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CONTENTS SPRING 2013

departments 8 | meet henry peter

Florida’s haunting landscapes enchant selftaught realist Henry Peter.

10 | THE ROLE OF A ROCK RETREAT

You can turn the amp up to 11 in this over-the-top, Tuscan-style showplace, where nobody has to fight for the right to party. It was designed for making music and memories — and for enjoying life to the fullest. By Kaleena Thompson

16 | THE LOST GENERATION

Henry Patrick Raleigh captured the decadence of the Jazz Age with colorful images that wowed socialites and thrilled the literati. The illustrator died broke and forgotten, but his grandson has revived his legacy with a lavish tribute. By Michael McCleod

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48 | SOUL OF A CITY

James Gamble Rogers II helped shape modern Winter Park. By Patrick W. McClane

IN EVERY ISSUE 6 | FIRST WORD 51 | DINING 57 | EVENTS 64 | just bob

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FEATURES 23|10 HOMES

THAT MATTER

They aren’t necessarily Winter Park’s 10 largest or even most expensive homes. But they are 10 homes that have historic significance and plenty of panache. By the Editors

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36|beautiful bonnie burn

It’s been displaced, disassembled and disrespected. But one of Winter Park’s oldest homes has finally gotten a facelift that honors its 130-year heritage and preserves its eclectic charm. By Randy Noles

WIN T E R P A R K M A G A Z I N E | SP RI N G 2013

40|the oracle

of oklawaha

The son of Winter Park’s most renowned architect, Gamble Rogers spurned the family business and set out to live a troubadour’s life. In doing so, he left an enduring musical legacy. By Harold Fethe with Randy Noles

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ON THE COVER: The Palmer Avenue Bridge, which spans the Flamingo Canal, is one of the most picturesque spots in Winter Park. The city’s canals were originally dredged to transport building materials, but today provide stunning scenery for boaters. For more on the artist who captured this image, see page 6.


First Word

It’s a City of Homes, and So Much More

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hen the Winter Park Board of Trade became the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce in 1923, the group quickly released a promotional brochure debuting a new slogan: “City of Homes.” Well, yes and no. Winter Park has never been a city of only homes. Its distinctive appeal comes from not only its homes, but from its iconic business district, its parks, its churches and its schools. Today’s New Urbanists are hard-pressed to improve on Winter Park’s original town plan, conceived in the 1880s by an unheralded civil engineer named Samuel Robinson. Remarkably, the city today looks much like Robinson envisioned that it should, and remains a model for modern master-planned communities. That’s no accident. Winter Park’s civic leaders and elected officials have a pretty solid track record of defending the unique character of the city—a task that wasn’t always been easy during the region’s boom years. In the late 1950s, for example, Winter Parkers came together to fight a proposed Interstate 4 route that would have paralleled Orange Avenue and then crossed U.S. 17-92 before turning north toward Maitland. In fact, over the howls of Orlando movers and shakers who wanted the highway completed post haste, an additional route was also scuttled until a third, well west of the city, was finally adopted in 1963.

Winter Parkers were adamant that preserving the picture-postcard charm of their city was more important than facilitating easier commutes. I remember heated debates over widening and expanding Lakemont Drive and extending Lee Road eastward in an effort to facilitate traffic flow. Winter Parkers were adamant that preserving the picture-postcard charm of their city was more important than facilitating easier commutes. In 1980, the fortuitously named Hope Strong Jr. defeated longtime Mayor Jim Driver, perceived in some quarters as being too friendly to developers, using the slogan “Winter Park Isn’t As Much Like It Used to Be As It Ought To Be.” (Strong later came up with the city’s much-noticed traffic signs, which read “Please Drive With Extraordinary Care.”) More recently, there was a dustup over a proposed expansion of the Winter Park YMCA, which was opposed by residents in the surrounding Phelps Park area. The Y’s last major expansion, in 1997, was approved in large part because the organization signed a development agreement promising not to expand again, and not to buy additional land for expansion purposes. This time, however, the City Commission failed to side with homeowners and okayed the Y’s plans. Of course, a state-of-the-art YMCA is unquestionably a major community asset, and allowing a parking lot and a zero-entry pool at an existing recreational facility is hardly as egregious as, say, okaying a new Super Wal Mart. Indeed, most new master-planned communities covet YMCAs because they are considered to be attractive amenities. Agree or disagree with the YMCA decision, I’m glad Winter Park is the kind of place where such a proposal sparks debate. All of which is a roundabout way of welcoming you to this issue of Winter Park Magazine, which, among other things, celebrates some of the city’s most important and intriguing homes. As always, we invite your comments and suggestions. Email me at randyn@ohlmag.com or call me at (407) 647-0225.

Randy Noles Editor/Publisher

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RANDY NOLES Editor and Publisher JENNA CARBERG Art Director LAURA BLUHM Advertising Designer LORNA OSBORN Senior Associate Publisher KATHY BYRD Associate Publisher RONA GINDIN, PATRICK W. MCCLANE, MICHAEL MCLEOD, BOB MORRIS, STEVE RAJTAR, KALEENA THOMPSON Contributing Writers RAFAEL TONGOL, PETER SCHREYER Contributing Photographers ASHLEY ANNIN, DANNY ROMERO Editorial Interns

GULFSHORE MEDIA DANIEL DENTON President RANDY NOLES Consulting Publisher PAM FLANAGAN General Manager PAM DANIEL Editorial Director NORMA MACHADO Production Manager

FLORIDA HOME MEDIA’S FAMILY OF PUBLICATIONS

Copyright 2013 by Florida Home Media LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gulfshore Media LLC. SAll rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holder. Winter Park Magazine is published three times yearly by Florida Home Media LLC, 2700 Westhall Lane, Suite 128, Maitland, FL 32751

(407) 647-0225 WINTERPARKMAG.COM


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Cover Artist

MEET HENRY PETER

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Florida’s haunting landscapes enchant the self-taught realist.

his issue’s cover artist, Henry Peter, 63, lives and maintains a studio in Titusville. He was born and grew up in Burglengenfeld, Germany, and moved with his family to Englewood, N.Y., when he was 10. Although he began taking oil-painting lessons at 12 from a local artist, and showed considerable aptitude, he didn’t pursue art in college. Instead he earned a degree in philosophy at what is now Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, and subsequently worked as a bartender, baker, machinist, welder and long-haul truck driver. Married and with his own trucking company, Peter put painting aside until 1988, when he began entering shows and winning awards. He first visited Florida in 1993 to display his work at the Key West Old Island Days Festival and became a permanent resident a decade later. More recently, with the encouragement of Jon Fredlund of the Fredlund Gallery in Winter Park, the self-taught artist has added wildlife art to his repertoire of highly detailed and realistic landscapes. Peter says that being self-taught has been an advantage for him, contending that artistic vision can only be subverted when confronted with a structured learning environment. The freedom to make mistakes, he believes, is an integral part of the creative process. “Overall, it’s been a long, strange trip,” Peter says. “There have been many detours and quite a few dead-ends.” Q. What artists inspire and influence you? A. It’s almost impossible to answer that. I’ve soaked up influences and been inspired by great works in museums all over the U.S. and Europe. Van Gogh is one of my favorites, and Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum had an incredible cornfield painting of his, which I went to see many, many times. I was literally drawn to it and always blown away, and I know that his work has influenced me in ways that are unlikely to be apparent to most people. I’m impressed by much of the work available in the various galleries and art festivals, by my contemporaries and gallery mates here in Winter Park and elsewhere. I feel fortunate and grateful to be among that number. Q. When and where are you most productive? A. No matter what you may have been led to be-

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lieve, it doesn’t work to just wait for inspiration to strike. You need to discipline yourself to sit down and start working, preferably on a daily basis. The great thing about that is that nothing stimulates the creative process more than doing something creative, and once you start, the rest just happens. I’ll no sooner start working on a piece than I invariably get ideas for others. The trick for me is to always start more than I finish, so there’s always something to work on for those days when I need a bit of an inspirational kick-start. If that doesn’t do it, I’ll stretch canvas, do some other prep work or maybe grab my sketchbook and camera and head out to the wetlands. Having said all that, I admit that sometimes the best ideas seem to come right out of the blue, and often at very inconvenient times. You have to seize those whenever you can. Q. What are your favorite subjects? A. First and foremost I consider myself a landscape painter, a condition I trace back to my barefoot childhood and love of nature and the Bavarian countryside. My approach to still life, wildlife and portraiture leans heavily toward photo-realism, which I also enjoy a great deal. But landscape offers more freedom and greater flexibility in terms of style and technique. Florida landscape, especially, is so amazing and the light so tremendous. But it can be very challenging, and I’m still learning and finding my way. Nevertheless, it’s what drew me to Florida, and it’s what will keep me here. Q. How would you describe your style? A. In a word: Realism. Yes, it’s sneered at by sophisticates and apparently always out of fashion. But all the negatives associated with the term endear it to me all the more. I like to experiment, often drawing on various elements of impressionism and pointillism, sometimes in odd combinations. I like to work on variously colored backgrounds, sometimes starting with a two-toned grisaille and working the colors in a dot at a time. Sometimes I’ll use thin washes, other times I’ll use a heavier impasto. But whatever I use, my goal is always to achieve a realistic, yet non-photographic result. The harder that is to do, the greater my satisfaction [with the finished product]. And that’s all I’m left with, really, since I can’t afford to keep my paintings.


The office/mixing studio, adjacent to the music room, is illuminated by an unusual glass-bubble chandelier hanging from a domed, oval ceiling.

THE ROLE OF A ROCK RETREAT You can turn the amp up to 11 in this over-the-top, Tuscan-style showplace, where nobody has to fight for the right to party. It was designed for making music and memories — and for enjoying life to the fullest. By Kaleena Thompson

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erhaps Mick Jagger can’t get no satisfaction, but a local entertainment-industry CEO and wouldbe rock musician certainly did when he built a lakeside dream home designed for recording and partying. “He and his family entertain and enjoy life to the fullest,” says Mark Nasrallah, president of the Nasrallah Architectural Group, the company that designed this over-thetop rock ‘n’ roll haven. “They wanted something fun.” The family, which wishes to remain anonymous, also told Nasrallah that they wanted their new home to be evocative of the Mediterranean, a region they had just visited. So the Orlando-based architect designed a rambunctious, Tuscan-themed showplace that looks out across Lake Virginia toward Rollins College. It is elegant. It is irrepressible. It is Old World. And it rocks. The 17,848-square-foot, two-story villa represents a collaboration between Nasrallah; Maroon Fine Homes, the builder; Redmon Design, the landscape architect; and Design Specifications, the interior designer. It encompasses jewel-like living and dining rooms and four bedrooms, including a master bedroom complex with a two-story “walk-up” closet designed to resemble a Beverly Hills boutique. There are eight bathrooms; a multipurpose outdoor patio and recreation area that features a hot tub the size of a swimming pool; a wine room divided into two temperature zones for red and white wines; and a rock-band music room with an adjacent office/mixing studio. The music room, set up to facilitate informal jam sessions or intimate concerts, can accommodate about a dozen people in movable lounge chairs and tables. Blue, green and gold velvet curtains add pizzazz. A large curved window separates the music room from the office/mixing studio, in which furnishings include a bird’s-eye maple desk and credenza and accent chairs. Illuminating the space from a domed ceiling is a glittering chandelier with cascading glass bubbles. In the wine room, a long, narrow, free-form wood table extends through the glass wall that separates the wines from one another—the reds on one side at 72 degrees, the whites on the other side at 58 degrees. The welcoming family room, in which muted creams and caramels are enlivened by pops of red and chocolate, Continued on page 14

everett & soulé

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Home

The whimiscal family room (top) is colorful and comfortable in muted creams and caramels highlighted by pops of red and brown. In the wine room, a long, narrow, free-form wood table extends through a glass wall that separates the wines requiring different storage temperatures. The bar nook is highlighted by glass back-lit shelves, granite countertops and caramel and black leather bar stools.

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Home

The 17,848-square-foot, two-story villa represents a collaboration between Nasrallah Architectural Group; the designer; Maroon Fine Homes, the builder; Redmon Design, the landscape architect; and Design Specifications, the interior designer.

Continued from page 10 is further enlivened by hand-blown glass ceiling pendants. There’s also a comfortable sofa, a rectangular table for 12 and a daybed. Glass mosaic tile surrounds the television and the built-in fireplace, while the bar nook is highlighted by glass back-lit shelves, granite countertops and caramel and black leather bar stools. In the elaborate game room, the focal point is a custom-designed dark maple entertainment center with a central television surrounded by monitors. The space is canopied by a wave-coffer ceiling with LED lighting that can sync with sounds, themes, colors and seasons. Caramel carpets and lounge chairs and a sofa with red animal-print ottomans add even more panache to the playful space, which also

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includes a refreshment bar, a lounging couch and foosball and game tables. The contemporary kitchen features granite countertops, smooth veneer cabinets, two stainless-steel refrigerators and a glass tile backsplash. Blue, teal and orange hand-blown glass vases make eye-popping accents. Encompassed in the master suite is a twostory closet, a morning bar, a master bathroom, a massage area and a separate parlor with a sitting area. All of the bedroom furniture was custommade, including the bed and headboard and the nightstand. A Balinese-inspired swing bed in the sitting area offers an intriguing alternative to traditional chairs. The media room, designed by Curtis Le-

Master of Control Designer, includes a digital surround-sound system with sub-woofers and speakers hidden behind acoustically designed fabric. Family and friends can watch movies on a 110-inch screen from a two-tiered viewing area, which boasts a casual reclining couch on the first level and six electrically controlled reclining chairs on the second. A lanai with granite countertops and a slate-and-glass backsplash is at the heart of a 1,200-square-foot outdoor living area that includes a summer kitchen, custom LED lighting and a swimming pool and spa, both of which are oversized to accommodate large gatherings. The upscale comfort and the quirky whimsy combine to send a message: In a place like this, nobody has to fight for the right to party.


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Chris Raleigh and his wife, Kate, live in a historic Maitland home decorated with dozens of framed magazine illustrations by Raleigh’s grandfather.

THE LOST GENERATION Henry Patrick Raleigh captured the decadence of the Jazz Age with colorful images that wowed socialites and thrilled the literati. The illustrator died broke and forgotten, but his grandson has revived his legacy with a lavish tribute. By MICHAEL MCLEOD

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nterior designer Chris Raleigh is probably best known for creating the high-decibel concept for the Orlando Hard Rock Cafe, a brassy homage to rock ‘n’ roll housed in a structure shaped like a Fender Stratocaster guitar. Raleigh’s specialty is creating themed interiors for restaurants, shops and hotels. But two years ago, Raleigh the designer became Raleigh the curator, single-handedly engineering a museum exhibit devoted to the works of his grandfather, Henry Patrick Raleigh. The exhibit, called The Confident Line, ran for several months at the Maitland Art Center. It was accompanied by a lavish coffee-table book of the same name, which Raleigh designed and published. Illustrations for the exhibit and the book were culled from Raleigh’s own collection, which includes 300 original drawings and etchings and more than 5,000 pages foraged from vintage periodicals. Henry Raleigh, born in poverty in Portland, Oregon, became the nation’s highest-paid illustrator by chronicling the opulent lifestyles of the fabulously wealthy. Most of the work in The Confident Line dates from 1910-1940, decades during which fiction captured the public’s imagination, not just in books but in periodicals such as McCall’s, Colliers, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan and The Saturday Evening Post. Henry Raleigh captured the spirit of those stories so well that the era’s top writers often asked their editors to commission him to illustrate their stories.  He collaborated with such literary luminaries as Agatha Christie, H.G. Wells, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Stephen Vincent Benét and F. Scott Fitzgerald. “Honestly, I think they’re the best illustrations I’ve even seen!” Fitzgerald wrote after seeing the renderings for a short story of his called “The Russett Witch,” which ran in Cosmopolitan in 1921. “Fitzgerald was the writer who epitomized the ‘Great Gatsby’ era, and he thought my grandfather was the best at capturing the high-society look,” says the illustrator’s grandson.  What Fitzgerald might not have known was how earthy, even grisly, Henry Raleigh’s early career was. One of his tasks during a stint at the San Francisco Chronicle was to visit the morgue to sketch the faces of murder victims, Continued on page 20

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The Saturday Evening Post, 1930


Arts

1926 ad campaign

Henry Patrick Raleigh in his Manhattan studio, 1928

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The Saturday 1930N E | spring 2013 W I N TEvening E R P A R KPost, M A GAZI

Continued from page 16 whom he described as “promising young corpses.” If the crime was an especially lurid one, the face would then be incorporated into a sketch reenacting the murder. Henry Raleigh’s career would eventually include not only story illustrations but propaganda posters for the government during World War I and, in later years, advertising campaigns for perfumes,

coffee and other products. Eventually, as photographs supplanted illustrations in periodicals, his skills became less marketable. Disillusioned, lonely and suffering from cancer, he committed suicide in 1944 by jumping out of the sixth-floor window of a Times Square hotel. The Confident Line can be purchased online at blurb.com.


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HOMES THAT

MATTER Winter Park is known for its beautiful, gracious homes. But what makes the city even more special is that its most significant residences aren't necessarily its most elaborate or expensive. Some were originally second homes built by wealthy snowbirds who already had a family estate in Boston, Chicago or New York. Consequently their Winter Park digs, while lovely and comfortable, were often relatively modest in scale. Mansions began appearing as this erstwhile seasonal resort began attracting more permanent residents. But with the mansions came a far greater number of solidly middle-class homes built for the professors, artists, merchants and others who helped Winter Park grow and thrive. So picking 10 particularly significant historic homes out of a pool of many hundreds wasn't an easy task. Nonetheless, we gave it a shot. Led by local historian Steve Rajtar, Winter Park Magazine selected these 10 homes as being unusually important for one or more reasons. Perhaps it was the architectural style, or even the architect. Perhaps it was the stature of the person who once lived there. Perhaps it was the unusual back story. Perhaps we simply liked it. In any case, here they are, along with some history and context. For more on Winter Park's historic homes, check out A Guide to Historic Winter Park, Florida, by Steve and Gayle Rajtar, published by The History Press. PHOTOGRAPHS BY RAFAEL TONGOL PHOTOGRAPH OF CASA FELIZ BY PETER SCHREYER


Four Winds  3 Isle of Sicily Isle of Sicily, a development of exclusive homes on a small peninsula that juts into Lake Maitland, is where James Gamble Rogers II first made his mark. He told developers that he would survey the marshy but beautiful tract, then known as Bear Island, and carve out 12 homesites in exchange for a one-acre parcel, on which he promised to build a house that would “stop traffic.” That house was Four Winds, an 1,800-square-foot French provincial charmer in which he and his family lived until 1949. The house, which deteriorated significantly over the next several decades, was largely rebuilt in 1992, and now encompasses nearly 9,300 square feet. Is it still truly a James Gamble Rogers II house? That’s debatable, although it retains the original architectural style and some salvaged elements, such as the roof slate and timbers.

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Temple House  1700 Alabama Drive This Victorian-style house, which boasts a view of Lake Maitland across from Kraft Azalea Gardens, was built in 1878 and is one of the oldest houses in Winter Park. Early owners included such familiar founding families as the Packwoods, the Palmers and, in 1904, the Temples. Industrialist William Chase Temple, for whom the Temple orange was named, was also founder of the Florida Citrus Exchange and owner of Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates. The Temples extensively remodeled the house, adding a private gas plant, a sewage system and, in 1912, a telephone. They sold the property, which they named Alabama Lodge, in 1915. By 1921 the house and the adjacent Temple Refractory, a detached summer kitchen and dining room, was being used by the staff of the Alabama Hotel, a luxury winter retreat built on the site. The Temple House has been a private residence since 1976.

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The Palms  240 Trismen Terrace When Edward H. Brewer bought this 40-acre tract from Rollins College in 1897, he built a large but simple clapboard-covered winter cottage. In 1924 the Brewers remodeled the house, which they named The Palms, to match their Georgian revival-style estate in Courtland, N.Y. The Palms was bought in 1937 by Fredrick Detmar Trisman, who sold 35 of the 40 acres and hired James Gamble Rogers II to redesign the interior. The house, regarded as one of the most beautiful in Winter Park, gained some notoriety in the early 1980s when it was seized by the federal government following owner Robert McGovern’s conviction on drug trafficking. Because it faces Lake Osceola and not the street, this view of the grand facade, with its massive portico and paired columns, can only be seen from the water. The Palms is one of two houses in Winter Park listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Eastbank  724 Bonita Drive The oldest surviving house in Winter Park, this Queen Anne-style structure was built in 1883 by William Comstock, president of the Chicago Board of Trade, who named it Eastbank because the 60-acre tract encompassed a large portion of Lake Osceola’s eastern shore. What’s now Bonita Drive was a camphor tree-lined alley leading to the three-story showplace, which was the site of numerous club meetings and social events. Eastbank has nine rooms, including five bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, while the entrance hall is highlighted by beautiful stained-glass windows. Inside are six fireplaces and a library boasting extensive built-in bookcases. Much of the exterior is still covered by the original decorative shingles. Interestingly, Eastbank incorporates portions of an even older house, built by Wilson Phelps, an early settler and community booster. Eastbank is one of two houses in Winter Park listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Martin Hall  1000 Genius Drive In the early 1920s members of the Winter Park Business Mens’ Club had this Mediterranean-style waterfront showplace built to serve as its headquarters. It became a private residence in 1925 and in 1930 was bought by John Martin, an international-relations consultant and conference leader at Rollins College. Martin hired local artist, designer and builder Sam Stoltz to plan and implement a major remodeling project. Stoltz, who had no formal training as an architect, nonetheless built numerous houses in a distinctive style he dubbed “Florida Spanish,” with textured stucco, coquina-like stone trim and rock fountains. Rollins bought the property after Martin’s death in 1956, renaming it Martin Hall and adapting it for use as a Conservatory of Music. In 1976 Rollins sold the property, which offers exquisite views of Lakes Virginia and Mizell, and it once again became a private residence.

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The Greer-Van den Berg House  138 Detmar Avenue Early Winter Park settler Wilson Phelps sold this lot between Lakes Osceola and Mizell to Ira B. Geer, one of the area’s first physicians, in 1876. On it, Greer built this charming Victorian cottage, highlighted by remarkably steep rooflines and delicate ornamental trim. The house served as both his residence and his medical office. About three years later, Greer gave the house to Alice St. John, who had been the fiancée of his recently deceased son. It subsequently had several owners, including the Van den Bergs, who bought it in 1973 and carefully restored it. Although there have been additions and changes over the years, the house remains perhaps the finest example of Victorian architecture in the region.

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The Lawrence-Chubb Cottage  1300 Summerland Avenue In 1883 New York shoe manufacturer Judge Lewis H. Lawrence had this house built north of downtown Winter Park on the south shore of Lake Maitland. It’s unusual because it has a simple, Federal-style facade, which was a popular look in other parts of the U.S. but rare in Florida, where Mediterranean influences predominated. President Chester A. Arthur, a friend of Lawrence’s, visited the house shortly after it was completed. Most of the surrounding 10 acres were planted with citrus, but the crop was severely damaged by killer freezes in 1894 and 1885. The house was bought in 1899 by Henry S. Chubb, who had moved to Winter Park from Vermont and lived in a log cabin at the corner of Phelps and Aloma avenues while planting a citrus grove for Col. Franklin Fairbanks. Chubb was also the first general freight and passenger agent for the Winter Park-Orlando Railroad, otherwise known as the Dinky Line, and was elected Winter Park’s second mayor in 1890.

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McAllaster House  160 Alexander Place This Spanish eclectic-style house, which abuts Lake Osceola, was designed by James Gamble Rogers II in 1934 for dry-goods tycoon Archibald F. McAllaster. Some of the building materials have a roundabout connection to department-store magnate J.C. Penney, who was developing an experimental farming community in Clay County. When the stock-market crash forced Penney to alter his plans, he sold truckloads of handcrafted roof tiles from Barcelona, many of which were used on the McAllaster House and another Rogers project, Casa Feliz. Dr. L.C. Ingram, who saw pictures of the McAllaster House in a magazine, asked Rogers to duplicate it. The architect agreed to use the same floorplan, but only if Ingram would allow him to wrap it in ‘‘French Provincial clothing.’’ The Ingram House, an Orlando architectural landmark, still stands at the corner of Marks Street and Laurel Avenue.

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Merrywood  1020 Palmer Avenue James Gamble Rogers II designed this Spanish eclectic-style house, which was built in 1938 for New Englander Caroline Plant, who named it Merrywood. At nearly 7,000 square feet, it’s the largest residence ever designed by Rogers. But, apart from its size, Merrywood is typical of the architect’s work, with its buff-colored stucco exterior and red tile roof. When Plant died, the house was sold and her estate was distributed to Rollins College and other charitable organizations. Merrywood was later bought by George S. Marsh, who hired Rogers to design modifications and additions. However, the architect said in the 1980s that a two-story extension at the house’s western end, which features round-headed windows on the first story, was not part of his plan.

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Casa Feliz  656 North Park Avenue James Gamble Rogers II designed this replica of an Andalusian cortijo, a farmhouse built around an enclosed courtyard, in 1932 for chemical manufacturer Robert B. Barbour. The structure, which Barbour named Casa Feliz (“Happy House”), was intended to look old; the roofline had an intentional six-inch sag, and the exterior was covered with bricks recycled from the circa 1880s Orlando Armory. In 2000 the owners of Casa Feliz, which was then located on Interlachen Avenue, announced that they were tearing it down, horrifying local history buffs and others who considered it to be a historically significant architectural treasure. A year later $1.2 million was raised to move the house to a site adjacent to the Winter Park Country Club’s golf course. Today the Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum is a popular community center that hosts concerts, weddings and corporate events.

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It’s been displaced, disassembled and disrespected. But one of Winter Park’s oldest homes has finally gotten a facelift that honors its 130-year heritage and preserves its undeniably eclectic charm. By RANDY NOLES

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he story behind Winter Park’s so-called Bonnie Burn house encompasses almost as many twists and turns as the 130-yearold structure has nooks and crannies. Located on the north shore of Lake Sue in the upscale Sevilla neighborhood, the house is not unlike many flesh-and-blood Central Floridians. It came from somewhere else and has undergone extensive cosmetic surgery. “We loved the character and craftsmanship,” says Kristi Peterson, who now owns Bonnie Burn with her husband, Bill DeCampli. He’s a pediatric heart surgeon and she’s a pediatric anesthesiologist. The couple moved to the area in 2004 from Morristown, N.J., a charming small city that traces its roots to the Revolutionary War. “We’ve always liked older properties,” adds Peterson. “And, I have to say, this one pretty much consumed me for two or three years.” Peterson and DeCampli hired Charles Clayton Construction to remodel Bonnie Burn, which had been significantly altered in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s in ways that caused its history-loving owners to cringe. Clayton’s involvement was somewhat ironic since his family developed Sevilla in the early 1970s and Clayton himself was raised just blocks from Bonnie Burn, which he recalled as a somewhat foreboding place. “My friends and I used to like to go down to Lake Sue to fish,” Clayton recalls. “We had to sneak through the yard at Bonnie Burn to get down to the water. It was kind of scary for a kid.” Although the bones of the house date from 1883, it looks absolutely nothing like the rambling, two-story cracker classic built by Chicago snowbird Charles R. Switzer and his wife, Harriett, on 36 wooded acres that ran from Howell Creek to Lake Sue. The Switzers were prominent Winter Parkers—he was a physician and a Rollins College trustee; she was a musician and civic activist—who entertained frequently and were routinely mentioned in the society pages of the Winter Park Post. They gave the estate its lyrical name, which in Scotland would mean something like “pretty stream” or “pretty brook.” In 1941, the house and the surrounding acreage, still mostly groves and woods, was bought from the Switzers’ heirs by developer James Jonas “Jimmy” Banks and his wife, Elizabeth. A colorful native of Alabama, Banks had the structure picked up and moved closer to Lake Sue, apparently destroying the second story in the process. The politically active Banks had run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1930 and lost. Perhaps that explains why he declared that Bonnie Burn’s address was to be “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” the same as that of the White House. Although the property was bordered on the east by Winter Park’s own Pennsylvania Avenue, the iconic street number upon which Burns in-

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The original Bonnie Burn, a two-story cracker classic built in 1883 by physician Charles R. Switzer, bears virtually no resemblance to the house as it looks today.

sisted was accepted by the U.S. Postal Service. (After the tract was subdivided, the address was changed, officially, to 314 Salvador Square.) In 1970, Banks sold all but 1.5 acres surrounding the house to Clayton Realty, owned by Charles Clayton Sr. and his cousin, Malcolm. The Claytons carved the site into 63 lots and began developing an exclusive neighborhood they dubbed Sevilla. According to a history of Sevilla being compiled by real estate broker and resident Deitmar Georg, Banks was a cranky character who once confronted buyers of a lot adjoining Bonnie Burn and demanded, inexplicably since he no longer owned property, that they “come back when it is more convenient to me.” Banks, clearly not an ideal goodwill ambassador for Sevilla, died in 1971 so was no longer on the scene when stately modern houses began springing up around his once-isolated enclave. His widow, however, continued to live at Bonnie Burn long enough to frighten young Clayton and his boyhood friends. Subsequent owners built additions not in keeping with the original style, and by 1979 aluminum siding covered the original clapboard. Other major and minor projects were undertaken in a piecemeal fashion until Peterson and DeCompli, whom Clayton describes as “purists,” took a more holistic approach. Many late 19th-century features remain. Two of the original rooms, now a hallway and a library, are paneled in heart pine and have heart pine floors hewn from trees on the property. The kitchen, which had been remodeled in the 1980s, was remodeled again in a more periodappropriate fashion. Other highlights include five fireplaces with hand-carved mantles, elegant moldings, high ceilings, antique fixtures and a spacious master suite with five closets and a dressing area. For the most part, the original windows were retained and restored. Two bedrooms were added upstairs for son Grant, 18, and daughter Elissa, 21. There’s a stained-glass skylight in the upstairs hallway and a


A cozy sitting room outside the library is paneled in heart pine that was harvested from the surrounding property 130 years ago, when the house was built. Modern additions include a state-of-the-art summer kitchen, which abuts a swimming pool and a pool house.

second-floor balcony that overlooks a magnificent backyard meandering toward the lake. A state-of-the-art summer kitchen abuts a swimming pool and a pool house. The 6,500-square-foot house, which encompasses five bedrooms and eight full bathrooms, is filled with a combination of antiques and more modern furnishings and fixtures, from delicate knickknacks to massive wood cabinets and overstuffed chairs and sofas. The walls are hung with original prints and paintings, some as old as the house and some contemporary works by well-known local artists. “We’ve always collected antiques,” says Peterson. “A lot of it we already had, and a lot of it we bought after we moved to Florida.” It’s difficult to ascribe a specific architectural style to the exterior, now covered in pale yellow stucco with white trim. Its lines are clean and its facade is relatively unadorned. Due in part to the lush landscaping, it could pass for the great house on a tropical plantation. Without question, Charles Switzer wouldn’t recognize it. “Working on a house that age, you’re really impressed with the level of workmanship,” says Clayton. “These people were working with hand tools and execution is just masterful.” s pring 2 0 1 3 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E

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The Oracle of Oklawaha The son of Winter Park’s most renowned architect, Gamble Rogers spurned the family business and set out to live a troubadour’s life. In doing so, he left a musical legacy as enduring as his father’s elegant homes. By HAROLD FETHE WITH RANDY NOLES

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is grandfather, father and first cousin were all prominent architects. Yet, despite his own architectural gifts, he chose a life as a guitar-toting troubadour, celebrating rural Florida with whimsical stories, evocative songs and skillful fingerpicking. He toured North America for nearly 30 years, presenting a categorydefying one-man show that took him from raucous bars to intimate listening rooms to the stage at Carnegie Hall. He drove Florida’s back roads in a fastback Mustang with an unknown songster named Jimmy Buffett, who years later would dedicate an album to him. He died in the Florida surf in 1991, trying to save the life of a Canadian tourist he’d never met. It was an act of bravery that his friends say was entirely in keeping with his character. In his memory, friends and colleagues launched a successful, longrunning folk festival, a memorial foundation and a website where fans from all walks of life continue to express their admiration for his life and work and their sorrow for his death. The beach where he drowned and a St. Augustine middle school have been named for him. His manager, at his own expense, has ensured that his albums have remained in print. Now, 22 years later, friends still display a mixture of affection, reverence and unresolved grief that causes them to tell the story of his drowning death as if the outcome somehow still hung in the balance; as if this time, it didn’t have to end the same way. Should all this seem too mythic for any real human—especially one you’ve never heard of—then welcome to the world of Gamble Rogers.

STUNNING STAGECRAFT Songwriter and performer Mike Cross describes Rogers as “a man who had command of the stage and could create a world that people could escape into for the time he was performing.” Delivered with clear diction and a reedy vocal timbre, Rogers’ singing style never strayed far from the cultured Southern dialect of his speaking voice. His vocals were punctuated by energetic thumb-picked bass lines and buoyed by arpeggio guitar flourishes. No less a storyteller when he was singing than when he was speaking, he favored songs with narratives, despite the challenges of drawing audiences into that genre. Throughout his career, he often challenged his own artistic range, performing songs with story lines that were funny, poignant, heroic or dissolute.

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Some were traditional, and some he wrote, calling them “Southern Gothic art songs.” Others were written by friends, just for him to perform. For his stories, he painstakingly composed serpentine, alliterative, mock-scholarly sentences and then practiced them before a mirror until he could deliver them in long, energetic bursts. Audiences would start chuckling at the first laugh line, not knowing that seven more would come before the sentence ended. (As for the storytelling class he sometimes taught, Rogers named it “Liar’s Workshop.”) While Rogers fulfilled multiple roles—author, storyteller, songwriter, singer and guitarist—audiences felt they were experiencing the man directly and naturally, as if they’d just caught him holding forth from the loading dock at Arrandale’s Purina Store in Oklawaha County, the fictional Florida backwater in which many of his tall tales were set. “Gamble came about as close as anybody could to being onstage what he was in real life,” says Cross. “He didn’t have to hide anything—there was so much good in him that he could just strip naked.” A lanky, angular figure standing more than 6 feet tall, Rogers dressed unpretentiously for the stage, but with dignified touches such as wool blazers and conservative brown Florsheim Imperial cap-toe shoes. His work ethic was prodigious and his presentation at times frenetic, like a televangelist on speed. A tireless performer, he wanted to give his audiences more than their money’s worth, yet still be true to the performer’s dictum: always leave them wanting more. “The contracts [for Rogers’ performances] would just blow your mind,” says Cross. “It would be a five-night run, and the contract would say, ‘Tuesday through Thursday: three 90-minute sets; Friday and Saturday: three 120-minute sets.’ Three sets! Six hours!”

SOUTHERN GALLANTRY If the bred-in-the-bone gallantry of a Southern gentleman can be a tragic flaw, it would be just about the only one anyone ever found in Gamble Rogers. His manners were old-fashioned and courtly, and he was patient and generous with his audience. When fans met him, he treated them as if they were the stars and he had all the time in the world to visit with them. Emotion-filled messages posted at gamblerogers.org describe such encounters, remembered vividly despite the passage of years or decades. Friends and fellow artists describe Rogers as someone who had achieved a near-seamless blend of life and art, with well-measured ingredients: humility, wry humor, obsessive technical excellence, literary acumen and an affectionate, offhand conversational style. “When Gamble showed up at a party,” says singer Bob Patterson, “people would greet him or try to get his attention. He’d acknowledge them, but he’d go around and say hello to the kids and dogs first.” His sense of obligation to his fellow man was extreme. Rogers’ manager and agent, Charles Steadham, describes a breakfast meeting they had one morning in Micanopy, after his client had just come off the road. Sleep-deprived and physically wrung out, Rogers wanted to deal quickly with the business matters of the morning and cover the few remaining miles to his home in Anastasia Island, near St. Augustine. As they left, a man approached Rogers in the parking lot and asked to speak with him privately. Rogers agreed. Shortly thereafter, the man went to his car and drove out of the parking lot—with Rogers following in his Mustang. The wife of the man at the restaurant was an avid fan and was near death from cancer. Rogers followed him home and performed a lengthy bedside concert for an audience of two. Postscript: At Rogers’ memorial


“Oklawaha County is principally known for its outsized number of rural alchemists. It’s not what you’re thinking. We have an inordinate number of folks who spend the bulk of their waking hours puzzling out novel ways to bleach their used coffee grounds, so they can sell them to the tourists on the Interstate for grits— which goes a long way toward explaining why so many Northerners don’t care a hoot for Southern cooking.” —Gamble Rodgers

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service, Steadham recalled that story as an example of his friend’s altruistic nature. After the service a woman approached him and said, “The woman in that story was my mother.” Rogers also championed other artists. St. Petersburg-based folk-singer Pete Gallagher recalls a controversy that erupted 30 years ago over the inclusion of a blues artist at the Florida Folk Festival, held annually at White Springs. At the time, Gallagher was managing renowned African-American singer Mary McClain, a half-sister of Bessie Smith, who was usually billed as Diamond Teeth Mary. McClain performed a traditional blues set at the event, which angered traditionalists who later gathered for a wrap-up meeting. “Everybody who was still around, artists and organizers, would come to this free breakfast and gripe,” recalls Gallagher. “They were griping about Diamond Teeth Mary being allowed to perform. Then Gamble stood up and said, ‘Would you deny your brother a seat at the table?’ There was silence, and all the griping stopped.”

THE BAFFLED KNIGHT Born to energetic and sophisticated parents, James Gamble Rogers IV grew up in the crucible of a loving family of Renaissance-style high achievers. His father, James Gamble Rogers II, was an architect and designer as well as a world-class swimmer and skilled musician. (A 1917 Vega banjo with a single-digit serial number, from the senior Rogers’ Dartmouth College days, is still in the family.) Rogers’ father had attended Dartmouth on a swimming scholarship and qualified for the 1924 “Chariots of Fire” Olympics. He worked in a Daytona Beach architecture practice started by his father, John Arthur Rogers, before establishing his own firm in Winter Park, where his first son was born in 1937. Over the course of a legendary, 60-year career, the senior Rogers designed many of Winter Park’s most elegant homes and helped define the look of the Rollins College campus. His uncle (and Gamble’s first cousin), also named James Gamble Rogers, was equally accomplished, designing iconic buildings for Yale, Columbia and Northwestern universities. (For those attempting to follow the genealogy, the moniker James Gamble Rogers III, which would otherwise have been the folk-singer’s patrician-sounding designation, had already been taken by a grandson of this James Gamble Rogers.) Rogers’ early life was marked by his social and intellectual gifts, his evident creativity, his precociously high personal standards—and a lifealtering medical setback. Younger brother Jack, who carried on the family tradition by becoming an architect, remembers Gamble attempting a high jump and missing the sawdust pit, jarring his spine on hard ground. The accident aggravated a serious but previously undiagnosed case of spinal arthritis. For therapy, Rogers had to lie on a large stainless-steel reflector, under a heat lamp, for three hours a day. He passed the time by becoming an avid reader, which Jack believes helped galvanize his brother’s emerging love of language. After graduating from Winter Park High School in 1955, Rogers enrolled at the University of Virginia. While there, he met several times with Nobel laureate William Faulkner, who kept office hours as writerin-residence. Rogers then decided to skip final exams and left Charlottesville to take guitar lessons from noted jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd in Washington, D.C. Jack notes, with the family’s gift for gracious understatement,

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that this resulted in his brother being “excused from the University of Virginia, for at least a year.” Back in Winter Park, Rogers enrolled at Rollins College, where he befriended Professor Edwin Granberry, author, essayist and trusted biographer of Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell. Granberry wrote a glowing recommendation that helped his young protégé get into Stetson University in Deland. Rogers spent a year at Stetson before putting aside formal higher education for good. He had drifted through four years at three different colleges, majoring in architecture, English and philosophy. Yet he had no degree to show for his effort. Again he returned to Winter Park and went to work in his father’s architecture firm, where he spent the better part of four years. It was more than a sense of obligation; he had a legitimate, perhaps genetic, aptitude for building design. But architecture didn’t stir the passions inside him that music did. So Rogers began moonlighting as a folk-singer. It was about 1960 that he snared his first paid musical engagement, singing at a long-forgotten club called the El Caribe, which was located in a nondescript storefront on Park Avenue North. About 20 people were in the audience on his first night. And even though his inherent shyness made it difficult for him to get onstage and perform, the experience convinced him that he had found his true calling. Eager to pursue a career as a performer, Rogers and friends Paul Champion and Jim Bellew moved to Tallahassee and opened a downstairs grotto club called the Baffled Knight. Those three, the Baffled Knights, were the house act. Rogers’ brother and his manager both think the group’s name was autobiographical: an ironic epigram that lashes together Rogers’ deep idealism with the frustration engendered by his youthful search for purpose. In 1966, although Rogers was a seasoned performer, fame continued to elude him. So he took what would ultimately be a pivotal trip to Massachusetts, where he planned to interview for a job with an architectural firm. Perhaps his father had persuaded him to give the family business one more try. Jack speculates that his brother might well have taken the job, had it been offered. The frustrated folk-singer had come to believe that if architecture was his indeed his destiny, then at least he needed to establish an identity away from Florida, outside his father’s substantial shadow. But it wasn’t to be. While in Massachusetts a friend persuaded Rogers to take a side trip to New York City and audition for a slot with the Serendipity Singers, a popular folk group that had reached the Top 10 with “Don’t Let the Rain Come Down (Crooked Little Man)” two years earlier . Although the audition was unplanned, Rogers was hired to sing and play lead, acoustic and electric guitars. When his prowess as a storyteller became apparent, he became the group’s front man, introducing and setting the scene for their songs when they appeared on such television shows as The Tonight Show, The Ed Sullivan Show and Hootenany. But while the instant fame offered Rogers a sense of validation, he felt unfulfilled and out of place. ‘’I was merely a hired gun, so to speak,’’ he told the Orlando Sentinel in 1987. ‘’I simply signed on with an already established group.’’ He left the Serendipity Singers after two years and began the grueling process of building a solo career, one concert at a time. He got bookings in Coconut Grove, where he moved. And he established something a circuit for himself, playing coffeehouses and clubs in St. Augustine, Gainesville and Tallahassee. Finding that well-crafted acoustic songs weren’t always enough to hold


a rowdy crowd’s attention, he honed his stage persona and his storytelling, which would later be described as a combination of Mark Twain and Will Rogers, if either humorist had been a Floridian. By the early 1970s, Rogers was playing across the U.S. and Canada. In 1974, when he appeared at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, PBS taped his performance for nationwide broadcast. The following year, the network produced a television special, Gamble Rogers: Live at the Exit In, which originated in Nashville. Indeed, Rogers’ literary bent and subversive approach to Southern humor seemed tailor-made for PBS. He was hired as a current events commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered in 1976 and 1977 and then again in the 1981 and 1982. One of his monologues, “The Great Maitland Turkey Farm Massacre of 1953” was included in Susan Stamberg’s book Every Night at Five: The Best of all Things Considered. Rogers also wrote two radio dramas, Good Causes: Confessions of a Troubadour, which aired in 1977, and Earplay, which aired in 1980. A Rogers-scripted television play, The Waterbearer, debuted in 1984 and was rebroadcast twice in 1985. In the fall of that year, Rogers co-hosted and performed on AT&T Presents Carnegie Hall Tonight, which followed a concert appearance at Carnegie Hall with the legendary Doc Watson, a bluegrass icon and a childhood hero. In part because of his PBS affiliation, Rogers was gaining a following among intellectuals, who appreciated his facility with language and his ability to satirize both rural ignorance and urban pretention in a pointed yet hilarious way. Journalists were also among Rogers’ biggest fans, describing him as “an American treasure ... an awesome talent ... a rare and guaranteed treat ... worthy of inclusion in the Smithsonian.” What differentiated Rogers from dozens of would-be Woody Guthries? It had to be the stories. Rogers enlivened his tales of life in Oklawaha and Snipe’s Ford, the county seat, with the antics of a host of colorful characters, most notably “Agamemnon Abramowitz Jones,” “Downwind Dave” and “Sheriff Hutto Proudfoot.” Snipes Ford, where “sorriness” was considered a prime virtue, had little of the precious charm of Lake Woebegone, Garrison Keillor’s frozen outpost of Lutheran virtue “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” In Snipes Ford, by contrast, the center of community activity was the Terminal Tavern, a scurrilous dive “where the ‘good ol’ girls put their earrings on with staple guns and the good ol’ boys know it’s always easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission.” Rogers once said, “The stories I tell are all true, except the few that are obviously whimsy. Each and every one of the characters in my stories started out representing a specific person. The characters may tend to be outlandish, but their statements resonate with a certain amount of horse sense.”

A HEROIC FINALE One weekend at Flagler Beach, Gamble and his wife, Nancy, returned to their campsite from a four-hour bike ride, tired and ready to go home. The October daylight was waning, heavy weather was coming in and the surf was head-high and dangerous. The Halloween Storm, a three-hurricane hybrid that sank the swordfishing boat Andrea Gail and formed the basis for Sebastian Junger’s bestselling novel, The Perfect Storm, was only a few days away. It was no day for swimming, but a tourist from Ontario, Canada, had gone into the water and gotten into trouble. His young daughter ran to

GAMBLE’S GUITAR Chicago-based folk-singer Michael Peter Smith, who is appearing at this year’s Gamble Rogers Festival, wrote a haunting and poignant song about his friend. Here’s a snippet: Behind Spanish walls in Winter Park, In the smell of jasmine in the dark, Running a speed trap outside Starke, I thought I heard Gamble’s guitar. Whole lot of country, whole lot of blues, Whole lot of sunshine, sand in your shoes, Sound of a player who paid his dues, Put some miles on that Mustang car. Shot of Merle, jigger of Chet, Little bit of Will McLean, I bet, Only the wind in the palms and yet, I thought I heard Gamble’s guitar.

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Rogers, pleading for someone to help her father. His arthritis, relentlessly worsening since childhood, had frozen his spine to the point where he could barely twist around enough to back up an automobile. In fact, he’d struggled in the calm waters of a swimming pool just weeks before. Rogers had to know that he couldn’t maneuver in that surf on his own. Yet he stripped to his shirt and shorts, grabbed a plain air mattress from under a sleeping bag and started into the water. As minutes ticked by, park ranger Chuck McIntire, a strong swimmer, joined Rogers and another would-be rescuer. McIntire swam past Rogers, who signaled that he was still all right. As McIntire continued outward, working the undertow and searching for the Canadian, a big wave took Rogers’ air mattress away. The surf overcame him and he drowned at the age of 54.

LYRICAL LEGACIES St. Augustine resident Harvey Lopez describes how three of Gamble’s friends were enlisted to build his casket: “Nancy said, ‘I have a big favor to ask of you. I’d like for you to build a coffin for Gamble.’ What could I say? ‘No problem, when is the funeral?’” Lopez called two friends, Jesse Allen and Brad Kinsey, who were boat builders, woodworkers and cabinetmakers: “We decided we were going to build it like a boat,” he says. “Found some old Florida cypress. We planed it out in planks, smoothed it and started putting it together. We stained it an old rosewood color, just like the ‘Rosewood Casket’ song.” Since you can’t cross the River Styx in a boat without a paddle, the trio also crafted an oar and slipped it inside the coffin. Tributes poured in from friends and fans. Buffett dedicated his Fruitcakes album to Rogers’ memory: “I dedicate this collection of songs to a troubadour and a friend who has gone over to the other side where the guardian angels dwell and has, in all likelihood, become one.” The state Legislature honored Florida’s quasi-official musical ambassador by creating the Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area, a 144-acre park on Flagler Beach between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. St. Johns County opened Gamble Rogers Middle School near St. Augustine in 1994, and the Division of Cultural Affairs named Rogers to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 1998. Gamble Rogers is buried in Winter Park’s Palm Cemetery, beneath a marble headstone that reads “Florida’s Troubadour.” But his legacy lives on. Each May, a confederation of Rogers aficionados organize and stage the Gamble Rogers Festival, a St. Augustine hootenanny that commemorates his life and work and attracts performers whose style and personal history relate to Rogers’ own. Yet, despite the popular show business cliché, not one of them so far has suggested that he is, or knows who will be, “the next Gamble Rogers.” Harold Fethe, a longtime friend of Gamble Rogers’, is a Californiabased entrepreneur and consultant who writes for a wide range of publications and performs as a jazz and rock guitarist. Randy Noles is publisher of Winter Park Magazine and author of two books on traditional American music.

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KEEPERS OF THE FLAME The Gamble Rogers Memorial Foundation, based in Gainesville, was established by Rogers’ longtime manager, Charles Steadman, and others to preserve the folk-singer’s memory and his music. On the foundation’s website, gamblerogers. com, you can order his CDs, watch performance videos and read about his life. A guestbook allows fans to reconnect and share memories. The foundation also plans to produce a network-caliber video documentary and a 30-year retrospective CD compilation of Rogers’ songs.


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Appreciation

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SOUL OF A CITY

James Gamble Rogers II helped shape modern Winter Park. BY PATRICK W. MCCLANE

n a career spanning nearly 70 years, the designs of James Gamble Rogers II (1901-1990) enriched Winter Park’s distinctive aura of charm, culture and sophistication. Indeed, it could be argued that Rogers was as important to Winter Park as Addison Mizer was to Palm Beach and Frank Lloyd Wright was to Oak Park, Ill. Stylistically, Rogers insisted that “architectural designs should be in harmony and should correlate with the general terrain and type of foliage that form the background for a town.” In Winter Park, he believed the subtropical environment lent itself to the kind of Spanish-style architecture for which he is best known. During his first years of practice Rogers attracted attention with a delightful French Provincial cottage that he designed for himself on the Isle of Sicily as well as a Spanish-style farmhouse previously known as the Barbour Estate. The Isle of Sicily house has been vastly expanded and essentially rebuilt, but the Barbour Estate survives today as the Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum. Rogers’ attention to materials, textures and craftsmanship was legendary. For example, in an effort to make his buildings appear timeworn, he often used salvaged tiles, bricks and beams—a practice that today would earn him the label of “green” architect. In addition to creating the illusion of age, these materials also provided rich textural contrasts. A national architectural magazine once commented that Rogers’ work had “a mellowness of textures not often attained in a new house.” Another softening, or aging, technique Rogers often employed in his Spanish Eclectic and French Provincial designs was the incorporation of

an intentional sag in the ridgeline of the roof, thereby giving the impression of decades, if not centuries, of settling. Many of the more than 100 houses Rogers designed were built for newly arrived Northerners or for seasonal residents. Often the houses were intended to make a statement about the social stature of the owners, and to give shape to their romantic impressions of exotic Florida. But in addition to the large commissions for which he earned renown, Rogers also designed modest homes for businesspeople, artists and professors, demonstrating his ability to work within a restricted budget and still deliver a satisfying product. And, although he preferred historical revival styles, he also completed houses in the Moderne and International genres. The highlight of Rogers’ final years of practice was the Mediterranean-style Olin Library at Rollins College in Winter Park. Rogers designed it in 1985. He also designed the Mills Library, now a student activities center, in 1948. He was involved in the construction or the remodeling of more than 20 buildings on the Rollins campus. Through his commitment to making his community a better place in which to live, James Gamble Rogers II gave to Winter Park a timeless treasure in his residential designs. Patrick W. McClane, a native Floridian, is a principal architect with Smith + McClane Architects in Richmond, Va. He and his wife, architectural historian Debra A. McClane, co-authored the book, The Architecture of James Gamble Rogers II in Winter Park, Florida, in 2004.

Architecture That Stands the Test of Time.” The discussion, which gets under way at 9:30 a.m., will focus on Rogers’ work as well as that of his celebrated If you appreciate the architecture of James Gamble Rogers II — or if you just uncle, also named James Gamble Rogers, who designed a number of iconic appreciate architecture in general — then you’ll want to attend the annual buildings on the Yale University campus. James Gamble Rogers Colloquium on Historic Preservation, slated April 5-7. Panelists will include Connecticut-based architect James Gamble Rogers The weekend-long program, sponsored by The Friends of Casa Feliz, features III, grandson of James Gamble Rogers, and Baldwin Park-based architect guest speakers, panel discussions and architectural tours. Most of the gatherJack Rogers, son of James Gamble Rogers II and founder of The Friends of ings take place in the Tiedke Concert Hall on the campus of Rollins College. Casa Feliz. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Richard John of the University This year’s keynote speaker is Pulitzer Prizeof Miami School of Architecture. Rogers designed commercial buildings as well as houses, winning architectural critic Paul Goldberger, a The keynote lecture and the panel discusincluding Greeneda Court on Park Avenue. contributing editor at Vanity Fair and former sion take place in the Teidke Concert Hall. The architecture critic for The New Yorker and The weekend also includes a Saturday luncheon at New York Times, where he won his Pulitzer in Casa Feliz, a bus tour of Winter Park homes 1984. Goldberger is the author of several books, and a walking tour of the Rollins campus led most recently Why Architecture Matters, pubby Jack Rogers and Thaddeus Seymour Sr., lished in 2009 by Yale University Press. That’s the college’s president emeritus. also the title of his keynote lecture, which is The colloquium is open to the public and slated Friday, April 5 at 7 p.m. costs $100 for all the weekend’s events. For On Saturday, April 6, Goldberger will anmore information or to make a reservation, chor a panel discussion titled “Good Design: visit casafeliz.us.

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Dining Restaurants of Winter Park

A Taste of Texas Cocina 214 — 214, by the way, is the area code for Dallas — offers creative, gourmet interpretations of traditional Mexican and TexMex dishes served in an open, contemporary setting. The huevos rancheros (shown), flanked by Mexican rice and black beans, makes an ideal brunch. The fried eggs are served atop corn tortillas and topped with melted queso blanco and red rancheros sauce. Also notable: the spinachmushroom quesadella and braised pork tacos with “orange dust” as well as the pescado rice, a large serving of mahi-mahi, small shrimp, wilted spinach and roasted poblano drenched in rich tequila sauce. The main dining area encompasses free-standing tables and banquettes. There’s also a food bar with a view into the kitchen and a spacious covered patio where pooches are welcome. A bar and lounge with a separate entrance sits a half-level above the dining room. 151 E. Wellbourne Ave., Winter Park. (407) 790-7997. $$

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Dining THE KEY $ Cheap eats, most entrees under $10 $$ Moderate, dinner entrees $15-20 $$$ Pricey, most entrees over $30 $$$$ Many entrees over $30 AMERICAN The Bistro on Park Avenue 348 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, (407) 644-2313 / bistroonparkavenue.com. Located in the Hidden Gardens, this low-key eatery’s glass-enclosed garden room offers one of the prettiest settings on Park Avenue. Specialties include chef crab cakes, shrimp or crawfish étouffée and bistrostyle pot roast. Breakfast is served on Saturdays with an excellent brunch featuring a variety of eggs Benedict made with salmon and soft-shell crab. It’s German Night on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. $$-$$ Briarpatch Restaurant 252 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, (407) 628-8651. This Park Avenue institution is crowded during breakfast and lunch—and on Sunday for brunch—and incredibly noisy. Fare includes fancy burgers, such as the Grafton white cheddar and sugarcured bacon burger, as well as sandwiches, salads and omelets. But most patrons are particularly fond of the oversized homemade desserts, including an array of ice creams and such super-rich treats as chocolate layer cake. A bit of trivia: The restaurant’s marble counter once topped the soda fountain at Irvine’s Pharmacy, an even more venerable Park Avenue institution that operated from 1925 to 1973. $$-$$$ The Cask & Larder 656 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, (407) 628-2333/caskandlarder.com. From the folks who brought us Ravenous Pig comes this “Southern Public House” in the former Harper’s Tavern location. “Cask” is for the beer that’s brewed on site and “larder” is an arcane term for a pantry used primarily in the South, so the cuisine is Southern-inspired, locally sourced and encompasses the general categories of sausage and country ham; vegetables and grains; fish and oysters; and such delectable oddities as grilled lamb heart, pork belly and foie-gras stuffed quali. Snout-to-tail specials for parties of eight or more involve serving up an entire animal, usually a pig. $$$ The Coach Room 110 S. Orlando Ave. Winter Park, (407) 647-1166 / bestwestern.com. This small restaurant at Winter Park’s venerable Best Western/Mt. Vernon Inn isn’t flashy. But longtime locals know that The Coach Room, renowned for roasting turkeys daily, offers hearty lunches and tasty breakfasts. Still, the biggest draw is the adjacent Red Fox Lounge, a refreshingly retro watering hole where dapper elders and college hipsters alike enjoy strong drinks and campy but sincere lounge acts. $-$$ Dexter’s 558 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, (407) 629-1150 / dexwine.com. Central Florida has three Dexter’s locations, each of which has become a neighborhood hangout, drawing diners of all ages for hearty portions of creative American fare (at fair prices), good wine and, in some cases, live music. Casual dress is the rule. The brunches, and the pressed duck sandwiches, are especially popular. For dinner, country-fried lamb—yes, lamb—is an unexpected but tasty choice. $$-$$$ Hillstone 215 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, (407) 7404005 / hillstone.com/hillstone. Formerly known as

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Houston’s, this Winter Park mainstay is part of a highend chain. Still, it grows its own herbs, bakes its own bread, grinds its own meat, cuts its own fish and whips its own cream. In nice weather, guests relax with a cocktail in Adirondack chairs overlooking Lake Killarney. Many have popped the proverbial question during romantic dinners for two on the boat dock. $$$

taurant chain, with more than 200 locations in North America, offers upscale Chinese classics artfully presented, with many sauces made tableside by servers. Signature entrées include diced chicken wrapped in lettuce leaves, orange-peel beef with chili peppers and wok-fried scallops with lemon sauce. The busy Winter Park Village venue features an outdoor patio. $$

Keke’s Breakfast Café 345 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, (407) 629-1400 / kekesbreakfastcafe.com. Keke’s serves up a solid lunch, but this place is really all about breakfast, more specifically the waffles, French toast and oversized pancakes, offered with fruit, granola and chocolate chips. You may encounter a wait on weekend mornings, but be patient — it’s worth it. $$

BARBECUE

Park Plaza Gardens 319 S. Park Ave., (407) 645-2475, parkplazagardens.com. Located adjacent to the historic Park Plaza Hotel, this Winter Park institution boasts a clubby, cozy bar and sidewalk café for leisurely drinks, casual meals and unparalleled people watching. Café specialties include appetizers, soups, sandwiches, burgers and a lovely array of salads. At the rear of the building is the elegant atrium dining room, a posh, patio-style space where you are surrounded by large trees and lush vegetation beneath a soaring ceiling of glass. The food is worthy of the setting, melding American, European and Asian flavors and cooking techniques. Specialties of the house include beef carpaccio, filet of beef tenderloin, chicken curry salad and crab-stuffed grouper. Bananas foster is a showy but delightful dessert. $$$-$$$$ 310 Park South 310 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, (407) 647-7277 / 310parksouth.net. New American cuisine featuring fresh seafood, beef, pasta dishes, signature salads and sandwiches. Dine outside along the Avenue and enjoy daily lunch and dinner specials, a children’s menu or Sunday brunch. Steak, chicken and pasta entrées dominate the menu, but there’s a very nice, slowly roasted half duck finished with a plum demi-glace. If you prefer to dine at home, call ahead and pick up your favorite dish. $$-$$$ Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen 2203 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, (407) 672-5753 / tibbysneworleans-kitchen. com. If you’re looking for a quiet, intimate dining experience, this is not the place for you. Tibby’s is loud, raucous and fun, with Crescent City favorites like shrimp Creole, crawfish pie and, for dessert, powdered beignets. Tibby’s was named for the late Walter “Tibby” Tabony, a Big Easy native and great-uncle of restaurateur Brian Wheeler, who also founded Tijuana Flats. The old man, whose colorful biography is on the menu, would certainly have approved of the shrimp and andouille cheddar grits and the hand-battered fried pickle slices, which are expertly fried and served with a rich rémoulade sauce. $$

ASIAN Orchid Thai Cuisine 305 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, (407) 331-1400. Enjoy authentic Thai food — with orchids (what else?) garnishing many dishes — in a primo Park Avenue location. Traditional offerings include green curry highlighted by coconut gravy infused with kaffir lime and Thai basil, larb chicken, tom yum soup and curry puffs. For a light and refreshing dessert, try the Thai doughnuts, sweetened by a peanut-sprinkled dip of condensed milk. The cozy restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating. $$-$$$ P.F. Chang’s China Bistro 436 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, (407) 622-0188 / pfchangs.com. The popular res-

4 Rivers Smokehouse 1600 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, (407) 474-8377 / 4rsmokehouse.com. A diverse menu of barbecue specialties—from Texasstyle brisket to pulled pork, smoked turkey and bacon-wrapped jalapenos—has gained this homegrown concept a huge following. The expanded Winter Park location also features scrumptious desserts created in the Longwood store’s in-house bakery. The Mississippi mud cake, in particular, is to die for. $

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

BURGERS BurgerFi 538 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, (407) 6222010/burgerfi.com. This Delray Beach-based chain joins Five Guys and Boardwalk Fresh Burgers & Fries in Central Florida’s suddenly sizzling burger category. You order at the counter and a server brings your food. The burger buns, interestingly, are branded with the name of the restaurant while the burgers themselves are fashioned from grass-fed, steroidfree beef. The fries are thick cut and house made and there are some 120 beverages from which to choose, including tea, wine, soft drinks and craft beer. Frozen custard is a nice treat on a hot day. $-$$

CREATIVE/PROGRESSIVE Luma on Park 290 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, (407) 599-4111 / lumaonpark.com. If there’s pancetta in your salad, the salumi was made in the kitchen, by hand, starting with a whole pig. Most herbs are from local farms, fish from sustainable sources, pickled vegetables jarred in-house and desserts built around seasonal ingredients. Luma’s progressive menu, which changes daily, is served in a sleek and stylish dining room in the heart of Winter Park, under the passionate direction of Executive Chef Brandon McGlamery, Chef de Cuisine Derek Perez and Pastry Chef Brian Cernell. $$$ Fresh 535 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, (321) 295-7837/freshcafe.wp.com. You’d expect globally inspired cuisine in a restaurant owned by partners who are Filipino-Italian and Panamanian-Lebanese, respectively. And that’s what you get at aptly named Fresh, where the ingredients are uniformly fresh and largely locally sourced. The ever-changing menu features such entrees as seared scallops with limeginger beurre blanc, butternut squash ravioli and succulent beef tenderloin. The grilled peach with mozzarella, prosciutto, lemon honey vinaigrette and mint is an out-of-the-ordinary salad. $$$-$$$$


Galopin 358 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, (407) 951-5790/ galopinwinterpark.com. Several restaurants have come and gone in this high-profile space, but this one appears likely to not only survive but thrive. Galopin boasts creative fare made using fresh, ingredients that are largely locally sourced. Lamb chops marinated in Chilean cabernet sauvignon and Tamarind beef short ribs are standouts, but the fish dishes are tasty as well, especially the curry crusted tuna, seared rare with a blend of spices and served with a steamed vegetable salad and a ginger-scented potato puree. The duck tasting offers bitesized cuts of pan-seared breast and a roasted leg for truly serious fans of fowl. Desserts are homemade; try the tropical banana tort, a big slice of banana cake layered with coconut butter cream and chocolate ganache, finished with a rum crème glaze. The decor, dominated by blacks and whites, is sleek and chic, and the upstairs Ultra Lounge, with a full bar and live music, has become a Winter Park hot spot. $$$$ Ravenous Pig 1234 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, (407) 628-2333 / theravenouspig.com. After leaving their hometown for serious culinary training, Winter Park natives James and Julie Petrakis returned to open the region’s first genuine gastropub. Dinner reservations have been tough to snag ever since. The ambitious menu changes daily based on the fish, meat and produce that’s available, and it’s executed by a dedicated team that abhors shortcuts. Besides daily specials, The Pig always serves up an excellent burger, soft pretzels, shrimp and grits and a donut-esque dessert called Pig Tails. $$$

FRENCH Café de France 526 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, (407) 647-1869 / lecafedefrance.com. Dominique Gutierrez, who’s from Vendée, on the Atlantic coast of France, still greets Café de France diners as if they’re old friends. At this point, many are. Despite a kitchen staffed with chefs, she still prepares the housemade pâtés the way her mother taught her years ago. Look for classics such as garlicky escargot and au courant entrées such as rack of lamb with mint, eggplant purée and crisp wild mushrooms. $$-$$$ Café 906 906 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, (407) 975-0600 / cafe906.blogspot.com. Within this nondescript freestanding building is a friendly, low-key little restaurant where French expat Vincent Vallée will brew you a cappuccino, warm up a slice of quiche Lorraine or indulge you with a peanut-butter filled lava cake — dark chocolate or white. Be sure to try the “salted” pound cake, a savory snack made with goat cheese, walnuts and raisins stirred in, or the bacon quiche, a light, fluffy delight with a delicate and flaky crust. $ Chez Vincent 533 W. New England Ave, Winter Park, (407) 599-2929 / chezvincent.com. Orlandoans have headed to chef Vincent Gagliano’s Hannibal Square hideaway for 15 years, dressing up for formal evenings made even more special with trout in lemonbutter and pork tenderloin slathered with Dijon sauce. The intimate space has two sister enterprises: a below-ground wine cellar that hosts private meals for up to 30, and a lounge known as Hannibal’s that dishes up American and French favorites. $$-$$$ Croissant Gourmet 120 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, (407) 622-7753 / croissantgourmet.com. Discreetly tucked onto a side street behind simple glass walls, Croissant Gourmet is so small you might not notice it. Seek it out. Under the expert guidance of pastry S PRING 2 0 1 3 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E

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chef François Cahagne, this simple spot turns out tray after tray of the region’s finest croissants and pastries. Quiches are superb here, as are the grilled croque monsieur and madame sandwiches. $-$$ Dylan’s Deli 1198 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, (407) 622-7578 / dylansdeli.net. In a disjointed little space featuring warm fresco colors and distinctive touches such as arched doorways, Dylan’s Deli offers not only the pastrami sandwiches you’d expect but also a wondrous assortment of French fare. Crêpes and paninis filled with an array of Gallic and international flavors make for satisfying lunches, while montaditos (platters of meats, cheeses, nuts and more) and charcuterie plates pair well with French wines and beers after dark. $$-$$$ Green Lemon Café 1945 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, (407) 673-0225 / greenlemoncafe.com. Squeezed in among a row of restaurants in a single Winter Park strip center, this unpretentious little spot serves up crêpes, paninis, salads and smoothies in a counter-service format. Of the plethora of crêpe offerings, the whole-wheat Norwegian was by far the most adventurous, garnished with a dusting of paprika and highlighted by a mélange of red onions, capers and salmon. $ Le Macaron French Pastries 216 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, (321) 295-7958 / lemacaron-us.com. Le Macaron serves up 16 flavors of petite pastel cookies, each made primarily with frothy meringue and ground almonds. The noshes are delicate yet filling, and come in varieties such as black currant, pistachio and chestnut-ginger-chocolate. These are nothing like similarly named macaroons, made with coconut. $ Paris Bistro 216 N. Park Ave., (407) 671-4424, Winter Park / parisbistroparkavenue.com. Paris Bistro is a restaurant divided: Some seats are tucked away behind Park Avenue’s Shops on Park building, past a koi pond. The others beckon along a bustling stretch of sidewalk. Wherever you choose to indulge, you’ll find French classics (coq au vin, beef burgundy) plus a slew of daily specials (roasted rack of lamb flambéed with brandy and topped with a porcini mushroom sauce) created by chef and co-owner Sebastian Colce. $$-$$$ Sweet Traditions 212 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, (407) 622-2232. After developing a robust business in downtown Winter Garden, proprietors Christine and Stephan Crocher snuggled a second café next to Paris Gourmet. Sweet Traditions offers breads, pastries, crêpes, sandwiches and quiches. The fruit tart is the ideal go-to dessert when you’re having company. Unlike the Winter Garden location, the Winter Park outlet offers crunchy and steamy pressed sandwiches, and breakfast is served all day. $

ITALIAN Antonio’s 611 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, (407) 6455523 / antoniosonline.com. Fine Italian fare comes at reasonable prices at Antonio’s, proprietor Greg Gentile’s culinary homage to his ancestors. The upstairs restaurant, recently remodeled and expanded with a balcony overlooking Lake Lily, is somewhat formal, although the open kitchen provides peeks of the chefs in action. Its downstairs counterpart, Antonio’s Café, is a more casual spot that doubles as a market and wine shop. It’s easy to fill up on fresh, crusty bread and olive oil, but don’t—you’ll want to

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leave room for such staples as wood-grilled salmon, rigatoni with chicken, fettuccine Alfredo, pollo Marsala, veal picatta and many more. $$$ Brio Tuscan Grille 480 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, (407) 622-5611 / brioitalian.com. Located in Winter Park Village, Brio is a Tuscan treasure. Try the roasted lamb chops, a full rack, or the filletto di manzo toscana, an 8-ounce, center-cut filet. Lunch features paninis and sandwiches as well as lunch-sized servings of popular dinner dishes. Pastas are made in-house and breads are baked fresh in an Italian oven. The ambience is upscale, but kids have their own menu. $$ Buca di Beppo 1351 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, (407) 622-7663 / bucadibeppo.com. This national chain is owned by Orlando resident (and Planet Hollywood founder) Robert Earl, who has remade it onto a fun, kitschy place for family dining. The portions are humongous, and the food is served family style. A standout entrée is linguine fruitti di mari, a large portion of pasta served in a lasagna pan and filled with mussels, calamari, clams and shrimp drizzled with an olive oil sauce. The pizzas are excellent, too. $$$ Pannullo’s Italian Restaurant 216 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, (407) 629-7270 / pannullos.com. Housed in one of Park Avenue’s oldest buildings, Pannullo’s is approaching its 20th anniversary and has become something of a fixture itself. The menu features everything from pizza to classic pasta dishes, but you can’t go wrong with the lobster ravioli or the chicken gorgonzola. And check out the veggieheavy salad bar. $$ Prato 124 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, (407) 262-0050 / prato-wp.com. This is one of Orlando’s very best Italian restaurants, but don’t expect a classic lasagna or chicken parmigiana. Executive Chef Brandon McGlamery and Chef di Cucina Matthew Cargo oversee an open kitchen in which pastas are made from scratch, pizzas are rolled to order, sausages are stuffed by hand and the olive oil is a luscious organic pour from Italy. Try the chicken liver Toscana, a satisfying salad Campagna with cubes of sizzling pancetta tesa, shrimp tortellini and citrusy rabbit cacciatore. Begin with a Negroni cocktail; it’s possibly the best around. $$-$$$ Rocco’s 400 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, (407) 6447770 / roccositaliangrille.com. Calabria native Rocco Potami oversees this romantic Italian eatery, where fine authentic fare is presented in an intimate dining room and on a secluded brick patio. Classics include carpaccio (raw, thinly sliced beef with white truffle oil and arugula), ricotta gnocchi and a breaded veal chop topped with a lightly dressed salad. It’s easy to miss, tucked away in a Winter Park strip center, but once you find it, you’ll be back. $$$ Tolla’s Italian Deli & Café 240 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Winter Park, (407) 628-0068 / tollasitalianrestaurant.com. Chef-owner Gary Tolla cooks up authentic home-style Italian fare in this small café in a quieter part of Winter Park. The offerings range from hot subs and pizzas to antipasto and veal saltimbocca. Be sure to try the bruschetta. $$

LATIN Mi Tomatina 433 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, (321) 972-4317 / mitomatina.com. This eatery bills itself as a paella bar, and indeed guests share a half-dozen varieties of the signature Spanish rice dish. Yet others come for a mellow meal over

tapas (garlic shrimp, potato omelet, croquettes) and sangria, enjoyed while seated within a small contemporary dining room or outdoors overlooking Hannibal Square. $$-$$$

MEDITERRANEAN Bosphorous 108 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, (407) 644-8609 / bosphorousrestaurant.com. This is the place for flavorful Turkish fare in either a whitetablecloth setting or alfresco along Park Avenue. Many couples fill up on the appetizer sampler with oversized lavash bread. For a heartier meal, try the ground lamb “Turkish pastry,” a shish kebab or a tender lamb shank. Outdoor diners can end their meals by smoking from a hookah. Or not. $$

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

PUBS & GRILLS Fiddler’s Green 544 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, (407) 645-2050 / fiddlersgreenorlando.com. This is as authentically Irish as you’ll find in Orlando, with a menu featuring bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, hen in a pot, Irish stew and, of course, fish and chips as well as a wide selection of Irish beers. The ambience is enhanced by dark wood, cozy clutter and rowdy groups of “footballers” cheering televised matches. $-$$ Orlando Ale House 101 University Park Drive, Winter Park, (407) 671-1011 / millersalehouse.com. Part of the Miller’s Ale House regional chain of casual-dining restaurants, most of which are in Florida, the Winter Park location offers daily lunch and dinner specials. Along with a huge beer selection, the Ale House features signature boneless chicken wings and “Captain Jack’s Buried Treasure,” a layered ice cream cake. $-$$ Shipyard Brew Pub 200 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, (321) 274-4045 / shipyardemporium.com. This ultra-casual brewpub has been packed night and day since it opened in 2011, and not just because it pours a great lager. To complement suds brewed both in-house and elsewhere, a from-scratch menu offers Buffalo chicken dip, amazing white-bean hummus, sandwiches, flatbreads and entrées, including étouffée and pot roast. Stop in any time to pick up a loaf of freshly baked bread. $-$$

SEAFOOD Mitchell’s Fish Market 460 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, (407) 339-3474 / mitchellsfishmarket.com. A high-end seafood chain that prides itself on being “absolutely, positively obsessed with freshness,” the family-friendly restaurant also offers a glutenfree menu and special meals for kids. Signature dishes include charbroiled oysters, Maine lobster bisque and a “Fish Market Trio” of blackened salmon, broiled salmon and sea scallops. $$-$$$


Winter Park Fish Co. 761 Orange Ave. Winter Park, (407) 622-6112 / thewinterparkfishco.com. Fish and seafood dishes are fresh and well prepared at this humble Winter Park spot, where a counter-service format helps keep prices reasonable. Crab cakes, lobster rolls, mahi-mahi sandwiches and more ambitious dishes such as grouper cheeks in parchment and stuffed grouper are among a typical day’s offerings. $$

STEAK Christner’s Del Frisco’s Prime Steak & Lobster 729 Lee Rd., Orlando, (407) 645-4443 / christnersprimesteakandlobster.com. Locals have been choosing this prototypically masculine, dark-wood-and-red-leather enclave for business dinners and family celebrations for more than a decade. Family-owned since 1993, Christner’s features USDA Prime, corn-fed Midwestern beef or Australian cold-water lobster tails with a slice of the restaurant’s legendary mandarin orange cake. And there’s a loooong wine list (6,500 bottles). On select nights, Kostya Kimlat hosts magic shows along with a prix-fixe menu in a private dining room. $$$$ Fleming’s 933 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, (407) 699-9463 / flemingssteakhouse.com. Fleming’s puts a younger spin on the stately steakhouse concept, featuring sleek décor and 100 wines by the glass along with its prime steaks and chops. The tempura lobster “small plate” with soy-ginger dipping sauce is a worthy pre-entrée splurge. For a taste of the old-fashioned, visit on Sunday, when prime rib is served. $$$$ Nelore Churrascaria 115 E. Lyman Ave., Winter Park, (407) 645-1112 / neloresteakhouse.com. This is one of two Nelore Brazilian all-you-can-eat steakhouses— the other one is in Houston—where the servers, or “gauchos,” come to your table as often as you’d like bearing skewers of premier beef, chicken or pork. There’s a world-class salad bar and Brazilian cheese bread to keep you happy between meat courses. $$$$ Ruth’s Chris 610 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, (407) 622-2444 / ruthschris.com. With three old-school steakhouses and its corporate headquarters near Winter Park Village, Ruth’s Chris, a native of New Orleans, has become an Orlando special-occasion mainstay. Its service-oriented restaurants specialize in massive corn-fed Midwestern steaks served sizzling and topped with butter. Most side dishes are more than ample for two. $$$$

VEGETARIAN Café 118 153 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, (407) 3892233 / cafe118.com. Raw foods—none cooked past 118 degrees—are the focus of this health-conscious niche café, which attracts raw foodists, vegans and vegetarians. The spinach and beet ravioli stuffed with cashew ricotta is an impressive imitation of the Italian staple. Thirsty Park Avenue shoppers might stop by for a healthful smoothie. $$ Ethos Vegan Kitchen 601-B South New York Ave., Winter Park (407) 407-228-3898/ethosvegankitchen. com. After serving up vegan fare for five years at its original location on North Orange Avenue, this 100 percent vegan eatery moved to Winter Park last year. A luncheon favorite is the Ethos Club Sandwich, with Tofurkey deli slices, Canadian bacon, lettuce, tomato, mustard and veganaise layered between three pieces of levain toast. A meat-free shepherd’s pie and crab cakes made from chickpeas are among the other unique offerings. $$ S PRING 2 0 1 3 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E

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Events ART, HISTORY, ENTERTAINMENT AND MORE

Painting the Town Some the nation’s most renowned plein air (outdoor) artists will soon be roaming unfettered through the city’s thoroughfares, side-streets, neighborhoods and parks, capturing its many visual charms through watercolors, oils and pastels. From April 21-27, the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens will host the Fifth Annual Winter Park Paint Out, a celebration of creativity that epitomizes Winter Park’s stature as an exceptionally art-friendly community. Special events, some free and some ticketed, will include a Kickoff Reception on April 22, a Lake Killarney Sunset Paint-In on April 24, an Artists and Patrons Dinner on April 25, a Patrons and Sponsors Preview Reception on April 27 and a Paint Out Garden Party on April 27. Painting demonstrations will be held throughout the week and newly completed works, all of which are available for sale, will be immediately hung in the gallery’s Wet Room. Admission to the museum is free during Paint Out week. 633 Osceola Ave. (407) 647-6294. polasek.org.

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a new permanent exhibit, Maitland Legacies: Creativity and Innovation; and the Waterhouse Residence and Carpentry Shop Museum, 820 Lake Lily Dr., Maitland. 407-539-2181. artandhistory.org.

SPOTLIGHT

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was purported to be a blueprint written by Jewish leaders for taking over the world. Although the Times of London revealed in 1921 that the document was a hoax, created and disseminated by the Russian Secret Police, it was still regarded as indisputable fact by such disparate historical figures as Adolph Hitler and Henry Ford. Debunking anti-Semitic propaganda is an unlikely task for a comic-book artist, but Will Eisner was no ordinary comic-book artist. Eisner, who in the 1940s created a groundbreaking Sunday newspaper strip called The Spirit, would later write and draw the first graphic novels. In those critically acclaimed works, Eisner dealt with the history of New York’s immigrant communities, particularly Jews. His final graphic novel, The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, was published in 2005, shortly before his death at age 85. In it, Eisner sought to explain how and why the Protocols were crafted in hopes that he could raise public awareness of anti-Semitism and draw attention to the ways in which governments and political movements use propaganda to influence opinion.The Plot is the subject of a new exhibit at Maitland’s Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center in Maitland. Created by the Anti-Defamation League in cooperation with Eisner’s estate, the display uses reproductions of Eisner’s drawings juxtaposed with historical timelines to shed light on how, and why, this notorious hoax was perpetrated. The Plot runs through March 15. Admission is free. 851 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland. (407) 628-0555. holocaustedu.org.

VISUAL ARTS The Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens. Although the museum is dedicated to preserving the works of the famed Czech sculptor, it also stages frequent exhibitions from internationally renowned artists working in all mediums. Running through April 14 is Life in the Fast Lane: The Art of David Delong, a realist painter whose images often focus on the culture of motorcycle racing. Next up, from May 7-June 21, is From Start to Finish: The Florida Sculptors Guild Exhibition, which uses photographs, sketches and models to explore the process of creating sculptures. The museum also hosts a concert series in its elegant salon. The final presentation on the 2012-2013 schedule, Vivaldi Concerto for Four Violins, is on March 24 at 2 p.m. Admission is $30. From April 21-27, the museum will host the Fifth Annual Winter Park Paint Out, during which 25 acclaimed plein air artists roam the city and capture its many charms through watercolors, oils and pastels (for more information, see page 57) Museum admission is normally $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for students and free for children. However, admission is free during Paint Out week. 633 Osceola Ave. (407) 647-6294. polasek.org. Art & History Museums-Maitland. The Maitland Art Center at 231 W. Packwood Ave., was founded as an art colony in 1937 by visionary American artist and ar-

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chitect André Smith. The center, which offers exhibits and classes, is one of the few surviving examples of Mayan Revival architecture in the Southeast and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On March 8 from 6-9 p.m., Culture & Cocktails will showcase the works of artist Bryan Soderlind and music by Performing Arts of Maitland. Local poets and writers will present readings, while sketch artists will demonstrate their skills in and around the Chapel Courtyard. Refreshments will be offered from an array of food trucks. Attendees may also tour the center’s Main Gallery and peruse the Museum Store. Admission is free for Art & History Museums-Maitland members, $5 for non-members. Current exhibitions include James Casey: Equine Sculpture, and Anna Tomczak: Animalia, both of which run through March 10. Three other exhibitions are on deck: Participation: Class of 2011 and 2012, from March 21-May 19; Celebrating Central Florida’s Next Artists: Senior Show, from April 12-May 19; and Andre Smith: Picturing Place, from May 31-Aug. 4. Other monthly events include Family Days at the Museum, held the third Saturday of each month at 1 p.m; Artists’ Critique and Conversation, held the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.; and Ladies Art Lounge, held the first Friday of each month at 7:30 p.m. Additional components of the Art & History Museums-Maitland complex include the Maitland Historical Museum and Telephone Museum, 221 W. Packwood Ave., which has

Cornell Fine Arts Museum. The museum, located on the campus of Rollins College, houses one of the oldest and most eclectic art collections in Florida. Running through May 12 is Collecting for the Cornell, an overview of the many gifts and acquisitions that have made the facility one of the region’s cultural gems. Also wrapping up May 12 are four exhibitions: Florida’s Useable Past: The Sunshine State and the Index of American Design, which highlights works created by Floridians through a program sponsored by the Works Progress Administration; Felrath Hines and the Question of Color, which traces the development of the African-American artist, whose prints and paintings express the universality of aesthetic expression; Jeffrey Gibson: Tipi Poles (Performing as Lines), which showcases four new paintings by the Native American artist, whose creations use traditional Indian motifs in contemporary ways; and the Senior Exhibition, which showcases works by graduating studio art majors, whose contributions include graphic design, illustration, painting, photography and sculpture. Admission is $5 for the public and free to museum members, children, college faculty and staff and other college students with a valid ID. 1000 Holt Ave. (407) 646-2000. rollins.edu/cfam. Crealde School of Art. Established in 1975, this not-for-profit arts organization offers year-round visual arts classes for all ages taught by more than 40 working artists. The school stages exhibitions at two Winter Park locations: the Main Campus, 600 St. Andrews Blvd., and the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, 642 W. New England Ave. Running through April 13 at the Heritage Center is Sewn Together: Photographic Quilts Reflecting the Family Ties of Eatonville, Maitland and Winter Park, which commemorates the 125th anniversary of the nation’s oldest incorporated African-American town. On display are seven photographic quilts, created by the Heritage Center Quilting Guild, which tell the story of the historic ties between the three contiguous communities. At the Main Campus through March 9 are two exhibitions: Director’s Choice II, which features paintings, drawings, photography, ceramics and stained glass by Crealde faculty members; and Micro/Macro: An Installation of Sculpture by Joshua Almond, which features freestanding and wall-mounted sculptures inspired by microscopic biological structures and geologic formations. On display March 15-May 25 is The 13th Southeastern Photography Invitational: A Sense of Place, which showcases new trends in contemporary photography. From June 14-Sept. 5, the Annual Juried Student Exhibition showcases the best work in all genres from Crealde students. Admission is free at both locations. (407) 671-1886. crealde.org. Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. The museum houses the world’s most extensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany creations, including jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass and the entire chapel interior originally designed and built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. On display through Sept. 29 is Watercolors by Otto Heinigke—A Glass Artist’s Palette. Heinigke, a contemporary of Tiffany’s and a successful leaded-glass window maker, was also a formally trained painter whose watercolor


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Events

works demonstrate his sensitivity to color, light and nature. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $1 for students and free for children younger than 12. 445 N. Park Ave. (407) 645-5311. morsemuseum.org. Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. The city’s biggest, most high-profile event commandeers Park Avenue for the 53rd time from March 15-17. The Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, started in 1960 by a handful of enthusiasts as a community project to boost the local arts scene, has grown in the ensuing years into one of the country’s most prestigious juried outdoor art shows. As always, artists will showcase painting, drawing, sculpture, jewelry, glass and even apparel. There’ll be continuous entertainment on the Florida Family Insurance Stage and an assortment of food vendors offering everything from carnival fare to gourmet delights. Admission is free. Central Park, Park Avenue. (407) 644-7207. wpsaf.org.

FILM Popcorn Flicks in Central Park. You can’t beat this bargain: a free movie—and free popcorn!—under the stars. Features, shown on the second Thursday of each month, include classic films appropriate for the whole family. Next up is The Dirty Dozen, starring Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine, on March 14. Flicks start when it’s dark or at 8 p.m., whichever is earlier. Bring blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets if you’d like. Co-sponsored by the City of Winter Park and Enzian Theater. Central Park, Park Avenue. (407) 629-0054. enzian.org.

MUSIC Annual Bach Festival. The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park continues its 78th season under the baton of Artistic Director and Conductor John V. Sinclair with a series of performances at various venues. On March 2 is Titans in C: Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn, with tickets ranging in price from $25 to $55; on March 3 is Bach’s Timeless Gifts, with tickets ranging in price from $25-$65; and on March 16 is Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, with tickets ranging in price from $40 to $80. The season concludes April 12-14 with Carmina Burana, a groundbreaking collaboration between the Orlando Ballet and the society’s full orchestra and 150-member chorus. Carmina Burana is slated for the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, while other performances will be held at the Knowles Memorial Chapel and the Tiedtke Concert Hall, both on the Rollins College campus. (407) 646-2182. bachfestivalflorida.org.

THEATER Annie Russell Theatre 2012-2013 Season. The historic theater on the Rollins College campus continues its 80th season with two remaining shows: Rollins Dance XXVII, from March 15-16; and She Stoops to Conquer, from April 19-27. The final show of Second Stage Series at the Fred Stone Theater is The Great American Trailer Park Musical, from April 3-7. Non-student, single-ticket prices for Annie Russell productions are $20; Second Stage productions are always free and open to the public. 1000 Holt Ave. (407) 646-2145. rollins.edu/annierussell. Winter Park Playhouse. Central Florida’s only professional musical theater has two shows remaining in its Mainstage Series: The Kids Left, The Dog Died, Now What?, from March 7-24 and April 3-6; and All Night Strut, from April 18-May 11. For the Spotlight Cabaret Series, there are performances by singers Kate Zaloumes, on March 27-28; and Cami Miller, on April 10-11. 711 Orange Ave. (407) 645-0145. winterparkplayhouse.org.

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Winter Park Historical Museum. If the Winter Park High School alma mater still evokes even a twinge of nostalgia, then you are still, and ever shall remain, a Wildcat. As WPHS celebrates its 90th birthday, the Winter Park Historical Association has marked the occasion with the debut of Growing up Wildcat: Winter Park High School Through the Years. The year-long exhibition, at the Winter Park Historical Museum, features old yearbooks, photographs and videos as well as other memorabilia that traces the history of the school decade by decade. Ongoing displays at the museum include artifacts dating from the city’s founding as an New England-style resort in the 1880s. Admission is free. 200 W. New England Ave. (at the Winter Park Farmers Market). (407) 644-2330. wphistory.org.

BUSINESS Business After Hours. Sponsored by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these gatherings offer members and prospective members a chance to socialize, network and learn more about the host businesses. Events are held the third Thursday of each month. Upcoming locations and dates include Winderweedle, Haines, Ward and Woodman, P.A., May 16; and Sea Coast National Bank, June 20. Beverages and snacks are served. Hours are usually 5:30-7:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for members; $15 for non-members. (407) 644-8281. winterpark.org. Good Morning, Winter Park. Sponsored by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these gatherings attract chamber members, local residents and community leaders who listen to speakers discuss an array of community issues. Events are held the second Friday of each month at the city’s Welcome Center at the Cham-

ber of Commerce. Upcoming dates are Feb. 8, Mar. 8, Apr. 12 and May 10. Networking begins at 7:45 a.m. and the program begins at 8:15 a.m. Admission is free, and a complimentary continental breakfast is served. 151 W. Lyman Ave. (407) 644-8281. winterpark.org. Leadership Winter Park Golf Classic. Leadership Winter Park alumni swing into action to raise funds for BETA Center and the Leadership Winter Park Scholarship Fund, which provides tuition assistance for leadership development programs. Round up a foursome or play as an individual and network with local business leaders. An awards program, social and auction will follow the tourney. Friday, April 19, noon. Entry fees are $100 for individual golfers, $400 for foursomes. Dubsdread Golf Club, College Park. (407) 644-8281. winterpark.org. Winter Park Executive Women. Sponsored by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these monthly gatherings offer lunchtime networking opportunities for women business owners and executives. Events, held at the city’s Welcome Center at the Chamber of Commerce, feature guest speakers who address topics related to leadership development, business growth and local initiatives of interest to women. Upcoming dates include Feb. 4, Mar. 4, Apr. 1 and May 6. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. with lunch and program at noon. Reservations are required. Admission is $20 for chamber members, $25 for non-members. 151 W. Lyman Ave. (407) 644-8281. winterpark.org.

INVOLVEMENT

Winter Park Political Update Breakfast. Sponsored by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, this annual event assembles local and state elected officials at the Rachel D. Murrah Civic Center for a wide-ranging panel

discussion on pressing issues, including a review of the spring legislative session. A question-and-answer session follows. The event includes a hot breakfast and networking opportunities. Admission is $25 in advance for chamber members, $30 for non-members and those who buy tickets at the door. Corporate tables are also available. Thursday, May 23, 7:30 a.m. 1050 W. New England Ave. (407) 644-8281. winterpark.org.

MARKETS Winter Park Farmers Market. The region’s busiest and arguably most popular farmers market is held every Saturday from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. at 200 West New England Ave. (the old railroad depot). There you’ll find fine baked goods, produce, plants, honey, cheese, meat, flowers, crafts and other specialty items for sale. After shopping, make a morning of it with a stroll along nearby Park Avenue. Dogs are welcome to bring their people. cityofwinterpark.org. Maitland Farmers Market. This year-round, open-air market features fresh produce, seafood, breads and cheeses along with plants, all-natural skin-care products and live music provided by the Performing Arts of Maitland. The setting on Lake Lily boasts a serene boardwalk, jogging trails and a playground as well as picnic areas. 701 Lake Lily Dr., Maitland. itsmymaitland.com. Food Truck Fiesta. This family friendly event, which takes place the fourth Saturday of each month, features live music and delicious food. Pets are welcome. Noon to 5 p.m. Fleet Peeples Park, 2000 S. Lakemont Ave. (407) 296-5882. cityofwinterpark.com.

HAPPENINGS Champagne Thursdays. Sponsored by the Hannibal Square Association, this upscale street party features displays from award-winning artists, live musical performances, food from local restaurants and, of course, $1 bubbly at select restaurants. West New England Avenue in the Hannibal Square commercial district is blocked off and shops are open late. The event is held the second Thursday of each month from 6-10 p.m. Admission is free. hannibalsquare.com. Hannibal Square Wine Tasting. To celebrate the opening of the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and the Hannibal; Square Merchants Association are co-sponsoring an event that features live music, food and more than 40 varieties of wine to sample. Thursday, March 14, 5:30-8 p.m. Admission is free. Hannibal Square, West New England Avenue. winterpark.org. Taste of Winter Park Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, this event showcases offerings from more than 40 popular local eateries with an all-you-caneat-and-drink extravaganza at the Winter Park Farmers Market. There’ll also be live entertainment and raffle drawings. Wednesday, April 17, 5-8 p.m. Tickets are $40 in advance for chamber members, $45 for non-members and those who buy tickets at the door. 200 W. New England Ave. (407) 644-8281. winterpark.org.

ROAD RACES

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36th Zimmerman Kiser Sutcliffe Winter Park Road Race. Presented by Florida Hospital, this 10k (6.2 miles) Run, Two-Mile Run and Kids’ Run is for fitness enthusiasts of all ages to enjoy. Saturday, March 23 at 7 a.m. Central Park, Park Avenue. Registration is required. For the 10k event, it’s $30 through March 16, $35 from March 17-55 and $40 on race day; for the two-mile event it’s $20 thorugh March 16, $25 from March 17-22 and $30 on race day; the kids’Run is free. trackshack.com. W I N T E R P A R K M A GAZI N E | SP RI N G 2013


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Just Bob

GOD’S OWN BUFFET

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Foraging is healthy and fun at magnificent Mead Garden. BY BOB MORRIS

ach day I go on a long walk through my backyard looking for good stuff to eat. There is plenty to choose from — more than 150 edible plants, herbs and medicinals. And here’s the best part: It doesn’t cost me anything to gather food for my table or a little something to brew in a tea to soothe my nerves or cure whatever ails me. It’s all just growing wild. True, I am playing fast and loose with what legally constitutes my “backyard.” I live across the street from Mead Garden, the 55-acre botanical garden owned by the city of Winter Park. Founded in 1940 to memorialize Thomas Mead, a renowned horticulturist who grew orchids and developed new varieties of rare ferns, bromeliads and caladiums, the garden occupies a precious habitat between Lake Sue and Lake Virginia with Howell Creek running through it connecting the two. While camellias and azaleas are a big draw in spring, no matter what season the garden is a veritable open-air Publix for the foraging crowd. “You can eat very well here if you know what to look for,” Emily Ruff tells me and the 20 or so other folks who gather at Mead Garden on a Sunday afternoon for one of Ruff’s “Wild Weeds Herb Walks” that are held throughout the year. In addition to being a certified herbalist, Ruff is director of education for the Florida School of Holistic Living and a founder of the Homegrown Co-op. When it comes to making a meal out of everyday plants that we might otherwise step on or pass right by, Ruff could have held her own in the wild with the likes of the legendary Euell Gibbons. We stop under a pine tree (“chop up some needles in hot water for a nice tea”) where the chest-high branches of an American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) are resplendent with big clusters of bright purple berries no bigger than BB’s. I’ve walked past this very plant hundreds of times and never considered sampling its fruit, thinking it was poisonous. But I’ve been missing out. The berries are sweet and mild, tasting a bit like lavender smells. Elderberry Blossom Tempura

“Really good for making jams,” Ruff tells us as we move past a saw palmetto (“The berries can be brewed into a tea that is effective for treating prostate problems”) with hundreds and hundreds of acorns crunching underfoot. The acorns are edible but require a fair amount of work. First the caps must be removed and then the meaty part soaked in water that has to be regularly changed for three days to remove the tannins. Enthusiasts, Ruff tells us, often keep bags of acorns in their toilet tanks to aid with the rinsing process, not exactly the most appetizing of propositions and a whole lot of effort. Or, as Ruff says, “If we had to rely on foraging for all our food, most of us would be burning up more calories in finding and preparing than we would take in from eating.” Far more appealing and much easier to snag from the wild are the plants we come across near the banks of Howell Creek. We munch our way through tropical chickweed (“Good in salads and great for respiratory ailments”), try some spiky shoots from a spiderwort (“More vitamins than spinach”), nibble on some false dandelion (“You can steam or sauté it like greens”) and finally cleanse our palates with some creeping charley (Glechoma hederacea). Most landscapers and lawn services work hard to exterminate the stuff—it’s also known as ground ivy—but with its startlingly minty flavor it makes a fine tea, and rubbing some on your arms and legs can keep away mosquitoes. There’s more, much more—wood betony, aka “Florida radish,” and Spanish needle and one standout revelation, pellitory, an unassuming little plant with leaves that taste just like cucumber. By the time we’ve completed our 90-minute traipse through Mead Garden I feel as if we’ve sampled from God’s own buffet. Especially when we wind up near the lake and a broad stand of elderberry bushes. Bob Morris, a forth-generation Floridian, is a Winter Park-based novelist who teaches creative writing at Rollins College and is founder of Story Farm, a custom publishing company.

As much as I appreciate the healthfulness of wild edibles that can be used in salads and teas, the southerner in me yearns for something deep fried. The common American elder (Sambucus canadesis) flourishes throughout Central Florida, notable for its hand-sized clusters of white flowers (the elder blooms twice during the year so the flowers are available for months at a time) and its tiny black-blue berries that can be turned into jams or elderberry wine. For this recipe, try to pick flowers fairly early in the blooming stages since they hold up better when frying.

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 1 egg  1 cup ice water  1 cup all-purpose flour  8-10 elderberry blossoms, left whole with main stem trimmed  Canola or vegetable oil Beat egg in small bowl. Add ice water (make sure it is very cold). Add flour. Do not overmix; it’s OK if it’s lumpy. Heat about one inch of oil to mediumhigh in cast iron pan (preferable) or other frying pan. Gently dip blossoms into tempura until they are coated. Fry and turn until golden (about four minutes). Drain on paper towels. Tastes good with soy sauce.


Winter Park Magazine Spring 2013  

Winter Park Magazine Spring 2013