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CONTENTS SPRING 2020
FEATURES 26 | NAKED TRUTH The echoes of Equus, a play that shocked many locals in 1979, can still be heard at Rollins College. For participants, it was a life-altering event. By Randy Noles EXCLUSIVE BOOK EXCERPT 36 | A PUNDIT’S PERIL John Martin, a lecturer on international affairs at Rollins College, was Winter Park’s celebrity socialist. A “golden personality” hired by President Hamilton Holt, he enchanted locals with his elocution and survived a brutal hammer attack by a psychotic acquaintance. Martin’s wife, Prestonia, was a high-profile antifeminist who made news of her own. Plus: A defiant but whimsical poem from Prestonia, and a timeline that traces Holt’s ties to Winter Park and tracks the evolution of the evening program that today bears his name. By Randy Noles 60 | TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY If you’re in love and want to make it official, there’s no better place than Winter Park. By Patricia Letakis
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DEPARTMENTS PEOPLE 16 | HOW TO BE A POP IDOL Winter Park’s Tim Coons developed the Backstreet Boys and is looking for another major musical megastar. He certainly knows talent when he hears it. By Greg Dawson HISTORY 22 | HOMAGE TO AN EDITOR A Valencia College scholarship program honors the work of Gus C. Henderson, whose advocacy for the west side still resonates on both sides of the tracks. By Randy Noles DINING 86 | THE ART OF THE MEAL With a focus on both palate and palette, Galería brings food and art together in Baldwin Park. You’ll have to look for the place, but the effort is well worthwhile. By Rona Gindin, Photography by Rafael Tongol
IN EVERY ISSUE 8 | FIRST WORD 12 | COVER ARTIST 92 | MOMUMENTS 96 | EVENTS 106 | OUR TOWN 108 | THE POEM
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JUST (HEROICALLY) DOING HIS JOB
s there anyone who doesn’t admire firefighters? “Then we started looking for a parent,” Gercak says. “It When the bell rings, these highly trained men and was hard to see because it was getting dark. We found the women suit up and head into danger zones with no mom, unconscious, in the front seat under the water. We questions asked. Jacob “Jake” Gercak, a firefighter brought her out and started performing CPR.” and paramedic with the Winter Park Fire-Rescue DepartThen a doctor happened by and began performing mouthment, insists that he’s unexceptional in that regard. to-mouth resuscitation on the woman, who expelled a conProbably so, considering the heroism that has become siderable volume of water from her lungs. The Lake County synonymous with firefighting and firefighters. But when Fire Rescue Department arrived shortly thereafter — and the Fire Chief Dan Hagedorn recently announced the local two friends went along their way. department’s Firefighter of the Year, it was Gercak who Unfortunately, the woman later died — probably of drownstepped forward to accept. ing — but the three children were saved. “I was just in the right The 23-year-old Gercak also earned the local departplace,” says Gercak, a friendly and unpretentious young man Jacob “Jake” Gercak, firefighter and ment’s Award of Valor and was named Firefighter of the paramedic with the Winter Park Firewho lives with his parents in DeLand and loves navigating rugYear by the Florida State Firefighters Association in Tal- Rescue Department. ged terrain on his Specialized Stumpjumper trail bike. lahassee, where he met Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Any department would be lucky to have him — but forPetronis and Governor Ron DeSantis. tunately for Winter Parkers, he’s not going anywhere. “I’m “Sure, I know I did the right thing and all that,” says Gercak, who’s in his going to stay in Winter Park for the entirety of my career,” he says. “And, at second year in Winter Park after three years with the Daytona Beach Fire my age, that’s going to be a long, long time. It’s just great here.” Department. “But I also, without a doubt, did exactly what anybody else My chat with Gercak was cut short when he and a crew rushed to respond here would have done.” to an emergency call — but I didn’t need to hear any more. I think I’m safe Here, for the record, is what Gercak did. in reporting that taxpayers in 32789 get their money’s worth, and then some, He and Dudley Brearly, a fellow local firefighter, were driving home from a from the everyday heroes just doing their jobs at the Winter Park Fire-Rescue day of mountain biking in Mount Dora. Along a rural stretch of State Road 44 Department. in Lake County, they noticed skid marks and spied a partially submerged vehicle that had apparently veered into a telephone poll and rolled into a swampy retention pond, landing with only the driver’s side above the water’s surface. The pair stopped and rushed to where the vehicle had come to rest. With power lines dangling precariously overhead, Gercak kicked in the passengerRandy Noles side window and pulled three dazed young children to safety from the back CEO/Editor/Publisher seat, handing them off to Brearly and a pair of elderly bystanders as he firstname.lastname@example.org cated them from the wreckage.
WHO MAKES A DIFFERENCE? It’s time again to select Winter Park Magazine’s Most Influential People. The program, in its sixth year, recognizes those who — sometimes quietly — make a difference through their professions, their volunteerism, their philanthropy, their talents or their community engagement. The selectees are presented in the summer issue and celebrated at a big event at the Alfond Inn, slated this year for July 16. As always, we’re reaching out to our readers for nominees. Here are the people who have already been Influentials: The Class of 2019: Roy Alan and Heather Alexander, Anna Bond, Charles Clayton III, Deborah Crown, Jere F. Daniels Jr., Robynn Demar, Eric and Diane Holm, Charlene Hotaling, Susan Johnson, John and Rita Lowndes, Paula Madsen, Elizabeth Tiedtke Mukherjee, Stephanie Murphy, Tony and Sonja Nicholson, John Rivers, Bronce Stephenson, Matthew Swope, Dykes Everett and Bill Walker and Todd Weaver. The Classes of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018: Richard O. “Rick” Baldwin, Jim Barnes, Dan Bellows, Rita Bornstein, Jill Hamilton Buss, Jeffrey Blydenburgh, Daniel Butts, Sid Cash, Billy Collins, Grant Cornwell and Peg Cornwell, Linda Costa, Julian Chambliss, Patrick Chapin, Carolyn Cooper, Mary Daniels, Mary Demetree, Betsy Gardner Eckbert, Jeff Eisenbarth and Andrea Massey-Farrell. Also: Carolyn Fennell, Meg Fitzgerald, Sue Foreman, Scot French and Chris-
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tine Madrid French, Shawn Garvey, Hal George, John Gill, Alan Ginsburg, Steve Goldman, Sarah Grafton, Elizabeth “Betsy” Gwinn, Ralph V. “Terry” Hadley III, Jane Hames, Ena Heller, Debra Hendrickson, Catherine Hinman, Herb Holm (deceased), and Jon Hughes and Betsy Hughes. Also: Gary I. Jones and Isis Jones, Phil Kean, Allan Keen, Linda Keen, Tom Klusman, Randy Knight, Debbie Komanski, Linda Kulmann, Cindy Bowman LaFronz, Jack C. Lane, Steve Leary, Fairolyn Livingston, Lawrence Lyman, Lambrine Macejewski, Jesse Martinez, Brandon McGlammery, Genean Hawkins McKinnon, Joanne McMahon, Micki Meyer, Johnny Miller, Anne Mooney and Ronnie Moore. Also: Patty Maddox, David Odahowski, Betsy Rogers Owens, James Petrakis and Julie Petrakis, Jana Ricci, John Rife, Randall B. Robertson, Laurence J. “Larry” Ruggiero, Greg Seidel, Peter Schreyer, Polly Seymour, Thaddeus Seymour, Shawn Shaffer, Sarah Sprinkel, Susan Skolfield, Sam Stark, Chuck Steinmetz and Margery Pabst Steinmetz, Dori Stone, John Sinclair and Gail Sinclair, Fr. Richard Walsh, Jennifer Wandersleben, Harold A. Ward III, Debbie Watson, Bill Weir, Chip Weston, Pete Weldon, Cynthia Wood and Becky Wilson. To nominate someone for the Class of 2020, please email Randy Noles, publisher, suggestions at email@example.com. It helps to include a brief explanation of why you’re making the nomination. Thanks, as always, for your help in making Most Influential People one of Winter Park’s most-anticipated events. — Randy Noles
RANDY NOLES | Editor and Publisher THERESA SWANSON | Group Publisher/Director of Sales JODI HELLER | Director of Administration KATHY BYRD | Associate Publisher/Senior Account Executive DENA BUONICONTI | Associate Publisher/Account Executive CAROLYN EDMUNDS | Art Director MYRON CARDEN | Distribution Manager RAFAEL TONGOL | Photographers WILL SETZER | Digital Artist RONA GINDIN | Dining Editor MARIANNE ILUNGA | Fashion Editor HARRY WESSEL | Contributing Editor BILLY COLLINS, GREG DAWSON, CATHERINE HINMAN, PATRICIA LETAKIS, MICHAEL MCLEOD | Contributing Writers
WINTER PARK PUBLISHING COMPANY LLC RANDY NOLES | Chief Executive Officer ALLAN E. KEEN | Co-Chairman, Board of Managers JANE HAMES | Co-Chairman, Board of Managers THERESA SWANSON | Vice Chairman, Board of Managers MICHAEL OKATY, ESQ. | General Counsel, Foley & Lardner LLP
COMMUNITY PARTNERS Larry and Joanne Adams; The Albertson Company, Ltd.; Richard O. Baldwin Jr.; Jim and Diana Barnes; Brad Blum; Ken and Ruth Bradley; John and Dede Caron; Bruce Douglas; Steve Goldman; Hal George; Michael Gonick; Micky Grindstaff; Sharon and Marc Hagle; Larry and Jane Hames; Eric and Diane Holm; Garry and Isis Jones; Allan E. and Linda S. Keen; Knob Hill Group (Rick and Trish Walsh, Jim and Beth DeSimone, Chris Schmidt); FAN Fund; Kevin and Jacqueline Maddron; Drew and Paula Madsen; Kenneth J. Meister; Ann Hicks Murrah; Jack Myers; Michael P. O’Donnell; Nicole and Mike Okaty; Bill and Jody Orosz; Martin and Ellen Prague; Serge and Kerri Rivera; Jon C. and Theresa Swanson; Sam and Heather Stark; Randall B. Robertson; George Sprinkel; Philip Tiedtke; Roger K. Thompson; Ed Timberlake; Harold and Libby Ward; Warren “Chip” Weston; Tom and Penny Yochum; and Victor and Jackie A. Zollo.
Copyright 2020 by Winter Park Publishing Company LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holder. Winter Park Magazine is published four times yearly by Winter Park Publishing Company LLC, 201 West Canton Avenue, Suite 125B, Winter Park, Florida 32789.
FOR GENERAL INFORMATION, CALL: 407-647-0225 For advertising information, call: Kathy Byrd, 407-399-7111; Theresa Swanson, 407-448-8414; or Dena Buoniconti, 407-832-9542 Like us on Facebook or visit us online at winterparkmag.com
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he same artist had never painted consecuSondag, a native of Winter Park, earned a BFA from the tive covers for Winter Park Magazine. But Rhode Island School of Design. He also studied painting and leave it to Don Sondag to set a new stanportraiture at the National Academy of Design and the Art dard. We had planned on using a Sondag Students League in New York City. image on the Winter 2020 cover. But the death of Thad In addition to painting, Sondag teaches at the Crealdé Seymour, the president emeritus of Rollins College, left School of Art, where he joined the faculty in 1990. He has no question that the cover should feature the beloved also taught at Seminole State College, Walt Disney Imagicommunity icon. neering and Walt Disney Feature Animation. Thankfully, the city’s most renowned portrait artist He has accepted portrait commissions from the Dr. P. Philalso happened to be an admirer of Seymour’s. Sondag, lips Foundation, Seminole State College, Tupperware Brands a Winter Park native who has rendered images of many Corporation, and the University of Central Florida, among community leaders and notable personalities, graciously many other institutional clients. His image of the iconic Fred agreed to drop what he was doing and turn out a cover. Rogers (Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) hangs in the lobby of When he took time out to paint the portrait, Sondag Tiedtke Concert Hall on the campus of Rollins. Don Sondag is known for portraits, was working on original pieces for an upcoming exhiSondag’s work has also been featured on posters for the Winbut he loves to paint outdoors. bition called Venetian Canals of Winter Park: The Art of ter Park Sidewalk Art Festival and Casa Feliz, and is prominent Don Sondag, which runs through April 12 at the Albin in many private collections. “I paint portraits primarily but love Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. to paint outdoors,” he says. “Capturing the light, color and form is what I try A painting from Kraft Azalea Gardens with Lake Maitland in the backto compose in my paintings.” — Randy Noles ground — which was shown at that exhibition — graces this issue’s cover.
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Tim Coons runs two music companies, produces records and mentors next-gen artists from his home studio in Winter Park. Coons, a 1976 graduate of Rollins College, has a track record of picking winners.
HOW TO BE A POP IDOL Winter Park’s Tim Coons developed the Backstreet Boys and is looking for another major musical megastar. He certainly knows talent when he hears it. BY GREG DAWSON PHOTOGRAPHY BY RAFAEL TONGOL
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ou Pearlman and Tim Coons were born six months apart at the same hospital in Queens, New York, during President Eisenhower’s first term. Four decades later, fate brought them together in Orlando, where they collaborated and then diverged. Pearlman, as it happened, was the ultimate scoundrel; Coons the ultimate survivor. Pearlman, whose insatiable avarice led him to fleece investors in a Ponzi scheme and bamboozle the Backstreet Boys and other boy bands he created, died in federal prison in 2016 at age 62. Coons, who got into rock ’n’ roll for the music, not the money, is still charging ahead at 66. He runs two music companies and continues to produce records and mentor nextgen artists from his home studio in Winter Park. He has lived there since enrolling at Rollins College in 1972 with the dream of becoming a baseball star. But it wasn’t to be. The scrappy but undersized walk-on, who grew up a Yankees fan and owns a Mickey Mantlesigned baseball, got the verdict from Tars head coach Boyd Coffie, a former minor-league player and big-league scout: “You’re 5-foot-8 and 140 pounds. You’ll never make it to the pros. You need to think about other options.” Coons settled for life as a rocker — perhaps the only occupation that’s at least as cool as being professional athlete. In baseball terms, he was a guy who did many things well enough to have a career in the bigs — as a utility player, a backup to All-Stars or a hitting coach you never hear about who helps
On a wall in Coons’ office is a framed memento of his relationship with the biggest-selling boy band of all time, the Backstreet Boys. It’s a diamond CD in recognition of Coons’ pivotal role in launching the group, shaping their vocal style and producing their first half-dozen singles.
S PRING 2 0 2 0 | W INT ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
Coons enjoyed a backstage reunion with the Backstreet Boys prior to a recent concert at Orlando’s Amway Center. Shown are (left to right) Howie Dorough, Coons and Nick Carter. “I’m very proud of them,” Coons says of Dorough, AJ McLean, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell. “How long have they been together? Going on 26 years. That’s longer than The Beatles, the original boy band.”
mold raw talent into bubblegum-card heroes. Only baseball geeks know that it was Charley Lau, a lifetime .255 hitter, who taught George Brett to hit at a Hall of Fame level. A much smaller circle of pop music aficionados can tell you that the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and Take 5 as well as Rob Thomas (Matchbox Twenty) and JoJo (the youngest female artist to record a No. 1 hit) all owe a measure of their success to Coons, a producer and vocal coach who never released an album of his own but has helped sell millions of them for other people. After reluctantly exiting his field of dreams, it didn’t take long for Coons to come up with Plan B. Though he had no formal training and didn’t read sheet music, Coons played guitar and had an extraordinary voice. (“I knew pretty early that I’m blessed with incredible pitch, timing and rhythm,” he says.) As a Rollins freshman, he won a campus talent contest singing Neil Young’s “Old Man,” and formed a band called Harpoon with four other students. Word got out that the kids were alright, and soon the band had gigs all around Central Florida. LEARNING FROM LEGENDS Coons had begun honing his chops as a performer years earlier. In 1968, his mother won
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$100,000 in the New York state lottery and the family moved to Fort Lauderdale. It was there he made his solo debut, at a joint called the Elbow Room, for “$25 and all the pizza I could eat.” As a Rollins sophomore, Coons performed with Gary U.S. Bonds (“A Quarter to Three,” “This Little Girl is Mine”) at Dubsdread Country Club. It went so well that Bonds booked him for more dates. In his senior year, Harpoon appeared as the “Mary Wells Band” for Motown legend Mary Wells at a Jacksonville concert in which Coons played guitar and wailed backup vocals. It was a master class for the talented undergrad. “Mary Wells’ husband (Cecil Womack) played with us in the band,” Coons says. “Cecil was an amazing guitar player and record producer who I learned a lot from. During rehearsals, I got to see how a real Motown guitarist plays.” After Coons graduated in 1976 with degrees in environmental studies and political science, Harpoon toured Yugoslavia. A year later, Plan B came to fruition when Coons signed a five-year deal — as a solo act — with BMG Ariola Records label in Germany. Under that label, Coons toured Europe and the U.S. and shared the stage with rock royalty. Back in Florida — he had gotten homesick — he
opened for Arlo Guthrie, Ramsey Lewis and Joe Walsh and Glenn Frey (twice) of The Eagles. Coons also played guitar with Stephen Stills (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) and with Foreigner on Disco, a German TV show. And he opened for Martin Mull, a singer-songwriter better known as a comic actor on TV (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman; Fernwood Tonight). “I was backstage at the Great Southern Music Hall (in Gainesville) with Mull before the show,” Coons recalls. “He was drinking whiskey and joking about how small the dressing room area was. So he took a marker and drew a big door with a doorknob on the wall behind us. He wrote on the door, ‘Dressing room addition, architect Martin Mull.’ Funny guy!” Two of Coons’ most memorable brushes with the uber-famous came in late 1970s, when he was an intern assistant to the late Joe Lambusta, a veteran music promoter in Orlando. In the summer of 1978, The Rolling Stones kicked off their “Some Girls” U.S. tour in Lakeland, rehearsing for two days before the show. “It was my job to take care of the needs of the wives and girlfriends of the Stones,” Coons says. “We were driving the girls around Lakeland in a limousine, and that got the population pretty excited. Pulling up to a 7-Eleven in a limo was pretty cool back then.” (Probably still is — certainly in Lakeland.) He tried to make small talk with Keith Richards’ girlfriend, Swedish model Lil Wergilis. Recalls Coons: “I said something like, ‘So how are the guys doing?’ She looked me in the eye like I insulted her. ‘What do you mean? The Rolling Stones are the best [profanity] rock ‘n’ roll band in the world, man!’” Coons had more mellow duty assisting backstage when the Grateful Dead played Lakeland. Afterward, he escorted the Dead back to their hotel and ended up in Jerry Garcia’s room. “For no good reason, Jerry proceeded to tell me his life story for the next three and a half hours,” says Coons. “He said the best thing about being a rock star is that you don’t have to do your own laundry.” “THESE ARE MY BOYS” The defining chapter in Coons’ career began the day in 1993 when he took a call from Lou Pearlman. He’d never heard of Pearlman, but “recognized the accent right away.” The fellow New Yorker said he wanted to start a boy band. Coons figures Pearlman had heard about him from mutual contacts in the business. “I went over to his house off Sand Lake Road,” Coons recalls. “He marched out and said, ‘Here are my boys. We’re going to call them the Backstreet Boys.’” The name was inspired by Backstreet
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PEOPLE Market, an outdoor flea market near International Drive where teens hung out. Coons, with two decades of show business under his belt by then, went to work turning the boys into men — or at least into more mature boys. He compares his role as vocal coach to “the concrete guy. I set the foundation.” Original Backstreet member Howie Dorough says Coons was “a kind, gentle producer. I remember him making it such a pleasure to work in the studio. He has a great pop sensibility and was always willing to take time to help you sound your best.” By 1996, the Backstreet Boys were international pop music stars, topping the charts and selling albums by the millions. On a wall in Coons’ office is a framed memento of his relationship with the biggest-selling boy band of all time. It’s a diamond CD in recognition of Coons’ pivotal role in launching the group, shaping their vocal style and producing their first half-dozen singles. Over the past several decades, the boys — who now range in age from 40 to 48 — have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. “I’m very proud of them,” Coons says of Dorough, AJ McLean, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell. “How long have they been together? Going on 26 years. That’s longer than The Beatles, the original boy band.” Coons didn’t see Pearlman’s fall from grace coming. He recalls “a big, jovial man who made you feel like everything he said was believable. I couldn’t say nicer things about him. He always paid me every penny he promised me.” That is, up until he didn’t. Coons says Pearlman owed him tens of thousands of dollars for work with the group Take 5. “He came to me and said he couldn’t afford to pay me — and that’s when everyone began to realize this thing was falling apart,” recalls Coons, a straight arrow who quickly shed the stigma of an association with Pearlman. From 1998 to 2002, while concurrently working on personal projects, Coons was music director of The Go for It! Roadshow, a health education extravaganza sponsored by HealthSouth Corp. that toured coast to coast and attracted arenas full of school kids. The message: Stay in school, don’t do drugs. The Go for It! lineup featured a rotating cast of celebrity athletes including NFL superstars Bo Jackson, (chair of the HealthSouth Sports Medicine Council), Herschel Walker, Dan Marino and Doug Flutie along with Olympic diving gold medalist Jennifer Chandler and pro wrestler Lex Lugar, among many others. The show also included games, dancing, laser shows and high-energy rock ‘n’ roll, including songs by 3rd Faze, a group created by Coons that
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Coons is excited by the potential of 21-year-old year-old Sydney Rhame, who has just released an EP. Rhame competed on NBC’s The Voice in 2015.
signed with Sony Records and toured with Britney Spears before disbanding in 2003. Coons’ wife, Teresa, an award-winning makeup artist, also worked on the tour. Today, Coons is CEO of Atlantic Hill Music, which he founded in 1990. Then in 2015, he took over as president of Cheiron Music Group, an outfit with a rich legacy in pop music. The companies specialize in finding and developing young talent and offer a smorgasbord of expertise — from music production and film scoring to career counseling and, of course, vocal coaching. Coons hoped that lightning had struck again with Far Young, a boy band he formed in 2013. But the group, which found limited commercial success despite garnering a huge social media following, broke up a year later and reformed as About Last Night. Original member Eben Franckewitz, 23, who in 2012 finished among the top dozen contestants on ABC’s American Idol, recently signed a contract with Atlantic Records. These days Coons is excited by the potential of 21-year-old year-old Sydney Rhame, who has just released an EP entitled Off-Brand Love Songs. The six-song compilation was produced by Coons on Cheiron Records, a division of Cheiron Music Group. Rhame competed on NBC’s The Voice in 2015. To what does Coons owe his longevity — and contentment — in a business with such a high fail rate? “I’ve thought about that,” he says. “Why am I staying in a business where the product you make is now free, available any time? Honestly, I love it, the music part of it. Money was never the important thing — ever. I think that’s what people respected about me.”
Tim and Teresa have three grown children and three grandchildren, and are happily ensconced in their Melrose Avenue home and in the community. Coons has served as chairman of the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival and has placed more than 20 musical acts in the festival’s entertainment lineup since 2014. When he’s not working, Coons plays singles and doubles at the Azalea Lane Tennis Center. An ardent Yankees fan, he catches nearly every game on TV and enjoys an occasional spring training excursion. He loves carpentry — a carryover from his senior year at Rollins, when he worked part time on a construction crew — and has restored several circa-1960s automobiles. “I love it here,” Coons says. “The airport is only 30 minutes away. I fly on a lot of private jets. I can fly to California, then to New York and be home for dinner on the same day.” STILL STARSTRUCK At heart, Tim Coons is still the eager kid singing for $25 and all the pizza he can eat. It’s a siren song he heard early, in the days when Mickey Mantle and Tom Seaver were his heroes. “I had a little transistor radio that I taped to the handlebars of my bike,” he says. “I remember hearing ‘Dock of the Bay’ on my paper route, delivering The Suffolk Sun. That’s what hooked me.” In 2002, Tim and Teresa were invited to a private reception with Paul McCartney and his then-fiancé, Heather Mills, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta. “Teresa is a hysterical Paul fan,” Coons says. “He shook her hand and wouldn’t let go. He looked her in the eye and was kind of flirting with her.” What do you do when Paul McCartney flirts with your wife? You let him, of course — especially when the world’s most important living rock star decides to include you in the conversation. McCartney, in his unmistakable Liverpool lilt, told Coons: “I hear you work with the Backstreet Boys. Well, I’m not going to dance for you.” However, Sir Paul was happy to drink with Coons. They downed margaritas, talked harmonies and vocals and recalled favorite songs — including the Lennon-McCartney classic “The Long and Winding Road,” which was the final single released by The Beatles. Besotted by the company — and, it should be said, the margaritas — Coons began crooning the song and Sir Paul joined in for an impromptu duet. At the end, Coons recalls, “Paul looked at my wife, then looked at Heather Mills, and said, ‘You know, we’re doing alright.’” Indeed they are. A couple of grateful rockers, the Hall of Famer and the ultimate survivor, still truckin’ on the long and winding road after all these years.
Gustavus C. “Gus” Henderson, a newspaper editor, is an unsung figure in Winter Park’s history. His efforts were instrumental in ensuring the town’s 1887 incorporation.
ORIGINAL IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ROLLINS COLLEGE ARCHIVES
HOMAGE TO AN EDITOR A Valencia College scholarship program honors the work of Gus C. Henderson, whose advocacy for the west side still resonates on both sides of the tracks. BY RANDY NOLES DIGITAL RESTORATION AND COLORIZATION BY CHIP WESTON
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alencia College has had a campus on the west side of Winter Park since 1996. But it’s reaching back more than a century to recognize one of the Hannibal Square neighborhood’s most important historical figures — newspaper editor and activist Gustavus C. “Gus” Henderson. Last year, the college presented its first Gus Henderson Scholarships to a pair of deserving locals. In addition to demonstrating a financial need, recipients of the $1,000 awards must be graduates of Winter Park High School and enrolled at Valencia College’s Winter Park Campus. Going forward, older students who wish to return to college will also be eligible. Fairolyn Livingston, chief historian at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center — which preserves and celebrates the history of the traditionally African-American west side — suggested that the scholarship program be named for Henderson, whose efforts were instrumental in the incorporation of Winter Park in 1887. “Gus was successful because he valued the written word and education,” says Livingston, who notes that Henderson published the first newspaper in Winter Park, the Winter Park Advocate. (Lochmeade, a newspaper that preceded Henderson’s, was headquartered in Maitland.) In fact, Valencia had previously set aside scholarships for residents of the west side — but the program had somehow fallen through the cracks. Newspaper clippings from the late 1990s indicate that the college had once offered as many as a half-dozen such awards annually until the program ceased. One impetus for the original scholarship program was community relations. When the college bought its facility at 850 West Morse Boulevard in 1996, the property was rezoned from residential and office to public/quasi-public. Many west side residents objected because of traffic concerns, and the Winter Park Planning and Zoning Board recommended against the rezoning due to opposition from the neighborhood. City commissioners, however, voted to grant the zoning change. At the time, the college agreed to offer scholarships for west side residents — and followed through for several years. But no agreement was put in writing, and the program vanished as college administrations changed and memories faded. Livingston and other community leaders hadn’t forgotten, though. For years they had been directing potential students to Valencia with instructions to inquire about the scholarships. But at the college there was no record of the program’s existence and no dedicated funding source. The usual response was, “Gus who?” The program’s demise usually wasn’t an insurmountable issue, says Sue Foreman, past chairperson of the Valencia College Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises scholarship funds from private sources. “Other scholarships were
Fairolyn Livingston, chief historian at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, suggested that the new Valencia College scholarship program be named for Henderson, whom she describes as “successful because he valued the written word and education.”
available, so the students were assisted. But no one knew about this earlier program.” So in 2018, Foreman convened a committee consisting of Livingston; Mary Daniels, a docent at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center; Lee Rambeau Kemp, a community activist; and Elisa Mora, a guidance counselor at Winter Park High School. Other members included Ronnie Moore, assistant director of the city’s parks and recreation department; Elizabeth “Betsy” Swart, an adjunct professor of sociology at the University of Central Florida; and Anne Thomas, mentor coordinator at Winter Park High School. The group, called the Gus Henderson Committee, decided to formally revive the scholarship program and to adopt Livingston’s suggestion to name the effort for Henderson, whose importance to the city’s history is not generally well known — but should be. “It’s wonderful to be able to tell this story through the scholarship program,” says Foreman. “Especially because we’re able to spotlight a person whose name should be remembered.”
WHY GUS MATTERED
PHOTO BY RAFAEL TONGOL
Henderson was a newspaper publisher, an entrepreneur and a civic activist who rallied his neighbors and was instrumental in making certain that a contentious referendum to incorporate Winter Park passed in 1887. Like many African Americans during the 1880s, Henderson and his family moved here because Winter Park was thought to be a relatively enlightened place where they could own their own homes — albeit only on the west side’s designated “colored lots” — and control their own destinies. The politically savvy Henderson, who had been a traveling salesman, started a print shop and later established the Advocate, a weekly newspaper that primarily covered activities in the Hannibal Square neighborhood but was equally well-read east of the railroad tracks. Henderson, working alongside city founders Loring Chase and Oliver Chapman, was instrumental in turning out voters from Hannibal Square, which resulted in the incorporation of Winter Park and the election of two African-American commissioners in 1887. “If it were not for Henderson’s efforts, the incorporation of Winter Park would not have taken place on October 12, 1887, and Hannibal Square may not have originally been included within the S PRING 2 0 2 0 | W INT ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
Last year, Valencia College presented its first Gus Henderson Scholarships to a pair of deserving locals. In addition to demonstrating a financial need, recipients of the $1,000 awards must be graduates of Winter Park High School and enrolled at Valencia College’s Winter Park Campus.
town limits of Winter Park,” Livingston says. The victory, however, would be relatively short lived. Henderson was an ardent Republican, as were most African Americans at the time. So, when Winter Park was incorporated with boundaries encompassing Hannibal Square, the political balance of power shifted. William C. Comstock, a grain merchant from Chicago, led an effort in 1893 by Democrats to de-annex the close-knit neighborhood. Although Winter Park’s elected officials refused to change the boundaries, the Florida Legislature did so over their opposition. In the pages of the Advocate, an anonymous editorial writer — probably Henderson — wondered how Comstock and his associates “could sign their names to such an undermining petition, and one showing such bitterness toward the colored population of this town … there never was a more bitter spirit in existence against the colored people than what is hid behind this scheme.” Hannibal Square was not a part of incorporated Winter Park again until 1925, when local leaders sought a change in status from town (fewer than 300 registered voters) to city (300 or more registered voters). Henderson moved to Orlando in 1906 and died there in 1915. His legacy, however, lives on through the west side’s continuing pride and activism.
BRIDGING THE DIVIDE
Winter Park is thought to be an affluent place — and it generally is. But areas of scarcity still exist, and there are substantial numbers of working poor who find Valencia’s modest $103 per credit
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hour tuition beyond their reach without assistance. It surprises many to learn that 40 percent of Winter Park High School students qualify for free or reduced lunch prices. So, the Gus Henderson Scholarship serves a dual purpose: It honors a community leader and provides a lifeline for young people seeking higher education. The first set of scholarships were made possible by a donation from St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church’s Bridging the Color Divide Program. The program began in 2018 with a daylong conference related to an Advent service and grew into a communitywide effort to bring about compassion and understanding. “In Winter Park, the railroad tracks have historically been a color divide between black and white neighborhoods, historically forming a barrier across which black residents had to retreat by sundown,” says Swart, who in addition to teaching serves as the group’s parish coordinator. Bridging the Color Divide, Swart notes, “works to replace that barrier with bridges of justice and community” between the west side and the east side. Today, the group boasts participants from a diverse assortment of local churches from both sides of the tracks as well as the Hannibal Square Heritage Center. The first two recipients, Valencia students Tonya Carlisle-Francis and Aaliyah Medina, say they plan to pay it forward once they complete their educations. Carlisle-Francis, whose goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration, hopes eventually
to open a center to care for seniors and children. “I want to help my community here in Winter Park and give back the support that was given to me,” she says. Medina says she’d like to someday become a child psychologist, hopefully at Nemours Children’s Hospital. “It’s because of assistance like the Gus Henderson Scholarship that I can try and change the world, one child, at a time,” she adds.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
To donate to the Gus Henderson Scholarship, visit the Valencia College Foundation’s website at valencia.org/gushenderson. You can mail a contribution to: Gus Henderson Scholarship, Valencia College Foundation, 1768 Park Center Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32835. In addition to a roster of individual donors — including Henderson’s oldest living grandson — governmental agencies and foundations are stepping up. Among them are the Winter Park Community Redevelopment Agency and The Joe & Sarah Galloway Foundation, both of which have contributed grants to bolster the fund. All contributions are tax deductible, and 100 percent of every dollar donated goes directly to the scholarship. More money raised means more scholarships can be awarded later this year and beyond. Adds Terri Daniels, executive dean of Valencia’s Winter Park Campus: “The Gus Henderson Scholarship will honor [Henderson’s] memory of community service by ensuring that our residents have the resources needed to pursue academic goals that will have a long-term, positive impact.”
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DIGITAL ART BY WILL SETZER/CIRCLE 7 DESIGN STUDIO
Jeff Storer was just 26 years old when he directed the Rollins College production of Equus — and admittedly a bit naive about how some Winter Parkers would react to a play with a nude scene, regardless of the scene’s importance to the play’s message. Storer, who went on to a distinguished theatrical career, later cofounded Manbitesdog Theater in Durham, North Carolina, where he staged contemporary and sometimes controversial works. The Equus brouhaha, he says, taught him the importance of standing up for artistic expression.
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NAKED TRUTH THE ECHOES OF EQUUS CAN STILL BE HEARD AT ROLLINS. By Randy Noles
f you asked Central Casting for help in casting a fire-and-brimstone fundamentalist preacher for your next feature film, you’d probably end up auditioning a bevy of actors with characteristics mirroring those of Maitland’s Rev. John Butler Book, a jowly, dapper, silver-haired crusader whose scathing — but highly quotable — scriptural scoldings have enlivened Central Florida’s culture wars for decades. You’d no doubt want to hire Book himself — except he isn’t an actor. Or at least he doesn’t carry an Actor’s Equity card despite his obvious talent — particularly during his pulpit-pounding prime — for performing in front of cameras. “When Adam and Eve were naked, God realized they were sinning and put clothes on them,” intones Book, 82, as he sits by the crackling fireplace in the parlor of his Maitland home, built in 1876 and furnished with eclectic museum pieces. “That’s why when Rollins College performed Equus, we renamed the Annie Russell Theatre the Fannie Hustle Theater.” Book helped rally community opposition to the college’s 1979 staging of the 1973 drama by Peter Shaffer, which tells the story of Martin Dysart, a psychiatrist who attempts to treat a young man who has a pathological religious (and sexual) fascination with horses. Equus, which won two Tony Awards in 1975 (Best Play and Best Direction), includes a five-minute nude scene between the young man, Alan Strang, and a young woman, Jill Mason. The two, who are together in a stable, fail at consummating a tryst when Alan is shaken by noise from the animals — whom he later blinds using a spike. In the 40-plus years since the Equus controversy, Book has neither mellowed nor harbored second thoughts. “I don’t regret my stand on it,” he says. “You know, liberal detergent has two ingredients — an ounce of truth and a gallon of brainwashing. Just because someone thinks something is right doesn’t make it’s right.” Book only doubled down on his moral crusades in the ensuing years. But for producing director Jeff Storer and student actors David Lee McClure (Alan) and Darla Briganti (Jill), the brouhaha shaped their worldviews and
taught them that freedom of expression becomes even more precious when you must fight for it. All three faced the threat of arrest until just hours before the curtain was set to rise on opening night. “For me, Equus was a transcendent experience,” says McClure, who after a two-decade acting career turned his professional attention to the promotion of spirits and became a “senior master of whiskey” for Empire Merchants, a leading wine and liquor distributor in Metro New York. “At first, I felt like just a teenager being quashed by the man. But Equus made me understand that a play could be important and that you could prevail. It was a huge influence on my life.” Briganti, who continued to perform and later opened an acting school in the Florida Panhandle, agrees: “The whole thing brought the campus together, and I felt such a sense of support and community. It freed me as a person and gave me confidence in who I was.” Storer, who went on to a distinguished career as a director and for 31 years operated an edgy community theater in Durham, North Carolina, still finds himself becoming emotional when discussing Equus: “I had never been in a position where I had to stand up for art that I believed in. But making that choice changed my life.”
OH, BY THE WAY …
Fervor for artistic expression notwithstanding, Equus wouldn’t have gone on without the support of Rollins President Thaddeus Seymour, who had been on the job less than a year when the controversy erupted. Even so, it almost opened in a significantly altered form after Seymour initially sought to pacify protestors. Robert Juergens, director of the college’s department of theater arts, had given Seymour a head’s up that Equus had been slated for “the Annie’s” 1979 season. Seymour assured Juergens that he supported the decision to present the play, which had been a critical success on Broadway. It had also been a critical success in Orlando. A touring production by Gainesville’s Hippodrome Theatre had run for seven performances the previous year — without incident — at Orlando’s Great Southern Music Hall. S PRING 2 0 2 0 | W INT ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
COURTESY OF THE ROLLINS COLLEGE DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
Jeff Storer (left) and David Lee McClure (right) were awfully young to have been at the epicenter of a controversy over morality. But both say the experience shaped their lives going forward.
“I said, ‘Bob, one thing I would urge is that you be sure your ticketholders understand [that the play includes on-stage nudity], so that nobody gets blindsided and grandmothers, or whatever, aren’t embarrassed,’” recalled Seymour in a 2005 oral history interview. He added: “And be sure the actors have been in touch with their families, so you don’t have some mother say, ‘You know, this old goat of a director made my daughter take her clothes off in front of that audience.’” Seymour, though, was surely trepidatious. He valued town-gown relations, and later admitted that Equus was “an issue I didn’t need” so early in his presidency — just as the community was sizing him up. He also prized collegiality, and recalled that his time as dean of students at Dartmouth College had been marred only by student demonstrations — one of which involved his preplanned ejection from the administration building by protestors. Rollins, he had assumed, would be a much less turbulent place. Further, the director of Equus wasn’t going to be an old goat — it was going to be Storer, a 26-yearold Rollins graduate who was an assistant professor of theater and, by his own admission, more than a little naïve about the tolerance of some Winter Parkers for edgy theatrical experiences that involved nude teenagers. Says Storer: “We thought, ‘Wow! Isn’t this great? Winter Park can do this sophisticated work and have no complaints.’” He held auditions for the roles of Alan and Jill behind the curtain on the Annie Russell stage and made certain that parents were on board before any garments were shed. McClure, a sophomore and son of a senior as-
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sociate minister at the First Presbyterian Church of Winter Park, had the backing of his parents. “My dad was a liberal and fought with churches,” says McClure. “He thought it was great not because of the nudity but because of the art.” Briganti, an Altamonte Springs freshman whose parents were more dubious, nonetheless supported their live-at-home daughter’s aspirations and likewise did not object. Perhaps not surprisingly, she recalls, more students auditioned for the role of Alan than for the role of Jill — which attracted the interest of only three young actresses. “I suppose a female willing to [appear nude] could gain something of a reputation among male students,” Briganti says. “But I was a serious artist. It was all handled so professionally that I never felt uncomfortable at Rollins.”
Rehearsals, with McClure and Briganti clothed for the controversial scene, began. “We all worked our butts off,” says Storer, who was relieved when only four letters of protest resulted from a preemptory mailing to the theater’s 1,700 season subscribers. Then, however, everyone else got wind of seemingly unsavory goings-on at the Annie. On April 18, the Orlando Sentinel ran a story headlined “Nude Scene in Rollins Play Stirs Only Mild Protest.” Seymour told reporter Jody Feltus — in retrospect, rather defensively — that the decision to schedule Equus was made prior to his hiring. “I feel it is my obligation to defend their decision,” he added, because the college “is an intellectually free environment.” Storer added: “I have faith in the maturity of our audience. I have to. There will always be those who object to nudity — period. They will drape a towel
around a nude statue. I can’t change their minds.” Public nudity? And protests were only “mild?” Sentinel readers, most of whom had never attended a play at the Annie and none of whom would be compelled to attend Equus, were horrified. Still, only 18 people — some of them, perhaps, members of Book’s congregation at the Northside Church of Christ — lodged informal complaints at City Hall. Response remained muted, but it was enough to prompt officials to act. On May 1, a letter written by Frederic B. O’Neal, assistant city attorney, was delivered to a shaken Storer on campus by an armed, uniformed police officer. “I couldn’t believe it,” says Storer. “I had never been arrested for anything in my life.” Winter Park had an ordinance, the letter explained, that made it “unlawful for any person within the corporate limits of the city to be found in a state of nudity.” (The language of the ordinance, which is still on the books, appears to make no exception for bathing.) Further, the letter stated, it was unlawful to solicit nudity — and Storer, as director, could be charged with that offense. O’Neal added that in his opinion the nude scene “could be presented with the use of feigned rather than actual nudity, thereby allowing the play to be presented without risking a violation of the law by anyone.” The play was scheduled to open on May 3, and authorities had threatened to arrest two students and the director if it was performed as written. City commissioners, however, were divided on the issue. Byron Villwok said he accepted nudity in paintings, but not in films and performances because people “jump around and are in motion.” Jerome Donnelly found the situation absurd and opined that police should concentrate on “real issues” such as robberies. Harold Roberts agreed, calling the controversy “much ado about nothing … no one is forced to go down there.” The decision to threaten arrest appears to have been advocated by City Attorney Richard Trismen, who the previous week had met with Police Chief Ray Beary, City Manager David Harden and Assistant State Attorney Lawson Lamar to discuss how to respond. “It will be up to the city attorney if the play will be closed down or not,” Beary told the Sentinel. On campus, Seymour struggled to find a compromise. “I am appalled by the harassment of the young actors and the director by members of the community,” he said. The perennially genial
PHOTO BY RAFAEL TONGOL
“When Adam and Eve were naked, God realized they were sinning and put clothes on them,”says Rev. John Butler Book, who helped marshal opposition to the controversial play. “That’s why when Rollins College performed Equus, we renamed the Annie Russell Theatre the Fannie Hustle Theater.” Book, whose colorful crusades against various social evils have spanned decades, also carried a sign at an opening night protest that read, “Seymour Wants to See More!”
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Today, David Lee “Spike” McClure and Darla Briganti recall the Equus experience as a heady time during which they learned the importance of standing up for their beliefs. “At first, I felt like just a teenager being quashed by the man,” says McClure. “But Equus made me understand that a play could be important and that you could prevail.” Briganti, whose family received unnerving anonymous phone calls in the days before the play, nonetheless came away from the experience feeling empowered: “I thought, ‘Wow! This is what the ’60s must have been like.’”
president also deplored the way in which some city officials equated a serious dramatic production with a topless bar. Although it wasn’t reported at the time, the potential felons — and in Briganti’s case, her family — had all received threatening or obscene anonymous calls. “People called up my parents to tell them what a slut I was,” recalls Briganti. “They didn’t deserve that kind of treatment.” Still, a reluctant Seymour instructed Storer to find a way to cover the actors. Juergens, though, was appalled, telling the Sentinel that “this action says much about the city’s attitude toward artistic freedom. It is lamentable.” In the meantime, outrage was growing among students and members of the faculty. Storer, in a grudging attempt to comply with the city’s mandate, whisked his actors away on a frenetic shopping excursion to Park Avenue to buy appropriate flesh-colored clothing — perhaps lingerie for Briganti and a bathing suit for McClure. Briganti says that being scantily clad made the scene seem, for the first time to her, like pornography.
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The first-year director had already begun composing a speech to be delivered following curtain call pointing out that the play had been censored. “Clothing the scene is akin to putting a top hat on a horse,” he would have said — had the speech been necessary. Storer also wrote a press statement that was never released. It read, in part: “Winter Park has long held itself as a citadel of artistic expression. The question remains: At what point does legal censorship govern the artistic merits of a work? We as educators try to create an environment in which students are allowed artistic and intellectual freedom. It is this freedom we feel has been compromised.” Briganti kept a low profile, but McClure was more vocal, telling the Sentinel that he would be willing to risk arrest by disrobing. “I remember going down in the basement of the theater and just screaming, the way only a teenager can,” he says.
AMUSEMENT TO OUTRAGE
On May 2 — with the curtain set to rise in fewer than 24 hours — Arnold Wettstein, a professor of religion and dean of the Knowles Memorial
Chapel, addressed about 300 students and faculty members at a “town meeting” held in the campus’s Bush Auditorium. Wettstein told the overflow crowd that his feelings had evolved “from amusement to anger to outrage to humiliation.” An occasional performer in productions at the Annie, Wettstein compared tampering with Equus to the vandalism several years earlier of the Pieta in the Sistine Chapel. “If you work in the theater, you know what it is to devote time and interest to transfer a dead script into something of meaning, value and significance then to see it smashed into fragments,” he said. Seymour, who was warmly received at the meeting, began his remarks by seeking to justify clothing the actors as a despicable but necessity measure to protect Storer, McClure and Briganti. “When someone looks me in the eye, I want to be able to say that Rollins obeyed the law,” he added. “I’ve spent too much of my life protecting orderly change.” Seymour noted, however, that no one could prevent speeches from the stage following each performance. However, the college community was in no
COURTESY OF THE ROLLINS COLLEGE DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
President Thaddeus Seymour had been at Rollins less than a year when the Equus controversy erupted. Although he initially sought compromise, he eventually sided with students and faculty and challenged application of the city’s anti-nudity ordinance in court. Among the faculty leaders pushing for Equus to be presented as written was Arnold Wettstein, a religion professor and dean of Knowles Memorial Chapel. Wettstein compared tampering with the play to vandalism several year earlier on the Pieta in the Sistine Chapel.
mood to settle for speeches. Other faculty members rose to decry the anti-nudity ordinance and its application to Equus, and urged Seymour to challenge the city and guarantee legal representation to anyone arrested. Finally, a student suggested that the college seek legal advice on the possibility of getting a judge to issue a restraining order against the city. Seymour, himself a performer who presented magic shows, was adept at reading a room. His response, answered with a thunderous ovation, was, “I will proceed accordingly.” Hundreds of students then marched from the college to City Hall, where they presented Harden with a petition that asked officials to reconsider their interpretation of Equus as a violation of the city’s anti-nudity ordinance and allow the play to continue without interference from police. The protestors also draped a bra and panties over the statue of a nude woman fronting City Hall. The replica of Forest Idyl, by famed sculptor Albin Polasek, had stood on municipal property since 1965. Presumably Villwok hadn’t advocated for the work’s removal because it didn’t “jump around.” Still, Seymour had a problem: The city attorney and the college attorney — Richard Trismen — were one in the same. So Seymour asked legendary local lawyer Kenneth Murrah, who had volunteered to help the college, about going to court and seeking a restraining order. Murrah got right to work. On May 4, just hours before the curtain was set to rise, U.S. District Judge John A. Reed presided
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over a hastily called hearing in a downtown Orlando courtroom. Ironically, Reed had two tickets for Equus and wondered aloud if this conflict of interest should prevent him from ruling at all. Attorney Lee Sasser, an associate of Murrah’s, said: “Your Honor, Dr. Seymour, president of Rollins, is in the courtroom, and I know if you requested it, he would fully refund your tickets for tonight.” Replied Reed: “OK. But you’ll have to explain this to my wife.” The judge issued a temporary restraining order that allowed the show to go on without immediate legal consequences for the participants — but he did not, as the college had hoped, rule that the ordinance was unconstitutional. Theoretically, arrests could be made later, when the order expired. Ultimately, however, the city and the college agreed that state law — which made exceptions for educational activities and had already been ruled constitutional — would take precedence over the local ordinance where artistic expression was concerned. The college’s suit against the city was dropped in August. On opening night, Seymour noted a handful of picketers on campus led by the ubiquitous John Butler Book. “I remember one of the signs distinctly,” said Seymour, who always laughed when he repeated the story. “It read, ‘Seymour Wants to See More!’” If Book’s campaign had any effect, it was to sell more tickets. Houses were packed and reviews were generally good, although the Senti-
nel’s headline read, “Rollins’ ‘Equus’ Competent, But Lacks Excitement.” Writer Sumner Rand found Storer’s direction “too literal,” but opined that “the nude scene is not downplayed, nor is it sensationalized. It flows naturally in the context of a psychiatric examination and, symbolically at least, demonstrates the vulnerability of Alan.” McClure, added Rand, “gives a bravura performance.” Charley Reese, the newspaper’s arch-conservative columnist, accused the college of grandstanding by calling attention to the nude scene and bellowed that “artistic integrity and academic freedom, for that matter, should not be construed as licenses to do whatever one damn well pleases.”
Following Equus, McClure was pleased to find that his campus coolness quotient had increased exponentially. “I went from being a history major who worked in the scene shop to being a celebrity in this little town,” he says. “I was at the center of this incendiary issue that everybody was interested in. It was crazy.” McClure changed his major to theater and revelled in being called “Spike,” a nickname based on the instrument his Equus character used to maim horses. “Spike” McClure is the name he has gone by ever since. After graduating from Rollins in 1981, McClure earned an MFA in acting from Ohio State University and moved to Manhattan, where he appeared
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In 1987, Storer and his partner — later husband — Ed Hunt, founded Manbitesdog Theater in Durham, North Carolina, where they staged often-controversial contemporary plays until they decided to close the venue in 2018. Storer says his penchant for presenting challenging fare was in large part a result of his involvement with Equus. “It was a tremendously emotional time,” says Storer of his year at Rollins. “I had to keep it together. But the experience shaped the rest of my life. I believe that we as a society have to support art that we value, or it will go away.”
in productions at the Public Theater and on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theater. He even returned to Rollins in 1988 to play the lead in Tom Stoppard’s comic-drama The Real Thing. During several Los Angeles sojourns, McClure landed some film roles. But after marrying and having a child in 1998, he gave up acting and joined the wine and spirits industry. “I couldn’t believe you could actually get a job doing what I do,” says McClure. Briganti left Rollins after her sophomore year because she had been offered a full scholarship to the University of Florida, where she graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in acting. She spent the next 30-plus years as an actor, singer, dancer, director, choreographer and acting coach. In 2010, she opened an acting school for children and adults in Destin. Briganti says she was at first “angry that the media sensationalized the situation” surrounding Equus. But her anger was replaced by empowerment, thanks to the collective support of the campus and the excitement of standing up for artistic freedom. “I thought, ‘Wow! This is what the ’60s must have been like,” she says. McClure and Briganti both praise Storer for his unflagging professionalism and Seymour — a relatively new president — for his courage in standing
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up with them despite what appeared to be significant community opposition. Storer left Rollins the following year (1981) and enrolled in Trinity University’s MFA program, which is housed at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Dallas Theater Center. He, too, went on to enjoy a long career as an actor, director, playwright, producer and professor in the department of theater studies at Duke University. In 1987, Storer and his partner — later husband — Ed Hunt, founded Manbitesdog Theater in Durham, North Carolina, where they staged often-controversial contemporary plays until they decided to close the venue in 2018. “It was a tremendously emotional time,” says Storer of his Equus days. “I had to keep it together. But the experience shaped the rest of my life. I believe that we as a society have to support art that we value, or it will go away.” Equus may have had a huge impact on Storer, McClure and Briganti, but it was just one of many social scourges battled by Book, who in 1991 was arrested and charged with disrupting a freedom of expression forum held at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Details are murky, but apparently Book brought a video camera to the meeting, where photography was prohibited because the artwork on display was
copyrighted. Heated words were exchanged, and Book was taken into custody when police were called. Prosecutors dropped the charges a month later, and Book sued the City of Winter Park. (The case was ultimately settled.) In 1993, Book became the only pastor in the state’s history to have his opening prayer expunged from the records of the Florida Senate. The sixminute oration — delivered as even the most conservative lawmakers squirmed — decried homosexuality, necrophilia, liberals in general and even public schools, where he lamented that “reading, writing and arithmetic have been replaced by romance, reproduction and revolution.” Sunday liquor sales, the Equal Rights Amendment, Mel Gibson’s film The Last Temptation of Christ and scandal-ridden televangelists such as Jim and Tammy Bakker have been targets of Book’s wrath. In person, though, he’s surprisingly chatty and likeable even as he spouts opinions that range from absurd to offensive. As far as Equus is concerned, Book says that at least the college learned its lesson and never tried anything as outrageous again. When told that Equus was, in fact, staged for a second time at Rollins in 2007, he expressed genuine surprise: “Really? Well, I didn’t know about it. If I had, I’d have sure been there.”
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John Martin, a self-styled expert on international affairs, was Rollins College’s biggest draw as a lecturer. Attendees seemed less interested in what he said than in the erudite way he said it.
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EXCLUSIVE BOOK EXCERPT
PERIL John Martin was Winter Park’s celebrity socialist. He enchanted locals with his elocution, and survived a brutal hammer attack. His wife, Prestonia, was a high profile anti-feminist who also made news. By Randy Noles Editor’s Note: This story is adapted from a new book, Rollins After Dark: The Hamilton Holt School’s Nontraditional Journeys, which tells the often-unorthodox story of the college’s adult education program (which evolved into today’s Hamilton Holt School).
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HOLT PORTRAIT (1929) COURTESY OF THE CORNELL FINE ARTS MUSEUM, PHOTO BY DYLAN BAKER
amilton Holt did not hesitate to test the tolerance of conservative Winter Parkers by hiring intellectual eccentrics and placing them in the spotlight. Frequently, such characters won over the community despite their unorthodox views. That was certainly true of one “golden personality” who was crucial to the early Adult Education Program: the erudite John Martin, a dapper British-born socialist and self-styled authority on international affairs. Martin and his wife, Prestonia Mann Martin, moved to Winter Park from Staten Island, New York, in late 1929 at the behest of Holt, who had published Martin’s editorials in The Independent. Holt suggested that Martin, who was wealthy and not seeking permanent employment, might enjoy conducting student seminars, perhaps at his home, and holding public lectures. “I am afraid I cannot offer you anything except the satisfaction of being ‘noble’ as I have exceeded my budget for instruction for this year,” Holt wrote Martin in the summer of 1929. “But if you would care to give your services to the college this way, I am sure you would find yourself somewhat repaid in the inspiration you would give the young folks. I have found nothing more pleasant in my connection with Rollins College than the friendship I have formed with the coming generation.” Money was not an issue for the Martins. Their comfortable financial position was due in large part to Prestonia, the only child of John Preston Mann, a prominent New York surgeon who specialized in treating deformities, particularly club foot. She was unmarried when her parents died within a year of one another, enabling her to directly inherit the whole of her father’s estate. Martin, whom Holt listed as a conference leader or a visiting lecturer and consultant on foreign affairs, was born in Lincoln, England, in 1864. After graduation from the University of London with a Bachelor of Science degree, he became a professor at East Lincoln Technical College. He also joined the London branch of the Fabian Society, an organization whose purpose was to advance the principles of socialism through gradual reform. (Essentially, then, Martin was ideologically akin to today’s left-wing Democrats.) He lectured at the Peoples’ Palace in the East End of London, which offered an eclectic adult education program for working-class Londoners. And, accompanied by playwright and activist George Bernard Shaw, he attended an 1894 meeting in Brussels of the Second International, an organization of socialist parties and labor unions. Martin then crossed the pond for a lecture tour and decided to remain in New York, where he became a U.S. citizen in 1903. He subsequently directed the New York-based League for Political Education, an advocacy group for women’s suffrage, and was appointed to the New York City Board of Education by Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. In addition, Martin served on the City Housing Corporation, a private nonprofit that offered low-interest mortgages and promoted affordable housing, and later became vice president of the League of Nations Non-Partisan Association, which is almost certainly how he became acquainted with Holt.
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Shortly after he became president of Rollins, Hamilton Holt began to recruit “golden personalities” for the faculty. Some of them, like Martin, were unquestionably unorthodox characters but became ingrained in the community nonetheless.
“What is sought in the discussions at Concord is not an absolute unity of opinion, but a general agreement in the manner of viewing philosophic truth and applying it to the problems of life,” said Alcott, who considered the school to be an adult education center and harbored hopes that it would evolve into a full-fledged college. (Hillside Chapel still stands adjacent to the Orchard House, the Alcott family home. It is the site of an annual Summer Conversational Series and Teacher Institute.) But while Brook Farm was intended to be a permanent, self-sustaining settlement — hence its decline and dissolution — Summer Brook was intended for seasonal visitors only. “One can stand almost anything for a couple of months,” opined a writer in Munsey’s Magazine. “And in the 10 months that elapse before the camp opens again, one has a chance to forget all but the pleasant features of the experience. But this is rank pessimism, induced, possibly, by the optimism of the promoter and conductor of Summer Brook.” A 1900 edition of the International Socialist Review described Summer Brook as “a chalet built of picturesque spruce logs” where “sisters” and “brothers” shared chores during the day and, following an evening meal on a piazza overlooking mountainous terrain, enjoyed lectures, debates,
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WORLD HISTORY ARCHIVE / ALARMY.COM
Prestonia Mann Martin attended the Concord School of Philosophy, founded by transcendentalist writer and lecturer Amos Bronson Alcott (above and below, speaking to students in the school).
A TREAT FOR TRUE TRANSCENDENTALISTS Prestonia, born in New York in 1861, was a cousin of educational reformer Horace Mann and had an even more unorthodox background than that of her husband. Also a socialist, she had edited the American Fabian magazine and since 1895 had operated a rustic retreat in the Adirondacks called Summer Brook. It was modeled on Brook Farm — a short-lived utopian commune started in 1841 by transcendentalist George Ripley and his wife, Sophia, at the Ellis Farm in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. As a young woman, Prestonia attended the Concord School of Philosophy, a lyceum-like series of summer lectures and discussions begun in 1879 by Amos Bronson Alcott and other transcendentalists in Concord, Massachusetts. At rustic Hillside Chapel, where sessions were held, Prestonia heard Ralph Waldo Emerson, de facto leader of the transcendentalist movement. The colorful and original Alcott — father of Louisa May Alcott (Little Women) — would certainly also have been one of the speakers. Prestonia might also have encountered Elizabeth Peabody, Julia Ward Howe, William Torrey Harris or Franklin Sanborn.
The Martins first met Russian novelist and revolutionary Maxim Gorky at Summer Brook, and later sheltered the author when he became embroiled in scandal during a U.S. lecture tour.
poetry readings, dramatic presentations and musical performances. Prestonia, an accomplished pianist who had attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, often played classical pieces or participated in reenactments of Greek tragedies such as Lysistrata. “Here in the twilight, as the crimson glory of the sunset fades and the mist gathers on the dim mountains, the sisters and brothers come together in the great hall and discuss the serious problems of life, of labor, of love,” rhapsodized writer Leonard Abbott, a frequent visitor. “Some brother will give an informal lecture on a subject that is nearest to his heart,” continued Abbott. “Or some sister — perhaps the hostess herself — will take her place at the piano, and strains from the splendid operas of Wagner, or the somber sonatas of Beethoven, will echo through the hall and drift out over the valley.” A mural depicting men and women at labor topped the mantlepiece of the gathering area, while the walls were bedecked with portraits of such transcendentalist icons as the Ripleys, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller and Henry David Thoreau alongside such political figures as Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. H.G. Wells spent time at Summer Brook, as did Maxim Gorky and an array of lesser-known writers, academicians and social reformers. Martin, too, was often present at Summer Brook, where in
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1900 he wed “America’s greatest gift to me.” The couple then bought a large home in the affluent Grymes Hill neighborhood on Staten Island, where they welcomed numerous prominent guests. One was Gorky, a Russian novelist and revolutionary who opposed the czarist autocracy and traveled to New York in April 1906 on a fundraising trip for the Bolshevik faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Party. Gorky’s visit had been organized by a group of anti-czarist writers that included Ernest Poole, William Dean Howells, Jack London, Mark Twain, Charles Beard and Upton Sinclair. At the A-Club in Greenwich Village, Twain spoke at a dinner in Gorky’s honor. “If we can build a republic in Russia to give the persecuted people of the czar’s domain the same measure of freedom that we enjoy, then let us do it,” said Twain. “Anybody whose ancestors were in this country when they were trying to free themselves from oppression must sympathize with those who are now trying to do it in Russia.” Two days later, however, Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World published the salacious news that Gorky was staying at Manhattan’s luxurious Hotel Belleclaire with a Russian actress, Maria Fyodorovna Andreyeva, to whom he was not married. Within hours, Gorky and Andreyeva were ejected from the hotel and subsequently shunned by the literati who, in rapid succession, resigned from a committee formed to advance the revolutionary cause. The Martins, however — much to the horror of their neighbors — welcomed the couple, who stayed with their open-minded hosts for at least five weeks. Gorky wrote Mother, a novel about factory workers fomenting revolution, while on Staten Island and during forays to Summer Brook. Martin, who spoke Russian and enjoyed Gorky’s company, told the Orlando Sentinel decades later: “There was not a cultured family in Western Europe that would not have been honored to have them.”
MEN ARE BRUTES, WOMEN ARE POTENTIAL HYSTERICS In 1916, the Martins collaborated on a book entitled Feminism: Its Fallacies and Follies with sections providing “The Man’s Point of View” and “The Woman’s Point of View” about topics ranging from “Women’s Economic Value in the Home” and “The Fading of the Maternal Instinct” (John Martin) to “Eugenics and Women” and “The Moral Uses of Husbands” (Prestonia Mann Martin). Feminism is generally a threat to the family unit, both argued, and men and women should embrace their traditional roles. “In normal relations the special service which a woman performs for a man is to tame him,” declared Prestonia. “The service he performs for her is to steady her.” Continued Prestonia: “If it were not for woman’s taming power, we should lapse into savagery; if it were not for man’s steadying power, society would approach bedlam. It is true that a man engaged in correcting his wife presents a most odious appearance. He is looked upon as a cad, and in general feels himself to be one. Therefore, men have withdrawn more and more from corrective functions. But just as almost all men are only half-tamed savages, so almost all women are potentially hysterics; and just as it is true that the disciplined savage makes the strongest man, so the controlled hysteric gives the strongest, richest woman nature.” Prior to ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920, Prestonia became one of the most prominent anti-suffragettes in the U.S., contending that not only were women the weaker sex, they “lacked the aptitude either to make laws or ignore them.” If women got the vote, she contended, then legislation should be passed allowing them to give proxies to their temperamentally better-equipped fathers or husbands. “The remedy for political ills is better men,” she wrote. “Men are what women in the home have made them. There is where reform should begin.”
But just as almost all men are only half-tamed savages, so almost all women are potentially hysterics; and just as it is true that the disciplined savage makes the strongest man, so the controlled hysteric gives the strongest, richest woman nature. — PRESTONIA MANN MARTIN
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While many men opposed women’s suffrage in the early 20th century, some women were equally disdainful. The Martins — especially Prestonia — joined in the ridicule of changing gender roles.
Such views were not uncommon at the time and were espoused by women from both extremes of the ideological spectrum, albeit for different reasons. Anarchist Emma Goldman wrote in 1910 that “people of intellect … [have] perceived that suffrage is an evil, that it has only helped to enslave people, that it has but closed their eyes that they may not see how craftily they were made to submit.” Goldman, in other words, believed that women ought not to validate an inherently oppressive system by seeking more privileges within its confines. Could the Martins have accepted this rationale? If so, then why had John Martin worked for a pro-suffrage organization? The inscrutable tone of their writing — at turns both academic and outrageous — leads a modern reader to suspect that Feminism: Its Fallacies and Follies may have been intended as a parody. If so, only the Martins were in on the joke; newspapers reported their pronouncements in a straightforward manner — and feminists were not laughing. “It does seem to be a strange stance for them
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to take because in every way except suffrage, Prestonia was a feminist,” said Enid Mastrianni, a historian of the Adirondacks who has researched the lives of the Martins. “She and John were equal partners in their relationship. Obviously, their language seems over the top to us today. But I will say this: They didn’t think women should vote, but once that changed, they wanted women to vote for socialists.” In late 1929, just months following a stock market crash that signaled the onset of the Great Depression, the Martins bought a lavish but unfinished Mediterranean-style home abutting Lake Virginia at 1000 Genius Drive, a road carved through then-remote grove land once owned by Charles Hosmer Morse. (It later became the Rollins Conservatory of Music and is today a private residence.) There, at Holt’s invitation, they planned to live during the winter months while maintaining their spacious home on Staten Island and their socialist retreat in upstate New York’s Keene Valley, where in 1936 Prestonia’s annual summer colloquium
would welcome Holt and several faculty members as guest lecturers. The Martins spent their first season in Winter Park at the home of Rosalie Slaughter Morton, a pioneering surgeon and public-health advocate who owned what was then known as the Vans Agnew estate next door. Morton, a gynecologist, worked as a medic on the front lines during World War I and was one of the first female faculty members at the Polyclinic Hospital of New York and the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. The couple had barely unpacked their bags when John Martin began speaking to civic groups and participating in campus-sponsored symposia, including the second annual Institute on Statesmanship, which in January 1930 attracted more than 100 prominent figures in journalism and academia to discuss “The Formation of Public Opinion.” Martin’s lecture series, which debuted in February 1931 at the Annie Russell Theatre, was open to the public and drew full houses with such topics as U.S. relations with India, China and the United Kingdom.
HAMMER BOY’S UNHINGED REVENGE — BUT WHAT FOR? In April 1932, the lecturer was the victim of a brutal assault that left him in critical condition and attracted national newspaper coverage. Oliver Johnson Keyes, an unemployed 23-year-old college dropout, rode the train from Manhattan to Winter Park, where he purchased a hammer, tucked it into a briefcase and wandered through a driving rainstorm until he located the Martin home. Keyes, a would-be socialite whom the Martins had assisted financially when he briefly attended Hamilton College and Columbia University, was the son of Helen Johnson Keyes, the women’s page editor at the Christian Science Monitor.
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The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida) · 2 May 1932, Mon · Page
Downloaded on Jan 29, 202
Some people might think it awful for a young man to attack someone Mr. Martin’s age. But he is terribly strong and made such a vigorous effort to defend himself that I didn’t feel any shame about attacking him. I would have felt forever a coward if I had not done so. — OLIVER JOHNSON (HAMMER BOY) KEYES Clipped By:
Keyes’ maternal grandfather, prominent aboli- randyn5470 Orlando Morning Sentinel during a surreal interview Jan 29, tionist Oliver Johnson, had been managing edi- Wed,from the2020 Orange County Jail. “Some people might tor at Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune before think it awful for a young man to attack someone becoming an editor at The Independent, which Mr. Martin’s age. But he is terribly strong and made © 2020 such Newspapers.com. All Rights Reserved. Holt later edited, from 1865 to 1870Copyright — an ira vigorous effort to defend himself that I didn’t resistible coincidence that would nonetheless be feel any shame about attacking him. I would have overlooked by most reporters. felt forever a coward if I had not done so.” It was later learned that Johnson and PrestoKeyes pummeled his erstwhile mentor with the nia’s father, surgeon John Preston Mann, had hammer until Prestonia, hearing the melee, rushed been friends. Although Johnson and Mann died to her husband’s room and screamed at the bloody before Keyes was born, their long-ago connecspectacle. She struggled with Keyes, twisting her tion brought Keyes into the orbit of the childless ankle in the process, and begged him to stop. Martins, who frequently mentored young people “Oliver, why are you doing this horrible thing?” whom they deemed promising. she asked. “Don’t you remember all that we have Keyes even spent time at Summer Brook, he later done for you?” Having been caught in the act, told police, but felt abandoned by the Martins when Keyes abruptly realized that Mrs. Martin, for they moved to Florida. He harbored a grudge against whom he felt no ill will, would also have to be John Martin, more specifically, whom he had dekilled. Consequently, he dropped the bludgeon cided to kill because “I felt it was my duty.” Martin, and waited while Prestonia called the police. claimed Keyes, had spread rumors about him, which “I always liked her well enough,” Keyes told had resulted in his banishment from a prestigious Winter Park Police Chief A.A. Wesson, who arStaten Island tennis club and had prevented him rived on the scene with two other officers. “It was from finding employment. because of her that I stopped. Really, she showed When the disheveled Keyes appeared unexa lot of courage for a 70-year-old woman.” pectedly, the Martins cautiously welcomed him Wesson arrested the nervous but entirely unand promised him food, rest and enough money repentant Keyes, who matter-of-factly described to return to New York when he was ready. what he had done and why he had done it. He Keyes, who over the course of the afternoon was subsequently charged with assault with in“became more calm and gave up the idea [of killtent to commit premediated murder, expressing ing Martin],” left after dinner but later returned regret only that he had apparently not succeeded. and entered the unlocked home after the couple “This is the strangest crime ever to happen in retired to their respective bedrooms. Winter Park,” Wesson later told reporters. “The resentment and anger came back more Martin, his skull fractured and barely clinging strongly, and finally when I entered [Martin’s] room I to life, was transported to the Florida Sanitarium, found him sitting up in bed reading,” Keyes told the the precursor of AdventHealth Orlando, where
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doctors doubted that he would live through the night. Keyes, meanwhile, dubbed “Hammer Boy” in the press, was adjudicated “hopelessly, dangerously and incurably insane” — paranoid dementia praecox was the diagnosis from a panel of doctors — and committed to Bellevue Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Manhattan. Martin’s inept assailant died in 1973 at the Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center in Wingdale, New York. Four months after the near-fatal attack, against all odds, Martin had recovered sufficiently to discuss the redistribution of wealth at a meeting of the Florida Chapter of the League for Independent Political Action. COMMONERS, CAPITALS AND MRS. ROOSEVELT But while John Martin drew large crowds for his talks, it was his wife who made national headlines with a policy proposal that caught the attention of Eleanor Roosevelt. In a 1933 pamphlet entitled “Prohibiting Poverty,” Prestonia advocated conscription of everyone between ages 18 and 26 to produce the necessities of life, including food and clothing, which would then be distributed free of charge. Her “National Livelihood Plan” called for eight years of service as a “commoner,” after which a newly minted “capital” would be guaranteed a basic level of subsistence permanently, even if he or she pursued a career and did not need assistance. Mrs. Roosevelt favorably referenced the program in a speech and even passed along the pamphlet to her husband, who dismissed its premise as simplistic and impractical.
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Soon, though, President Franklin D. Roosevelt would introduce an alphabet soup of federal work programs, albeit less radical ones, to combat the Great Depression. Few reviewers, however, thought Prestonia’s proposal feasible. Still, the very fact that “Prohibiting Poverty” was the subject of serious attention and contemplation is indicative of a growing sense of national desperation. It is no wonder that Holt gravitated toward the Martins, since such quixotic notions were reminiscent of his own fervor for world government. By the mid-1930s, the John Martin Lecture Series encompassed nine talks on consecutive Thursday mornings from January through March. As audiences grew, the on-campus theater gave way to the larger First Congregational Church of Winter Park. When attendance began to top 1,000, only the auditorium at Winter Park High School (now the Winter Park Ninth Grade Center) could provide adequate seating capacity. Martin, described in the Orlando Sentinel as “a penetrating analyst and a forceful speaker,” always discussed issues of the day, encompassing domestic politics as well as U.S. relations with counties in Europe, Asia and Latin America. In 1935, he explored “Three Dictatorships (Russia, Italy and Germany) and Three Democracies (France, Great Britain and the United States),” while in 1936, he expounded upon “The Policy of the United States Toward the War.” Martin frequently posited ways in which the U.S. might avoid being drawn into the conflict raging throughout Europe and Asia. However, when the 1941 Japanese air attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor negated neutrality, he explored the motivations of the combatants and in one lecture explained “Why War With Japan Was Inevitable.” Throughout World War II, at least one of the lectures in Martin’s annual series was dedicated to what would today be called “breaking news.” Many others, though, weighed potential scenarios for the war’s aftermath. When in February 1943 Martin presented “Winning the War and Winning the Peace,” city officials announced that the Winter Park Police Department would not enforce a federally mandated ban on pleasure driving for those who wished to attend. In the lecture, Martin supported Holt’s longstanding belief that only a world government that placed “irresistible might behind international law” could prevent future world wars. Martin’s presentations, during which he spoke for about
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I felt as a young man, however, and I still feel, that as history is nothing more than the coming into his own of the common man, we shall have more rather than less democracy in the future, and therefore more collective thought and action. Whether this will be one of the hundred definitions of socialism, I cannot say. — HAMILTON HOLT
an hour, were free of charge; however, collections were taken to benefit scholarships, social welfare funds, war relief programs and Eatonville’s Hungerford Vocational High School. THE GENIAL GENIUS OF GENIUS DRIVE In 1944, Martin decided to retire — more or less. He delivered his final scheduled lecture, “A World Survey and the Position of the United States,” before a full house at the First Congregational Church. Many Winter Park citizens, including Holt, rose to offer heartfelt tributes when the talk concluded. “Mr. Martin has probably done more for the education of this community than any one person,” said Holt. “Now, are we going to let him retire? We are certainly not. We cannot spare him.” A local physician, Eugene Shippen, then lauded Martin as “an internationalist whose loyal Americanism has never been questioned” and proposed a resolution that “put on record our sense of gratitude for the generous service this member of the Rollins faculty has rendered to the community without money and without price.” Shippen’s resolution also expressed “our recognition of the scholarly research that has gone into the preparation of his lectures, our appreciation of the judicial and objective treatment of controversial issues and, not incidentally, the enjoyment that has been ours in listening to the pure English and faultless diction of these discourses.” The audience stood and cheered the 79-yearold socialist who, for perhaps the only time in his life, seemed all but speechless. “I can only say, my friends, that this need not be absolutely my last speech,” he teased. “While I shall not announce any future complete winter course, I may at any time give an occasional address if circumstances warrant.” A program of presentations, renamed the John Martin Series of Lectures on International Affairs, continued with combinations of other
speakers, including faculty members, winter visitors and the indefatigable Martin — who likely required little persuasion to return to the podium. But few other presenters could match Martin’s panache, and attendance began to dwindle. Royal W. France, an activist attorney and professor of economics who had chaired the Florida Socialist Party, was director of the series from 1945 until it ended in 1951. “A college professor with liberal views in a community like Winter Park was not all honey and roses,” France would write in his 1957 autobiography, My Native Grounds. Indeed, Holt was often called upon to defend the hiring and retention of faculty members such as France and his colleague Edwin L. Clarke, a peace activist and professor of sociology who presented lectures in the community provocatively titled “Why I Am a Socialist.” Even Holt, well known as a progressive, was forced to tiptoe around the issue of socialism when quizzed about his own political views. “I am not a socialist,” he wrote in a 1937 response to a now-lost query from his friend Irving Bacheller, who likely sought clarification because he found that whispers to the contrary had become a hindrance to fundraising. “Years ago, I gave up the idea that socialism would be my political philosophy,” noted Holt. “I felt as a young man, however, and I still feel, that as history is nothing more than the coming into his own of the common man, we shall have more rather than less democracy in the future, and therefore more collective thought and action. Whether this will be one of the hundred definitions of socialism, I cannot say.” Martin’s politics, however, were entirely beside the point. The nuances of difference between socialists and Fabians would have mattered little to conservative Winter Parkers, who were disinclined to embrace either political theory. Martin had managed to successfully position himself as an analyst, not an advocate, and was embraced for his colorful personality and good humor (to
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Feisty as ever, John Martin celebrated his 90th birthday in 1954. He disliked the changes he had seen come to Winter Park during his nearly 25-year residency.
Winter Park has changed almost beyond recognition — and not for the better!
COURTESY OF THE ROLLINS COLLEGE DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
— JOHN MARTIN
say nothing of his impeccable elocution). Prestonia Mann Martin, who also presented lectures on campus, remained active in civic organizations but fell ill and died at age 83 on Easter Sunday in 1945. Her death came just weeks after she delivered the closing address at the Animated Magazine entitled “The Medicine Man,” described as “a comical tale concerning the difficulties of a sheriff in a small town under Prohibition.” She was eulogized in Winter Park Topics, a seasonal weekly, as “original, independent and witty” and “one of Winter Park’s best known and most beloved women.” In his remaining years, the robust John Martin, dubbed by a reporter the “Genial Genius of Genius Drive,” lectured occasionally, hosted friends constantly and enjoyed long walks along the tree-shaded streets surrounding Lake Virginia. During the 1953 edition of the Animated Magazine, he read aloud “Grandma’s Declaration of Independence,” a humorously defiant poem about aging written by his late wife. (See page 48.) On his 90th birthday, Martin complained (not so genially) to the Orlando Sentinel that “Winter Park has changed almost beyond recognition — and not for the better!” When he died in 1956 at age 92, Martin willed his body to medicine and his home to Rollins. “[John Martin] was a great humanist,” said William A. Constable, an associate professor of English, during a public memorial service at Knowles Memorial Chapel. “He was devoted to other peoples and such social reforms as would alleviate the lot of the poor and needy.” Continued Constable: “But unlike others with similar ideals, he was never intolerant. He was always willing to learn and alter his opinions if he thought that facts warranted the change. He never allowed his mind to become closed. Indeed, he dreaded the possibility that he might become what he called ‘an old fossil.’” Was Martin more an expert on international relations, or more a suave spellbinder with an authoritative accent? No recordings of his lectures are known to exist, and contemporaneous news accounts reveal mainly the topics, not the substance, of his talks. His published scholarship is
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minimal and his best-known book, Feminism: Its Fallacies and Follies, has not (at the risk of understatement) held up well. However, even if Martin’s appeal was attributable in large measure to showmanship, his popularity reinforced the college’s cachet among lifelong learners. Yes, crowds were impressive at the Animated Magazine, thanks to savvy marketing and an eclectic roster of celebrities (and semi-celebrities). But the fact that discourses on international affairs drew upwards of 1,000 listeners must have confirmed to Holt that the community wanted more of what the college had to offer. “[Students] do not come very much as audi-
tors or spectators to our chapel, our theater or our lectures,” Holt noted in a 1936 talk at Knowles Memorial Chapel. “It is the public that largely fills our halls and supports our programs. Even in our athletic contests it is difficult to get students on the sidelines except in football, and even then community spectators are overwhelmingly in the majority.” Continued Holt: “I will have to confess it is difficult for me to keep my internal equanimity when we have a college assembly under the cypresses on the lakeside to hear a distinguished visitor deliver a worthwhile message, and I see a couple of students walk to within 50 yards of the assembly, sit down under a tree, light cigarettes and vegetate.”
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GRANDMA’S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE Editor’s Note: This poem, written by Prestonia Mann Martin (above), demonstrates her quirky humor. She read it aloud at the 1944 edition of the Animated Magazine, and — by popular demand — during talks to civic groups throughout the city. The light-hearted (if defiant) work was so popular locally that it was reproduced in Winter Park Topics, the Winter Park Herald and published by Rollins College for sale at the campus bookstore. The pamphlet featured an introduction by Hamilton Holt. This message I extend To relative and friend That henceforth I shall live at ease And so exactly as I please Now I’m eighty.
It goes against my simple tastes To bare my back down to the waist.
And being thus inclined And firmly of this mind I note the things I’ve left behind.
As for my shoes — I do not choose To put my toes in a hole And my heels in the air So I shall take care When all is said and done, To wear a broad, flat, steady, sole That I can call my own.
No more ski-jumps No more bob-sledding Into snow-drifts heading. I shall not any more climb trees Nor bob my tresses Nor wear my dresses Above my knees. To all and sundry I give warning I shall not henceforth dance till morning. I am the master of my fate And I shall go to bed at eight If I so choose — now I’m eighty. No more spinach, not a beet But I shall eat All the popcorn I can hold Now I’m old. No crimson nails No ankle socks No tortuous permanents for my silver locks Electrocuted in a box. What e’re the fashion sheets reports I won’t appear in slacks and shorts. No one shall see me on parade In a bathing suit, nor yet arrayed, in the bright light of day In my pajamas on Broadway.
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No more lipstick, powder or paint To make me look like what I ain’t.
On this my resolution’s clinched I will not have my waist-line pinched. I will not go to bat For any crazy hat Designed for Zazu for a gypsy By a milliner who much have been tipsy. But someday I’ll wear a white lace bonnet With a silver musk-rose on it And a black velvet ribbon round my neck By Heck! (That’s to rhyme with neck) As I’ve always wanted to do, And quite undaunted, too. I’ll welcome wrinkles as they come, For what harm have they ever done? Instead of regarding them as detrimental Why not think of them as ornamental? As just one more crinkle In a piece of beautiful old Chinese crepe. At eighty you can discard allure The best you can do is look demure. To down temptation strength, by age, is lent. You can go to a ladies’ tea-party And come back as pure as when you went. You can watch soldiers marching by Without batting an eye.
Prayers for your salvation can now be waived, For if you’re not saved at eighty you’ll never be saved. But the path of virtue easier grows you’ll feel As you find you’re running short yourself on sex appeal. And if you would be wise I’ll give you some advice: Don’t let the psalmist stop you When he talks for three-score years and ten; Keep on going — and at eighty you’ll know You’ve beaten Moses ten up — and some to go. And at eighty, if you don’t hear or see quite so well, Don’t worry or think it tough. In a world that seems bound for hell. Believe me, you’ll hear and see quite enough. But should Hitler ever fast or loose Try to make you do the step of goose You can tell Herr Fuehrer, There’s nothing you’ll find surer, That whatever cost, American old folks can’t be bossed — Not when they’re eighty. We’ve got some dough-boys who at the drop of a hat Will see to that. While to old age my thoughts I give I find I’m just about ready to live. No glamor boy could turn my thoughts to Reno But faithful to the comradeship that we know I’ll cling as fast and as long as ever I can To my one and only old man — now I’m eighty.
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S PRING 2 0 2 0 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
HAMILTON HOLT MILESTONES This year marks the 60th anniversary of what is today called the Hamilton Holt School. Rollins College, however, has sought to attract nontraditional learners almost from the very beginning. Hamilton Holt, the eighth president, introduced a somewhat cohesive Adult Education Program, which consisted largely of lectures and cultural events, in 1936. But no degrees were offered to adult learners until 1960, through what was then called the Institute for General Studies — the direct precursor of the Holt School. How, though, did a celebrity intellectual such as Holt — a renowned editor, a counselor to presidents and a world peace advocate — find himself at the helm of a small, struggling college in out-of-the-way Winter Park? For this timeline, we went back to what was arguably the first in a sequence of unlikely events — the publication of an antiwar poem by a bestselling (but now mostly forgotten) author. A version of this timeline appears in Rollins After Dark: The Hamilton Holt School’s Nontraditional Journeys. — Randy Noles
Irving Bacheller, founder of the first syndicated news service in the U.S., submits a poem about an emotionally damaged former soldier called “Whisperin’ Bill” to The Independent. The poem is published, although Holt does not yet work at the magazine. Bacheller and Holt become acquainted in the late 1890s.
Holt delivers a lecture, “The Federation of the World,” on the Rollins campus. It is his first known visit to Winter Park.
Bacheller, in his capacity as a trustee, writes Holt and offers him the Rollins presidency, telling him that “it’s a cinch for a man of your capacity.” After some negotiation, Holt accepts and is appointed.
Back-to-back freezes decimate Central Florida’s citrus crop, and the Winter Park Company defaults on payments to the estate of Francis Bangs Knowles, a former Rollins trustee whose daughter would fund Knowles Memorial Chapel. The company surrenders 1,200 building lots to the Knowles heirs.
Chicago industrialist Charles Hosmer Morse, a seasonal resident and a Rollins trustee, buys the Knowles family holdings for $10,000 (the equivalent of about $280,000 today).
Holt, disillusioned by the U.S. Senate’s failure to ratify the Treaty of Versailles and join the League of Nations, runs as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut. He loses by a wide margin.
Holt again lectures in Winter Park and, at the invitation of Rollins President William F. Blackman, joins the college’s board of trustees. He serves a two-year term but resigns due to other commitments. As the U.S. entry into World War I looms, Holt writes “The Way to Disarm: A Practical Proposal” that advocates world government. The article rallies internationalists and provides the philosophical underpinning for the League of Nations.
Morse instructs his manager, Harold A. “Harley” Ward, to ensure that Bacheller, a Connecticut resident who winters at the Seminole Hotel, buys property in Winter Park and relocates permanently.
Weir abruptly resigns the Rollins presidency, ostensibly for health reasons, although he opens a real estate office in Orlando the following year.
Holt hires the first of his “golden personalities,” Edwin Osgood Grover, and gives him the whimsical title “professor of books.” Grover, boasts Holt, is the first and only professor of books in the U.S. His classroom, anchored by a rectangular table around which students sat to discuss their readings, would become iconic to Rollins and emblematic of its teaching style.
Bacheller moves to Winter Park and builds a home he dubs Lake O’ the Isles on the Isle of Sicily. He quickly establishes himself as Winter Park’s foremost resident celebrity.
Holt writes “The Ideal College President” for The Independent, which essentially offers an outline for how he would later approach the presidency of Rollins.
Holt again lectures at Rollins and informally discusses the vacant presidency with trustees. However, William Clarence Weir is hired. Edwin Osgood Grover
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Holt launches a fundraising drive in which he seeks to raise $300,000 from locals. Although commitments exceeding that amount are made, the collapse of the Florida land boom makes many of the pledges impossible to collect.
Holt implements the two-hour conference plan, which establishes a four-period day, with two-hour classes meeting three times weekly.
The first Animated Magazine is held, with Grover as “publisher” and Holt as “editor” of the outdoor event, which features speakers from the world of literature — including Irving Bacheller. The Animated Magazine in the 1930s
President Franklin D. Roosevelt speaks at Rollins. He receives an L.H.D., while Eleanor Roosevelt receives the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. Grover founds a summer adult education program called the Banner Elk School of English (later the Blowing Rock School of English) in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Alexena “Zenie” Holt and Mertie Grover, wives of Holt and Grover, die within 24 hours of one another and the Animated Magazine is cancelled for the first time.
Holt announces the college’s first formal Adult Education Program, which consists primarily of cultural enrichment lectures from faculty members and “winter faculty” visitors from the North.
Holt hires George Sauté, who would later direct the precursor to the Holt School, as an assistant professor of mathematics. Sauté becomes Holt’s protégé by joining the world government movement.
Holt forms the Institute for World Government, which is directed by associate professor of English Rudolph von Abele. Von Abele leaves Rollins and Sauté is appointed director of the Institute for World Government.
Holt, exhausted and in failing health, submits his resignation.
Paul A. Wagner is appointed to the presidency of Rollins. In anticipation of an enrollment drop due to the Korean War, he fires one-third of the faculty (including Sauté) and precipitates a campus crisis that makes national headlines. He belatedly resigns in 1951.
Holt dies in Woodstock, Connecticut.
Hugh F. McKean, a professor of art, is appointed to the presidency of Rollins. (His administration and Wagner’s briefly overlap when Wagner refuses to recognize the legality of his dismissal and remains in the president’s office.)
Operation Bootstrap, in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force, is launched. Classes are held on local military bases and later on the Rollins campus.
Holt hires the first adult education star attraction, British-born lecturer John Martin. Martin is a socialist, while his wife, Prestonia Mann Martin, owns a rustic socialist resort in the Adirondacks. They become popular in the community despite their out-of-the-mainstream political views.
McKean launches Courses for the Community, which includes programs for children and adults, and appoints Sauté as director. Sauté later says the program was started to rehabilitate the college’s image in the wake of the Wagner Affair. As in the Holt Era, the courses are primarily cultural enrichment lectures.
Essayist Corra Mae Harris, who had previously come to Holt’s attention when she wrote him a letter at The Independent defending lynching, salutes her unlikely mentor in “The Town that Became a University,” which describes the impact Holt has had on Winter Park’s intellectual ambience.
Rollins earns accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
President Calvin Coolidge visits Rollins, but characteristically does not speak.
Holt convenes “The Curriculum for the Liberal Arts College,” a colloquium headlined by educational philosopher John Dewey. The results encourage Holt to adopt a new curriculum dubbed “individualization in education.”
John Martin is the victim of a brutal attack by a young acquaintance. The story of the erudite professor and “Hammer Boy” makes national headlines. Martin, however, fully recovers.
Alphonse “Phonsie” Carlo, a violinist and assistant professor of music, begins what would become the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra through the School of Creative Arts, a division of Courses for the Community.
John Martin retires, but the John Martin Lecture Series continues as an adult education staple. Martin himself is a frequent lecturer, as is Prestonia Mann Martin.
President Harry S. Truman visits Rollins and receives an L.L.H. as well as an “open sermon” from Holt about the pathway to peace through world government.
Operation Bootstrap is placed under Sauté’s purview. Courses at the Orlando Air Force Base and the Pinecastle Air Force Base are moved on campus, and Operation Bootstrap is phased out by 1960. Patrick Air Force Base in Brevard County becomes a branch campus. Operation Bootstrap
Holt convenes the Rollins College Conference on World Government and issues “An Appeal to the Peoples of the World.” S PRING 2 0 2 0 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
The Martin Company relocates to Orlando, pressuring Rollins to offer technology-oriented courses. The only local alternative is Orlando Junior College, a discriminatory private school championed by Orlando Sentinel publisher Martin Andersen, whose influence has kept a statesupported junior college from opening in Central Florida.
At the behest of the Martin Company, Rollins offers an evening program leading to a Master of Business Administration.
Again at the behest of the Martin Company, Rollins offers a Master of Science in Physics degree.
Daniel F. Riva, a gung-ho retired Air Force colonel, is hired as director of what has been renamed the Central Florida Institute for General Studies.
Riva, thanks to federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration funds, introduces an undergraduate criminal justice curriculum at the Central Florida Institute for General Studies. Fire safety administration soon follows.
The Central Florida School for Continuing Studies is renamed the School of Continuing Education, through which Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of General Studies and Associate of Arts degrees may be earned. Riva’s position is upgraded to dean of the school.
The Rollins College Institute for General Studies is launched. It encompasses Courses for the Community and the School of Creative Arts as well as the Graduate Programs and the School of General Studies, which offers a Bachelor of General Studies degree.
A Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree is introduced.
McKean announces a Rollins College Space Science Institute at Andersen Hall, a downtown Orlando mansion given to the college by the Sentinel’s pugnacious publisher. The project never gets off the ground.
The Rollins College Institute for General Studies is dissolved and replaced by the Central Florida School for Continuing Studies.
A $1 million gift from businessman Roy E. Crummer is used to build and endow the Roy E. Crummer School of Finance and Business Administration (later the Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business).
McKean proposes “Everyone’s College,” through which low-cost degrees would be accessible through television, radio and videotape.
Summer Day Camp for children begins through the School of Creative Arts.
The Master of Science in Physics degree is dropped, but a Master of Arts in Teaching and a Master of Education (a post-master’s program) are introduced.
Based upon the committee’s findings, Seymour orders sweeping changes to the School of Continuing Education, most notably dropping the criminal justice and business administration programs. (Business administration is eliminated in the day school as well.)
Riva announces his retirement.
The School of Continuing Education is replaced by the Division of Continuing Education and the Division of Non-Credit Courses. The Division of Non-Credit Courses encompasses the School of Creative Arts.
Robert A. Miller, dean for institutional research at Northern Kentucky University, is named associate director and dean of the Division of Continuing Education. He adds core faculty through joint appointments with the day school, and strengthens academics by requiring completion of four core courses before a student can matriculate (become a candidate for a degree).
Undergraduate degree programs in organizational behavior and organizational communication are introduced.
A Master of Arts in Guidance and Counseling degree is introduced. Critchfield resigns to pursue a career in business. He would become group vice president and ultimately CEO of the $3.5 billion Florida Progress Corporation (whose subsidiaries included Florida Power).
Thaddeus Seymour, former dean at Dartmouth College and president of Wabash College, is appointed to the presidency of Rollins.
Seymour assembles a College Planning Committee headed by Daniel R. DeNicola, associate professor of philosophy. The committee is tasked with evaluating all aspects of the college’s operation, including the School of Continuing Education.
The College Planning Committee
The Division of Continuing Education is replaced by the School of Continuing Education and Miller is named dean.
A Board of Advisors is created for the School of Continuing Education.
Barry Levis, associate professor of history, wins for the college a $150,000 grant that is used to establish the Master of Liberal Studies program.
Miller suggests that the School of Continuing Education be renamed for former President Hugh F. McKean, who declines. Miller then suggests that the school be renamed for former President Hamilton Holt.
Sauté, who has reached age 65, is compelled to retire, and does so reluctantly.
The newly branded Hamilton Holt School is introduced during a special convocation at Knowles Memorial Chapel.
McKean announces his retirement. He devotes his attention to expansion of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, which is now world-renowned for its collection of Tiffany glass. Jack Critchfield, chancellor of student affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, is appointed to the presidency of Rollins.
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Seymour announces his retirement. He spends nearly 30 additional years working with local civic groups such as Habitat for Humanity of Winter Park-Maitland. Rita Bornstein, vice president of the University of Miami, is appointed to the presidency of Rollins. She is the first woman to hold that post.
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A Master of Human Resources degree is introduced. The University Club Endowment for Holt School Scholarships is established.
The first Starry Starry Night scholarship benefit is held. To date, the annual event has raised more than $2 million in scholarships and assisted more than 500 Holt School students.
A Master of Arts in Corporate Communication and Technology degree is introduced.
A Master of Planning in Civic Urbanism degree is introduced. The Hamilton Holt School Student Services team earns the Rollins Service Excellence Departmental Award.
The Rollins Center for Lifelong Learning is established and offers noncredit courses for adults age 50 and older. The RCLL is initially funded by a grant from the Winter Park Health Foundation. The program is later known as STARS (Senior Tars).
Minors in Jewish Studies, Dance and AfricanAmerican Studies are introduced.
The Holt School celebrates its 40th anniversary. The Department of Music begins cross listing its courses with the Holt School and offers the same music major for both day school and night school students.
Bornstein announces that she is stepping down, but not retiring. “I work,” she says. “I don’t play tennis.” She remains a civic activist and an iconic figure in Central Florida.
The undergraduate major in business management returns when President Lewis Duncan forms the College of Professional Studies.
Duncan, under fire from some faculty members because of his advocacy of the College of Professional Studies, announces his resignation.
The Master of Planning in Civic Urbanism program closes.
Grant Cornwell, president of The College of Wooster, is appointed to the presidency of Rollins. The college’s popular summer day camp is dropped.
A Health Services Management degree is introduced, as are Master of Applied Behavior Analysis and Clinical Science, and Master of Health Services Administration degrees.
A Master of Public Health degree is introduced.
The Master of Health Services Administration program closes.
Robert Sanders, associate dean of graduate studies at Appalachian State University, is appointed dean of the Holt School as it prepares for its 60th anniversary.
The Holt School marks its 60th anniversary, but some commemorative programs are cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rollins Brevard, which had begun at Patrick Air Force Base, is closed.
Lewis Duncan, dean of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, is appointed to the presidency of Rollins.
The Holt School adopts the Rollins College Academic Honor Code.
The Master of Arts in Corporate Communication and Technology program closes.
Rollins trustee Alan Ginsburg, also a member of the Holt School board of advisors, pledges $5 million to the Holt School for a scholarship endowment and for promoting curriculum and faculty development. It is the largest gift ever received by the Holt School.
A study regarding the strategic direction of the Holt School is conducted.
The Department of English begins cross listing its courses with the Holt School and offers the same English major for both day school and night school students.
The Holt School celebrates its 25th anniversary.
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Commencement ceremonies for the Holt School are often poignant and emotional events. In many cases, family members congratulate parents who have, despite many other obligations, completed undergraduate degrees. The school offers a dozen undergraduate majors and seven master’s degree programs, with classes held in the evening.
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Alison Mosley 407.304.6458 | Frank Mosley 407.489.9508 Sotheby’s International Realty® and the Sotheby’s International Realty logo are registered service marks used with permission. Each office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity. Property information herein is derived from various sources including, but not limited to, county records and multiple listing services, and may include approximations. All information is deemed accurate.
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“Engaging and Entertaining.”
“In Rollins After Dark, Randy Noles presents an engaging and entertaining account of the development of the Hamilton Holt School at Rollins College. From a series of popular public spectacles focusing on diverse topics, to a serious academic program for degree-seeking, nontraditional students, the evolution of adult education at Rollins includes some of the most innovative thinkers of the 20th century. This well-written, accessible and detailed book will appeal to anyone who enjoys reading about creative, dedicated people seeking to inspire future generations.” — Dr. Ben Brotemarkle, Executive Director, Florida Historical Society
ORDER TODAY THROUGH AMAZON.COM OR ROLLINSSHOP.COM (THE ROLLINS COLLEGE BOOKSTORE) All proceeds benefit the Hamilton Holt School, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary as a degree-granting program.
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truly, madly, deeply.
If you’re in love and want to make it official, there’s no better place than Winter Park.
By Patricia Letakis
ts cultural vibe and historic charm have always defined Winter Park. But if you’re planning a wedding here, you’ll notice one aspect above all others: the city is a very, very romantic place. The granddaddy oaks, the tranquil lakes, the brick streets, the meticulously restored private homes and the numerous cultural amenities combine to provide an idyllic setting for an exchange of vows and a celebration afterward. Winter Park’s many charms — including its shopping and dining districts — also make it an extraordinarily appealing place for out-of-town wedding guests to explore after the wedding day hubbub. But first things first. If you’re planning to be married, you’re faced with an embarrassment of riches in Winter Park. Whatever your taste — from a nationally renowned boutique hotel to a retro red-brick railroad station — you’ll find an unforgettable venue in good old 32792.
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The gorgeous Rollins College campus, with its Mediterranean Revival-style architecture and lush landscaping, is home to historic Knowles Memorial Chapel, built in 1932 and the site of 60 to 70 weddings a year.
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Going to the Chapel The gorgeous Rollins College campus, with its Mediterranean Revival-style architecture and lush landscaping, is home to historic Knowles Memorial Chapel, built in 1932 and the site of 60 to 70 weddings a year. Over the decades, it’s likely that some couples who didn’t even want to marry were compelled to make the leap solely because of the opportunity to say “I do” in this jewel box of a building. For decades, however, these coveted chapel nuptials were available only to faculty, staff and alumni of the college as well as their children. That all changed last spring, when the chapel was made available to those with no such Rollins affiliation. Concurrently, the erstwhile campus bookstore was repurposed as a reception and banquet hall. The 10,000-square-foot Rice Family Pavilion, which can accommodate receptions and rehearsal dinners of up to 230, features a brand-new rotunda with floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s a full kitchen downstairs, where in the 1960s a coffee shop hosted budding folk singers. The chapel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, boasts dramatic towers arched overhead and sunlight filtered through stained-glass windows. A vintage pipe organ adds a majestic touch to this sacred space, which was designed by Ralph Adams Cram. The legendary architect’s other achievements include a master plan for Princeton University and the Gothic transformation of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Following ceremonies, couples are often photographed at the chapel’s majestic entry or in a rose garden located just steps away. Indeed, the entire campus provides multiple backdrops for stunning images. Weddings are held on Saturdays only, and openings are limited because of holidays and college events. (That’s why getting married at the chapel can’t be a spur-of-the-moment decision.) If you have no college connection, you must book a package that includes both the chapel and the Rice Family Pavilion. But that’s something you’d likely do in any case, considering the proximity of the venues. The interior of Knowles Memorial Chapel (facing page, top) boasts dramatic towers arched overhead and sunlight filtered through stained-glass windows. A vintage pipe organ adds a majestic touch to this sacred space. Another popular venue at Rollins is the Rice Family Pavilion (facing page, bottom). The reimagined and repurposed space can accommodate receptions and rehearsal dinners of up to 230.
Serving Central Floridians for over 30 years as your premiere choice for wedding and formalwear alterations, and custom tailoring. For your appointments, please call (407) 740-7544 or visit www.seamstresswinterpark.com.
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Homey and Historic Capen House at the Polasek sits on three lush acres skirting the shores of Lake Osceola, alongside the Alan Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. How it got there is a story worthy of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The circa-1885 Tudor Revival home famously faced the wrecking ball in 2013, until community members raised funds to float the structure — via barge and in pieces — across the lake to the museum’s property, where it was reassembled and restored. Surely there’s a wedding analogy in there somewhere. The herculean effort to preserve the home has made it a treasure in the hearts of Winter Parkers. Pinewood floors, beadboard ceilings, crystal chandeliers, bronze sculptures and a case filled with silver teapots are among the details that make it an endearing and enchanting place for weddings. Larger groups hold ceremonies on the manicured Lake View Lawn, which is surrounded by blooming gardens. Smaller groups often opt for the expansive patio, which can be outfitted with tables draped in white tablecloths for elegant outdoor dining. Indoor weddings take place in the Grand Parlor, which is highlighted by a Victorian staircase. Cocktails can be served on an enclosed porch that offers a spectacular view of the grounds and the water. A dock allows guests to arrive by boat, if they so choose. The Peacock Room, with its French doors, oriental rugs and a sofa accented with pretty tapestry pillows, serves as a charming dressing/waiting room for brides. And the house has a full catering kitchen, where any caterers on the Capen House preferred list can set up. Czech-born sculptor Albin Polasek’s Mediterranean-style home, now a museum, is just steps away. In addition to viewing a collection of figurative and whimsical mythological sculptures on the grounds, guests can tour the exhibition gallery, see the artist’s personal chapel and enjoy his courtyard — where the iconic “Emily” sculpture welcomes visitors with her harp. Other historic venues in the city include the cozy Winter Park Country Club, a welcoming clapboard cottage built in 1914 and painted in summer shades of yellow and white. Its screenedin porch faces the Winter Park Golf Course, the region’s second-oldest nine-hole layout. The unpretentious interior features two fireplaces, paddle fans and highly polished wood floors. The main dining room seats 78, while the lounge accommodates 49. The venue, which also
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Capen House at the Polasek sits on three lush acres skirting the shores of Lake Osceola, alongside the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. Larger wedding parties hold ceremonies on the manicured Lake View Lawn, which is surrounded by blooming gardens.
has a bricked outdoor gathering area, is run by the City of Winter Park. Also adjacent to the golf course is another blast from the past that offers an entirely different sort of wedding experience. Casa Feliz Historic Home & Venue — which dubs itself “Winter Park’s Community Parlor” — is a little bit country. Meaning, in this case, an entirely different country (and era). At 6,000 square feet, this Andalusian-style masonry farmhouse was built in 1933. However, architect James Gamble Rogers II wanted it to look several hundred years older — which he accomplished with arches crafted to resemble ruins, a whitewashed red-brick exterior and a weatherworn clay barrel-tile roof. The interior of Casa Feliz (“happy house” in Spanish) evokes 19th-century Spain and is replete with beamed ceilings, oriental rugs, ornately carved chairs, fireplaces and paintings in gilded frames. It can accommodate up to 120 for a reception.
A cozy courtyard with a fountain featuring colorful Mallorca tiles that depict floral and bird designs is just one of many unique photo opportunities. Larger weddings are often held in the courtyard or on the front lawn, while smaller events may be held indoors. Upstairs, the beautifully furnished hospitality suites provide a comfortable place to prepare. Like the Capen House, Casa Feliz was rescued from demolition and moved to its current site when community activists rode to the rescue. The structure, which was hauled from Interlachen Avenue to its current location on city property in 2000, is owned by the city and operated (using its own funding) by the nonprofit Friends of Casa Feliz. Capen House at the Polasek, the Winter Park Country Club and Casa Feliz Historic Home & Venue are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Announcing Dubsdread Catering’s new partnership with Mead Botanical Garden Azalea Lodge at Mead Botanical Garden is now exclusively available through Dubsdread Catering. The natural beauty and charming lodge facility in partnership with Central Florida’s most award-winning caterer, makes it one of the area’s most idyllic wedding and event venues. Contact one of our event specialists today to learn more about this special venue and how our team can provide service and hospitality you won’t find anywhere else.
407-650-9558 • email@example.com • www.DubsdreadCatering.com DubsdreadCatering.com/gallery
Mead Botanical Garden is known as “Winter Park’s Natural Place.” It’s certainly a natural place for a wedding — possibly at Garden Grove, an outdoor performance area that features a raised stage topped with soaring overhead sails. The stage faces a gently sloping lawn, and there’s a rustic pole barn off to the side.
Gracious Gardens Flowers are meant to bring joy to a wedding — which explains, in part, the popularity of getting married in a garden setting. At Mead Botanical Garden, the Little Amphitheater, cocooned by pink azaleas, a frilly wrought-iron trellis and tall oak trees, has been a favorite wedding locale for more than 50 years. Tiered bench seating for as many as 350 eliminates the need for cumbersome folding chairs. A bonus is access to the 47-acre site’s other picturesque locations, from the Butterfly Garden to Alice’s Pond. After the ceremony, friends and family can gather in the 3,000-square-foot Azalea Lodge, just steps from the amphitheater. Weddings and receptions may also be held at the adjacent Grove at Mead Garden, an outdoor performance area that features a raised stage that faces a gently sloping lawn. There’s a rustic pole barn off to the side. The 50-by-60-foot platform is big enough to accommodate the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, which performs there. And it’s also big enough to accommodate at least a dozen tables for a seated dinner. Caterers can serve drinks and appetizers from the pole barn. Other outdoors-themed weddings are held at 13-acre Kraft Azalea Garden, which faces Lake Maitland along Alabama Drive — a winding, shady street lined with historic homes and modern showplaces. The garden is filled with cypress trees that reach soaring heights and drip with Spanish moss, which blows gently in the breeze. And, of course, there are acres of azaleas. On the edge of the lake is the iconic Exedra, an open-air, temple-like structure whose architectural heritage dates to ancient Greece. The Exedra, which was built in 1969, is particularly breathtaking (and photogenic) at sunset. However, only groups of up to 20 are permitted to use the city-owned property, and there’s no dressing area — so come prepared. If you like the idea of an outdoor wedding but prefer that amenities be a little closer at hand, you may opt for the Central Park Rose Garden, located in the southern reaches of the city’s signature Central Park. Located near the corner of Park and New England avenues, the urban oasis is convenient to venues where receptions can be held. No parties are allowed in the park and, like Kraft Azalea Garden, there’s no preparation area (or even restrooms). Groups are limited to 20.
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Valid only at Aveda Institute Orlando- first time guests only. Cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. No cash value. All services performed by supervised students. Expires: June 30, 2020. Code: WPSWF2020
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Unique and Boutique Weddings at the luxurious Alfond Inn at Rollins, a boutique hotel owned by the college, are popular in part because out-of-town guests have a handy place to stay. Oh, but what a place it is. The 112-room Alfond — located just a block from Park Avenue — has earned Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Award as the Best Hotel in Florida every year from 2014 to 2018 and has a AAA Four Diamond rating. The Alfond is, of course, frequently full. But if you book a wedding, you’re guaranteed a block of rooms and can be certain that your guests will be well taken care of — and will be within walking distance of shops, restaurants and museums. The hotel’s signature Conservatory, with its dramatic glass-dome ceiling, is a one-of-a-kind wedding space in the region. Adding further interest are thought-provoking pieces from the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art, which is held by the college’s Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Outdoor weddings are often held on the Courtyard Lawn, adjacent to the Conservatory, which is lined with pots of bougainvillea that bloom bountifully in shades of pink. Receptions are usually hosted in the Park Avenue Ballroom, which can be transformed through lighting, draperies, floral displays and elegant table settings. And because the hotel is a boutique property, it can handle only one wedding at a time. That means the highly professional staff will lavish you with attention. Best of all, the Alfond — which can accommodate weddings with as many as 240 guests — is basically a one-stop shop. Couples need to contract separately only for photography, entertainment and floral arrangements. Last summer, the hotel embarked on an expansion program that will, by 2021, add 75 more guest rooms — many of them full suites — a state-of-the-art, 10,000-square-foot wellness center and spa, and a second swimming pool in an elevated outdoor area with fixed cabanas.
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The Alfond Inn at Rollins frequently hosts weddings on the Courtyard Lawn, adjacent to the Conservatory, which is carefully manicured and lined with pots of bougainvillea. Receptions are usually held in the boutique hotel’s Park Avenue Ballroom. The Alfond, which boasts a AAA Four Diamond rating, is frequently full. But if you book a wedding, you’re guaranteed a block of rooms and can rest assured that your guests will be well taken care of.
The Winter Park Farmers’ Market is likely not top of mind as a wedding venue. But perhaps it should be. After all, railroads and romance have a long and storied history together. The place has a certain rustic appeal that many couples find charming.
Down to Earth The Winter Park Farmers’ Market is likely not top of mind as a wedding venue. But perhaps it should be. After all, railroads and romance have a long and storied history together. The old Atlantic Coast Line freight depot, which was built in 1913, has anchored the popular Saturday-morning market since 1979. The place has a certain rustic appeal that many couples find charming. The exposed red-brick walls and wood sliding doors are original to the building, which is air conditioned and seats 180. The parking lot can be used for a tented event. Located on West New England Avenue in downtown Winter Park, the
city-owned, 2,800-square-foot venue also has a prep kitchen and an ice machine. Tables and chairs are included with the rental. You’ll need to keep in mind that the building is next to the railroad tracks — not surprising for an ertswhile freight depot. If your wedding is on a weekday, SunRail cars will rumble past every half hour. An Amtrak incursion is also a possibility, so it’s smart to check the schedule if you don’t want to hear the train a’coming (as Johnny Cash might say) during your ceremony. The Winter Park Community Center, located in Hannibal Square, is likewise an under-the-radar wedding location. But it’s got all the bells and whistles, including a ballroom that accommodates groups ranging in size from 50 to 350 for dinner and dancing. There’s a full commercial kitchen on site — and two basketball courts to work off those extra pounds after gorging on hors d’oeuvres. S PRING 2 0 2 0 | W INTER PARK MAGAZ IN E
Historic Charm. Modern Approach. The Perfect Match. Americaâ€™s most beautiful campus is now one of Central Floridaâ€™s premier wedding and event venues.
Knowles Memorial Chapelâ€ƒ Accommodates ceremonies up to 450 guests â€˘ National Register of Historic Places
Rice Family Pavilion Accommodates more than 200 guests
Full-service catering and event support
Find out more about why Rollins College and 1885 Events are the perfect match for your special day.
1885events.com firstname.lastname@example.org 407.646.2541
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Clubs and Churches The Winter Park Racquet Club, located on Via Tuscany, is a warm, inviting space on the edge of Lake Maitland with a dreamy view of the water framed by the branches of cypress trees. No matter where you hold the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner and dancing, guests will delight in the splendid views and posh appointments. But you must be a member, or have a member sponsor you, to use the facility. That’s also the case with Interlachen Country Club, located off Lake Howell Road on lakedotted property that encompasses a Joe Lee-designed, 18-hole golf course. There are more than a dozen weddings a year at the club, many of them for families that were member sponsored. Other clubs, though, open their facilities to anyone for weddings. The Woman’s Club of Winter Park, located on South Interlachen Avenue in downtown Winter Park, often hosts weddings in its clubhouse — which was completed in 1921 — or on its beautiful front lawn. The facility has a full kitchen and a stage for a DJ or a band. The room seats about 120 at tables and about 150 with chairs only. A long terrace that runs along the building’s south side is ideal for cocktail receptions. Ditto for the University Club of Winter Park on North Park Avenue. The main ballroom of its clubhouse, which was completed in 1934, can handle up to 120 at tables or up to 200 for a reception. There’s also a stage and a full kitchen.
S U I TS & T U X E S C U STO M M A D E | R E A DY TO W E A R
On the property of the University Club of Winter Park is an oak-shaded gazebo where outdoor ceremonies are held. Receptions are held in the cozy clubhouse, which was built in 1934. S PRING 2 0 2 0 | W INT ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
The library is available to host pre-wedding catered dinners for as many as 40. And elsewhere on the property stands an oak-shaded gazebo where outdoor ceremonies are often held. Still, many prefer to be married in a house of worship. If so, there’s no shortage in Winter Park — although some only perform weddings for members and their families. Several, though, are of historic interest. All Saints Episcopal Church, for example, with its peaked roof and arches, was built in 1942 and designed by Ralph Adam Cram, whom you’ll recall from Knowles Memorial Chapel. It’s located on East Lyman Avenue. St. Mary Margaret Catholic Church, with its Mediterranean architecture and cavernous contemporary interior surrounded by stained-glass windows, provides a beautiful setting for wedding ceremonies. First Congregational Church of Winter Park, established in 1884, is the first church of any denomination to be established in Winter Park. The original building is long gone, but the current Colonial Revival sanctuary, completed in 1925, holds 400 and has an adjoining meeting room with a full kitchen for receptions. It’s worth noting that First Congregational, which also has a smaller chapel on its South Interlachen Avenue campus, is the only church in Winter Park that performs same-sex marriages. The Chapel & Hudson’s Cellar Hannibal Square was built as Grant Chapel on Winter Park’s west side in 1935 and served as a house of worship for the predominantly African-American neighborhood for almost 70 years. In 2002, the building was bought by Sydgen Corporation — which redeveloped Hannibal Square in the 1990s — and was for several years leased to a company that used it as a photography studio and wedding venue. In 2013, Sydgen moved the chapel to its present location on Lyman Avenue near the railroad tracks and across from the Farmers’ Market. As part of the move, the company renovated the structure and added a well-equipped basement space for receptions and other events. It’s an intimate space (capacity is just 49) that features six of the church’s original pews in the chapel area. The cellar, entered through handforged iron doors imported from Mexico, has black-stained concrete floors, oak tongue-andgroove ceilings and Edison light fixtures. In the center of the room, two antique Chicago brick pillars anchor a banquet table, while lining the walls are tufted-leather banquette benches and six smaller tables. There’s also a granite-top bar.
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The Chapel & Hudson’s Cellar Hannibal Square was known to generations of west side residents as Grant Chapel. In 2002 the building was bought by Sydgen Corporation, which in 2013 moved it to Lyman Avenue and transformed it into a wedding and reception venue. The chapel seats 49, and still features some of Grant Chapel’s original pews. The cellar, entered through hand-forged iron doors imported from Mexico, has black-stained concrete floors, oak tongue-andgroove ceilings and Edison light fixtures.
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The Winter Park Library and Events Center, slated for completion next summer, is already accepting reservations for weddings and receptions. The events center space will total 13,000 square feet.
New and Notable By the summer of 2021, Winter Park will have a new venue for hosting weddings and receptions — one that has been years in the making and not without controversy. The Winter Park Library and Events Center is being constructed where the Rachel D. Murrah Civic Center once stood on Morse Boulevard. The civic center was demolished last year to make way for two new buildings designed by celebrity architect Sir David Adjaye. The 13,000-square-foot events venue will include such enhancements as a porte cochere, a rooftop venue and an exterior amphitheater. As was the case with the former civic center, city officials say they expect most weekends to be booked months or perhaps years in advance. Reservations, in fact, are already being accepted. So, there you have it. Now that we’ve laid out the options, contact any of these venues or visit their websites for rates and restrictions. First, of course, try to ensure that you won’t be left standing at the altar when the time comes. Aside from the embarrassment, some deposits are not refundable.
ADJAYE ASSOCIATES © 2019 (THE WINTER PARK LIBRARY AND EVENTS CENTER)
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Venue Guide ROLLINS COLLEGE Knowles Memorial Chapel and the Rice Family Pavilion 1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park (Rollins College Campus) 407.646.2541 rollins.edu/chapel/wedding-information Alfond Inn 300 East New England Avenue, Winter Park 407.278.8159 thealfondinn.com/meetings-events/ weddings OUTDOORS Central Park Rose Garden 250 South Park Avenue, Winter Park 407.599.3397 cityofwinterpark.org/venues Kraft Azalea Garden 1305 Alabama Drive, Winter Park 407.599.3397 cityofwinterpark.org/venues Mead Botanical Garden 1300 South Denning Drive, Winter Park 407.599.3397 cityofwinterpark.org/venues or meadgarden.org HISTORIC PLACES Capen House at the Polasek 633 Osceola Avenue, Winter Park 407.636.9317 • capenhouse.com Casa Feliz Historic Home & Venue 656 North Park Avenue, Winter Park 407.628.0230 • casafelizvenue.com The Chapel & Hudson’s Cellar Hannibal Square 16 West Lyman Avenue, Winter Park 407.644.3151 • chapelandcellar.com Winter Park Country Club 761 Old England Avenue, Winter Park 407.599.3416 cityofwinterpark.org/venues Winter Park Farmers’ Market 200 West New England Avenue 407-599-3341 cityofwinterpark.org/venues
Woman’s Club of Winter Park 419 South Interlachen Avenue, Winter Park 407.644.2237 womansclubofwinterpark.com COMMUNITY CENTERS 721 West New England Avenue, Winter Park 407.599.3275 • cityofwinterpark.org/venues PRIVATE CLUBS Interlachen Country Club 2245 Interlachen Court, Winter Park 952.924.7406 • interlachcc.org Note: You must be a member or be sponsored by a member. Winter Park Racquet Club 2111 Vía Tuscany, Winter Park 407.644.2226 • wprc.net Note: You must be a member or be sponsored by a member. NEW VENUES
Stella Luca Hannibal Square 433 West New England Avenue, Winter Park 407-740-7006 Winter Park Village 460 North Orlando Avenue, Winter Park 407.740.6711 • stellaluca.com Una Donna Piu 216 Park Avenue, Winter Park 407.628.4555 • unadonnapiu.com BRIDAL ATTIRE Calvet Couture Bridal Winter Park Village 520 Orlando Avenue, Winter Park 407.951.5670 • calvetcouture.com The Bridal Finery 976 North Orange Avenue, Suite C, Winter Park 407.960.5225 • thebridalfinery.com
Fairbanks Florist 805 South Orlando Avenue, Winter Park 321.695.5440 • fairbanksflorist.net Winter Park Florist 537 North Virginia Avenue, Winter Park 407.647.5014 • winterparkflorist.com Lee Forrest Designs 51 North Bumby Avenue Orlando 407-770-0440 • leeforrestdesign.com INVITATIONS Maureen H. Hall Stationery and Invitations 116 Park Avenue, Winter Park 407.629.6999 • maureenhallinvitations.com Rifle Paper Co. 558 West New England Avenue, Suite 150, Winter Park 407.622.7679 • riflepaperco.com JEWELERS
The Winter Park Library and Events Center 407.599.3525 1050 West Morse Boulevard, Winter Park cityofwinterpark.org/venues Note: The venue doesn’t open until the summer of 2021, but reservations are now being accepted.
The Collection Bridal and Formal 301 North Park Avenue, Winter Park 407.740.6003 • thecollectionbridal.com
Atelier Coralia Leets Jewelry 307 South Park Avenue, Winter Park 321.203.2716 • coralialeets.com
The Seamstress 1143 Orange Avenue, Winter Park 407.740.7544 • seamstresswinterpark.com
Be On Park 152 South Park Avenue, Winter Park 407.644.1106 • beonpark.com
Services Directory BEAUTY SALONS
Arthur’s Creative Events & Catering 860 Sunshine Lane, Altamonte Springs 407.331.1993 • arthurscatering.com
Jewelers on the Park 116 South Park Avenue, Winter Park 407.622.0222 • jewelersonthepark.com
Bangz Park Avenue 228 North Park Avenue, Winter Park 407.645.2264 • bangzparkavenue.com
Cuisiniers 5470 Lake Howell Road, Winter Park 407.975.8763 • cuisinierscater.com
Dolce Vita Salon 1286 Orange Avenue, Winter Park 407.374.3333 • dolcevitaorlando.com
Dubdread Catering 549 West Par Street, Orlando 407.809.5740 • dubdreadcatering.com
Gary Lambert Salon & Nail Bar 517 South Park Avenue, Winter Park 407.628.8659 • lambertsalon.com
John Michael Exquisite Weddings and Catering 627 Virginia Drive, Orlando 407.894.6671 • johnmichaelevents.com
Salon Ciseaux 658 North Wymore Avenue, Winter Park 407.865.5881 • salonciseaux.com
CLUBHOUSES University Club of Winter Park 841 North Park Avenue, Winter Park 407.644.6149 • winterparkvenue.com
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Puff ’n Stuff Events Catering 250 Rio Drive, Orlando 407.629.7833 • puffnstuff.com FLORISTS Atmospheres Floral and Décor 2121 West Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park 321.972.2976 • atmospheresfloral.com
Reynolds & Co. Jewelers 232 North Park Avenue, Winter Park 407.645.2278 • reynoldsjeweler.com GROOM’S ATTIRE John Craig Clothier 132 South Park Avenue, Winter Park 407.629.7944 • johncraigclothier.com Leonardo 5th Avenue 121 East Welbourne Avenue, Winter Park 407.622.0296 • leonardofifthavenue.com Siegel’s Winter Park 330 South Park Avenue, Winter Park 407.645.3100 • siegelsonline.com MUSIC The Buzzcatz Contact: Ricky Sylvia 321.277.5522 • thebuzzcatz.band
The Elite Show Band 7512 Dr. Phillips Boulevard, Orlando 888.400.5013 • eliteshowband.com Leonard Brothers Band email@example.com leonardbrothers.com Weddings Only DJ Entertainment Contact: Brian Scott 407.493.2617 weddingsonlydjentertainment.com PARTY RENTALS A Chair Affair 613 Triumph Court, Orlando 386.479.4308 • chairaffairrentals.com Fenice Events 1255 La Quinta Dr., Orlando 407.404.1895 • feniceevents.com Orlando Wedding & Party Rentals 2452 Lake Emma Road, Lake Mary 407.739.5740 orlandoweddingandpartyrentals.com RW Style 1075 Florida Central Parkway, Longwood 407.374.2534 • rw-brands.com PHOTOGRAPHERS Allan Jay Images 407.252.8094 • allanjayimages.com Art Faulkner Photography 805 South Orlando Avenue, Winter Park 407.461.6628
GIVE FOREVER A BOHEMIAN TWIST. Elevate your wedding with an urban affair in downtown Orlando. Start with a rooftop ceremony, celebrate with an artfully elegant ballroom reception and finish with forever. Every year, toast your eternal love with a complimentary anniversary guest room for life. Call 407.313.9000 or visit GrandBohemianOrlando.com to start planning your forever.
Brian Adams Photo 321.206.6285 • brianadamsphoto.com Cricket’s Photo & Cinema 16618 Broadway Avenue, Winter Garden 407.484.2931 • cricketsphoto.com Jensen Larson Photography 407.409.8499 jensenlarsonweddings.com Sunshine Photographics 13953 Lake Mary Jane Road, Orlando 407.481.8425 sunshinephotographics.com Gian Carlo Photographer 407.312.7932 • giancarlophotography.com
Dr. Marcia Norman Positive Change Counseling, PLLC 525 N. Park Avenue, Suite 121 Winter Park, FL 32789
PositiveChange6@aol.com DrMarciaNorman.com • Licensed Clinical Psychologist • Individual Counseling • Marriage Counseling
Online Sessions Available S PRING 2 0 2 0 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
Suzanne Graffham (left) preps a young bridesmaid.
Taking the Worry Out of Weddings When Jannette Ocasio wanted information, she — like many of us these days — turned to Google. The phrase “small chapels in Orlando” led her to the Winter Park Wedding Company. And it proved to be a match made in heaven. Ocasio, a sales executive who grew up in Central Florida, had always loved coming to Winter Park to shop, eat or attend art festivals. She and her husband, Steven, married last September in the chapel at First Congregational Church of Winter Park — one of five venues used by the Winter Park Wedding Company. Marrying for a second time, Ocasio, 50, knew exactly what she wanted in a wedding: an intimate ceremony with close family members — and no stress. The Winter Park Wedding Company delivered. “Absolutely everything was to the tee,” she says. “It was flawless execution.” The company, founded by Suzanne and Steve Graffham, specializes in taking the worry out of weddings. Over the past decade, they have brought more than 750 ceremonies to Winter Park. In 2008, Steve Graffham, a commercial photographer, was leasing studio space in the former Grant Chapel in Hannibal Square. His wife, who had worked several years for a British firm that produced Florida weddings, was assisting with administrative tasks. Then the economy crashed, and the business was pummeled. The couple decided to marry their knowledge and create a wedding services company, which they originally called Winter Park Wedding Chapel. Ceremonies were held almost exclusively at Grant Chapel. The Graffhams’ first client was Virgin Holidays, the British tour operator that packages travel — including weddings — for popular destinations like Florida. So it’s no surprise that in the early years, most of the company’s weddings were for couples who lived in the United Kingdom. “[The packages] incorporate the wedding, the honeymoon and a vacation — and still cost less than having a wedding back home,” says Suzanne Graffham, 44. “These are people who have been coming here for holidays for years.” As word of the Graffhams’ business spread through positive online reviews on such wedding sites as The Knot and Wedding Wire, their clientele diversified. Today about half of their clients are from out of state or out of the country, and half are from Central Florida.
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In late 2013, when Grant Chapel was relocated from Winter Park’s west side to the corner of Lyman and New England avenues and underwent a lengthy renovation, the Graffhams regrouped. They changed the name of their business to the Winter Park Wedding Company and established relationships with a variety of local venues, including the renovated Grant Chapel — which now hosts weddings as the Chapel & Hudson’s Cellar Hannibal Square — as well as the Capen House at the Polasek and the Alfond Inn. The Winter Park Wedding Company also stages ceremonies in the sanctuary and chapel at First Congregational Church of Winter Park. The chapel, a more intimate space, is considered by the Graffhams to be their home venue and has been dubbed the Winter Park Wedding Chapel. The Graffhams offer three all-inclusive packages for each of these locations. Couples — who spend, on average, just $2,300 — can also customize their nuptials. The basic package includes the venue, the officiant, a coordinator, a bouquet for the bride and a boutonniere for the groom. Couples also get two hours of photography. Other packages include live music, a limousine, hair styling and makeup, and videography. “Couples are so busy working long hours and don’t have the luxury of time, so the all-inclusive packages have worked well in our favor,” says Suzanne Graffham. Business is so good that the Graffhams last year hired an associate, Cheryl Loft, to not only coordinate some of the weddings but to help them expand their company’s services to receptions. Brides today want everything close by, says Suzanne Graffham, and Winter Park has it all: hotels, restaurants, and architecture, streetscapes and green spaces that make perfect settings for romantic photography. Many of the Winter Park Wedding Company’s clients have been couples like the Ocasios, who are beginning second marriages and want more modest but still memorable events. From Winter Park Wedding Company, the bride says she got all the joy she wanted in a wedding for under $2,000: “It gave my husband and I the opportunity to really splurge on our honeymoon in Italy and truly make the event completely about us. — Catherine Hinman
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For as little as $95 a year, youâ€™ll love privileges like early ticket access during our biggest season yet, plus support Arts For Every Life ÂŽ.
Donate for early access today. drphillipscenter.org/ luminary 407.992.1743
the DISTRICT Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine Turkish fare served in a warm and stylish restaurant with antique hookahs, a bar and patio. 108 South Park Avenue 407.644.8609 bosphorousrestaurant.com
Arabella Bangles, bracelets and ring byJulie Vos Jewelry, $75 - $325 115 East Morse Boulevard 407.636.8343
Charyli Pink Heart earrings by Verdier, $78 400 South Park Avenue, #120 407.455.1983 charylistores.com
Current By John Craig 7 Diamonds shorts, $70; 7 Diamonds rose shirt, $74.50; Pig & Hen cobalt blue bracelet, $99; Pig & Hen mint green bracelet, $89 128 South Park Avenue 407.628.1087 currentmen.com
DEAR JANE Solstice earrings by Lucky Star, $138 329 North Park Avenue, #105 407.951.8890 dearjanewinterpark.com
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Mistral salted gin body wash, $28; and cologne, $78; Amazonite gold cuff bracelet, $120 119 East Morse Boulevard 407.629.8818 frankshopwp.com
John Craig Clothier Swim trunks, $75-$115, from Michael’s, Johnnie–O, Peter Millar, Stone Rose and Robert Graham 132 South Park Avenue 407.629.7944 johncraigclothier.com
Lilly Pulitzer New General Contemporary take on a general store with freshly prepared foods, coffees, apparel and home goods. Also delicious vegan and gluten free options. 155 East New England Avenue 321.972.2819 newgeneral.us
One Aesthetics One Aesthetics wrinkle recovery serum, $37; corrector serum, $37: hydrating face moisturizer, $37; Skinade monthly supplement, $147 111 South Knowles Avenue, #201 407.720.4242 oneaesthetics.com
Pamala Top, $128; Worth skinny slacks, $158; Tilly sandals, $178; Santini tote, $148; Hey Bouquet earrings, $58 114-118 North Park Avenue 407.539.2324 lillypulitzer.com
Reynolds & Co. Jewelers
Peterbrooke Chocolatier offering gift boxes and popcorn plus hand-dipped fruit, pretzels and cookies. 300 South Park Avenue 407.644.3200 peterbrookewp.com
18K diamond band by Mira Fine Jewelry, $5,500 232 North Park Avenue 407.645.2278 reynoldsjeweler.com
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SHOPPING SEE Eyewear Frames by SEE Eyewear, $399 342 South Park Avenue 407.599.5455 seeeyewear.com Sarah Grafton President, Park Avenue District
The Spice & Tea Exchange
The Ancient Olive Teakhaus herringbone cutting board, $80 324 North Park Avenue 321.972.1899 theancientolive.com
Through The Looking Glass Winter Park Candle Company candles, $28-$30; The Darling Clutch Company cigar-box purse, $200; butterfly necklace, $73; heart necklace, $36 110 North Park Avenue 321.972.3985
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Florida Sunshine spice blend artisan soy candle, $29.99 309 North Park Avenue 407.647.7423 spiceandtea.com
Tuni’s Fashion Tour jacket by Hip Chik, $358; Gucci sunglasses, $535; United Nude shoes, $270 301 South Park Avenue 407.628.1609 shoptuni.com
ocated in the heart of downtown Winter Park, the Park Avenue District is home to worldclass dining, art, experiences, shopping, hotels and unrivaled culture. The District is deeply rooted in Winter Park’s rich history. Park Avenue has always been the heart of downtown, anchored on the south by Rollins College, which developed its campus along the shore of Lake Virginia as the town was taking shape. Winter Park was marketed in the late 19th century throughout the Northeast by founders Loring Chase and Oliver Chapman and quickly gained popularity as an arts and literary colony. In 2019, businesses and property owners along historic Park Avenue joined to establish an organization that attracts visitors from all over the world to our vibrant District. The mission is to enhance the Avenue through historic preservation, small business support, joint marketing efforts and special events.
See you on the Avenue, Sarah Grafton President, Park Avenue District
In College Park since 1978
Inpatient Rehab Goes High-Tech in Winter Park By Kelsey Dessingue, PT AdventHealth Inpatient Rehabilitation
atients who have experienced a stroke, spinal cord trauma, brain injury, complex orthopedic or complex medical condition now have an excellent source for state-of-the-art rehabilitation services right here in Winter Park. Opened in October 2019, the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility within AdventHealth’s Nicholson Pavilion is a first-of-its-kind facility in our region with 60 private patient rooms, a highly skilled staff of therapists, nurses, and physicians, and advanced technology for healing. From specialty kitchens designed to help patients re-learn daily activities to specially engineered overhead walking tracks to help those with movement, gait or balance disorders, the facility occupies two floors of the Pavilion: the Body Restoring Center and the Mind Restoring Center. These ADA-accessible floors are each equipped with 30 patient rooms providing a healing environment for patients with specific conditions requiring intensive therapy. Get more information on the Inpatient Rehabilitation floors at the Nicholson Pavilion by calling 407-646-7459 or visiting AdventHealthInpatientRehabCentralFlorida. com. Kelsey Dessingue, PT, is a physical therapist in the Inpatient Rehabilitation unit in the Nicholson Pavilion. She is part of the stroke team in the Mind Restoring Center and has training on much of the new technology within the unit. She is also a clinical instructor for physical therapy students.
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Lisa Tariq and Paulina Lu, owners of the Galería restaurant in Baldwin Park, have combined fine dining and fine art into one unique culinary concept.
THE ART OF THE MEAL With a focus on both palate and palette, Galería brings food and art together in Baldwin Park. You’ll have to look for the place, but the effort is well worthwhile. BY RONA GINDIN PHOTOGRAPHY BY RAFAEL TONGOL
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isa Tariq, an outspoken transplanted New Yorker and partner of Paulina Lu, a ballerina turned restaurateur, says, “We’re the perfect surf ‘n’ turf couple.” Together, the women run Baldwin Park’s Galería restaurant. Their temperaments, personalities and business strengths complement one another. That ying-yang harmony is obvious throughout the lakeview restaurant. Galería is two concepts in one: It’s a restaurant where dining is akin to enjoying fine art, with art-related references on the menu. It’s literally an art gallery, too, hence the name and the logo — a striking custom wall mural in the dining room boasting a rich, multicolored background with the letter G standing boldly in the center. Orlando-area artists are invited to display and sell their work and can, upon request, even host events in a private room. Galería is also strongly an indoor-outdoor restaurant. Its spacious interior is inviting, with dark woods, fanciful snowflake chandeliers, black tablecloths and a variety of paintings and photographs adorning the walls. But it seems to have as many seats on the patio as indoors, and for good reason. The restaurant overlooks a lengthy span of Lake Baldwin and offers unobstructed views of the water. While a full-on lake view is a blessing for diners, it means the restaurant isn’t visible from the street. You must know to look for it, which has been perhaps the biggest challenge for Tariq and Lu. But I encourage you to seek it out. While Galería has no formal executive chef, it has an interesting menu that delivers beautifully on both its all-American surf ‘n’ turf selections and its more creative culinary offerings during a recent visit. My group — not all of them easy to please — were suitably impressed with our meal. The logo proclaims “Steak, Seafood, Adega.” The third word stumped us, so we googled. Adega seems to mean cave, or wine bar, in Portuguese. Well, the restaurant does sell wine. It’s not cave-like though. “Cavernous” would be a more apt adjective. But on to the meal. First, those appetizers, which are listed under “The Canvas” section of the menu. Oh, those appetizers! Not even a 10-year-old can ruin bacon — unless they burn it to a crisp — although some motel buffets have managed to wring out all the flavor. The Galería folks, however, make bacon an event. Bacon Flight is a worthy indulgence. It’s a trio of strips, each seasoned distinctively, and all covered in lettuce, cherry tomatoes and a bacon-jam dressing. Makes it look healthful. Ha! Here, one slice is prepared with Jamaican-style jerk spices, another with a sweet and spicy agave sriracha and a third glazed with a sweet-hot combo of maple and chipotle. With that (comical) salad on top, we can say the Bacon Flight is a whole meal. The meaty strips are Compart Duroc bacon. Duroc pigs, from Compart Family Farms in Minnesota, have a rosy hue
A tuna appetizer called Jiro (top left) is seared tuna, green scallions, charred romaine and kimchi aioli with a wasabi cucumber sauce. The shrimp bites (top right) consist of five juicy grilled shrimps sitting atop cubes of grilled watermelon and seasoned with a zesty Latin-American mojo and lemon pepper. The Bacon Flight (bottom left) is thick-cut Compart Duroc bacon prepared with a sweet and spicy agave sriracha. The slivers of lettuce don’t make it healthy — but it sure is yummy.
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Beef entrées, such as the filet mignon, are fork tender and flavorful even if their names on the menu were too obscure for us to figure out.
and droopy ears — and they’re tasty, too. We were also busy with the shrimp bites — five juicy grilled shrimps sitting atop cubes of grilled watermelon and seasoned with a zesty Latin-American mojo and lemon pepper. Delightful indeed. We also tried a tuna appetizer called Jiro, named for Jiro Yoshihara (1905-1972), an avant garde Japanese painter. Seared tuna, raw on the inside, has been ubiquitous for two decades and some of us (ahem, me) think the entire concept should be retired. My party insisted, however, and I had to admit that the tuna offered enough new twists to be engaging. Galería’s take involved charred romaine lettuce, kimchi aioli — a little Korean-French combo there — scallions and a wasabi-cucumber sauce. I haven’t mentioned salads because, honestly, I’d
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rather test out more challenging dishes for my readers. I need to mention them here, though, because they reinforce the gallery theme: The grilled Caesar salad is a “Peter Paul Reubens” and the (kind-of) Cobb salad is a “Mabel Alvarez.” You get the idea. Moving on, entrées fall under “The Opening” while desserts are listed under “Curtain Call.” It’s clever or cliché, depending upon your cynicism level. Call it what you will, the filet mignon was a fine filet mignon. The beef was a fork-tender, delightfully flavorful piece of steak. Most other beef entrées, such as the ribeye (“The Center”) and the New York Strip (“The District”), have toppings such as Parmesan-peppercorn butter. I’m sure the extra ingredients enhance the flavor. The names? Sorry, but I don’t get the references.
The pork, however, makes both sense and a lovely dinner. Dubbed “Francis Bacon” – named after the 20th century British painter, not the 16th century English philosopher — the chop is a generous 14-ounce, dry-aged hunk served with grilled apple relish, mashed potatoes, crisp chunks of bacon and a savory demi-glace infused with a sour-apple liqueur. We also had “The Michelangelo” — curly cavatappi pasta with mozzarella, charred tomatoes and roasted garlic. Again, the flavors worked harmoniously. The only miss was one dessert. While we cheerfully devoured the chocolate mousse and its hardchocolate coating, the red velvet cake was pleasant but wasn’t really red velvet cake. Instead of being a red-colored chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, it was something else entirely — fruity and not unpleasant, but not what one would expect. Still, considering the restaurant opened in October 2019 and we visited in January 2020, I’d say Lu and Tariq have had a strong start. Lu, the erstwhile ballerina, has been involved in several Orlando-area restaurants and is the proprietor of several dance studios. Tariq, a lifelong marketing pro and salesperson, handled advertising sales for the New York Yankees’ YES Network and owned boutiques in Celebration and Dr. Phillips. The two met when their children — both musicians — were classmates, then both went on to art school. “We both feel strongly about promoting the arts,” Tariq notes. Since opening, the partners have already added weekend brunch service, and at press time were developing a small-bites menu for happy hour, which features discounted spirits from 4 to 7 p.m. daily. “Wine Down Wednesday” involves live acoustic music for three hours and all the red or white wine (or sangria) you can drink for $20. Bits of cheese and fruit are set out on platters. Tariq and Lu are also starting a monthly international menu — a special three-course feast featuring foods from a single country, such as Italy. Wine dinners, scotch tastings, casino night — this dynamic duo is doing what it takes to get the attention of Baldwin Park, Winter Park and Maitland diners. So get in the car and keep looking until you find Galería. Valet parking is free on weekend evenings, or you might nab a complimentary spot at a lot right behind the restaurant. Then immerse yourself. Food and art. Art and food. A masterful combination. Like surf ‘n’ turf. Galería Lakeside 4979 New Broad Street, Baldwin Park 407-543-3279 galeria-restaurant.com
While a full-on lake view is a blessing for diners, it means that Galería isn’t visible from the street — but it’s worth the effort to locate. The restaurant, which has a full bar, boasts a spacious and welcoming interior with dark woods, fanciful snowflake chandeliers, black tablecloths and walls filled with art.
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Randy Knight, horticulturalist extraordinaire, was honored for his volunteerism by Mead Botanical Garden at a 2015 celebration.
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PHOTOS BY RAFAEL TONGOL / EMILY POLASEK PORTRAIT BY MICHAELN. RAHIJA, COLLECTION OF THE ALBIN POLASEK MUSEUM & SCULPTURE GARDENS
A STRUM AND A SPLASH FROM EMILY
When former Winter Park City Commissioner Jerome Donnelly (above left) lived next door to Emily Polasek (above right), he asked the widow of sculptor Albin Polasek what she’d think about having a reproduction of her namesake statue placed in Central Park. “I think she enjoyed the idea,” he recalls.
Jerome Donnelly recalls sharing coffee and conversation with his elderly next-door neighbor, Emily Muska Kubat Polasek, widow of sculptor Albin Polasek. Emily had established a foundation in her husband’s name and opened their Mediterraneanstyle home as museum in 1965 despite still living on the premises. There was certainly plenty for visitors to see. Albin had been a world-renowned sculptor whose works dotted the lush grounds along Lake Osceola. “Emily was a very kind, delightful woman,” says Donnelly, a professor of English at the University of Central Florida (then Florida Technological University) who had come to Winter Park from Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan. Donnelly quickly found himself entranced with one of Albin’s less-imposing works: “Emily,” a bronze figure of a kneeling nude woman playing a harp on which delicate streams of flowing water formed the illusion of strings. It reminded him of “Sunday Morning in Deep Waters,” a Carl Milles sculpture depicting Father Triton and his sons on a holiday excursion. The Swedish sculptor’s work was a landmark on the campus in Ann Arbor. “I loved the stillness of the sculpture and the movement of the water,” he says. Then Donnelly had an idea. North Central Park had a fountain — sort of. But it was a small bricked
oval pool from which water spurted upward through an unsightly lead pipe. “I thought a replica of the sculpture would be perfect for Central Park,” says Donnelly, who served on the Winter Park City Commission from 1972 to 1980. Donnelly says he doesn’t recall realizing that the youthful-looking harpist was modeled on the reallife Emily. In fact, the 1961 work was the Czech-born sculptor’s wedding gift to his second wife and features her face on the woman’s body. “She was interested,” says Donnelly of Emily’s reaction to having a replica in the city’s signature park. “I think she enjoyed the idea.” At Donnelly’s behest, the city accepted the gift and offered up the forlorn fountain as a location. “I’m more or less overwhelmed,” said Mayor Hope Strong Jr. The foundation covered the $12,000 cost of sending a plaster model to New York to be bronzed — a process that was completed in 1982. The city decided, however, to dedicate the statue to the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival in honor of the popular annual event’s 25th anniversary, which was coming up in 1984. In anticipation of the milestone, the all-volunteer Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival Commission raised more than $3,000 for a brick base and a commemorative plaque. The Aquarium and Fountain Shop in Casselberry was paid about $7,000 for plumbing and
lighting but donated an additional $2,000 in services The statue was installed in 1983 and a formal unveiling — accompanied by appropriate hoopla, including speeches by dignitaries and a performance by the Seminole Community College Orchestra — was held the following year to kick off the art festival. Unfortunately, the flesh-and-blood Emily was hospitalized and unable to attend the festivities. She died in 1988, at age 91. Today you can still see the first “Emily” at the courtyard of the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. And you can see what has come to be known as the “Emily Fountain” in north Central Park. There is one key difference, however: The water flows much more delicately on the original; the downtown version is perennially soaked by errant blasts, which is much harder on the bronze surface. “It’s still wonderful,” says Donnelly, who is also remembered as the driving force behind founding the Winter Park Farmer’s Market and remains outspoken in civic affairs. “It lights up that whole end of the park.” — Randy Noles Editor’s Note: This is the first in a periodic series of stores about monuments in the city. If you’re curious about any of them, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll give you the full story. S PRING 2 0 2 0 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
Through the Looking Glass
WELCOME Museums & Cultural TO
Health & Beauty 23 9 12 6
Advanced Park Dental 407-628-0200 Clean Beauty Bar 407-960-3783 Eyes & Optics 407-644-5156 Kendall & Kendall, Hair Color Studio 407-629-2299 17 One Aesthetics 407-720-4242 15 See Eyewear 407-599-5455
Hotels The Alfond Inn Park Plaza Hotel
California Closets Ethan Allen Monark Premium Appliance The Shade Store
800-633-0213 407-622-1987 407-636-9725 321-422-1010
Jewelry Alex and Ani Be On Park International Diamond Center Jewelers on the Park Orlando Watch Company Reynolds & Co. Jewelers
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321-422-0841 407-644-1106 407-629-5531 407-622-0222 407-975-9137 407-645-2278
Shoes 25 Rieker Shoes 17 Shoooz On Park Avenue
Specialty Shops 2 5 14 7 15 13 3 13 20 18 19 6
Fig and Julep 321-972-1899 The Ancient Olive 321-972-1899 Brandywine Books 407-644-1711 Christian Science Reading Room 407-647-1559 Frank 407-629-8818 Maureen H. Hall Stationery & Invitations 407-629-6999 New General 321-972-2819 Partridge Tree Gift Shop 407-645-4788 Rifle Paper Co. 407-622-7679 The Spice and Tea Exchange 407-647-7423 Ten Thousand Villages 407-644-8464 Writer’s Block Bookstore 407-592-1498
FREE 4 Hr Parking 4th & 5th levels
Hannibal Square NEW ENGLAND AVENUE
Park 23 Place
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8 3 1 5 4 6 2 9
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Weddings • = Not on Map
The Collection Bridal Winter Park Wedding Co
Park Place Garage
1 Ben and Jerry’s 407-325-5163 1 Kilwins Chocolates & Ice Cream 407-622-6292 14 Peterbrooke Chocolatier 407-644-3200
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CHARLES HOSMER MORSE MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART 1
10 Luxury Trips 407-622-8747 18 Winter Park Welcome Center 407-644-8281
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Beyond Commercial 407-641-2221 Brandywine Square 407-657-5555 Fannie Hillman + Associates 407-644-1234 Great American Land Management, Inc. 407-645-4131 Keewin Real Property Company 407-645-4400 Kelly Price & Company 407-645-4321 Leading Edge Title 407-636-9866 Olde Town Brokers 407-622-7878 Premier Sotheby’s International Realty 407-644-3295 Re/Max Town Centre 407-367-2000 Winter Park Land Company 407-644-2900 Winter Park Magazine 407-647-0225
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Bank of America 407-646-3600 F4 Wealth Advisors 407-960-4769 Florida Community Bank 407-622-5000 The Kozlowski CPA Firm LLC 407-381-4432 Moss, Krusick and Associates 407-644-5811
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407-647-7277 407-629-0042 407-636-7366 407-960-3778 407-644-8609 407-790-7997 585-766-9886 407-671-4424 407-599-4111 407-335-4548 407-647-7520 321-972-2819 407-645-3939 407-629-7270 407-335-4914 407-381-4432 407-645-3616 407-262-0050 407-951-8039 407-960-3993 407-696-9463
Winter Park, Florida
5 Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens 407-647-6294 2 Bach Festival Society of Winter Park 407-646-2182 407-628-8200 2 Casa Feliz 3 Cornell Fine Arts Museum 407-646-2526 1 Morse Museum of American Art 407-645-5311 3 Scenic Boat Tour 407-644-4056 • The Winter Park Playhouse 407-645-0145 10 Winter Park History Museum 407-647-2330
310 Park South Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen BoiBrazil Churrascaria blu on the avenue Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine Cocina 214 Garp and Fuss Laurel Latin Cuisine Luma on Park Maestro Cucina Napoletana mon petit cheri cafe New General Panera Bread Pannullo’s Italian Restaurant Park Avenue Smoothie Cafe The Parkview Power House Cafe Prato Rome’s Flavours UMI Japanese Restaurant The Wine Room on Park Ave
1 1 19 2 2 3 3 6 1 5 4 12 4 2 1 6 7 2 4 7 3
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14 Arabella 407-636-8343 12 Bebe’s/Liz’s Fashion Experience 407-628-1680 2 Charyli 407-455-1983 9 Cottonways 321-203-4733 407-628-1087 6 Current 1 Evelyn and Arthur 407-740-0030 13 Forema Boutique 407-790-4987 15 The Impeccable Pig 407-636-4043 2 J. McLaughlin 407-960-3965 407-629-7944 7 John Craig Clothier 6 Lilly Pulitzer 407-539-2324 407-628-1222 19 Lucky Brand Jeans 5 Maestro Cucina Napoletana 407-335-4548 4 Max and Marley 407-636-6204 16 Siegel’s Winter Park 407-645-3100 407-647-7241 4 Synergy 321-209-1096 • TADofstyle 12 The Grove 407-740-0022 20 tugboat and the bird 407-647-5437 407-628-1609 17 Tuni
THE PARK AVENUE MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION • EXPERIENCEPARKAVENUE.COM
D 17 C 15 B 21 B 12 D 12
B 16 Zingara Souls
Business Services E2
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D 18 Forward Law Firm E8
The Kozlowski CPA Firm
(407) 644-5811 (407) 621-4200 (407) 381-4432
Dining E 10 Antonio’s House of Pizza D 23 310 Park South C7 D 25 C 16 B9 D 21 D 16 B4 E 11 D 29 C2 C 22 D 31
Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen blu on the avenue Cocina 214 Garp and Fuss Luma on Park mon petit cheri cafe Panera Bread Park Avenue Smoothie Cafe Power House Cafe Prato Proper & Wild Sushi Pop
C 17 The Imperial C 10 The Parkview D 20 The Wine Room E5
UMI Japanese Restaurant
(407) 636-7222 (407) 647-7277 (407) 629-0042 (407) 960-3778 (407) 790-7997 (585) 766-9886 (407) 599-4111 (407) 647-7520 (407) 645-3939 (407) 335-4914 (407) 645-3616 (407) 262-0050 (407) 543-8425 (407) 542-5975
C 11 Be On Park
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D 15 D 27 D 22 C1
Orlando Skin Solutions Pristine Nail & Day Spa See Eyewear Taylor’s Pharmacy The Lash Lounge
The Collection Bridal
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D 24 Partridge Tree Gift Shop
C 21 Winter Park Wedding Company (321) 274-6618
Rifle Paper Co.
C 23 Winter Park Maitland Observer (407) 218-5955
Ten Thousand Villages
The Spice and Tea Exchange
Winter Park Magazine
Museums & Culture E 12 Albin Polasek Museum
& Sculpture Gardens
Axiom Fine Art Consulting
Bach Festival Society of Winter Park
Cornell Fine Arts Museum
Morse Museum of American Art
D 17 Ocean Blue Galleries
C 20 Scenic Boat Tour
The Winter Park Playhouse
D 10 Winter Park History Museum
Fannie Hillman + Associates
D 11 Keller Williams Winter Park
Kelly Price & Company
Leading Edge Title
Premier Sotheby’s International Realty
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D 32 The Alfond Inn at Rollins
Maureen H. Hall Stationery & Invitations
D 30 Writer’s Block Bookstore
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CHARLES HOSMER MORSE MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
4 4 25 3 19 5 6 7 8
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(800) 633-0213 (407) 622-1987 (321) 316-4086 (321) 422-1010
B 23 Rieker Shoes
California Closets B 3 Ethan Allen B 24 Piante Design B 16 The Shade Store
P A R K ,
W I N T E R
Charyli Current Dear Jame Evelyn and Arthur Forema Boutique J. McLaughlin John Craig Clothier Lilly Pulitzer Lucky Brand Jeans lululemon Max + Marley Sara Campbell Siegel’s Winter Park Synergy The Grove The Impeccable Pig Tugboat and The Bird Tuni
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EVENTS ART, HISTORY, ENTERTAINMENT AND MORE
Blue Bamboo Has Found Its Groove
Closing in on its fourth anniversary this July, Winter Park’s very own concert hall, the eclectic Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts, has found its groove. The nonprofit organization is producing five to six shows each week — up to 300 annually. With a lineup that includes many returning performers, the calendar this spring reflects both where Blue Bamboo has come from and where it’s going. Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the City of Winter Park, the funky venue expects to host 25 free concerts in 2020, including seven this spring. Guitarist Steve Luciano is a regular who’ll do six free shows this year, including performances on April 16 and May 14. Luciano, an educator who has written a jazz guitar method book, plays with numerous combos and sits in with the pit orchestra at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. These days, he has a growing local fan base thanks in part to his frequent appearances at Blue Bamboo. His swinging trio includes Larry Hendrixson on drums and Ron Mills on the electric organ. Guitarist Bobby Koelble is also a Blue Bamboo mainstay. The versatile musician, who plays everything from heavy metal to jazz ballads, has presented shows that range from a Billie Holiday tribute to Latin arrangements of Led Zeppelin songs. Koelble will perform solo on May 6. In addition, he and Chris Cortez — also a guitarist and co-founder of Blue Bamboo — share the stage each month with duo performances slated for April 22, May 20 and June 26. The Orlando Jazz Orchestra, which played to a sold-out audience on Blue Bamboo’s opening night
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in 2016, has been booked for a return engagement on April 8. The Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, which is on the schedule at least twice a year, plays April 19. Bands with up to 20 pieces had few places to play before Blue Bamboo, and options for small groups were limited to nightclubs and theme parks. But Cortez and his wife, the aptly named Melody, created a venue that’s at once respectful of musicians and affordable for music fans. “If you’re someone who likes to listen,” says Cortez, “then you’re in heaven, you’re home.” Last fall, Cortez hit upon a formula for broadening Blue Bamboo’s service to the community while still supporting performing artists. Using city grant money, the venue produced a November fundraising concert for Second Harvest Food Bank. Proceeds from ticket sales funded 11,700 meals. Because that event was so successful, a private sponsor has volunteered to bring the Brad Bietry Quartet to Blue Bamboo for a May 15 concert that will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Cortez is planning more such events in the future. “I get to call the charity and say, ‘I’m going to stage an event just for you,’” he says. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world. We’re here to benefit the arts, but if there’s a way to benefit other charity groups, why not?” Though the lineup may seem to favor jazz, don’t hem in Blue Bamboo. Its aim is to support all genres of music, from rhythm and blues to bluegrass, classical to rock. Beth McKee and Her Funky Time Band, which
played a sold-out show at the venue last year, returns on April 24 with their signature (and hard to categorize) rootsy blues. Singer-songwriter Gabrielle Stravelli, who appears on May 2, delivers original pop-influenced compositions and covers of material from the Great American Songbook as well as by contemporary artists as varied as Willie Nelson, Joni Mitchell, Bob Marley and John Fogerty. Ricky Sylvia and The Buzzcatz, who also packed the house last year, will pay tribute to Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley on May 10. The Buzzcatz are an in-demand dance band, and Sylvia has earned national attention for his uncanny ability to channel the voices of musical icons. “Orlando is an amazing community of musicians, as high a quality as New York,” Cortez says.” When you start to recruit for talent in Orlando, the most incredible people show up.” Blue Bamboo, which occupies a bright yellow warehouse, seats 110. In this intimate (if spare) setting, you’ll find rows of black banquet-style chairs, a few high-top tables, a dozen café tables and fabulous acoustics. Beer, wine and soft drinks are available at the concession area. Concerts, performed in two sets, usually last about two hours with intermission. Ticket prices are typically $15 or $20, and there’s a schedule of free Thursday-night “hangs.” Blue Bamboo is located at 1905 Kentucky Avenue. Most performances begin at 8 p.m., and lobby doors open at 7 p.m. Sunday shows are often matinees. Visit bluebambooartcenter.com or call 407.636.9951 for more information.
Upcoming Blue Bamboo performers include guitarist Bobby Koelble, who plays everything from jazz to heavy metal. Also slated are guitarist Steve Luciano (facing page, left) and the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra (facing page, right). The funky Winter Park venue is approaching its fourth anniversary and stages as many as 300 eclectic shows annually.
IN BRIEF What: Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts Where: 1905 Kentucky Avenue, Winter Park Notes: Winter Parkâ€™s super-cool concert hall, celebrating its fourth anniversary, has unveiled its spring schedule of concerts. Expect plenty of jazz as well as blues, pop, folk, big band and maybe even some spoken-word events. Admission: Most concerts are $15 or $20 per ticket For More: Visit bluebamboocenter.com or call 407.636.9951 S PRING 2 0 2 0 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E
EVENTS Editor’s Note: As this issue of Winter Park Magazine was going to press, the coronavirus outbreak began prompting cancellation of many events scheduled for the coming months. Before attending any event described in this section, please call or check the sponsoring organization’s website.
12th Annual Winter Park Paint-Out. The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens will host the event from April 19 to 25, during which 25 acclaimed plein air artists will set up their easels at the museum and scenic locations throughout the city. Everyone is invited to watch the artists at work and view their recently completed paintings in the “wet gallery.” A ticketed garden party will be held on April 25 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the museum, where guests can see the entire exhibition of more than 200 works and purchase their favorite pieces. Admission to the museum, sculpture gardens and gallery will be free to the public during the weeklong event. 633 Osceola Avenue, Winter Park. 407-647-6294. winterparkpaintout.com.
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. With more than 19,000 square feet of gallery and public space, the Morse houses the world’s most important collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany creations, including jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass and an entire chapel interior originally designed and built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The museum’s latest exhibition is Portraits of Americans from the Morse Collection, featuring works by John Singer Sargent, Charles Hawthorne, Cecilia Beaux and others. As photography made romanticized depictions of well-known figures obsolete, these artists guided portraiture into the 20th century with compelling works that captured not only the physical likeness of their subjects, but their in-
Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. This lakeside museum, open since 1961, is dedicated to preserving works of the famed Czech sculptor for whom it was both home and studio for more than a decade. The museum offers tours of Polasek’s home Tuesdays through Saturdays. And it offers tours of the adjacent Capen-Showalter House three times weekly: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m., and Saturdays at 10:15 a.m. The Capen-Showalter House, built in 1885, was saved from demolition several years ago and floated across Lake Osceola to its current location on the Polasek’s grounds. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $3 for students and free for children. 633 Osceola Avenue, Winter Park. 407-6476294. polasek.org. Art & History Museums — Maitland. The Maitland Art Center, one of five museums that anchor the city’s Cultural Corridor, was founded as an art colony in 1937 by visionary artist and architect J. André Smith. The center, located at 231 West Packwood Avenue, Maitland, is Central Florida’s only National Historic Landmark and one of the few surviving examples of Mayan Revival architecture in the Southeast. Admission to the art center’s galleries is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students (ages 5 to 17) and free for children age 4 and under. Maitland residents receive a $1 discount. The Cultural Corridor also includes the Maitland Historical Museum and Telephone Museum at 221 West Packwood Avenue, and the Waterhouse Residence Museum and Carpentry Shop Museum, both built in the 1880s and located at 820 Lake Lily Drive. Current exhibitions at the art center and history museum, respectively, are The Exotic Realms of Jules André Smith (through May 17), an exploration of fantastical realms brought to life in a variety of media; and Building Maitland (through June 21), which examines the architectural evolution that the city has undergone in the last century. 407-539-2181. artandhistory.org.
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One of the current exhibits at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is Portraits of Americans from the Morse Collection. Although the artists are well known, several of the subjects have been lost to history. Shown (top) is Portrait of a Man, painted around 1785 by Gilbert Stuart. Also shown (above) is Portrait of a Young Girl, painted around 1920 by Charles Webster Hawthorne. Stuart, one of America’s foremost portraitists, is best known for the Athenaeum Portrait, an unfinished image of George Washington begun in 1796. Hawthorne was founder of the Cape Cod School of Art, which remains one of the leading art schools in the U.S.
nate character as well. Continuing through September is a major exhibition, Earth into Art — The Flowering of American Art Pottery. The displayed objects, which date from the 1870s to the early 1900s, are drawn from the museum’s collection of American art pottery — one of the largest such collections in the U.S. Also on view is Iridescence — A Celebration, which runs through September 2021. The dazzling display features works in enamel, pottery and art glass that replicate the shimmering optical effects previously only found in nature. Regular admission to the museum is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $1 for students and free for children younger than age 12. 445 North Park Avenue, Winter Park. 407645-5311. morsemuseum.org. Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Located on the campus of Rollins College, the Cornell houses one of the oldest and most eclectic collections of fine art in Florida. African Apparel: Threaded Transformations Across the 20th Century (through May 15) celebrates the artistry, diversity and symbolism of the continent’s garments — including headdresses, hand-woven textiles, and metal and beaded jewelry. Three new exhibits will debut this season, starting with Multiple Voices/Multiple Stories (May 21 to September 6), which features an array of portraits ranging from traditional to creative depictions and asks the viewer to consider the relationship between subject and artist. From May 30 to June 21 is After Metamorphoses, an instillation by celebrated digital media artist Amy Sillman. And from May 30 to September 6 is ReOrienting the Gaze, which features works by contemporary Middle Eastern and North African artists who challenge past and present echoes of Orientalist thought. Continuing through 2020 is Ruptures and Remnants: Selections from the Permanent Collection, which offers material manifestations of ruptures ranging from personal crises to nation-state upheavals from antiquity to the present day. Works periodically rotate through this long-term exhibition. Guided tours take place at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays at the nearby Alfond Inn, where a selection of more than 400 works in the museum’s Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art are on view. Happy Hour tours of the Alfond Collection are also conducted on the first Wednesday of most months at 5:30 p.m. If you prefer historic works, Throwback Thursday tours are offered at the museum from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of most months. Admission is free, courtesy of PNC Financial Services Group. 1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park. 407-646-2526. rollins.edu/cfam. Crealdé School of Art. Established in 1975, this notfor-profit arts organization on Winter Park’s east side offers year-round visual-arts classes for all ages, taught by more than 40 working artists. Visitors may take a selfguided tour through its lakeside sculpture garden, which includes approximately 60 three-dimensional pieces of contemporary outdoor art and educational panels that describe the diversity of expressive styles and durable media. Admission to the school’s galleries is free, although there are fees for art classes. 600 Saint Andrews Boulevard, Winter Park. 407-671-1886. crealde.org.
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EVENTS 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 that are collectively known as the Heritage Collection. Also ongoing is the Hannibal Square Timeline, which documents significant local and national events in African-American history since the Emancipation Proclamation. On display through May 16 is Power, Myth & Memory, a collection of 83 works across the African diaspora that illustrate how artists found power and resilience in a racially unjust world. Admission is free. The center also offers a walking tour of Hannibal Square, Now and Then, with Fairolyn Livingston, chief historian. The tour, offered on the third Saturday of each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m., requires reservations; the cost is $10, or $5 for those with student IDs. Historic sites include the Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, the Welbourne Avenue Nursery & Kindergarten and the Masonic Lodge, all built in the 1920s. 642 West New England Avenue, Winter Park. 407-539-2680. hannibalsquareheritagecenter.org.
CELEBRATIONS, FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Florida Film Festival. Now in its 29th year, this Oscar-qualifying event draws more than 180 independent feature films, documentaries, shorts and animated movies from across the U.S. and worldwide. The 10-day extravaganza will take place April 17 to 26, primarily on the grounds of the Enzian, a singlescreen art-film house nestled in a three-acre, oakshaded Maitland enclave with an outdoor restaurant and bar. (Some films will be shown at the Regal Cinemas megaplex in Winter Park Village.) Both single tickets and packages for festival events are available. There will also be a fabulous Opening Night Party, with tasty treats from local eateries and a film, the title of which had not been announced at press time. 1300 South Orlando Avenue, Maitland. 407-629-1088. floridafilmfestival.com. Hannibal Square Heritage Center Folk & Urban Art Festival. This annual festival, now in its 11th year, celebrates culture and diversity through art and music. More than 25 Florida artists will offer their works for sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 25. The event includes live music, arts-and-crafts demonstrations and a soul-food truck. Admission is free. 642 West New England Avenue. hannibalsquareheritagecenter.org.
Annie Russell Theatre. “The Annie,” in continuous operation on the campus of Rollins College since 1932, concludes its 2019-20 season with the hit jukebox musical Mamma Mia!, a romantic story about the unbreakable bond between mother and daughter. Set on a heavenly Greek island, Mamma Mia! showcases ABBA’s greatest hits, including “Dancing Queen” and “Take a Chance on Me.” Curtain times for the show, which runs from April 17 through 25, are 8 p.m., 4 p.m. or 2 p.m., depending upon the day of the week. Tickets are $20. 1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park. 407-6462145. rollins.edu/annie-russell-theatre.
19th Annual Dinner on the Avenue. The city supplies the tables, chairs, white linen tablecloths and, of course, the outdoor setting while you and your friends, family or co-workers supply the fellowship and clever conversation while dining in the middle of closed-off Park Avenue. The annual event is also a friendly competition, with awards for table decorations in such categories as “Most Colorful,” “Most Elegant” and “Most Original.” This year’s event, slated for April 4 from 6 to 10 p.m., has sold out at $175 a table. 407-599-3342. cityofwinterpark.org.
Winter Park Playhouse. Winter Park’s only professional, not-for-profit theater continues its 2019-20 mainstage season with The Andrews Brothers, a musical comedy set during World War II in which three soldiers find themselves headlining a USO show. The Andrews Brothers closes April 11 and is followed by Pump Boys and Dinettes, which runs May 8 through 17 and May 28 through June 7. This country-fried musical is set in the Double Cupp Diner, located along a stretch of rural highway, where workers at a nearby gas station and diner waitresses share their stories of heartbreak and hilarity. The original Broadway production was nominated for both a Tony and multiple Drama Desk awards. Performances are Thursdays through Sundays, with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets range in price from $20 for students to $45 for evening shows. Meanwhile, the theater’s Spotlight Cabaret Series continues with performances by Noel Marie Matson on April 15 and 16. General admission is $20 plus a one-drink minimum (with $10 standing-room-only tickets available once general seating is sold out). 711 Orange Avenue, Winter Park. 407-645-0145. winterparkplayhouse.org.
Enzian. This cozy, nonprofit alternative cinema offers a plethora of film series. Tickets are usually $12 for regular admission; $10 for matinees, students, seniors and military (with ID); and $9.50 for Enzian Film Society members. Children under age 12 are admitted free to Peanut Butter Matinee Family Films, shown the fourth Sunday of each month at noon. Other series include Saturday Matinee Classics (the second Saturday of each month at noon), Cult Classics (the second and last Tuesday of each month at 9:30 p.m.), and Midnight Movies (every Saturday night). FilmSlam, which spotlights Florida-made short films, takes place most months on the first or second Sunday at 1 p.m.; the next scheduled dates are May 17 and June 14. Special family-oriented screenings will be held on Easter Sunday (along with an Easter egg hunt and delicious buffet luncheon), as well as on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day (paired with brunch and barbecue, respectively). A full schedule of titles and showtimes is available online. 1300 South Orlando Avenue, Maitland. 407-629-0054 (information line), 407-629-1088 (theater offices). enzian.org.
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Friday Brown Bag Matinees. The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art presents three film series each year on topics related to the museum’s collection as well as art in general. Admission is free to these lunchtime screenings, which span the noon hour on select Fridays in the Jeannette G. and Hugh F. McKean Pavilion on Canton Avenue, just behind the Morse. Attendees are invited to bring their own lunches; the museum provides soft drinks and themed refreshments. The four-part Spring series, Art, Taste or Money, explores the world of art auctions and auction houses. It kicks off on April 3 with two installments of the documentary program Auction, one in which a pair of collectors compete for a legendary piece and another in which works from Picasso’s Blue Period are sold. On April 10 and 17 is Inside Christie’s: The World’s Biggest Auction House, a glimpse at the institution’s inner workings and how it serves as a meeting point for art, taste and money. The series concludes April 24 with Under the Hammer of the Nazis, which chronicles the efforts of a Munich auction house to return art stolen during the Holocaust to its rightful owners. 161 West Canton Avenue. 407-645-5311. morsemuseum.org. Popcorn Flicks in the Park. The City of Winter Park and the Enzian collaborate to offer classic, family-friendly films free in Central Park on Park Avenue. These outdoor screenings are held on the second Thursday of each month and start at 8 p.m. Upcoming titles include Men in Black (April 16) and The Lizzie McGuire Movie (May 14). Don’t forget to pack a picnic and blankets or chairs. 407-629-1088. enzian.org. Screen on the Green. The City of Maitland offers free outdoor movies (and popcorn!) at Independence Square, next to City Hall. Trivia games and activities for kids are usually held beforehand. Bring a snack plus a blanket or chairs. Titles and showtimes are available online. 1776 Independence Lane, Maitland. 407-539-0042. itsmymaitland.org.
Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum. This stunningly restored Spanish farmhouse-style home, designed by acclaimed architect James Gamble Rogers II, is now a community center and museum. Free open houses are hosted by docents on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Also, live music is featured in the large downstairs parlor most Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. (see “Music”). 656 North Park Avenue (adjacent to the Winter Park Golf Course), Winter Park. 407-628-8200. casafeliz.us. Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida. The center is dedicated to combating anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice, with the goal of developing a moral and just community through educational and cultural programs. It houses permanent and temporary exhibitions, archives and a research library. The museum’s ongoing exhibition, Tribute to the Holocaust, is a presentation of artifacts, videos, text, photographs and other works of art. Admission
to the center is free. 851 North Maitland Avenue, Maitland. 407-628-0555. holocaustedu.org. Winter Park History Museum. Ongoing displays include artifacts dating from the city’s beginnings as a New England-style resort in the 1880s. Its current exhibition is Wish You Were Here: The Hotels & Motels of Winter Park, which will run through the end of April before the museum closes for refurbishments. It is scheduled to reopen June 4 with a new exhibition related to the history of Rollins College. Admission is free. 200 West New England Avenue, Winter Park. 407-6442330. wphistory.org. Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts. Eatonville 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 about the historic city, sponsors exhibitions featuring the works of African-American artists and is an integral part of the annual, weeklong Zora! Festival each January. Admission is free, though group tours require a reservation and are charged a fee. 227 East Kennedy Boulevard, Eatonville. 407-647-3188. zoranealehurstonmuseum.com.
66th Annual Winter Park Easter Egg Hunt. A Winter Park tradition dating back to President Eisenhower’s first term in office, the hunt is held the day before Easter — this year, that’s Saturday, April 11. More than 14,000 eggs are hidden in Central Park’s West Meadow, where several hundred children usually show up to try and find them. (Participants are asked to bring their own baskets.) The fun begins at 10 a.m., with kids age 10 and under allowed to begin lining up at 9:30 a.m. Children with special needs are encouraged to participate. As always, every child will leave with an Easter egg. Corner of New York Avenue and Morse Boulevard. 407-599-3334. cityofwinterpark.org.
TIFFANY at the MORSE The Morse Museum houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Public Hours: 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m.,Tuesday–Saturday (open Fridays until 8 p.m., November–April); 1 p.m.–4 p.m., Sunday; closed Monday
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445 north park avenue winter park, florida 32789 (407) 645-5311 just a 5-minute walk from the sunrail station.
Earth Day in the Park. This free event in Hannibal Square’s Shady Park features a kids’ zone with games, tie-dye T-shirts, do-it-yourself art with help from Crealdé School of Art staffers, a “quick draw” art competition organized by the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, live music, yoga for children and adults (bring a mat) and composting and recycling education. Of course, there’ll be food and beverage vendors. Certified arborists from Winter Park’s Urban Forestry Division will also give away young trees in one-gallon containers for city residents to plant at home. The April 18 event (one week before the official Earth Day) starts at 10 a.m. Pennsylvania Avenue at New England Avenue. 407-599-3364. cityofwinterpark.org. Memorial Day Service. The ceremony in Winter Park’s Glen Haven Memorial Park cemetery usually includes an honor guard, music and a guest speaker. May 25 at 11 a.m. Admission is free. 2300 Temple Drive. 407-647-1100. cityofwinterpark.org. S PRING 2 0 2 0 | W INTE R PARK MAGAZ IN E
University Club of Winter Park. Nestled among the oaks and palms at the north end of Park Avenue’s downtown shopping district — a block beyond Casa Feliz — is another historic James Gamble Rogers II building, this one home to the University Club of Winter Park. Members are dedicated to the enjoyment of intellectual activities and socializing with one another. The club’s various activities, including lectures, are open to the public, although nonmembers are asked to make a $5 donation each time they attend. (Some events include a buffet lunch for an added fee.) A full schedule of events and speakers is available online. 841 North Park Avenue. 407-6446149. uclubwp.org. Winter Park Institute at Rollins College. Each year, the institute presents lectures, readings and seminars by thought leaders in an array of disciplines. The final lecture of the 2019-20 season features journalist and documentarian Laura Ling. Her presentation, Journey of Hope, tells of her capture and imprisonment in North Korea, and encourages people to look for strength within themselves and find common humanity in an increasingly divisive world. April 7 at 7 p.m. in the Bush Science Center’s Bush Auditorium. Tickets are $25. 407-646-2145. rollins.edu/wpi.
Maitland Farmers’ Market. This year-round, openair market — held each Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — features fresh produce, seafood, breads and cheeses as well as plants, all-natural skin-care products and live music by Performing Arts of Maitland. The setting on Lake Lily boasts a boardwalk, jogging trails, a playground and picnic areas. 701 Lake Lily Drive, Maitland. itsmymaitland.com. Winter Park Farmers’ Market. The region’s busiest and arguably most popular farmers’ market is held every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the old railroad depot, which also houses the Winter Park History Museum. The open-air market offers baked goods, produce, plants, honey, cheese, meat, flowers, crafts and other specialty items. After shopping, make a morning of it with a stroll along nearby Park Avenue. Dogs are welcome to bring their people. 200 West New England Avenue, Winter Park. cityofwinterpark.org.
MUSIC Bach Festival Society of Winter Park. The 2019-20 season concludes April 25 and 26 with Felix Mendelssohn’s most enduring oratorio, Elijah, which tells the dramatic story of the biblical prophet and is filled with glorious arias and choruses. Performances are 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday in Knowles Memorial Chapel on the Rollins campus. Tickets range in price from $25 to $69. 1000 Holt Avenue. 407-646-2182. bachfestivalflorida.org. Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts. This eclectic venue is part concert hall, part recording studio and part art
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gallery. It offers live performances most evenings, with an emphasis on jazz, classical and world music — although theater, dance and spoken-word presentations are sometimes on the schedule. Just a few of the upcoming acts include jazz from the Jack Wilkins Quartet (April 14, 8 p.m.), classical guitarist Jack Graham (May 16, 8 p.m.) and virtuoso pianist and vocalist Carol Stein and her band (June 12, 8 p.m.). Admission generally ranges from free to $25. 1905 Kentucky Avenue, Winter Park. 407-636-9951. bluebambooartcenter.com. Central Florida Folk. This Winter Park-based not-forprofit is dedicated to promoting and preserving live folk music, primarily through concerts usually held on the last Sunday of each month (unless a holiday intervenes). The group’s primary venue is the Winter Park Public Library, 460 East New England Avenue, Winter Park. Upcoming acts include Frankie Jay & the Chicken Parade with Barry Brogan (April 26), the Garfinkel Scortino Trio with Arian Greane (May 24) and Claude Bourbon with Ray Cerbone (June 28). Performances start at 2 p.m. A donation of $15 for nonmembers is suggested. 407-679-6426. cffolk.org. Music at the Casa. The Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum presents acoustic performances on most Sunday afternoons from noon to 3 p.m. in the museum’s cozy main parlor. Past selections include opera, jazz guitar and flamenco dancers. A $5 donation is suggested. 656 North Park Avenue (adjacent to the Winter Park Golf Course), Winter Park. 407-628-8200. casafeliz.us. Performing Arts of Maitland. This not-for-profit group works with the City of Maitland and other organizations to promote performances for and by local musicians. It supports various groups, including the Maitland Symphony Orchestra, Maitland Market Music, the Maitland Stage Band and the Baroque Chamber Orchestra. A full schedule of events is available online. 407-339-5984, ext. 219. pamaitland.org.
Winter Park Garden Club. The club, which was founded in 1922, holds general membership meetings that always offer something intriguing for lovers of gardening and the great outdoors. Gatherings are held on the second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. from September through May. Field trips and other community events are also offered throughout the year. The club’s headquarters are at 1300 South Denning Drive in Mead Garden. For additional information about the upcoming activities, call 407-6445770, visit winterparkgardenclub.com or email email@example.com.
Florida Writers Association. Join fellow scribes for lectures by guest speakers and discussions led by local authors. The Orlando/Winter Park-Area Chapter meets on the first Wednesday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Upcoming events are slated for April 1, May 6 and June 3 at the University Club of Winter
Park, 841 North Park Avenue, Winter Park. Another chapter, the Maitland Writers Group, meets on the second Thursday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Upcoming events are slated for April 9, May 14 and June 11 at the Maitland Public Library, 501 South Maitland Avenue, Maitland. floridawriters.net. Orlando Writers Critique Group. Writers gather under the guidance of author and writing coach Rik Feeney to review and critique their current works on the third Tuesday of every month from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Winter Park Public Library. Upcoming meetings are slated for April 21, May 19 and June 16. 460 East New England Avenue, Winter Park. firstname.lastname@example.org, wppl.org. Storytellers of Central Florida. Experienced and fledgling storytellers gather to share stories and practice their craft on the first Tuesday of each month from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Winter Park Public Library. Upcoming meetings are slated for April 1, May 5 and June 2. Meetings are hosted by professional storyteller Madeline Pots. 460 East New England Avenue, Winter Park. 321-4396020, email@example.com, wppl.org. Wednesday Open Words. One of the area’s longestrunning open-mic poetry nights happens every Wednesday at 9 p.m. at Austin’s Coffee, 929 West Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park. 407-975-3364. austinscoffee.com. Writers of Central Florida or Thereabouts. This group offers various free programs that attract writers of all stripes. Short Attention Span Storytelling Hour, a literary open-mic night, meets on the second Wednesday of most months at 7 p.m. at Stardust Video & Coffee (1842 Winter Park Road, Winter Park). It’s for authors, poets, filmmakers, comedians, musicians, bloggers and others. Upcoming meetings include April 8, May 13 and June 10. Orlando WordLab, a workshop that challenges writers to experiment with new techniques or methods, meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Winter Park Public Library (460 East New England Avenue, Winter Park). Upcoming dates include April 22, May 27 and June 24. stardustvideoandcoffee.wordpress.com, wppl.org, meetup.com/writers-of-central-florida-or-thereabouts.
Good Morning Winter Park. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these monthly gatherings attract business- and civic-minded locals who enjoy coffee and conversation about community issues. Scheduled for the second Friday of most months, upcoming dates include April 3, May 1 and June 5. Networking begins at 8 a.m. followed by a 45-minute program at 8:30 a.m. Admission, which includes a complimentary continental breakfast, is free. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 West Lyman Avenue, Winter Park. 407-644-8281. winterpark.org/good-morning-winter-park. Winter Park Professional Women. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these gatherings
weddings showers celebrations of life corporate events holiday parties weddings corporateevents events holiday holidayparties parties weddings showers showers celebrations celebrations of life corporate Experience the lakefront elegance of the historic Capen House. Nestled on three lush acres of the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, this unique Winter Park venue offers multiple options for celebrations of all sizes. The beautifully restored Capen House, its attached patio, and large Lakefront Lawn overlook Lake Osceola and provide the perfect backdrop for creating memories that will last a lifetime. Experience lakefront eleganceofofthe thehistoric historic Capen Capen House. lush acres of the Albin Experience thethe lakefront elegance House.Nestled Nestledononthree three lush acres of the Albin Polasek Museum Sculpture Gardens, this unique Park options for for Polasek Museum & &Sculpture Gardens, Winter Parkvenue venueoffers offersmultiple options 633 Osceola Avenue, Winter Park,this FL unique 32789 Winter | capenhouse.com | multiple 407.647.6294 celebrations of all sizes. The beautifullyrestored restored Capen Capen House, and large Lakefront Lawn celebrations of all sizes. The beautifully House,its itsattached attachedpatio, patio, and large Lakefront Lawn
— held on the first Monday of most months from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — feature guest speakers and provide networking opportunities for women business owners. Topics revolve around leadership development, business growth and local initiatives of special interest to women. Upcoming dates include April 6, May 4 and June 1. Tickets, which include lunch, are $25 for chamber members and $50 for nonmembers. Reservations are required. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 West Lyman Avenue, Winter Park. 407-644-8281. winterpark.org/ winter-park-professional-women. Hot Seat Academy. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, this quarterly business-oriented series puts local executives in the spotlight as they offer advice and discuss entrepreneurism, leadership and sales-and-marketing techniques. The next scheduled gathering is May 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; check the chamber website for information about the featured speaker. Tickets are $15 for members, $30 for nonmembers. Reservations are required. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 West Lyman Avenue, Winter Park. 407-644-8281. winterpark.org.
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Baby Owl Shower. Brace yourself for perhaps the cutest event of the year — the impending birth of baby owls. Each year the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey (which focuses on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of Florida’s raptors, such as bald eagles, ospreys, owls and falcons) throws a Baby Owl Shower as a fundraiser to help cover the facility’s increased costs during baby-bird season. That means a day of fun and educational activities for the whole family — and non-releasable baby raptors will be available to view. This year’s shower, on May 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is free if you bring an item from the center’s online wish list. 1101 Audubon Way, Maitland. 407644-0190. fl.audubon.org. Keep Winter Park Beautiful. Volunteers who help the City of Winter Park collect litter around lakes Virginia, Midget and Rose on April 11 receive breakfast, a T-shirt, a snack and water. Litter grabbers, safety vests, gloves and garbage bags are also provided. Kayakers and paddle boarders are welcome to participate; everyone is asked to bring a reusable water bottle. The 8 a.m. assembly point is 1050 West Morse Boulevard, Winter Park. 407-599-3364. cityofwinterpark.eventbrite.com. Run for the Trees: Jeannette Genius McKean Memorial 5K. This popular foot race, held this year on April 25 at 7:30 a.m., begins at Ward Park, 250 Perth Lane. But the last mile and the finish are through the privately owned Genius Preserve, which is open to the public only for this annual event. Shuttle buses return runners to the starting line and parking lot; all finishers receive a young tree to plant. Registration, which ranges from $33 to $40 per person, is limited to 1,800 people. Proceeds support the Winter Park Tree Replacement Fund. 407-896-1160. trackshack.com.
Writer’s Block Bookstore Winter Park, FL
New Location! 316 North Park Avenue • Serving AXUM Coffee and Select Teas • NYT Best-Sellers, IndieNext, Children’s Books, Gifts, Games and Much More
Ongoing Monthly Events Starting in April and May APRIL 2 Thirsty Thursday
APRIL 8 Non-Fiction Book Club
Featuring a unique café drink at a special price.
Meets to discuss a work of memoir, history, current affairs or essays.
APRIL 9 Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club Meets to discuss a work of sci-fi or fantasy.
APRIL 19 Afternoon Tea Sunday
APRIL 25 Independent Bookstore Day
A literary gathering centered around the tradition of high tea.
with an ARC Party to cap off the celebration! (art of hand holding up book)
APRIL 17 Happy Hour Fridays
APRIL 29 Writer’s Block’s General Interest Book Club DATES:
Story Time DATES:
Featuring free wine beginning at 4 p.m.
Second Sunday of each month.
Second Wednesday of each month.
APRIL 12 The Well-Read Black Girl Book Club DATES:
Second Thursday of each month.
Last Wednesday of each month.
Coming Soon MAY 4 Monday Blues a sweet cafè package of sweets and flavored drinks to start the month off right.
MAY 21 Trivia Night
Featured Book: The 100 Greatest Literary Characters by Gail Sinclair, James Plath and Kirk Curnutt
Third Thursday of each month.
Every Friday at 11 a.m. and Saturdays (check our Facebook page for updated time).
OUR TOWN | BY MICHAEL MCLEOD
MOSTLY DEAD AND MOSTLY WEIRD
PHOTO BY SCOTT COOK (KRISTEN ARNETT)
Rollins College graduate Kristen Arnett (left and facing page) has emerged as a major figure in the genre of oddball fiction with a Florida setting. Her novel Mostly Dead Things — with a bizarre backdrop of madness and taxidermy — became a New York Times bestseller and launched Arnett’s literary career.
Florida, as your Northern friends and neighbors have likely pointed out to you, is weird, in rep if not reality. I blame Florida Man. That’s the snickering news-hour meme about Sunshine State reprobates who drive a date to a sports bar on a stolen Walmart mobility scooter or parade through the aisles of a convenience store with a four-foot alligator. But before you judge, consider: These colorful, carefree, frequently incarcerated mullet-haired individualists play a part in the arts, inspiring a type of indigenous fiction that I‘ll call Floridiana Weird. One of the genre’s pioneers is Carl Hiassen, a Miami Herald reporter who authored a series of South Florida mystery novels, including a yarn featuring a villain named Chemo who replaces one of his hands, bitten off by a shark, with a weed-whacker. Hiassen also teamed up with a school of collaborators to write a tome with one of the best Florida-novel titles I’ve ever seen: Naked Came the Manatee. Then there’s Jeff VanderMeer, dubbed by The New Yorker magazine as “the weird Thoreau.” Inspired by the wildlife sanctuary near his Tallahassee home, VanderMeer wrote the Southern Reach trilogy, which was adapted two years ago into a science fiction film called Annihilation. It’s about a swampy coastal landscape whose flora and fauna are being grotesquely shape-shifted by an alien presence. Another hotshot out-of-town developer, another neighborhood ruined. Well, we wouldn’t want the City of Culture and Heritage to be left out of such a noteworthy literary
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trend. Now it’s not. For this we have two Rollins College grads to thank. First there was Laura van den Berg, class of 2005 and author of Find Me, about a post-apocalyptic world plagued by a virus that robs people of their memories, and The Third Hotel, charting a woman’s spectral encounters with a husband who died in a car accident. More recently there was the breakout success of Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett, a 2012 Rollins grad. Arnett’s Sunshine State bona fides include being a third-generation native, growing up across a rural Central Florida highway from a sewage treatment plant and a strip club, and once generating nearly 400,000 likes on her Twitter feed when she posted:
mother, Libby, who copes by slipping into the shop at night to costume the stuffed raccoons, goats, panthers, boars and bears in filmy negligees and pose them in compromising positions in the display window. It may not be good for business, but it certainly attracts a crowd. However strangely it plays out, Arnett says it was only natural, given her upbringing and her fixation with Florida as an earthy, fertile setting, to seize on taxidermy as a plot device. “Growing up, I was always around it. You’d walk into a house and there’d be a deer head in one room, a shellacked bass in another.” She concedes, though, that “If somebody had come up behind me when I was at my computer researching for the book, looking up things like the best way to dissect tissue and dissolve flesh, I’m sure I wound up on a couple of government watch lists.” Arnett is definitely on a short list with the literary establishment. She was invited back to Rollins as one of the headliners of its annual “Winter With the Writers.” Her novel was celebrated by reviewers and earned Arnett a five-month Shearing Fellowship from the Black Mountain Institute in Las Vegas, where she’s working on two new novels. But she’ll be back. When I asked how ideas come to her, she said: “It starts with a little scene in my head. Just a tiny little scene. Like a snow globe.” Then she thought it over for a beat, and added: “It would have to have a palm tree in it. With Mickey Mouse underneath.”
This morning at 7-11 i saw a lizard next to the coffee maker and the cashier said: ‘no worries that’s just marvin he likes the smell. Arnett’s first novel, set in Central Florida, is told through the eyes of a young woman, Jessa-Lynn Morton, whose family owns a small-town taxidermy business. When her father commits suicide, the surviving family members must process their grief in different ways. Jessa takes to taxidermy to settle her nerves, processing matters of the heart and family dynamics — both of which are already complicated by the fact that she’s gay — while trying to keep the business afloat. Those efforts are occasionally undermined by her
Michael McLeod, firstname.lastname@example.org, is a contributing writer for Winter Park Magazine and an adjunct instructor in the English department at Rollins College.
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THE POEM | BILLY COLLINS
his sonnet takes its title from its speaker, who is a retired widower. The strain of satire running through the poem is directed at the nearly ubiquitous presence on the American landscape of condo developments and “townhomes,” often named after one of the woodland animals that the buildings have presumably replaced. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, but there are no more quail at Quail Hollow and no beavers left at Beaver Trails. The question in the closing couplet is one man’s bewildered lament for the ecological and aesthetic ruination that commonly results from heedless development.
THE GOLDEN YEARS All I do these drawn-out days is sit in my kitchen at Pheasant Ridge where there are no pheasant to be seen and last time I looked, no ridge. I could drive over to Quail Falls and spend the day there playing bridge, but the lack of a falls and the absence of quail would only remind me of Pheasant Ridge. I know a widow at Fox Run and another with a condo at Smokey Ledge. One of them smokes, and neither can run, so I’ll stick to the pledge I made to Midge.
PHOTO BY SUZANNAH GILMAN
Billy Collins is a Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He served as U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2003). “The Golden Years” originally appeared in Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems (Random House, 2013).
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Who frightened the fox and bulldozed the ledge? I ask in my kitchen at Pheasant Ridge.
Phil Kean Design Group | PhilKeanDesigns.com | PhilKeanKitchens.com | 407.599.3922 Architecture by Phil Kean, LLC AA26002050 , Phil Kean Designs, Inc. CRC1327855, PKD Studio, LLC ID6290 | Photo by Uneek Image