She also wears pearl and crystal stud earrings, $39; and silver and pearl bracelets, $34-$39. All from Ann Taylor, The Mall at Millenia. She carries a black leather drawstring backpack, $298, by Eileen Fisher Park Avenue, Winter Park.

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Kylie wears a black crop sweater, $298; a yellow open-knit scarf, $198; a double-face coat, $498; a black skinny belt with metal details, $170; indigo wash boyfriend jeans, $178; and black weathered leather booties, $300. She carries a woven foldover clutch, $358. All from Eileen Fisher, Park Avenue, Winter Park.

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Kylie wears a beige and black floral print blouse, $268; a black and cream polka dot full skirt, $298; black suede booties with bow detail, $398; and black tortoise fade sunglasses, $165. She carries two-tone leather gloves, $128; and a color block satchel, $298. All from Kate Spade. She also wears a beige sleeveless trench coat dress, $149; deco button earrings, $34; and a matching deco statement necklace, $79. All from Ann Taylor. All shops are at The Mall at Millenia.

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ark Avenue Fashion Week, presented by philanthropist Harriett Lake, is a weeklong celebration of fashion in the heart of Central Florida’s most fashionable locale. Winter Park Magazine is proud to produce the official Schedule of Events for this annual extravaganza, held this year Oct. 25-Nov. 1. In this publication, you’ll find a day-by-day directory that describes everything there is to see and do during Fashion Week. There are trunk shows, designer displays, store specials and more intimate get-togethers where you can meet designers, experience new venues and wear your most fashionforward attire. The array of activities culminates with a spectacular Runway Show on Saturday, Nov. 1, held beneath an air-conditioned, 20,000-square-foot tent in Central Park’s West Meadow. As usual, there’s a charity partner. This year, it’s the Foundation for Foster Children. See more information about the foundation on page 14. Early entry to the Nov. 1 Runway Show — including those who have VIP Experience tickets — is at 5 p.m. with general admission beginning at 6 p.m. The show begins at 7 p.m. All-inclusive VIP Experience tickets are $250 plus a $3 fee while general admission tickets are $70 plus a $3 fee. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. Reserved seating is available only as part of the VIP Experience. Check out the perks available for VIPs on page 5. Otherwise, it’s open seating. For more information, visit If you’re seeing this publication in advance and would like to volunteer, email tia@ Enjoy the week — and enjoy the show.

Dress by Julia Chew of Xiaolin. Chew was the winner of the 2013 Emerging Designer award. FALl 2014

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VIP Experience: $250 Priority seating in rows 1-3 n 5 p.m. tent access for VIP Reception day of the show n Private VIP Lounge access at the Runway Show n VIP Gift Bag n Invitation to all official Park Avenue Fashion Week VIP Parties n Complimentary hors d’oeuvres from Winter Park’s finest restaurants n Complimentary champagne, wine, beer and signature drink


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Charyli 400 S. Park Ave., Suite 120 / 407-455-1983 The Collection Bridal 301 N. Park Ave. / 407-740-6003 CottonWays 332 N. Park Ave. / 321-203- 4733 Current 128 S. Park Ave. / 407-628-1087 Eyes & Optics 312 N. Park Ave. / 407-644-5156 Forema Boutique 300 N. Park Ave. / 790-498-7300 Hutton 329 N. Park Ave. / 407-644-6522 iLashWorks 111 S. Knowles Ave., St. 201 / 407-622-0226


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presented by harriett lake The following Schedule of Events is your guide to everything happening in the week leading up to the Saturday Runway Show. Address, phone number and website information for events hosted by Runway Show participants is on page 6. Those who are hosting events during the week but are not participating in the Runway Show have their contact information in the listing.

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Eyes & Optics: Attend an eyewear styling event and trunk show. Get expert advice on the eyewear look that’s right for you. A full collection of the best eyewear brands will be available. Light bites and refreshments will be served. 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 25-Saturday, Nov. 1 iLashWorks: It’s a sale! 50 percent off gift certificates for full sets (or buy one, get one free) and other holiday gift ideas. Don’t be the one waiting until the last minute and shopping during crunch time. Take advantage of this weeklong sale, and think about giving the gift of beauty. You’ll find everything for the face — which is the one aspect of fashion that doesn’t go out of season.

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The Collection Bridal: Please join us for a glass of champagne and a toast to fashion. Lilly Pulitzer: Attend the Resort Collection trunk show, where pre-orders will be taken from Saturday, Oct. 25, through Thursday, Oct. 30. The first delivery of resort wear will be in the store Thursday, Oct. 30.

Charyli: Stop by and select your look for Saturday’s Runway Show. Receive a 20 percent discount off your purchase with a Park Avenue Fashion Week ticket. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 25

Monday, October 27 Park Social:​ Experience the newest Park Avenue venue, Park Social, which is hosting the inaugural “Fashion of Cocktails” bartending competition.​This official Park Avenue Fashion Week event​, produced by Shel Marks PR & Events in partnership with Infinium Spirits​, brings together bartenders from various local venues ​to demonstrate their stylish mixology skills. Guests and judges get​to​vote on their favorite cocktail and the winning bartender will e​ arn ​a $200 cash prize.The event starts at 6 p.m., the competition starts at 7 p.m. and a winner will be announced by 9 p.m. Dress in your favorite Park Avenue style. Cheers!

Timothy’s Gallery: Attend Florida jewelry artist Sana Doumet’s special showing of 18carat and sterling silver jewelry, bringing the FALl 2014

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Tuesday, Oct. 28 The Bar Method: Get your body runway-ready at The Bar Method. Enjoy a complimentary class starting at 6:30 p.m., with wine and healthy snacks served after. Make sure to arrive 15 minutes early and wear yoga-style pants and socks. Remember: Strong is the new skinny. 480 N. Orlando Ave., St. 132, 407-539-0099, iLashWorks: Schedule a lesson with renowned makeup artist Shannon Miller of Faces by Shannon. She works with agencies, talent and on major magazine photo shoots. Bring your makeup from home and learn to create spectacular effects that you can later replicate. Shannon will show you how to be magazine-cover ready with the cosmetics you already use and love. There are a limited number of appointments at only $50. SEE: SEE Eyewear presents “Cat-eye’s, Cocktails and Cupcakes,” Mad Men style. Meet Food Network star Emily Ellyn, who’ll be sporting her SEE cat-eyes and mixing cocktails. Sunshine Baker will be serving Gigi’s Cupcakes and MacBeth Photography will be capturing your retro runway look. 6-8 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 29 Charyli: Select something this week from a top designer and receive a free gift with your purchase. Names include Free People, BCBGeneration, WildFox, MinkPink and Viereck 10 a.m. -5:30 p.m. park avenue fashion week


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iLashWorks: Rejuvenate your skin in only a half hour with a $25 micro or peel As an added bonus, take advantage of the preorder special with 20 percent off the new Sugoi Medical Skincare line. Appointments are limited, so call and book yours now. SEE: Wear your favorite SEE specs and come take a “selfie” with an elegantly painted model by Carmelle Clare. You can even get body-painted yourself. Fuel up with warm, creamy pasta and delicious mimosas from Maxine’s On Shine. Browse high-fashion art rings by Rebecca Rose, as seen in Vogue. 3-6 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 30 Charyli: It’s Ladies’ Night! So Charyli is staying open late just for you. Enjoy light bites and wine while doing some lastminute shopping. Until 8 p.m. CottonWays: Meet the artists at the Dewy Display! The Dewi Collection proudly supports the artists and artisans of Bali. Their unique, hand-woven and beaded handbags are a reflection of the island’s


talent, culture and beauty. Purchases help to insure preservation of traditional weaving and beading, an ancient art form that has been passed down through generations of artisans. Noon - 4 p.m. Current: Attend the Stone Rose Trunk Show. 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. iLashWorks: Get Runway Show-ready with today’s Spray Tan Special! Revive that summery look in the middle of autumn or bring out tones that compliment your favorite fall colors. Either way, you can’t beat the discount offered during this oneday special. John Craig: Attend the Robert Graham Trunk Show. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. SEE: SEE yourself in a cool caricature wearing your retro-rad SEE eyewear. A phenomenal cartoonist will capture your silly side. Cool off with mimosas and refreshments compliments of Maxine’s On Shine. 3-6 p.m.

Tuni: Tuni Girls, time is tight​— and we’re sympathetic to your​busy​social calendar. So don’t miss the Tuni Trunk-SHOWdown, from noon-8 p.m. Sip c​ hampagne and our P​ ark Avenue Fashion Week signature cocktail while viewing t​ he latest from y​ our favorite​, most​squeal​-​worthy designers. Just to name drop​, you’ll meet Kelly Cimber​and preview Rebecca Minkoff and Yoana Baraschi​. Plus, we have a few secret weapons up our silk sleeves! Stay tuned and on point​by friending us @ TuniWinterPark on Facebook! We​‘re sure to be besties! Luma on Park: Don’t miss Luma’s 5th Annual Luxury Fashion Experience, produced by Jane Layne Events. There’ll be two high-end fashion shows styled by Fused Fashion as well as live entertainment and gourmet fare and hand-crafted cocktails. Tickets are $40 each. For more information, email

Friday, Oct. 31 Charyli: Come check out ​the snack bar and nibble healthy t​ reats while the C​ haryli

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team helps you style the perfect red carpet look for Saturday’s ​Runway ​Show​. CottonWays: Visit the Treska and Audrey Quetier ​trunk ​show! Stop by ​from 2-6 p.m., select pieces for your personal collection and enjoy a 15 percent discount. Treska​ offers unique, funky and fun handmade jewelry guaranteed for life​. Audrey Quetier​ offers hand​-beaded jewelry​, each piece with a story to tell. ​Beads come from ​ across the globe and most are entirely handmade of glass, sterling silver, gemstones and other natural materials. The Collection Bridal: Attend the Reem Acra trunk show from Oct. 31- Nov. 3. Call the salon for your appointment, and experience the magic of Reem. iLashWorks: One day only! Halloween isn’t just about being terrifying. You can also be fabulous with fantasy. The artists at iLashWorks can help you design the perfect Halloween look with fantasy lashes. Get 50 percent off your purchase of strip lashes and 20 percent off a fantasy lash application.

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Saturday, Nov. 1 CottonWays: Anuschka hand-crafted and hand-painted leather handbags are truly collectors’ items. See one of the biggest collections in the Southeast and receive a free Anuschka gift with the purchase of any Anuschka handbag. 10 a.m.- 6.p.m.

Current: Attend the 7Diamonds Trunk Show. 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sassafras Sweet Shoppe: Attend a fashion show and enjoy a candy buffet. 5 p.m.


To conclude a week packed with fashion-related events, the renowned Park Avenue Fashion Week Runway Show will take place in Central Park’s West Meadow on Saturday, Nov. 1. The park is completely transformed with a 20,000-square foot, air-conditioned tent encompassing a full runway and a lounge area for VIP guests. New additions for 2014 include: n Interactive Red Carpet. This “who are you wearing” feature encourages guests to purchase their outfits from Winter Park boutiques. n Food Availability. General-admission ticketholders will be able to purchase a food band, which allows unlimited tastes from some of Winter Park’s best restaurants. n Winner Announcement. The Emerging Designer Competition winner will be announced on stage. n Check Presentation. Michelle Marks, Park Avenue Fashion Week coordinator, will present the Foundation for Foster Children a check on the runway. Get your tickets at

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presented by harriett lake



By Michael McLeod • Photographs by Greg Johnston 10

et’s all keep our fingers crossed, but there’s a good chance you won’t catch a glimpse of the real star of Park Avenue Fashion Week. That would be the namesake and primary benefactor of the event: the unsinkable, irrepressible Harriett Lake herself. The 92-year-old Orlando icon has been too weak to venture out of her home in a gated Longwood community. But being an ex-Marine, she’s still stalwart and gutsy enough to arrange what might be one last stand: a warehouse sale for charity that will draw on her legendary collection of thousands of vintage designer ensembles and accessories. The sale, to be held in November, will benefit two causes closest to Harriett’s heart: The Orlando Ballet and a boutique for cancer survivors at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. The undisputed grande dame of Orlando philanthropists has sold her jewelry and high-fashion outfits for charity before — but never on this scale. “It’s time,” she says. “You know the old saying, don’t you? There are three things that are certain in life: Death, taxes and television commercials. I can’t go over the rainbow without making sure that the things I’ve always cared about are taken care of.” Jaunty, outspoken, unflaggingly generous and cheerful no matter what, Harriett has been beloved for decades as a connoisseur of couture and a patron of the arts. For years she has given at least $100,000 annually to the ballet and the same amount to Orlando Shakespeare Theater. She also contributed $1 million to the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. From a tabletop office in the kitchen of her ornately decorated

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home, the diminutive fashionista issues hundreds of handwritten checks each year, not just to the arts but to a variety of groups, organizations and causes. The log of contributions that she submits to the IRS every year fills nine typewritten pages. Single-spaced. Harriett usually writes checks while wearing her pajamas. But when she’s well enough to make public appearances, she’s known for dressing up to the nines, always in her trademark oversized glasses, a high-fashion hat and outfits so flamboyant but impeccably coordinated that it’s frequently a toss-up as to who has the better costume: the performers on stage, or the woman in the audience who, in all likelihood, underwrote the show. “Harriett breaks all the rules,” says Jean Patteson, former Orlando Sentinel fashion writer. “She wears

Harriett’s legendary, pink-carpeted closet and her threecar garage accommodate perhaps 4,500 hanging items, 1,600 hats and 450 pairs of shoes. She’s planning a massive warehouse sale in November to benefit charities that are closest to her heart.

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fur in the middle of summer and white in the middle of winter. If anyone else dressed like that you’d say, ‘Good lord. Who does she think she is?’ But with Harriett, it’s just natural. It’s just an expression of her over-the-top personality. Either that, or we’ve just grown used to her.” “You know that song, ‘I Sing the Body Electric?’ Harriett is the body electric,”says Margot Knight, former CEO of United Arts of Central Florida. “My mother is a performance artist,” adds Harriett’s daughter, Shelley, a graphic artist and photographer who owns Sky Lake Studios in Winter Park. Over the years, all Harriett needed to assemble her trademark outfits was a visit to the well-stocked closet off her master bedroom. Ah, yes: The Closet. A few years ago, Kristina Tollefson, a professor and costume designer at the University of Central Florida’s drama department, heard that this legendary closet contained every single article of clothing that Harriett had ever worn. Figuring it had to be an urban legend, she wangled an invitation to see for herself. “What I discovered,” Tollefson says, “is that the word ‘closet’ doesn’t really do it justice.” By whatever name, it’s 900 square feet with a 10-foot ceiling to accommodate a customized conveyor rack, similar to those used in

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commercial dry-cleaning establishments. But even that was too small for Harriett, who once had a dream that all her clothes were smooshed into a tiny, dark place, being smothered to death, and were crying out to her to save them. So she installed pink carpeting and air conditioning in her three-car garage and kicked the Mercedes out in order to create a “backup closet� to accommodate the overflow of — by Tollefson’s count — 4,500 hanging items, 1,600 hats and 450 pairs of shoes. Vintage designer outfits in Harriett’s soon-to-be-dissolved collection feature labels from Bill Blass, Jean Paul Gaultier, Chanel, Escada, Feraud, Oscar de la Renta, Victor Costa, Carmen Mark Valvo and Bob Mackie. (She’s tasteful, but not pretentious: Mixed among them are outfits from Target, Banana Republic and Ross.) No, Harriett does not still have every outfit she ever owned. But though her collection does not date all the way back to her childhood, her obsession with glamour does. Photos from her childhood and young adulthood indicate otherwise, but Harriett thought of herself as an ugly duckling. Sister Isabelle, she was certain, had gotten not only the blonde hair but the good looks that she lacked. So Harriett vowed to dress well to compensate. Born in 1922, Harriett grew up Harriett Tuck in Lebanon, Pa. As a child, she watched the Depression devastate family and friends. Her family couldn’t afford to buy her the outfits she coveted, so she made her own or wore hand-me-downs from a neighbor whose business was unaffected by the economic downturn: “She was the

town’s prostitute,� Harriett says. When World War II broke out, Harriett, in a patriotic fervor, joined the Marines to work as a clerk. Stuck in governmentissue fashion hell, she consoled herself by wearing the prettiest underwear she could find — and having her uniform duplicated, in better wool, by a tailor. After the war she moved to Miami, where she met her husband, Hy Lake, a crusading attorney who specialized in appealing difficult cases. In in the mid-50s, the couple began dabbling in Orlando real estate. Eventually they moved to Central Florida so Hy could develop a two-square-mile tract he had bought for a song at the intersection of Sand Lake Road and Orange Blossom Trail. The residential portion of the property was built at a time when Orlando was still segregated. Hy, however, was one of the first local builders to sell to African-American homebuyers. As Orlando grew and its property values rose, the fortune Hy accumulated allowed the pair to join the ranks of successful postwar, pre-Disney entrepreneurs who became involved in an array of charitable causes. It was around this time that Hy and Harriett heard a saying somewhere that they liked so much they had it embroidered on a pillow: “A fool and his money are soon invited everywhere.� Hy, though equally generous in his own way, was a contrast to Harriett. He was reserved, at least in comparison to his ebullient wife, and stationed firmly at the opposite end of the spectrum in his fashion choices. He died four years ago of complications from

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Alzheimer’s disease. “Nobody knew Hy,” Harriett recalls. “Appearance was never a big issue with him. He bought a $15 watch at Kmart when all his pals were going around wearing Rolexes. When the watchband broke, he just went back to Kmart and bought a new band. And he owned that Kmart — or at least, the land underneath it.” Harriett is old school about her philanthropy. She doesn’t have email. “I have a phone and a mailing address,” she says. “If somebody wants to get in touch with me, that’s the way to do it.” Most of her friends are either philanthropists themselves or acquaintances who go back to her early days in Orlando, when she and Hy lived in College Park and she was a devoted bridge player and PTA president at Edgewater High School. To the community, Harriett may be known today as a woman of grand gestures, high fashion and deep pockets. But close friends, who sometimes worry about how zealously she throws herself into her charitable pursuits, see a different side. “She is just so humble and generous in spirit,” says longtime friend Eva Krzewinski. “But it makes me a little sad sometimes. I’ll ask her over to my house for a little dinner party, just because I miss her and want to see her, and she’ll say: ‘Do you need a check? Should I bring a check?’” Well, of course not. If there’s one thing we’ve all learned over the years, it’s that Harriett’s presence at any gathering, large or small, is enough of a gift in itself. PAFW


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presented by harriett lake


Experience Park Avenue Fashion Week VIPstyle. From Oct. 1-24 you can buy raffle tickets for a VIP Experience for two, valued at $500, and a Sky Lounge Experience for up to 10, valued at $2,500. Winners will be announced at the inaugural Fashion of Cocktails event at newly opened Park Social. All proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Foundation for Foster Children. To find out where to buy tickets, check the Park Avenue Fashion Week Facebook page or visit






oster children often have plenty of obstacles to overcome and need all the help and support they can get. That’s why Park Avenue Fashion Week is proud to announce the that the Foundation for Foster Children is this year’s charitable partner. The mission of the foundation is to “enrich the lives of children placed in foster care due to abuse and neglect by providing opportunities that nurture their ability to succeed, both as individuals and contributing members of our community.” The nonprofit organization will receive a percentage of all ticket sales and 100 percent of the proceeds from two raffles. One raffle is for a VIP Experience for two valued at $500. The other is for a Sky Lounge Experience for up to 10 valued at $2,500. In late 2006, a small group of Central Floridians with a wealth of community volunteer experience met to discuss the unmet needs of children in foster care in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. After a 15-month research and review process, the foundation was formed and began providing an array of services for foster children and foster families. Programs include: ■ Fostering Success Grants. Provides ways for foster children to participate in athletic programs, the arts, educational opportunities and/or assists in providing positive childhood experiences that would otherwise be unaffordable. ■ BEST (Building Educational Success Together). Provides children in foster care individualized, intensive in-home tutoring one or two times per week. ■ Emergency Duffels/ Luggage. Provides foster children coming into care or transitioning into new homes with basic personal hygiene items. It also ensures that youngsters don’t have to move their belongings in trash bags. ■ Housewarming Baskets. Provides laundry baskets filled with linens and household items to aid foster children turning 18 as they begin independent lives away from foster care. ■ Celebration Club. Provides custom cakes and birthday gifts for foster children, whose special days are often forgotten or overlooked. ■ Transition to Adulthood/Mentor Match. Provides direct support and volunteer mentors for foster youth from 17 to 23, helping them to make the transition to adulthood successfully. Statistics show that participation in programs such as these teaches independence, builds self-esteem and inspires confidence in the lives of children who too often feel forgotten and unimportant. While foster children are considered wards of the state, funds to support typical childhood experiences, activities and educational enrichment are not readily available from government sources. So it’s up to organizations such as the Foundation for Foster Children to step in. For more information, visit PAFW



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“I’m a shopper without any resistance!” Harriett Lake, proud 6th-year presenting sponsor of PAFW

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PHOTO: Sky lake studios,

Thank You, Winter Park!

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John Rivers samples a specialty of the house.


John Rivers Wings it Again The creator of 4 Rivers Smokehouse brings gussied-up Deep South cuisine to Winter Park. The fried chicken has customers lining up, but there’s a lot more to love about the homespun menu. By Rona Gindin Photographs by Rafael Tongol


’m dyin’ tryin’! Please send help,” John Rivers pled to his friend, who happened to be Dan T. Cathy, chairman and CEO of Chick-fil-A. Rivers had just opened The Coop, a counter-service Southern food restaurant in Winter Park — and the fried chicken he’d spent months perfecting was a bust. “The stuff coming out was nothing like what we’d developed,” Rivers says. Within 10 minutes, a Chick-fil-A guru at the chain’s Atlanta headquarters diagnosed by phone that the chicken was miscolored and soggy because the fledgling kitchen was “doing it all wrong.” Rivers, one of the region’s most successful restaurateurs, laughs about it now. “We had the wrong equipment, the wrong oil, the wrong holding system — everything.” The poultry problem was unexpected. The founder of the wildly popular 4 Rivers Smokehouse mini-chain had traveled throughout the Deep South, testing fried chicken and other regional specialties in up to a dozen restaurants a day. Then he’d tinker with “iteration after iteration” in his test kitchen. (Rivers adds that the best classic Southern fried chicken he sampled was, inexplicably, from a Birmingham, Ala., Mexican restaurant called Little Donkey. Go figure). Humbled, the man who had elevated barbeque to an art form immediately swapped out all the equipment, installing, among other modern wonders, a fryer that automatically fills with fresh oil after every five drops. Even after the fix, however, customers complained that the batter was too thick and too peppery. So he reworked that, too. Rivers’ goal with The Coop was to create a menu of country classics with “integrity but an interesting little spin,” and to feature only items that are “exceptional.” Clearly, sub-par fried chicken would not do. It’s fair to say, however, that the fowl faux pas has been resolved. The people have spoken, and they’ve said, “I’ll have the fried chicken.” Today, you’ll see metal buckets filled with crispy, golden wings, drums and thighs on most tables at The Coop. But fried chicken is only a fraction of what the restaurant has to offer. After paring 260 recipes down to 50 or 60 — Rivers cut out soul and Cajun foods completely because his offerings “weren’t exceptional” — The Coop puts out consistently delicious and subtly gussied-up versions of the foods that Rivers’ grandma served in her Charleston home. The setting, a sprawling space on Morse Boulevard, was at one time home to O’Boys Bar-B-Q, a now defunct eatery that provided many Rivers family dinners when the kids were young. The look is country, not kitschy, with mismatched tables


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Fried chicken at The Coop (above) might be served with such delectable sides as macaroni and cheese, fried okra, creamed corn and candied yams. Mom’s meatloaf (right) is accompanied by maple-glazed carrots, grean beans and smashed potatoes.

and chairs picked up on Craigs-list and eBay. Signs instructing guests on where to form lines and other house rules use the term “pretty pretty please.” On the dining room walls hang pictures of chickens with name plaques beneath them. Explains Rivers: “When you go to a grandma’s house, it’s typical to see pictures of her kids and grandchildren on the walls. We were going that route with family pictures. Then I thought, ‘Nobody cares about our families.’ So I got great pictures of chickens and put name plates on every one.” Although ordered and served at a counter, the food is plated on colorful china and accompanied by real silverware and cloth napkins. “My grandma wouldn’t have served food on a tray,” Rivers says, so neither does The Coop. Like the fried chicken, every menu item tends to have a backstory. Mom’s Meatloaf, for example, was first made with beef and pork until Rivers learned that the pork portion “turns” after it sits for a spell — which it might well do in a restaurant setting. So he switched to all beef, using panko breadcrumbs to lighten it up and a bacon wrap to add a bit of a pork boost. He then topped it with a glaze made from sweet ketchup, Worcestershire


sauce and brown sugar. “After trying a fancy meatloaf, I ended up with one that’s basically what my wife made for our kids when they were growing up,” Rivers says with a chuckle. The sauce is so popular, he adds, that guests often order it for their fries. Whatever your entrée, I’d suggest creamed corn as one of your sides. The kernels are sautéed with basics like onions, salt and pepper, then mixed with a “melted down” cream cheese diluted with a bit of cream. It’s extremely fresh-tasting. Add some cornbread, which is a bit sweet with a crispy crust. The kitchen crew heats bacon

grease in a cast-iron skillet until “blazing hot,” then pours in the batter and bakes it. Crusty on the outside, moist on the inside, it’s a terrific rendition of this classic. If I could have only one dish at The Coop, it would probably be the banana pudding. It tastes exactly as banana pudding should taste: a bowl of real mashed bananas that just happens to be smothered in whipped cream and topped with vanilla wafers. The secret? The Coop bakes bananas in their peels, then blends the interior with sugar and folds the mix into vanilla pudding. You might also want to experience Deep South cuisine culture via chicken and dumplings, fried catfish and grits, smothered pork chops, candied yams and fried okra. Calorie-counters can choose roasted organic chicken. Rivers says he started a second restaurant concept not only for business reasons but also because he felt “pent up” once the 4 Rivers Smokehouse menu and concept were established and proven. “I’m not an operator,” he says. “My ability to do creative things was limited. This was a chance to become alive in the kitchen again.” So don’t be surprised to see a few more Coops, some Coop retail products, and — who knows? — maybe a third restaurant concept. It seems a given that Rivers won’t allow himself to stay cooped up. 610 Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407-843-2667,, Entrees $6.99 to $14.99


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DINING LISTINGS THE KEY $ Cheap eats, most entrees under $10 $$ Moderate, dinner entrees $15-20 $$$ Pricey, most entrees over $30 $$$$ Many entrees over $30 AMERICAN Another Broken Egg Cafe 430 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-790-7868/ There’s nothing particularly unique about this country-style breakfast eatery, which originated in Louisiana and now has locations throughout the Southeast, including this one in Winter Park Village. There are, of course, omelettes, pancakes, French toast, biscuits and gravy, and Benedicts, accompanied by those ubiquitous little cubed potatoes. But the food is good, the space is pleasing and the service is friendly and efficient. $ The Bistro on Park Avenue 348 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-644-2313/ Located in the Hidden Gardens, this low-key eatery’s glass-enclosed garden room, and its outdoor patio, offer two of the prettiest settings on Park Avenue. Specialties include chef crab cakes, jambalaya, red beans and rice with andoiulle sausage, and pot roast with a blue cheese cream sauce. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays featuring a variety of eggs Benedict, including versions with lobster and soft-shell crab. It’s German Night on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. $$-$$$ Briarpatch Restaurant 252 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-8651. This Park Avenue institution is crowded during breakfast and lunch—and on Sunday for brunch— and incredibly noisy. Fare includes fancy burgers, such as the Grafton white cheddar and sugar-cured bacon burger, as well as sandwiches, salads and omelets. But most patrons are particularly fond of the oversized homemade desserts, including an array of ice creams and such super-rich treats as chocolate layer cake. A bit of trivia: The restaurant’s marble counter once topped the soda fountain at Irvine’s Pharmacy, an even more venerable Park Avenue institution that operated from 1925 to 1973. $-$$ Carmel Café & Wine Bar 140 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-513-4912/ The menu updates the traditional flavors and foods of Mediterranean rim countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Greece and Morocco. Choose from small- or large-plate options and pair foods with an international selection of wines available in three-, six- or nine-ounce pours. Tableside iPads enable guests to control preparation and pacing of the meal, from drinks to dessert, by scrolling, tapping and sending selections. $$ Cask & Larder 656 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-2333/ From the folks who brought us The Ravenous Pig comes this “Southern Public House” in the former Le Cordon Bleu location. “Cask” is for the beer that’s brewed on site and “larder” is an arcane term for a pantry used primarily in the South, so the cuisine is Southern-inspired and locally sourced, and encompasses the general categories of sausage and country ham; vegetables and grains; fish and oysters; and such delectable oddities as grilled lamb heart, pork belly and foie-gras stuffed quail. Snout-to-tail specials for parties of eight or more involve serving up an entire animal, usually a pig. Now open for lunch Wednesday through Saturday, the midday menu offers more salads and sandwiches along with more substantial entrees such as rabbit meatloaf

and trout. Menus change often to reflect local harvests and fresh catches. $$ The Cheesecake Factory 520 North Orlando Ave., Winter Park. 407-644-4220/ It’s generally always busy at The Cheescake Factory, but fans say the waits are worthwhile. Certainly, with a 20-page menu featuring more than 200 items, there’s something for everyone, including creative entrées as well as pizza, pasta, seafood and steak. There’s also a “SkinnyLicious” menu with lower-calorie options such as shrimp summer rolls. The original, relatively unadorned cheesecake is wonderful, of course, but there are more than three dozen decadent options, including chocolate-coconut cream, peanut butter cup fudge ripple and peppermint bark. $$ The Coop: A Southern Affair 610 W. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 32789/ The eagerly awaited new comfort-food eatery from John Rivers (4 Rivers Smokehouse) is drawing big crowds with such Deep South favorites as chicken and waffles, fried chicken, ham-and-pimento-cheese sandwiches, Low Country shrimp and grits, smothered pork chops, fried catfish, chicken pot pie, mac and cheese, chicken and dumplings, and meatloaf. You can even get fried chicken by the bucket. And don’t forget dessert, such as Coop Moon Pies and old-school banana pudding. $-$$ Dexter’s 558 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 407629-1150/ Central Florida has four Dexter’s locations, each of which has become a neighborhood hangout, drawing diners of all ages for hearty portions of creative American fare (at fair prices), good wine and, in some cases, live music. A luncheon favorite is the pressed duck sandwich and Sunday brunches offer a make-your-own omelet option. Casual dress is the rule. $-$$$ First Watch 2215 Casa Aloma Way, Winter Park, 407-3313447; 1221 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, (407) 740-7437/ First Watch, founded more than 30 years ago, was a pioneer in the “breakfast, brunch and lunch only” category. The omelettes — including the Killer Cajun, the Via Veneto, the Acapulco Express and The Works, among many others — are the restaurant’s breakfast specialty, while lunch features an array of sandwiches and salads that emphasize fresh ingredients. $ Hamilton’s Kitchen 300 E. New England Ave., Winter Park/ Named for the innovative former Rollins College president, Hamilton Holt, the warm and welcoming restaurant at the newly opened Alfond Inn boasts an early 1900s ambience, with a hearth-inspired kitchen window, exposed beams, farmer’s table and Dutch oak floors. Chef Marc Kusche puts modern spins on traditional Southern offerings using locally sourced ingredients. Hamilton’s is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. $$$ Hillstone 215 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-7404005/ Formerly known as Houston’s, this Winter Park mainstay is part of a highend chain. Still, it grows its own herbs, bakes its own bread, grinds its own meat, cuts its own fish and whips its own cream. In nice weather, guests relax with a cocktail in Adirondack chairs overlooking Lake Killarney. Many have popped the proverbial question during romantic dinners for two on the boat dock. $$-$$$ Keke’s Breakfast Café 345 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-629-1400/ Keke’s serves up a solid lunch, but this place is really all about breakfast, more specifically the waffles, French toast and oversized

pancakes, offered with fruit, granola and chocolate chips. You may encounter a wait on weekend mornings, but be patient — it’s worth it. $ Marlow’s Tavern 1008 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-960-3670/ Classic American tavern fare, including an array of big and juicy burgers, served in an upscale pub environment, with exposedbrick walls, dark wood accents and leather-upholstered booths. The appetizers are wonderful, especially J.T.’s Kettle Chips with gorgonzola cheese and bacon. Outdoor seating is under a sizeable covered patio, where there’s sometimes live entertainment. $$ Park Plaza Gardens 319 S. Park Ave., 407-645-2475/ Located adjacent to the historic Park Plaza Hotel, this Winter Park institution boasts a clubby, cozy bar and sidewalk café for leisurely drinks, casual meals and unparalleled people watching. Café specialties include appetizers, soups, sandwiches, burgers and a lovely array of salads. At the rear of the building is the elegant atrium dining room, a posh, patio-style space where you are surrounded by large trees and lush vegetation beneath a soaring ceiling of glass. The food is worthy of the setting, featuring modern American entrees. Specialties of the house include beef carpaccio, filet mignon, chicken curry salad and crab-stuffed grouper. Bananas foster is a showy but delightful dessert. $$-$$$$ Scratch 223 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-3255165/ This brand-new, shabby-chic hot spot features a tapas menu that emphasizes fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. The cheese plate is an excellent starter and there you should follow up with the pork belly, which here is soy-glazed and enhanced by calamansi juice, micro cilantro, carrot puree, black rice and scallions. The lavender-cured smoked duck breast is tasty, too, but in a tapas restaurant, with its small servings, you need not limit yourself. The beverage menu includes craft beer, microbrews and fine wines. $$ 310 Park South 310 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-6477277/310/ New American cuisine featuring fresh seafood, beef, pasta dishes, signature salads and sandwiches. Dine outside along the Avenue and enjoy daily lunch and dinner specials, a children’s menu or Sunday brunch. Steak, chicken and pasta entrées dominate the menu, but there’s also a very nice, slowly roasted half duck finished with a plum demi-glace. If you prefer to dine at home, call ahead and pick up your favorite dish. $$-$$$ Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen 2203 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-672-5753/ If you’re looking for a quiet, intimate dining experience, this is not the place for you. Tibby’s is loud, raucous and fun, with Crescent City favorites like shrimp Creole, seafood gumbo and, for dessert, powdered beignets. Tibby’s was named for the late Walter “Tibby” Tabony, a Big Easy native and great-uncle of restaurateur Brian Wheeler, who also founded Tijuana Flats. The old man, whose colorful biography is on the menu, would certainly have approved of the shrimp and andouille cheddar grits and the hand-battered fried pickle slices, which are expertly fried and served with a rich rémoulade sauce. $-$$ Toasted 1945 Aloma Ave., Winter Park 407-960-3922/ Yes, there really is a restaurant that specializes in that most beloved childhood comfort food, the grilled-cheese sandwich. But this isn’t Velveeta on Wonder bread; the menu includes combinations of exotic cheeses, artisan breads and other unFA L l 20 1 4 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E

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DINING LISTINGS expected additions. For example, we doubt Mom ever served a “Fig and Goat” sandwich with goat cheese, fig preserves, basil and honey. This cheesy joint also offers an assortment of burgers and salads as well as vegetarian and vegan selections. $

most produce is from area farms and the desserts are homemade. Burgers come with creative toppings, in interesting iterations including bison and veggie, with a variety of hand-cut fries like sweet potato and portobella, and with sustainable wines and interesting beers. $


BurgerFi 538 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-2010/ This Delray Beach-based chain joins Five Guys and Burger 21 in Central Florida’s suddenly sizzling burger category. You order at the counter and a server brings your food. The burger buns, interestingly, are branded with the name of the restaurant while the burgers themselves are fashioned from grass-fed, steroid-free beef. The fries are thick cut and house made and there are some 120 beverages from which to choose, including tea, wine, soft drinks and craft beer. Frozen custard is a nice treat on a hot day. $

Orchid Thai Cuisine 305 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407331-1400/ Enjoy authentic Thai food — with orchids (what else?) garnishing many dishes — in a primo Park Avenue location. Traditional offerings include green curry highlighted by coconut gravy infused with kaffir lime and Thai basil, ginger chicken, tom yum soup and curry puffs. For a light and refreshing dessert, try the Thai doughnuts, sweetened by a peanut-sprinkled dip of condensed milk. The cozy restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating. $$-$$$ P.F. Chang’s China Bistro 436 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-0188 / The popular restaurant chain, with more than 200 locations in North America, offers upscale Chinese classics artfully presented, with many sauces made tableside by servers. Signature entrées include diced chicken wrapped in lettuce leaves, orange-peel beef with chili peppers and oolong sea bass. The busy Winter Park Village venue features an outdoor patio. $$ Seoul Garden 511 E. Horatio Ave., Maitland, 407-5995199/ Seoul Garden is so Asian-focused that the “About Us” section of its website is written in Korean. That authenticity extends to the food. Barbecue meats are grilled to order in the dining room. Be sure to try the marinated beef short ribs and the soft tofu stew. $$ BARBECUE Bubbalou’s Bodacious Bar-b-que 1471 Lee Road, Winter Park, 407-628-1212/ It now has five locations, but the original Bubbalou’s is a Winter Park institution, serving up traditional pork and beef platters as well as brisket, livers and gizzards, and sides of beans, greens and mac and cheese. It’s definitely an experience best suited to the barbecue purist. $

Shake Shack 119 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 321-2035130/ New York superchef Danny Meyer has brought his chain of ultra-indulgent hamburgers to Winter Park. Here the all-Angus burgers, crinkle-cut Yukon fries, frozen custard, shakes with mix-ins and more are served indoors and out. The patio has lounge chairs, a fire pit and a ping-pong table. After dining, stroll across the plaza to Winter Park’s newest attraction, Trader Joe’s. $ CREATIVE/PROGRESSIVE Luma on Park 290 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-5994111/ If there’s pancetta in your salad, the salumi was made in the kitchen, by hand, starting with a whole pig. Most herbs are from local farms, fish from sustainable sources, pickled vegetables jarred in-house and desserts built around seasonal ingredients. Luma’s progressive menu, which changes daily, is served in a sleek and stylish dining room in the heart of Winter Park, under the passionate direction of Executive Chef Brandon McGlamery, Chef de Cuisine Derek Perez and Pastry Chef Brian Cernell. $$$

4 Rivers Smokehouse 1600 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-474-8377/ A diverse menu of barbecue specialties—from Texas-style brisket to pulled pork, smoked turkey and bacon-wrapped jalapenos—has gained this homegrown concept a huge following. The expanded Winter Park location also features scrumptious desserts under the banner The Sweet Shop. The Mississippi mud cake, in particular, is scrumptious. $

The Ravenous Pig 1234 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-2333/ After leaving their hometown for serious culinary training, Winter Park natives James and Julie Petrakis returned to open the region’s first genuine gastropub. Dinner reservations have been tough to snag ever since. The ambitious menu changes daily based on the fish, meat and produce that’s available, and it’s executed by a dedicated team that abhors shortcuts. Besides daily specials, The Pig always serves up an excellent burger, soft pretzels, shrimp and grits and a donut-esque dessert called Pig Tails. $$-$$$$



Panera Bread 329 N. Park Ave., Ste. 107, and 2516 Aloma Ave., Winter Park/ On the south end of Park Avenue sits a Starbucks; on the north end a Panera holds sway. But while Starbucks is pretty much strictly a place for coffee, Panera offers bakery items and its signature fresh-and-healthy soups, salads and sandwiches. So we consider it to be as much a restaurant as a coffeehouse, as do most of its patrons. This particular location is a large space, conveniently located next to a parking garage, and offers abundant outside seating to facilitate people-watching. The Aloma location has a drive-thru window. $

Café de France 526 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-6471869/ Dominique Gutierrez, who’s from Vendée, on the Atlantic coast of France, greets Café de France diners as if they’re old friends. At this point, many are. Despite a kitchen staffed with chefs, she still prepares the house-made pâtés the way her mother taught her years ago. Look for classics such as garlicky escargot and au courant entrées such as panroasted salmon with a pickled onion/grapefruit/Meyer lemon preserve. $$-$$$

BURGERS B&B Junction 2103 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-513-4134/ This counter-service establishment melds farm-to-table quality with a burgerand-fries menu. The beef is locally raised and grass-fed,


Café 906 906 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-9750600/ Within this nondescript freestanding building is a friendly, low-key little restaurant where French expat Vincent Vallée will brew you a cappuccino, warm up a slice of quiche Lorraine or indulge you with a peanut-butter filled lava cake — dark

chocolate or white. Be sure to try the “salted” pound cake, a savory snack made with goat cheese, walnuts and raisins stirred in, or the bacon quiche, a light, fluffy delight with a delicate and flaky crust. $ Chez Vincent 533 W. New England Ave, Winter Park, 407599-2929/ Orlandoans have headed to chef Vincent Gagliano’s Hannibal Square hideaway since 1997, dressing up for formal evenings made even more special with trout in lemon-butter and pork tenderloin slathered with Dijon sauce. The intimate space has two sister enterprises: a below-ground wine cellar that hosts private meals for up to 30, and a lounge known as Hannibal’s that dishes up American and French favorites. $$-$$$ Croissant Gourmet 120 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407-622-7753/ Tucked onto a side street behind simple glass walls, Croissant Gourmet is so small you might not notice it. Seek it out. Under the expert guidance of pastry chef François Cahagne, this simple spot turns out tray after tray of the region’s finest croissants and pastries. Quiches are superb here, as are the grilled croque monsieur and madame sandwiches. $ Le Macaron French Pastries 216 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 321-295-7958 / Le Macaron serves up a variety of flavors of petite pastel cookies, each made primarily with frothy meringue and ground almonds. The noshes are delicate yet filling, and come in varieties such as black currant, pistachio and chestnut-gingerchocolate. These are nothing like similarly named macaroons, made with coconut. $ Paris Bistro 216 N. Park Ave., 407-671-4424, Winter Park/ Paris Bistro is a restaurant divided: Some seats are tucked away behind Park Avenue’s Shops on Park building, past a koi pond. The others beckon along a bustling stretch of sidewalk. Wherever you choose to indulge, you’ll find French classics (coq au vin, beef burgundy) plus a slew of daily specials (roasted rack of lamb flambéed with brandy and topped with a porcini mushroom sauce) created by chef and co-owner Sebastian Colce. $$-$$$ Frenchy’s 212 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-2232/ A humble French bakery named Sweet Traditions has evolved into a full-on Gallic café named Frenchy’s, complete with lunchtime quiches and dinnertime entrees. It’s a bustling, glitzy retreat. $-$$$ ITALIAN Al Bacio 505 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-673-3354/ Light Italian, American and LatinAmerican foods are served at the counter of this casual eatery. Coffees, breakfasts, paninis, salads and pastas are the menu’s mainstays. $ Antonio’s 611 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-645-5523/ Fine Italian fare comes in two formats at Antonio’s, proprietor Greg Gentile’s culinary homage to his ancestors. The upstairs restaurant, an elegant space with a balcony overlooking Lake Lily, is somewhat formal, although the open kitchen provides peeks of the chefs in action. Its downstairs counterpart, Antonio’s Café, is a casual spot that doubles as a to-go, market and wine shop. It’s easy to fill up on fresh, crusty bread and olive oil, but don’t—you’ll want to leave room for such staples as salmon with lemon-herb butter, rigatoni with sausage and rosemary chicken. $-$$$ Brio Tuscan Grille 480 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-5611/ Located in Winter Park Village, Brio is a glitzy spot with Tuscan influences. Try


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the grilled lamb chops or the filletto di manzo toscana, an 8-ounce, center-cut filet. Lunch features paninis and sandwiches as well as lunch-sized servings of popular dinner dishes. Breads are baked fresh in an Italian oven. The ambience is upscale, but kids have their own menu. $$ Buca di Beppo 1351 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-6227663/ This national chain is owned by Orlando resident (and Planet Hollywood founder) Robert Earl, who has remade it onto a fun, kitschy place for family dining. The portions are humongous, and the food is served family-style. A standout entrée is linguine frutti di mare, a large portion of pasta served in a lasagna pan and filled with mussels, calamari, clams and shrimp drizzled with a spiced up red clam sauce. The pizzas are sized for two or four. $$ Francesco’s Ristorante & Pizzeria 400 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-960-5533/ Chefowner Francesco Aiello oversees this glitzy-yet-casual Italian restaurant, which churns out hand-tossed pies and full entrees in an open kitchen. Private dining room and patio seating supplement the traditional booths and tables. $-$$ Italio 276 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-960-1860/ You pretty much create your own Italian meal at this counter-service restaurant. Step up to the register and choose a base (pasta, wrap or salad) a protein and a sauce plus toppings and the staff will compile it for you. Our favorite: spaghetti with sausage and spicy prima rosa sauce. You can add in toppings and pick up a beer or wine before sitting at a communal table. $

Pannullo’s Italian Restaurant 216 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-629-7270/ Housed in one of Park Avenue’s oldest buildings, Pannullo’s has become something of a fixture itself since its 1993 debut. The menu features everything from pizza to classic pasta dishes, but you can’t go wrong with the lobster ravioli or the chicken gorgonzola. And check out the veggieheavy salad bar. $$ Prato 124 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-262-0050/ This is one of the region’s very best Italian restaurants, but don’t expect a classic lasagna or chicken parmigiana. Executive Chef Brandon McGlamery and Chef di Cucina Matthew Cargo oversee an open kitchen in which pastas are made from scratch, pizzas are rolled to order, sausages are stuffed by hand and the olive oil is a luscious organic pour from Italy. Try the chicken liver Toscana, a satisfying salad Campagna with cubes of sizzling pancetta tesa, shrimp tortellini and citrusy rabbit cacciatore. Begin with a Negroni cocktail; it’s possibly the best around. $$-$$$ Rocco’s 400 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-644-7770/ Calabria native Rocco Potami oversees this romantic Italian eatery, where fine authentic fare is presented in an intimate dining room and on a secluded brick patio. Classics include carpaccio (raw, thinly sliced beef with white truffle oil and arugula), papardelle in wild boar sauce and a breaded veal chop topped with a lightly dressed salad. It’s easy to miss, tucked away in a Winter Park strip center, but once you find it, you’ll be back. $$$

Tolla’s Italian Deli & Café 240 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-0068/ Chef-owner Gary Tolla cooks up authentic home-style Italian fare in this small café in a quieter part of Winter Park. The offerings range from hot subs and pizzas to antipasto and veal saltimbocca. Be sure to try the bruschetta. $$ LATIN El Bodegon Tapas & Wine 400 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-1078/ This timeless family-owned restaurant draws a loyal clientele for its authentic Spanish fare, including Valencian paellas, Galician fish dishes and, of course, a wide variety of tapas. $$-$$$ Mi Tomatina 433 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 321972-4317/ This eatery bills itself as a paella bar, and indeed guests share a half-dozen varieties of the signature Spanish rice dish. Yet others come for a mellow meal over tapas (garlic shrimp, potato omelet, croquettes) and sangria, enjoyed while seated within a small contemporary dining room or outdoors overlooking Hannibal Square. There’s an alfresco bar in the back. $$-$$$ MEDITERRANEAN Bosphorous 108 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-6448609/ This is the place for flavorful Turkish fare in either a white-tablecloth setting or alfresco along Park Avenue. Many diners fill up on the appetizer sampler with oversized lavash bread. For a heartier meal, try the ground lamb “Turkish pas-

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W inter Park 400 South Orlando Avenue s 407-644-7770 Reservations online at FA L l 20 1 4 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E

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try,” a shish kebab or a tender lamb shank. Outdoor diners can end their meals by smoking from a hookah. Or not. $$-$$$ MEXICAN/SOUTHWESTERN Cocina 214 151 E. Wellbourne Ave., Winter Park, 407790-7997/ The area code of Dallas is 214, so this stylish eatery’s name makes sense when you consider that its menu offers creative interpretations of traditional Tex-Mex dishes. The huevos rancheros, flanked by Mexican rice and black beans, makes an ideal brunch, with fried eggs served atop corn tortillas and topped with melted queso blanco and red rancheros sauce. Also notable: the truffle and mushroom quesadilla and braised pork tacos with mango as well as pescado rico, a large serving of mahi-mahi, wilted spinach and grilled veggies in a roasted poblano cream sauce. The main dining room encompasses freestanding tables and banquettes and there’s a spacious patio where pooches are welcome. $$

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PR’s Taco Palace 499 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-2225/ This charmingly dumpy but iconic Winter Park eatery, located adjacent to the railroad tracks, serves up hearty portions of Tex-Mex fare including chimichangas, fajitas, tostadas and, of course, tacos. A specialty of the house is the outrageously proportioned fundido, a deep-fried flour tortilla filled with your choice of shredded or blackened chicken or beef and cream cheese. Many, many margaritas are consumed on the premises, and discounted tequila shots are offered whenever a train rumbles past. $-$$

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Anna’s Polish Restaurant 3586 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-657-0020/ Enjoy Polish classics such as cabbage noodles, Cracovia chicken cutlet, beef goulash, pork schnitzel, potato pancakes and hunter’s stew with cabbage, mushrooms, beef, pork and sausage served with mashed potatoes. There’s also a delightful array of desserts and a kids’ menu. $-$$

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PUBS & GRILLS Ale House 101 University Park Drive, 407-671-1011, and 1251 Lee Rd., 321-214-1505, Winter Park/millersalehouse. com. Part of the Miller’s Ale House regional chain of casual-dining restaurants, most of which are in Florida, both Winter Park locations offer daily lunch and dinner specials. Along with a huge beer selection, you’ll also find signature boneless chicken wings and “Captain Jack’s Buried Treasure,” a layered ice cream cake. $-$$ Fiddler’s Green 544 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-2050/ This is as authentically Irish as you’ll find in Orlando, with a menu featuring bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, hen in a pot, Irish stew and, of course, fish and chips as well as a wide selection of Irish beers. The ambience is enhanced by dark wood, cozy clutter and rowdy groups of “footballers” cheering televised matches. $$ SEAFOOD

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Mitchell’s Fish Market 460 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-339-3474/ A high-end seafood chain that prides itself on being “absolutely, positively obsessed with freshness,” this family-friendly restaurant also offers a gluten-free menu and special meals for kids. The outdoor lounge seating is a big draw. Signature dishes include charbroiled oysters, Maine lobster bisque and a “Mitchell’s Market Trio” of jerk tilapia, broiled salmon and Shang Hai scallops. $$-$$$

Winter Park Fish Co. 761 Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-6112 / Fish and seafood dishes are fresh and well prepared at this humble Winter Park spot, where a counter-service format helps keep prices reasonable. Crab cakes, lobster rolls, mahimahi sandwiches and more ambitious dishes such as grouper cheeks in parchment and stuffed grouper are among a typical day’s offerings. $$ STEAK Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster 729 Lee Rd., Orlando, 407-645-4443/christnersprimesteakandlobster. com. Locals have been choosing this prototypically masculine, dark-wood-and-red-leather enclave for business dinners and family celebrations for more than two decades. Family-owned since 1993, Christner’s features USDA Prime, corn-fed Midwestern beef and Australian cold-water lobster tails. End your meal with a slice of the restaurant’s legendary mandarin orange cake. And there’s a loooong wine list (6,500 bottles). On select nights, Kostya Kimlat hosts magic shows along with a prix-fixe menu in a private dining room. $$$$ Fleming’s 933 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-6999463/ Fleming’s puts a younger spin on the stately steakhouse concept, featuring sleek décor and 100 wines by the glass along with its prime steaks and chops. The tempura lobster “small plate” with soy-ginger dipping sauce is a worthy preentrée splurge. For a taste of the old-fashioned, visit on Sunday, when prime rib is served. $$$$ Nelore Churrascaria 115 E. Lyman Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-1112/ This is one of two Nelore Brazilian all-you-can-eat steakhouses—the other one is in Houston—where the servers, or “gauchos,” come to your table as often as you’d like bearing skewers of premier beef, chicken or pork. There’s a salad and food bar and Brazilian cheese bread to keep you happy between meat courses. $$$ Ruth’s Chris 610 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-6222444/ With three old-school steakhouses and its corporate headquarters near Winter Park Village, Ruth’s Chris, a native of New Orleans, has become an Orlando special-occasion mainstay. Its service-oriented restaurants specialize in massive corn-fed Midwestern steaks served sizzling and topped with butter. Most side dishes are more than ample for two. $$$$ VEGETARIAN Café 118 153 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407-389-2233/ Raw foods—none cooked past 118 degrees—are the focus of this health-conscious niche café, which attracts raw foodists, vegans and vegetarians. The spinach and beet ravioli stuffed with cashew ricotta is an impressive imitation of the Italian staple. Thirsty Park Avenue shoppers might stop by for a healthful smoothie. $$ Ethos Vegan Kitchen 601-B South New York Ave., Winter Park 407-407-228-3898/ After serving up vegan fare for five years at its original location on North Orange Avenue, this 100 percent vegan eatery moved to Winter Park. A luncheon favorite is the chickun — yes, chickun, not chicken — bruschetta. A meatfree shepherd’s pie and crab cakes made from chickpeas are among the other meat-free offerings. $$ Do you know of a terrific Winter Park or Mailtland restaurant that doesn’t appear in our listings? Email and let us know about it.


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events art, history, entertainment and more

Fractured Narratives Fractured Narratives, inspired by the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, runs through Jan. 4 at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum on the Rollins College campus. The exhibit features work by 14 established and emerging artists who address such contemporary global issues as privacy, warfare, the environment and freedom of expression. It encompasses film, photography, painting, sculpture and sound. Shown here is Small Wars (Rescue), a photograph by Saigon-born photographer An-My LĂŞ, who assembled a small group of Vietnam War reenactors to create a tableaux recalling that ill-fated conflict. Courtesy of Bessemer Trust, admission to the museum remains free throughout 2014. 407-646-2526.



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VISUAL ARTS The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. Although the museum is dedicated to preserving the works of the famed Czech sculptor, it also stages frequent exhibits from internationally renowned artists working in all mediums. Running through Aug. 24 is Michelee Puppets and the Art of Puppetry, a collaborative exhibit exploring the rich and multicultural history behind the art of puppetry. Running through Nov. 16 is Nature’s Design: The Art of Carolyn Cohen and Redenta Soprano, a joint exhibition by botanical artists and friends Carolyn Cohen and Redenta Soprano. Cohen’s etchings and watercolors are influenced by the art found in illuminated manuscripts, calligraphy and classic botanical illustration while Soprano masterfully paints the patterns that are recurrent in natural forms. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for students and free for children. 633 Osceola Ave. 407-647-6294. Art & History Museums-Maitland. The Maitland Art Center at 231 W. Packwood Ave., one of a trio of museums that anchor the city’s Cultural Corridor, was founded as an art colony in 1937 by visionary American artist and architect André Smith. The center, which offers exhibits and classes, is one of the few surviving examples of Mayan Revival architecture in the Southeast and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Opening Oct. 10 is A&H Artists in Residence Two, featuring work by Leigh Tarrentino and Cicero Greathouse. Tarrentino will showcase paintings from her Memory of Snow series, small-scale works that depict snowy nighttime scenes of homes, yards and gardens. Greathouse will showcase printing methods that deconstruct cardboard containers to explore both texture and color. Monthly events include Family Days at the Museum, held the third Saturday of each month at 1 p.m.; Artists’ Critique and Conversation, held the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.; and Ladies’ Art Lounge, held the first Friday

of each month at 7:30 p.m. Additional components of the complex include the Maitland Historical Museum & Telephone Museum, 221 W. Packwood Ave. The museum’s permanent exhibit, Maitland Legacies: Creativity and Innovation, uses archival photographs, artifacts and documents to commemorate the city’s founding families and earliest institutions. The third component of the complex is the Waterhouse Residence and Carpentry Shop Museum, 820 Lake Lily Drive, which was built in the 1880s by a pioneering Maitland resident. Opening Nov. 28 is A Waterhouse Christmas Carol, sponsored by the Maitland Woman’s Club. In an homage to Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, the house will be decorated to showcase holiday traditions of the past, present and future. It’s all part of What the Dickens, a celebration of the life and work of the English author organized by Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs. Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Located on the campus of Rollins College, the museum houses one of the oldest and most eclectic collections in Florida. Running through Jan. 4 is Fractured Narratives, inspired by the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College (see more on page 89). Also check out First Fridays, held the first Friday of each month from 4-8 p.m., and the Fourth Friday Lecture Series, held the fourth Friday of each month at 11 a.m. An ongoing program is Conversations: Selections from the Permanent Collection, which aims to inspire dialogue about art created during disparate time periods and among various cultures. Works are grouped under four broad thematic categories: Religion Redefined, Gesture and Pose, A Sense of Place and History and Myth. Courtesy of Bessemer Trust, admission remains free throughout 2014. 407-646-2526. Crealde School of Art. Established in 1975, this not-for-profit arts organization

offers year-round visual arts classes for all ages taught by more than 40 working artists. There are ongoing exhibits in the William and Alice Jenkins Gallery and the Showalter Hughes Community Gallery. Admission to the galleries is free, although there are fees for art classes. 600 St. Andrews Blvd. 407-671-1886. Hannibal Square Heritage Center. Established in 2007 by the Crealdé School of Art in partnership with residents of Hannibal Square and the City of Winter Park, the center celebrates the city’s historically AfricanAmerican west side with archival photographs, original artwork and oral histories from longtime residents. Running through Oct. 25 is Business as Community Life: Winter Park 2013, staged in conjunction with the Winter Park History Museum. Twelve advanced Crealdé students, under the direction of professional documentary photographers Peter Schreyer and Sherri Bunye, photographed 27 local businesses chosen for the historic architecture of their locations or their community longevity. Admission is free. 642 W. New England Ave. 407539-2680. Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. The museum houses the world’s most extensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany creations, including jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass and the entire chapel interior originally designed and built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Currently on display is The Wreck, an 1880 oil painting by American artist and decorator Lockwood de Forest, which depicts five Bedouins riding their camels across the desert with the skeletal remains of a camel in the foreground. The 36-by-48-inch Orientalist work is on view for the first time following extensive conservation. The exhibit includes other de Forest oil studies from the museum’s collection and will be supplemented by

A LAND REMEMBERED It’s been said that A Land Remembered,, published in 1984 by Pineapple Press, ought to be required reading for every Floridian. The novel, a work of historical fiction by Patrick D. Smith, became a bestseller and has subsequently achieved iconic status. Smith, who was nominated for three Pulitzer Prizes and five Nobel Prizes for Literature, died in January. But his son, Rick Smith, is keeping his father’s memory alive with an engaging multimedia presentation called Patrick Smith’s Florida Is a Land Remembered. The younger Smith has delighted packed houses of Florida history buffs across the state, and expects to do the same in Winter Park on Saturday, Oct. 18. Says Smith: “A Land Remembered is a key theme of my show, but in order to understand what led my father to write this book, l also talk about the other books that were important steps in his writing career. In my opinion, every one of them is a gem, and my show is the best possible way to meet the author and understand his work more deeply.” Smith’s presentation will take place in an appropriately historic setting: the main sanctuary of the First Congregational Church of Winter Park, 225 S. Interlachen Ave., at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more information, call the church at 407-647-2416 or visit


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EVENTS material, such as photos and essays, aimed at helping viewers develop a full appreciation of the painting’s creation, context and symbolism. Lullaby and Goodnight, which runs through January, focuses on three authors noted for illustrating early children’s literature: Kate Greenaway, Mary Dow Brine and Eulalie Osgood Grover. Also running through January is Vignette: The Art of Fountain Pens, which displays more than 100 classic pens complemented by period advertisements, Tiffany desk sets and other writing accessories. Opening Oct. 21 is Revival and Reform: Eclecticism in the 19th-Century Environment. The centerpiece of this two-gallery exhibit from the museum’s collection will be The Arts, a neoclas-

sical window created by J. & R. Lamb Studios, a prominent American glasshouse of the late 19th century. It will be displayed with almost 20 additional leaded-glass windows and selections of art glass, pottery and furniture of the period. Curator Tours of the Tiffany wing galleries are held on Tuesdays from 11-11:45 a.m. and 2:30-3:15 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $1 for students and free for children younger than 12. 445 N. Park Ave. 407-645-5311. FESTIVALS Winter Park Autumn Art Festival. The annual festival, which is the only juried art show to feature Florida artists

Fifth Annual Canaveral Seashore Plein Air

exclusively, is held on the second weekend in October, which this year falls on Oct. 11-12. In addition to top-notch visual art, visitors will enjoy live entertainment, children’s activities and more. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. both days and admission is free. Central Park, Park Avenue. 407-644-8281. PERFORMING ARTS Winter Park Playhouse. Winter Park’s only professional, not-for-profit theater continues its season with the world premiere of Isn’t it Romantic? A Tribute to Rodgers & Hart, which runs Nov. 14-23. This song-anddance celebration, which pays tribute to legendary composers Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, features such classics as “My Funny Valentine,” “The Lady is a Tramp,” “Blue Moon,” “You Took Advantage of Me” and many more. Upcoming shows in the theater’s Mainstage Series include The Rat Pack Lounge (Jan. 16-Feb. 14); A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine (March 6-28); and Putting It Together (April 17-May 9). The Spotlight Cabaret Series will feature Carol Stein, pianist, vocalist, composer and arranger, on Oct. 29 and 30. 711 Orange Ave. 407-645-0145. FILM


Enzian Film Series. This cozy alternative cinema offers several film series: Wednesday Night Pitcher Show (first and third Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., free admission plus happy hour refreshments); Cult Classics (second and last Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m., $5 admission); and Saturday Matinee Classics (second Saturdays at noon, free admission). 1300 S. Orlando Ave. 407-629-0054. HAPPENINGS

Canaveral National Seashore New Smyrna Beach, FL

October 6th – 11th

A Celebration of Plein Air Painting

• Daily Artists Demonstrations • Nocturnal Painting • Artist Welcome Reception • Sunset Paint Out & Live Auction • Paint Out Gala & Fine Art Sale

For more Info visit...


Wet Room Gallery Open Daily Proceeds Benefit Canaveral Seashore’s Youth Education Programs

Park Avenue Fashion Week. Winter Park’s fashion and design community hosts a week-long extravaganza of designer meet-and-greets, trunk shows, VIP parties and special events, culminating Nov. 1 with a glamorous runway show in Central Park’s West Meadow. Join Central Florida’s favorite fashionista, philanthropist Harriett Lake, and the Park Avenue Merchants Association for this seven-day celebration. Runway show ticket prices vary. Oct. 25-Nov. 1. 407-644-8281. Fall Plant Sale. Mead Botanical Garden is hosting its firstever fundraising sale, with an emphasis on fall gardening and a focus on edibles, gardening, education, children’s activities and holiday plants. Admission is free, although some classes may have a fee. Nov. 8, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 1500 S. Denning Drive. 407-599-3397. HOLIDAYS Trick-or-Treat on Park Avenue. Looking for a fun and safe place to take the kids for Halloween? How about Park Avenue? On Oct. 25, from 10 a.m.–2 p.m., little ghouls and goblins are welcome to walk Winter Park’s signature street in costume and gather treats from participating merchants. There’s no cost to participate. 407644-8281. Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. Join the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and celebrate the season with the lighting of the city’s official holiday tree. You’ll also enjoy performances by local children’s choirs and refreshments courtesy of local businesses. The event is broadcast live on WFTV Channel 9. Dec. 5, 5 p.m. Central Park, Park Avenue. Admission is free. 62nd Annual Ye Olde Hometown Christmas Parade. It’s Central Florida’s longest-running Christmas parade, and it’ll boast more than 100 marching units, including


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bands, dance troupes, civic organizations and, of course, the Jolly Old Elf himself. Come early for the Leadership Winter Park Pancake Breakfast, held from 7-10:30 a.m. at the Central Park stage. Admission to the parade is free; tickets to the breakfast range from $4-6. Proceeds benefit local elementary schools. Saturday, Dec. 6, 9 a.m. 407-644-8281. Christmas at the Casa: Cookies, Cocoa and Carols. The Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum is holding a holidaythemed open house on Dec. 3 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Listen to holiday carolers, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies and chat with St. Nick. The event is free, although there’s a suggested donation of $2 per person or $5 per family. You can even have your children professionally photographed with the area’s most authentic Santa. The cost for this photograph, which includes a 5-by-7 print, is $10. No reservations are required. 656 N. Park Ave., 407-6288200. Christmas in the Park. One of Winter Park’s most cherished annual events is when the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art lights up nine extraordinarily beautiful leaded-glass Tiffany windows in Central Park. Christmas in the Park, which marks the traditional kickoff of the holiday season in Winter Park, also includes a concert by the Bach Festival Choir, Youth Choir and Brass Ensemble. Admission is free. Dec. 4, 6:15-8 P.M. Central Park, Park Avenue. 407-645-5311.

Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts. Eatonville, arguably the first municipality in the U.S. formed by African-Americans, is strongly associated with Harlem Renaissance writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, who lived there as a girl and recorded her childhood memories in her classic autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road. The museum that bears her name provides information on the historic city and sponsors quarterly exhibitions featuring the works of AfricanAmerican artists. Eatonville’s Zora Neale Hurston Trail encompasses 16 historic sites and 10 markers; a walking/ driving tour brochure is available at the museum. There is no admission charge, although donations are

accepted. For group tours, there is a fee and reservations are required. 227 East Kennedy Blvd., Eatonville. 407-647-3307. LECTURES Winter Park Institute. The institute, affiliated with Rollins College, presents lectures, readings and seminars by thought leaders in an array of disciplines. Upcoming programs include: Billy Collins: Adventures in Poetry, featuring the former U.S. Poet Laureate reading his own work along with local high-school poets who won a contest judged by Collins (Oct. 16, 7 p.m., Tiedtke Concert Hall); Jane Pauley: Your Life Calling, featuring the

Master artisan Stefano Roselli will be signing your Vietri gifts at Owen Allen November 16 from 12-5

A Classic Christmas. There’s no more beautiful setting in which to listen to classic holiday music than the Knowles Memorial Chapel on the campus of Rollins College. A Classic Christmas, another longstanding Winter Park holiday tradition, features the Bach Festival Choir, Youth Choir and Orchestra. Performances are scheduled for Dec. 13 (7:30 p.m.), 14 (2 p.m.) and 15 (6 p.m.). Tickets range from $40-$60. 407.646.2182. HISTORY Winter Park History Museum. With a new SunRail station just making its debut, the museum takes a timely look at railroading history with A Whistle in the Distance: The Trains of Winter Park. This fascinating multimedia exhibit traces the role of railroads in Winter Park’s growth and development. Ongoing displays include artifacts dating from the city’s founding as a New England-style resort in the 1880s. Coming Nov. 8 is the Peacock Ball, the museum’s annual fundraiser held at the Winter Park Racquet Club. The black-tie-optional event will honor the lives and contributions of architects James Gamble Rogers II (1901-1990) and his son, Jack. The theme is the 50th anniversary of the so-called British Invasion, which brought the Beatles and other mop-topped rockers to prominence in the U.S. Cost is $200 per seat or $1,600 for a table. Admission to the museum is free. 200 W. New England Ave. 407-644-2330. The Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida. The center is dedicated to combating antiSemitism, racism and prejudice with the goal of developing a moral and just community through educational and cultural programs. It houses permanent and temporary exhibit space, archives and a research library. Running through Dec. 20 is Them: Hateful Things, on loan from the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Michigan. Panels showcase items such as postcards, games, souvenirs and costumes that stereotype racial and ethnic groups. Admission to exhibits, programs and films is free. 851 N. Maitland Ave. 407628-0555.


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EVENTS award-winning broadcast journalist discussing her latest book (Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m., Warden Arena, Alfond Sports Center); Andrew Young: A Continuing Legacy, featuring the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations discussing the Civil Rights Act on its 50th anniversary (Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m., Knowles Memorial Chapel); Maya Lin: A History of Water, featuring the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial discussing biodiversity and habitat loss (Jan. 29, 7 p.m., Orlando Museum of Art); and two programs with rock icon Roger McGuinn, former lead singer of The Byrds: How Folk Music Got Me to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame (March 26, 7 p.m., Tiedtke Concert Hall); and The McGuinn Legacy: Questions and Answers (March 27, 11 a.m., Tiedtke Concert Hall). The final program of the season is An Evening with Eric Spiegel, featuring the president and CEO of Siemans USA offering his perspectives on global issues (March 19, 7 p.m., Tiedtke Concert Hall). All programs are free and open to the public. No tickets are required. Parking is available in the SunTrust parking garage at 166 E. Lyman Ave. 407691-1995. MARKETS Food Truck Fiesta. This family-friendly event, which takes place the fourth Saturday of each month, features live music and delicious food. Pets are welcome. Noon-5 p.m. Lake Baldwin Park, 2000 S. Lakemont Ave. 407-2965882. Maitland Farmers Market. This year-round, open-air market features fresh produce, seafood, breads and cheeses along with plants, all-natural skin-care products and live music provided by the Performing Arts of


Maitland. The setting on Lake Lily boasts a serene boardwalk, jogging trails and a playground as well as picnic areas. 701 Lake Lily Drive. Winter Park Farmers Market. The region’s busiest and arguably most popular farmers market is held every Saturday, 7 a.m.-1 p.m. at the old railroad depot that houses the Winter Park History Museum. There you’ll find fine baked goods, produce, plants, honey, cheese, meat, flowers, crafts and other specialty items for sale. After shopping, make a morning of it with a stroll along nearby Park Avenue. Dogs are welcome to bring their people. 200 W. New England Ave. BUSINESS Business After Hours. Winter Park Chamber of Commerce members, local business owners and community leaders gather to network in a casual atmosphere. Events are typically held the third Thursday of the month. Appetizers and beverages are served. Upcoming dates and locations include Oct. 16, the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, and Dec. 11, Centennial Bank. Hours are 5:30- 7:30 p.m. and admission is $5 for members, $15 for non-members. 407-644-8281. Winter Park Executive Women. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these monthly lunchtime gatherings feature networking opportunities for women business owners and guest speakers who addresses topics related to leadership development, business growth and local initiatives of special interest to women The featured speaker Oct. 6 is Rosemary Steinbach, president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness,

Greater Orlando Chapter. Subsequent events are Nov. 3 and Dec. 1, with speakers to be announced. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. with lunch and program at noon. Admission is $20 for members, $25 for non-members; reservations required. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 W. Lyman Ave. 407-644-8281. Good Morning Winter Park. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these monthly gatherings attract chamber members, local residents and community leaders who enjoy coffee and conversation regarding an array of community issues. Programs are typically held the second Friday of each. Upcoming dates Oct. 10, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12. Networking begins at 7:45 a.m. and the program begins at 8:15 a.m. Admission is free, and a complimentary continental breakfast is served. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 W. Lyman Ave. 407-644-8281. Small Business Education Series. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Resource Network, this program provides businesspeople with insight into how to be successful in today’s rapidly changing competitive environment. Upcoming dates are Oct. 16, Nov. 21 and Dec. 19. Admission is free for members, $10 for guests. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 W. Lyman Ave. 407-644-8281. CAUSES Happy Hour for Hunger. Enjoy a fall-themed happy hour with appetizers and drinks compliments of Winter Park Village restaurants as part of a community-wide effort to support Second Harvest Food Bank of Central


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Florida in its fight to end hunger. Thursday, Nov. 13, 5:307:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. 400 N. Orlando Avenue. 407644-8281.


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ART AND SPIRITUALITY New York Times bestselling author Barbara Brown Taylor will be among the presenters at the annual GladdeningLight Symposium, slated for Jan. 29-Feb. 1 in Winter Park. Taylor, a religion professor at Piedmont College, was the subject of a recent Time magazine cover story, and was selected by the magazine as one of its 100 Most Influential People. Also in town for the three-day event is sculptor and painter Tobi Kahn, whose work will be on display at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum on the campus of Rollins College. Rounding out the schedule will be Owen and Moley Ó Súilleabháin, a cappella folksingers from Ireland, who’ll perform original music and sacred songs from a variety of traditions. Venues will include All Saints Episcopal Church, Casa Feliz, Rollins and the Cornell. All events at Rollins are free, while the Taylor lectures are $25. An all-events package, which includes an intimate dinner with Taylor, Kahn and the Ó Súilleabháins at Casa Feliz, is $299. GladdeningLight is a Winter Parkbased nonprofit that explores the relationship between faith and art. For more information call 407-647-3963 or visit


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ur family decided this summer to spend time in the way that many Winter Parkers do when facing Florida’s baking temperatures and steamy downpours. We left town. Leaving the Sunshine State, I seesawed among Florida roadsters darting up I-95; jogged left through the South Carolina foothills and finally climbed upwards to pristine Watauga Lake, cradled by brisk eastern peaks that soar a good half mile above the Florida semi-tropics. The high country does have telephones and Internet, which can intrude on the quiet serenity. Most days I moiled on a favorite deck chair overlooking diamond-studded waters and verdant forests. But the swimming and kayaking, laughs and camaraderie with friends and family, are our fondest vacation memories. Mom arrived lakeside on July 4 and helped us entertain a troop of visitors through Labor Day. At 84, she is a beloved matriarch. Her children, nephews, nieces and grandchildren bask in her friendship. Last summer, she settled into a nice routine. After claiming quiet time every day to collect her thoughts and broaden her knowledge, she turned easily to her duties as second mistress of the house, listening to and looking out for guests, ready to come to the their rescue at any point where they might feel awkward. But, despite the gaiety, Mom contributed to my most vexing realization of the summer — a growing sense that time with her won’t last forever. Her health is fine enough. I noticed, however, a change in her outlook, which began with offhand comments and her refusal to commit to future plans. “I don’t have time for that now.” “I need to stay focused on a few remaining things that I want to accomplish.” I expressed my unease at these veiled references to her death. My own mortality seldom registered in my thoughts and Mom’s comments made me uncomfortable. She wished that she could do something to ease my angst, but knew that she could not. This was my problem.


In his autobiographical story A Confession, Leo Tolstoy wonders: “Is there any meaning in my life that will not be destroyed by my inevitably approaching death?” He would spend his later years exploring this question in his novels.

There is something about denying death that gives you the feeling that you have always existed, and always will. It is, however, a foolish illusion, says philosopher Charles D. Hayes. Temporal life is meaningful because it is short and because it cannot be repeated. When you start to realize that you are not going to be here forever, your legacy becomes more important. In his autobiographical story A Confession, Leo Tolstoy wonders: “Is there any meaning in my life that will not be destroyed by my inevitably approaching death?” He would spend his later years exploring this question in his novels. To Mom, indestructible meaning is found in her family. When she was a child, her father lost everything in the Great Depression. While his partner jumped to his death off the roof of their bankrupt Chicago hotel, Grandpa started over

in his small Illinois hometown as a crop insurance agent. Family, not material things, sustained him. Mom believes that immortality lies in one’s children. Her older sister Jane, dying of bone cancer, moved into Mom’s home during her final months and whispered to her at the end, “look out for my children.” By then, her children were grown and self-sufficient. But, as Mom and Aunt Jane understood, children remain children and mothers remain mothers. And the family’s legacy is carried forward. Mom doesn’t fear death. She will die one day understanding why she lived. There are, in the meantime, just a few more things she would like to accomplish. She is writing a novel about our family — for our family. Early each morning, facing Iron Mountain rising out of our lake and bundled in a seersucker robe and nylon white slippers, she hunched over her leather-top writing desk, fingers blue corded with veins and brown spots, typing an account of our family’s history. She infuses every scene with facts gathered over a lifetime and gracefully frames them with a novelist’s imagination. I look forward to my signed copy.

Jim DeSimone is a principal at Orlando-based Knob Hill Companies and is a founding partner of Winter Park Magazine. He was previously vice-president of corporate affairs for Darden Restaurants, director of communication for the City of Orlando and a reporter and communications counsel for the Orlando Sentinel. He has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida, a masters degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Maryland College Park and a J.D. from the College of William and Mary.


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Photo by James F. Wilson, courtesy BUILDER magazine

407 / 599 / 3922

Phil Kean, Architect AR95091/CRC1327855/CA30609

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