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SPRING 2014 | $3.99

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Congratulations to Fannie Hillman + Associates 2013 Top Producers!

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FEATURES 32 | A TENURE OF DEPRESSION AND ELATION Rollins didn’t hire William Freemont Blackman as a fundraiser. But as the 20th century dawned, that’s what he became. Between chasing money and dealing with an eccentric philanthropist, the distinguished educator exhausted himself — but kept the college afloat. By Dr. Jack Lane

46 | SUDDENLY, IT’S SUMMER Hot times are just around the corner. Here are some cool looks that will rock anybody’s boat. By Marianne Ilunga, photographs by Rafael Tongol, hair and makeup by Elsie Knab

CONTENTS SPRING 2014

departments

SPRING 2014 | $3.99

ABOUT THE COVER 8 | PAINTING WITH PAPER Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson is a master of the medium. By Randy Noles

4

ARTS 12 | CELLULOID IS IN HER BLOOD

DINING 52 | MADE (SLOWLY) FROM SCRATCH

Liz Tiedtke practically grew up at Enzian. Now she’s stepped up to help run the Maitland moviehouse, where she’s spearheading a major expansion and keeping film buffs happy. By Jay Boyar, photographs by Rafael Tongol

The food at this funky little eatery is certainly ambitious. But don’t be in a hurry, and order everything you want the first time — despite what the server says. By Rona Gindin, photographs by Rafael Tongol

THE DESIGN TOURIST 22 | A HOME THAT GIVES HUGS

IN EVERY ISSUE

When Marc Thee was selected as interior designer for the New American Home, he opted for a subtle yet sexy look that’s modern, but with a dose of old-fashioned coziness. By Karen LeBlanc

6 | FIRST WORD 28 | AVENUE INSIDER 44 | COMMENTARY 60 | DINING LISTINGS 65 | EVENTS 72 | BACK PAGE

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Randy Noles EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Laura Bluhm ART DIRECTOR Lorna Osborn SENIOR ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Kathy Byrd ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER

FIRST WORD

RAILROAD ROMANCE

O

ne of the most evocative railroad songs of the 20th century was written in the early 1970s by Guy Clark. Texas 1947 describes as vividly as any newspaper account the excitement and awe generated by the advent of diesel locomotives. In Clark’s song, “50 or 60 people, all sittin’ on their cars” are waiting for one of the newfangled trains to pass through so they can have a look at what progress has wrought. The train speeds past without even stopping, but leaves speechless spectators “wonderin’ what we’re comin’ to and how it got this far.” I thought about that song recently at the ribboncutting ceremony for the beautiful new Amtrak/ SunRail station, located behind Central Park in the heart of downtown Winter Park. A SunRail train was parked at the station for those who wanted an advance look, although many of us had seen it already during its frequent test runs. Still, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who got goosebumps while walking through this sleek, shiny symbol of the region’s transportation future. April 30 is when SunRail begins ferrying passengers along its 61-mile route, which runs south from Deltona in Volusia County through Seminole County and all the way down to Sand Lake Road in Orange County. Downtown Winter Park is one of 16 stops along Phase 1 of the project. “Isn’t this indeed a special day — not just a special day in Winter Park, but a special day in our entire region,” said Mayor Ken Bradley. “I would even go so far as to say a special day in our country.” Trains have a way of inspiring hyperbole, but Bradley wasn’t too far off the mark. I even thought Rep. John Mica (R-Winter Park), who for years fought valiantly for SunRail funding, got a little choked up toward the end of his remarks referencing the long, sometimes contentious history of light rail in Central Florida.

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No one could have blamed him if he’d blubbered like a brand-new dad. Of the 16 stops, I expect Winter Park will be the most popular. Visitors to the attractions area — and others who may have heard that it’s sometimes tough to find parking along Park Avenue — can now be whisked right to the epicenter of the region’s most exciting and eclectic shopping and dining destination, no vehicle required. And the station itself is destined to become an iconic Winter Park building. ACi Inc., a local architecture firm, designed the 2,400-squarefoot, Craftsman-style structure. The detailing is superb, from the polished wood on the inside to the peacock weather vane atop the roof. It’s an architectural jewel in a city boasting an abundance of architectural jewels. The centerpiece, though, is an extraordinary stained-glass representation of the city seal by artist Ruth Attaway. The massive work is an homage to Louis Comfort Tiffany, whose creations are on display at the nearby Morse Museum of American Art. Tiffany himself could not have improved on this masterwork. “There isn’t a better example of where SunRail should run than in Winter Park,” said Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs. “It’s not just SunRail — it’s places like this, that are meeting places for the community.” Maybe there was a songwriter among the several hundred who assembled for the ceremony. If so, then maybe Texas 1947 will get a modern makeover. How about Winter Park 2014?

Randy Noles Editor/Publisher randyn@orlando-life.com

Clyde Moore PARK AVENUE EDITOR Jay Boyar, Rona Gindin, Marianne Ilunga, Karen LeBlanc, Jack C. Lane, Mike Thomas CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rafael Tongol CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER Leah Kircher EDITORIAL INTERN Rick Walsh, Jim DeSimone FOUNDING PARTNERS

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 2014 by Florida Home Media LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gulfshore Media LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holder. Winter Park Magazine is published four times yearly by Florida Home Media LLC, 2700 Westhall Lane, Suite 128, Maitland, FL 32751

FOR GENERAL INFORMATION, CALL: 407-647-0225 FOR ADVERTISING INFORMATION, CALL: KATHY BYRD, 407-399-7111 LORNA OSBORN, 407-310-1002

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cover artist

PAINTING WITH PAPER ELIZABETH ST. HILAIRE NELSON IS A MASTER OF THE MEDIUM. By randy noles

I

n 2004, the Winter Park City Commission selected the peacock to adorn the city seal. It was an appropriate choice. Hugh McKean, a former president of Rollins College, and his wife, Jeanette Genius McKean, granddaughter of Charles Hosmer Morse and founder of the Morse Museum of American Art, brought the first peacocks to Winter Park in 1950 and set them loose in the wooded acreage surrounding Windsong, the family estate. Soon hundreds of peacocks were preening

about, and a generation of Winter Parkers grew up visiting Genius Drive to see and photograph the ostentatiously plumed pheasants. Artist Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson’s cover image of a particularly proud peacock is created from meticulously torn bits of hand-painted paper, delicately assembled to form a collage. She creates vivid images of animals, landscapes and even people using this method. A Signature Member of the National Collage Society, Nelson has won numerous awards and

is an acknowledged master of the medium. Her work also appears in private collections and in museums around the U.S. Born and raised in New England, Nelson has lived in Central Florida for 19 years. She holds a BFA in advertising design from Syracuse University and travels the country giving workshops on collage art. In addition, she works as a graphic designer. To see her portfolio, visit paperpaintings.com. To see work in progress, visit elizabethsthilairenelson.blogspot.com.

Nelson calls her creations “paper paintings.” Indeed, unless you look closely, it’s difficult to tell that her bright canvases are actually collages.

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ARTS

As a child, Liz Tiedke ran errands at the art-house cinema her aunt founded.

I

CELLULOID IS IN HER BLOOD Liz Tiedtke practically grew up at Enzian. Now she’s stepped up to help run the Maitland moviehouse, where she’s spearheading a major expansion while keeping film buffs happy. By Jay Boyar Photographs by Rafael Tongol

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f you’re into movies that don’t feature zombies, superheroes or futuristic teen warriors, chances are you’ve visited Enzian. Maybe you’ve attended the Florida Film Festival, which the Maitland moviehouse hosts each spring. Or maybe you’ve dropped by the adjacent Eden Bar for a drink and then gotten curious about the films inside. Still, you may not realize that the single-screen “art house” — which has been showing American independent cinema, foreign films and movie classics for nearly three decades — wouldn’t even exist if not for the Tiedtkes, one of Winter Park’s most prominent families. And even if you do know that, you may not be aware that the family’s current representative at Enzian is 28-yearold Elizabeth Tiedtke (pronounced TEEDT-key), whose friends call her Liz or Lizzie. “It’s not just a place that’s important to the community,” she reflects. “It’s also my family legacy.” For Liz, Enzian has always been the family business, or one of them, anyway. Her Aunt Tina founded the nonprofit theater; her paternal grandfather, the late John Tiedtke (who never tired of pointing out that he didn’t care for movies), funded it; her parents, Sigi and Philip, ran it for many years and created the Florida Film Festival (which this year is April 4-13); and her older brother, Alex, was project manager for Eden Bar. “She understands Enzian as good as, or better than, anybody ever, and partly because she grew up there,” offers the theater’s president, Henry Maldonado. “She has this love for Enzian like you might have for the house by the lake that you would go to every summer. She is appreciative of it and protective of it.” On a recent weekday afternoon, Liz and I are having drinks at Eden Bar which is, naturally enough, her go-to hangout. The place is almost deserted at this hour, although it’s a beautiful, temperate day — perfect for an open-air bistro like this one. Subdued music wafts our way from the bar. A train whistle sounds in the distance while Liz sips her usual: soda water and grapefruit juice, straight up. “I used to drink soda water with apple juice when I was younger, which is a traditional Austrian drink,” she says with a nod to her heritage. The theater itself, in fact, is named for a flower found in that country. A beanpole in a navy-blue hoodie, Liz wears crisp bluejeans and has tied her blond hair in a ponytail. Her alert azure eyes and peaches-and-cream complexion, not to mention the crossed-oars emblem on that hoodie, combine to give her a collegiate look and a preppy vibe. Meanwhile, her long-

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ish features — similar to those depicted in Amedeo Modigliani portraits — suggest a soulful side. Looking at this lithe young woman, you might suppose she’s a dancer or maybe an actress. Actually, she’s a numbers person with a degree in finance from Rollins College. When I emailed her to request this interview, this is what she wrote back: Sure thing! But I fear I have the most boring job of all of us :) I mostly work budgets and look at construction drawings! And while that’s true enough, her response also indicates a reflexive modesty that may go along with being a Tiedtke. She seems to know that she

needn’t call attention to herself to become the center of attention nnn

In some ways, it’s a small, small world for Liz Tiedtke, who lives in Winter Park, about a half mile from Enzian. Her parents’ home, also in Winter Park, is three-quarters of a mile away, and she works from her mom’s old office at the theater. “Enzian’s one year older than I am,” she says in a voice that reminds me of her mother’s: professionally crisp yet musical and friendly. “So I very much grew up here.” In another sense, though, Liz is worldly. She

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Enzian, located in a retrofitted historic home, opened in 1985 with a screening of D.W. Griffith’s silent classic Broken Blossoms. The star, Lillian Gish, was on hand and said she hoped to serve as the fledgling venue’s “rabbit’s foot.”

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Standing the Test of Time

studied acting for a year at NYU and spent another year in New York at SoHo’s French Culinary Institute. A few days before our interview she’d been in Guam, and on the very morning of our interview she’d been in Atlanta to resolve a minor passport issue for a trip, a few days later, to India. The man in Liz’s life is attorney Gourav Mukherjee, whose father is originally from Kolkata (aka Calcutta). That trip to India — ostensibly to meet his father’s side of the family — turned into an even more meaningful journey when Gourav proposed. He popped the question in front of the Taj Mahal at midnight, beneath a full moon. When Gourav, who grew up in Kissimmee, met Liz about a year ago through a mutual friend, he had never heard of her eminent family. If he had, he says, “it might have made her unapproachable.” But he soon came to see that the Tiedtkes are, ANTHONY CONSALVO as he puts it, “very humble people who care a lot about the community.” Liz’s heart certainly seems to be in Winter Park and Maitland — and she is bursting with childhood tales of Enzian escapades. In second grade at Park Maitland School, she felt “very cool” because she was the only kid her age allowed to cross the street, a special dispensation granted because the theater where her mother worked was just steps away. She also felt cool swiping chocolate-chip cookies from the theater’s kitchen — that is, until the chef left her a note ordering her to cease and desist. As the Orlando Sentinel’s movie critic at the

time, I first met young Liz (or Pinky, as she was sometimes called) at the theater. She and her brother struck me as mischievous imps who scampered around the place and didn’t have much time for adults. Turns out they were busy doing things like building a fort under the stage. One of Liz’s more vivid childhood memories involves being playfully threatened by actor Steve Buscemi (Fargo, Boardwalk Empire), who was in town for the film festival. Buscemi and his wife took her to Universal Studios, where she was selected for the “Ren & Stimpy Ring Toss” during a faux game show. She picked Buscemi as her partner. “I had these big foam rings and he had to crouch in a fake litter box and wear a Stimpy head,” she recalls, cringing even as she laughs. “I had to throw rings around his neck, which was just horrifying for me.” At the end of the festival, he wrote in her program, “I’ll get you back some day. Much love, Steve.” nnn

Even as a child, Liz worked at Enzian, passing out pencils to mark film-festival ballots and running assorted errands. At age 15 she took a proper job in the box office. Over the years, she’s also been house manager, projectionist, cook and, briefly, events coordinator. “She’s basically served in every capacity here at the theater,” says programming director Matthew Curtis. So a few years back, when Enzian found itself without a manager, her father suggested that she step up. “Enzian isn’t large compared to a lot of organiza-

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ARTS

We Design Ooohs & Aaahs...

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tions, but it has so many different challenges it’s like a half a dozen different businesses under one umbrella,” explains Philip Tiedtke. “There was pressure there.” In 2010, Liz became the theater’s director of operations; two years later her official title became executive vice president of Enzian, Eden Bar and the Florida Film Festival. While struggling through her difficult first months on the job, she began to focus on putting the operation’s finances in order. This she accomplished by hiring some new staff members and showing them how to balance budgetary concerns with creativity. “When she was little, it was drawings and mazes,” says Sigi Tiedtke, who notes that her daughter has always enjoyed solving puzzles. “She loves challenges and she always has.” Liz’s other puzzle-solving accomplishments at Enzian have included overseeing its recent renovation and creating the Wednesday Night Pitcher Show, an ongoing series of free — sometimes outrageous — films that are projected on an outdoor screen near the theater. It’s an effort, she says, “to reach out to the film lovers out there who might be intimidated by what we’re showing inside.” In addition, Liz has recently been spearheading a major expansion at the theater that would add two additional screens, a second lobby and more parking. The project might be completed as early as 2015, the operation’s 30th anniversary year. Although Liz says she is “firmly committed” to remain at Enzian through the expansion and then some, she doesn’t plan to be there forever. While she is, however, she’s helping the theater to flourish as a social environment. Liz seems to have always been drawn to that sort of thing. Her mother chuckles at the memory of her daughter chatting on a toy telephone, pretending to invite people to dinner. And her fiancé has also noticed her tendency to foster conviviality. “When we first started spending time together,” Gourav muses, “I found that she would really spend a lot of time concerning herself with making sure that everyone was having a good time, everyone was participating, everyone was involved.” That’s the sort of spirit Liz would like to encourage at Enzian. “I’m really not a very comfortably social or outgoing person,” she admits. “But I love throwing dinner parties: cooking a bunch of food, serving it and seeing people eat and be happy and hang out and enjoy themselves.” Basically, what she wants is for theater patrons to feel at home, as if they were members of an extended family. While we’re there, at least, we can all feel like we’re Tiedtkes.

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. RE S TO K 3 AR ME R0 O TE ( IN RY 7 UXU ,

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FAST FACTS When: April 4-13 Where: Enzian in Maitland and Regal Cinemas at Winter Park Village Scope: 55 feature-length films plus 118 shorts, at last count. Included are foreign, classic and American independent movies. Opening-night feature: The Trip to Italy, the sequel to The Trip, the hilarious British comedy from actor, comedian, impressionist, writer and producer Steve Coogan (Philomena). Spotlight features: Dom Hemingway, with Jude Law; Joe, with Nicolas Cage; Words and Pictures, with Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche; and For No Good Reason, a documentary (featuring Johnny Depp) about Ralph Steadman, the cartoonist closely associated with gonzo-journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Retro cinema: Goldfinger will be screened to mark the 50th anniversary of the 007 classic. Other retro selections include The Big Lebowski, the 1998 cult favorite with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in the cast; Murder on the Orient Express, celebrating the all-star whodunitâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 40th anniversary; and the Oscar-winning Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, a 1970 Italian crime drama. Celebrity guests: Several are expected but only Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas) had been confirmed by press time. Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be there with his new film, Last I Heard, in which he plays â&#x20AC;&#x201D; what else? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a mobster. Filmmaker Forums: Filmmakers, programmers and other film professionals will take you behind the scenes in these free presentations. Tickets: For most individual films, tickets are in the $9-$11 range. Festival passes and packages are also available. Additional information: floridafilmfestival.com â&#x20AC;&#x201D; J.B.

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THE DESIGN TOURIST

The New American Home’s combination kitchen/great room demonstrates how interior spaces are becoming more seamlessly integrated. Most of the kitchen appliances are hidden behind cabinetry.

A HOME THAT GIVES HUGS When Marc Thee was selected as interior designer for the New American Home, he opted for a subtle yet sexy look that’s modern, but with a dose of old-fashioned coziness. BY KAREN LEBLANC

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arc Thee, principal of Marc-Michaels Interior Design in Winter Park, believes your living space should have sex appeal. Not the bawdy, gaudy, girly boudoir version, but the subtle sexiness of a designer menswear collection. It’s not an easy look to pull off. But with a skillful mix of texture, sheen and color, Thee manages to tease the senses and invite you to cocoon in a home that, in his words, “hugs you back.” This particular cuddly abode is the 2014 New American Home, sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders in conjunction with its International Builders Show held recently in Las Vegas. Thee was selected as interior designer for the project, which debuted during the building industry’s largest annual event. The home, set in the exclusive Sky Terrace community, was built by Element Building Company of O’Fallon, Ill., and designed by Berkus Design Studio of Santa Barbara, Calif. A different New American Home is built each year to showcase the latest trends and most leading-edge technology. “A huge trend I see is that people want to live sexier,”

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THE DESIGN TOURIST

W The home has two master suites. The larger VIP suite (above) features a dual-sided custom stone fireplace. In the smaller master suite (below) there’s a “peek-a-boo” bathtub, eliminating the barrier between bedroom and bathroom.

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says Thee. “We’re feeling younger and sexier — at least we hope we are — and this house truly brings that to life.” The 2014 New American Home boasts an open floorplan encompassing 6,700 square feet of living space. It’s intended to accommodate three generations, reflecting a trend toward extended families living under the same roof. Thee wanted to create spaces that felt both open and intimate. “When you have an open plan, you really have to think about presenting backgrounds that are quiet to the eye.” he says. “Now, this is a showhouse, so it isn’t supposed to be a yawn. We focused on both celebrating subtlety and making it exciting.” The New American Home blurs the lines between indoors and outdoors as well as between bedrooms and bathrooms. Thee, taking a cue from upscale boutique hotels, created “peek-aboo” bathtubs to facilitate the unusual bedroombathroom combo. Throughout the home, Thee used an organic color palette that he calls “neutrals with an attitude.” Neutrals, he adds, don’t have to be limited to beige and cream. They can reflect other colors found in nature, such as flax, graphite, bone and limestone. The colors, selected from Marc Thee’s Neutrals, the designer’s own line, were paired with intriguing hues of bronze, brassy pear, peacock, palomino and sea glass. Throughout the home were headboards, tables and other furniture designed by Thee. Each bed was

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THE DESIGN TOURIST

Another view of the VIP suite (above), on the opposite side of the fireplace, reveals a uniquely configured tub. The home’s main entrance (below) is a large open area ideal for entertaining, with the kitchen just to the right. Thee is a proponent of monolithic design, which eschews fussy detaining and emphasizes dramatic swaths of color and texture.

fully dressed in mix-and-match Marc Thee Home Collection bedding, using colors and patterns that complemented the overall design theme. “I’m a big believer in trends, so timelessness is not a word that I love,” Thee says. “Trends, I love. The spaces I design reflect trends with staying power, because they integrate the five elements that are forever—water, stone, fire, earth and metal.” Every designer has a favorite “moment” in the homes where they work their magic. For Thee, it was

the New American Home’s monolithic fireplace, made of natural stone that he sourced in Las Vegas. “The stone represents everything I love in trends,” he says. “It’s earthy with beautiful mink and terracotta colorations and veining. We complemented the fireplace with what we call our feature bar in the kitchen.” Monolithic design is a marquee Marc Thee attraction, and you’ll find it in most of his projects. “Materials can be so beautiful if they’re used simply.” he says. “Ten years ago, fireplaces, floors and ceilings had profile moldings and carvings— all sorts of animation. Today, instead of all that articulation, we’re using beautiful sweeps of special material — big, clean broad-brush bands of simple detailing.” Thee splits his time between his main Winter Park office and locations in Naples and Boca Raton. Because he travels a lot, he has a deep appreciation for the time he spends at home. “A home should nurture you, be easy to take care of and give back to you the moment you walk in,” he says. “Contemporary style is very of the moment, but there are ways to do contemporary that I think are cold and unwelcoming.” Thee’s work, although elegant in its simplicity, exudes warmth and comfort. “Less is more,” he adds. “I despise useless, decorative things.” Thee is now applying “his less is more” aesthetic to his signature product line, which launched this year. In addition to bedding, The Marc Thee Home Collection features tile and rugs in his favored neutral palette, which he has categorized as “menswear light” and “menswear dark.” The rug collection features geometric designs, metallic accents, natural fibers and plush pilings. The bedding collection offers 350-thread count cotton sheets that are wrinkle free and seductively soft. “I designed my bedding collection to be mixed and matched so the flax colors mix with the graphites, for example,” Thee says. For a look at more of Thee’s work on the 2014 New American Home, check out tnah.com. Karen LeBlanc is host of The Design Tourist, an online program airing on The Design Network (thedesignnetwork.com). She travels the globe in search of unique design finds and brilliant design minds. For a global dose of design inspiration, watch her show and check out her blog, HouseSpiration. com, which tracks the latest trends and tastemakers in architecture, design and home interiors.

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business

avenue insider PEOPLE AND PLACES ALONG WINTER PARK’S SIGNATURE STREET. By clyde moore

Has Park Avenue gone to the dogs? It would seem so, with canines greeting customers at numerous businesses. They include Luke (John Craig Clothier), Mason Dixon (Orlando Watch Company), Nikki (The Paper Shop), Quinn (Blue Door Denim) and Vince (Sultre).

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ur two boxers, Katie and Ellie, were with us at the real-estate office when we closed on our first Winter Park home. Where else would they be? After all, this important transaction would impact the entire family, both human and canine. I didn’t know it then, but Winter Park is filled with people who wouldn’t find that little scenario strange at all. As I walk Park Avenue now, I often meet and talk with people like Melissa McGee, her daughter Grace and their 2-year-old English bulldog Dixie. Dogs and their humans enjoying time together is de rigeur along the Avenue. Decades ago, peacocks belonging to Jeanette Genius McKean became such a sensation that the riotously audacious birds were adopted as Winter Park’s signature animal. But while peacocks now grace the city’s flag and seal, dogs are more often seen trotting about its streets and parks. So it’s not surprising that one of the most popular businesses on the Avenue is called The Doggie Door, where partners Brian Wettstein and Jeff Brown stage two dog-focused events each year, both now held in Central Park. Last October’s 14th annual Doggie Costume Contest attracted 155 canine contestants. “It was outstanding,” says Brian. “As always with our

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events, we make sure to canvas the entire area. If anything is a mess, we clean it up.” On Saturday, April 13, watch for the 11th annual Doggie Arts Festival, which benefits the Sebastian Haul Fund. That organization helps Florida-based greyhound adoption groups pay for transporting animals to other adoption activists out of state, where there’s a better chance of placing them with families. Like the venerable Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, this event has a poster that’s much soughtafter by collectors. “We usually look at artists who have been with us for many years, and choose a different dog and a different style,” adds Brian. This year, he notes, the poster artist is Shari Shermann, who boasts a folk-art style. Last year’s poster, by Jason Sipple, was more pop-art influenced. nnn

The Avenue’s dog-friendly personality led to the debut of a new event last year: Cocina 214’s Cinco De Mayo Chihuahua Race. This year, the race is slated for Sunday, May 4. Sometimes the tiny dogs run in straight lines and sometimes not. Lambrine Macejewski, one of the popular Tex-Mex restaurant’s owners, says there are no rabbits to chase and the competition is often chaotic — but tons of fun.

The Doggie Door will supply prizes again this year, but Cocina 214 will also award a gift certificate to the “parents” of the winner. If they choose to dine on the patio, the champion chihuahua will be welcome to join the celebration. nnn

Dogs bring people together even when there’s no special event involved. Ellen Prague, owner of The Paper Shop, was frantic last September when Nikki, her shih-tzu and “toddler,” went missing. “I was absolutely shocked at how many friends were out there all night, driving around looking,” Ellen says. “Nikki finally came home and we went for a walk the following day. Neighbors popped out of their doors in pajamas to say, ‘Oh my God, I’m so glad you found her.” Winter Parkers often spot Ellen and Nikki during their walks. The morning stroll is around Casa Feliz, but in the afternoon the duo heads to the Avenue. “Of course, we stop at The Doggie Door to get a treat,” says Ellen. Then they visit Shooz to see Nikki’s “boyfriend,” Bach, a 15-year-old English springer. (Nikki’s former crush was Baby Kitty, a cat belonging to Hardy Hudson at Antiques on the Avenue). Shooz employees Linda Charlton, Eddie Brown and Roger Murray enjoy watching Nikki and Bach

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business romp, and suggest that the May-December romance is keeping the older dog young at heart. At Shooz, by the way, you can also meet King, a rambunctious 2-year-old golden retriever. A former resident golden retriever, Elvis, has since passed away. “We love dogs,” says Linda, perhaps stating the obvious. “And we encourage people to bring them in.” From Shooz, Ellen and Nikki make their way to Downeast, where Nikki appears to enjoy admiring herself in a dressing-room mirror, and then to The Shops on Park Avenue, where the koi swimming about provide an endless source of fascination. nnn

In Greenada Court, Maureen Hall of Maureen Hall Stationery and Invitations often works alongside Lizzie, her 9-year-old English springer spaniel. Having Lizzie in the store, Maureen says, is a real ice-breaker. “Kids love Lizzie,” she adds. “While grownups shop for invitations, she’s so laid back that kids will pet her and put their heads on her, like a pillow.” But when they go out, Lizzie likes to venture off on her own. She goes to see Luke, another English springer spaniel, at John Craig Clothier, or Anthony Consalvo, her human friend at Winter Park Land Company. At 14, Luke has been a fixture at John Craig for nearly as long as the store has been open. He’d been abandoned when owner Craig DeLongy found him. Store manager Denise Tellis and employee Cheryl Arbutine tell me that many customers stop in just to check on Luke’s well-being. “Luke’s a smart dog, very smart,” Denise says. “He knows when it’s time to go home. At six o’clock, he’s telling Craig, ‘come on.’” Also on the Avenue you’ll find Ozzie, a wirehaired dachshund at M.Marie Boutique. “He has kinda crazy hair,” admits owner Meghan Marie. “I started bringing him to work because he was having a hard time with the other dogs.” Ozzie was rescued from a puppy mill. “He’s not very well potty trained, so I’m not bringing him right now,” Meghan says. “I assume it’s because he was in a cage his whole life. But his personality has come out lately. He’s really cute.” Meghan, whose other dachshund Jacob sometimes visits the store, says her customers love their close encounters of the furry kind. ”It definitely brings people in,” she adds. At Blue Door Denim Shoppe is my canine nemesis: Quinn. Or, maybe it’s not just me. “He’s an a**hole,” says Logan Van Ost, owner. “You can print that.” Well, I can print that with a few letters de-

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leted, but you get the idea. Quinn, also a rescue dog, likes to bark at men. “It’s definitely men,” Logan says. “I got him because he was a shih-tzu-poo (a shih-tzu and poodle mix), and I thought that was hilarious.” She says she thinks Quinn makes the store “more friendly, even though he’s not friendly.” Would Quinn’s disposition improve with a companion? “I want one, but I think he’s an only child for life,” Logan says. “Any other dog would definitely not be a store dog. Quinn, this is his domain.” nnn

Nest to The Briar Patch restaurant is Sultre, a boutique owned by Traci Kabran Rodriguez. If you pass by, you’ll likely see Vinny, her English bulldog, sunning himself in the front window. “Vinny adds humor, love and excellent fashion advice,” says Traci. “He’s very protective of his mom.”

anything on the floor, Wesley just inhaled it. He was pooping on the floor, eating the toys.” Now 8, Wesley is a senior citizen by bulldog standards. Says Woody: “It used to be that I would say, ‘Helen, would you like to take a walk?’ Or, ‘I’m going to take a walk.’ Walk was the key word. He’d hear that and be at the door ready to go out. He doesn’t want to go out now.” The Woodalls installed an elevator when they moved in, thinking ahead to a day when they might need it. But the elevator is now used primarily for the benefit of Wesley, who’s had three knee surgeries, two on the same leg. When Helen passed away last summer, the family asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the SPCA of Central Florida. Just downstairs from Woody and Wesley is the Orlando Watch Company, owned by Scott Heisler. Scott’s daughter Carissa Dixon, who works at the store, is often accompanied by Mason, her boxer. Yes, his name is Mason Dixon, and he’s a “watchdog” in the literal sense of the word. “I think customers love Mason,” Carissa says. “He brings a good vibe to the store. He’s been on some famous watch companies’ Facebook pages and he’s been Tweeted. We have people who come in on the weekends asking, ‘Where’s Mason?’” nnn

Logan Van Ost, owner of Blue Door Denim, says that although her shih-tzu-poo, Quinn, is cranky, he somehow makes the store more friendly.

Recently married, Traci notes that Vinny approves of Wes, his adoptive dad. Which is a good thing, because one would not want incur the disapproval of an English bulldog. “He’s actually pretty happy to have another guy to hang out with,” adds Traci, noting that at Sultre, testosterone is usually in short supply. Vinny can apparently be flirtatious with customers. “Yeah, he’s a typical guy,” Traci says, “He likes to go into the fitting room with the ladies. He likes that pretty girls shop at Sultre.” nnn

Another English bulldog, Wesley, doesn’t just hang out on the Avenue. He lives there. Woody Woodall and his late wife, Helen, renovated and moved into an Avenue space about five years ago. Wesley was bought by Helen’s son and his family. “But they expected him to be a laid-back bulldog,” Woody says. “If the grandchild left

Finally, on a personal note, I want to thank everyone who expressed their sympathies following the loss of Katie, one of the two beloved boxers I mentioned at the beginning of this column. In particular, Judith Marvaldi at Nature in Beauty was kind and consoling. Judith often brings Gemma, her yorkie-poo, to the store. Gemma, yet another rescue dog, “is the love of my life,” she notes. A few days after Katie passed, I went by Nature in Beauty and, without saying a word, Judith and her staff offered up an abundance of warm hugs. I wasn’t sure at first what prompted the unusually effusive greeting. Then I remembered that I was among kindred spirits. Dog lovers are the kind of people that help make Winter Park — and Park Avenue — such a special place. Clyde Moore, whose alter ego is Parker the Owl, owns I LUV Winter Park Inc., a company that promotes the city and its businesses. He has a degree in journalism and advertising from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Follow him on social media at #ILUVWinterPark #ILUVParkAvenue

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Despite their busy schedules, the brilliant William Blackman and his sophisticated wife, Lucy, made time for music, gathering around the piano to sing hymns. Often the president, his wife and three children were pressed into service to perform at local funerals

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DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, OLIN LIBRARY, ROLLINS COLLEGE

A TENURE OF DEPRESSION AND ELATION

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DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, OLIN LIBRARY, ROLLINS COLLEGE

Rollins didn’t hire William Freemont Blackman as a fundraiser. But as the 20th century dawned, that’s what he became. Between chasing money and dealing with an eccentric philanthropist, the distinguished educator exhausted himself — but kept the college afloat.

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By Dr. Jack Lane

Editor’s note: Dr. Jack Lane, Rollins College’s Weddell Professor of American History, Emeritus, was asked in 1984 by then-President Thaddeus Seymour to write an official history for the college’s centennial celebration the following year. Lane, who took a year off from teaching to tackle the daunting project, wrote a highly entertaining, warts-and-all account of the college’s development, encompassing financial crises, erratic leadership and famously fractious faculty members. Rollins: A Centennial History, while not shying away from controversy, also explored the innovative educational methods and brilliant personalities that won national acclaim for the college, and helped establish its reputation as one of the finest liberal arts institutions in the nation. Unfortunately, Lane’s complete work was never published. So, Winter Park Magazine will periodically select excerpts and present them here for the first time in print. In this issue, Lane delves into the eventful but financially tenuous tenure of the president he calls his favorite, Dr. William Freemont Blackman. In fact, at his retirement in 1999, Lane received the William Freemont Blackman Award for “achievements which reflect the ideals and standards set by President Blackman.” This condensed excerpt begins when Dr. George Morgan Ward, whose heroic efforts kept the college open in the aftermath of the Big Freeze of 1895, resigned the presidency. Ward, whose story will be told in a subsequent issue, would return to serve two more stints as president in later years.

he search for George Morgan Ward’s successor was unexpectedly brief. When Ward told the trustees that he definitely would not return after the 1902-03 school year, J. H. Wittmore, a Connecticut industrialist who had supported the college from its beginning, put forward the name of Dr. William Freemont Blackman, a sociologist and lecturer at Yale Graduate School. The executive committee investigated Blackman’s background, found him interested in the position and recommended him to the board of trustees in January 1903. The following month, hw was hired as the fourth president of Rollins College at an annual salary at $2,500. Unlike the previous three presidents, Black-

man had no administrative or fundraising experience. But he brought to Rollins a solid educational background, a scholarly reputation and a brilliant mind. He held a B.A. from Oberlin and, after receiving a B.D. from Yale Divinity School, served for 10 years as a Congregational minister in Ohio, Connecticut and New York. While he was pastor of the Congregational Church in Ithaca, N.Y., he earned a Ph.D in sociology at Cornell University. Following a year of study in Germany and France, he accepted a position as professor of Christian ethics at the Yale Divinity School. In 1901, Yale Graduate School appointed him lecturer in social philosophy and ethics, a position he held when Rollins called in 1902.

In addition to his admirable personal qualities, Blackman brought with him an active and interesting family that would leave an indelible stamp on the college and on Winter Park. His wife, Lucy Worthington Blackman, was a woman of varied talents. Although born and reared in provincial Stubenville, Ohio, she had been educated in private schools and had traveled widely in the U. S. and Europe. Lucy’s gracious touch transformed the president’s home into a cultural center for the college and the community; a place where educated and artistic people gathered for teas, receptions and musical recitals. By all accounts a superb hostess, she immediately distinguished herself as an active worker

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on behalf of both the college and the town. Shortly after arriving, she formed the Ladies Auxiliary of Rollins College, forerunner of the Rollins Women’s Association. In one campaign, the auxiliary raised more than $2,000 for the college endowment fund. She also served on the executive committee of the Florida Audubon Society and was vice president of the Winter Park Women’s Club, which she helped to found. On campus, Lucy started the college’s Domestic Sciences Department — the first in Florida — and conducted classes for two years until funding was found for a permanent teacher. While they were in New Haven, Conn., three children were born to the Blackmans: Berkley in 1886, Worthington (Win) in 1888 and Marjorie in 1889. All the Blackman children would graduate from Rollins; Berkley would become the college’s first Rhodes Scholar in 1908. Still, despite busy social and professional lives, the close-knit family made time for themselves. In the morning and almost every evening, the Blackmans gathered around the piano to sing hymns

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and other favorites. The president provided accompaniment while the others harmonized. In fact, the Blackman quartet became an institution in Winter Park. Lucy sang soprano, Marjorie sang alto, Win sang tenor and Berkley sang bass. During the summer months they sang for funerals, later prompting Marjorie to write: “I wish I had a dollar for every time we stood at a yawning grave and sang ‘Sleep Thy Last Sleep Free From Care and Sorrow.’” With its long, spacious rooms and its rambling veranda, along with cooling shade trees, the president’s house (the old Frederick Lyman house at the corner of Interlachen Avenue and Morse Boulevard, where a condominium project now stands) provided an ideal setting for entertainment and relaxation. Lucy, queenly and gracious, and her husband, dignified and scholarly, endowed the home with its warm-hearted atmosphere. One visitor described the ambiance as “not prim but orderly. There were large easy chairs, a piano open with music on it and books lying about — not books on display, but books to be read and reread.

It was a home of a cultured American family.” Given Blackman’s lack of college administrative experience, one could reasonably assume that the trustees had been attracted to the new president because of his educational background, and therefore saw in him the opportunity to raise the academic prestige and quality of the institution. Either the trustees told him, or he and his family assumed, that fundraising would not be his primary concern. According to Marjorie, he was led to believe that “he would devote his brilliant mind, his fine education, his forceful personality to administrative duties, to lecturing about Rollins through the state, to increasing the number of students, and especially to raising scholastic standards.” Ward had come with similar assumptions, leaving a lingering suspicion that at least some trustees, anxious to secure a president, did not discourage such a misconception. Blackman’s vision of himself as simply a college administrator and a scholarly spokesman was debunked before he even assumed office. On the morning prior to his inauguration, scheduled

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The president’s home, then located at the corner of Interlachen Avenue and Morse Boulevard, was transformed into the college’s social and cultural heart. One visitor described the ambiance as “not prim but orderly. There were large easy chairs, a piano open with music on it and books lying about — not books on display, but books to be read and reread.”

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During Blackman’s presidency, three large construction projects were undertaken. Chase Hall, made possible by a gift from Loring Chase, one of the cofounders of Winter Park, was the first non-wooden structure on the campus. It encompassed 14 rooms, a large common area and a terrace overlooking Lake Virginia.

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In a period when former presidents had struggled mightily to raise as much as $20,000 a year from gifts, Blackman was expected to find over seven times that amount in the same period of time. Throughout the following year, Blackman received able assistance from Oliver C. Morse, a fundraiser hired during the Ward administra-

tion, and William O’Neal, the college’s treasurer. But the ultimate responsibility was Blackman’s. He scarcely had the opportunity to tour the campus before he was “money-grubbing,” to use his daughter’s phrase. Her father, wrote Marjorie, was “in person and by letter, entreating, begging, pleading, ex-

The Blackmans, including sons Berkley and Worthington (Win) and daughter Marjorie, were a close and lively Victorian family. The servant is unidentified.

DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, OLIN LIBRARY, ROLLINS COLLEGE

for the afternoon of April 2, 1903, the trustees, at the request of a wealthy physician and eccentric philanthropist named Daniel K. Pearsons, called a special session of the board. At that meeting, Pearsons presented a stunning proposal: “I will give you $50,000 if you will raise $150,000. I will give you one year to raise the money. This money is for a permanent endowment; only the income can ever be used. The original sum of $200,000 must be kept intact forever for the use and benefit of Rollins College.” After a brief discussion, the trustees unanimously accepted Pearson’s offer, and composed a stirring statement contending that Rollins “has vindicated its right to existence by noble history: its field of usefulness is rapidly extending, and the need for it is more imperative than ever.” The board made an appeal for assistance and characteristically shifted the incredible burden of raising $150,000 — the equivalent of $1.25 million today — on the shoulders of the new president, who had not expected to be a fundraiser but nonetheless cheerfully accepted the challenge. He probably had no other choice. The gift did indeed seem to offer a golden opportunity to create a much-needed endowment. But in the end, both financially for the college and personally for Blackman, it proved to be an unusually mixed blessing. W I N T E R PARK MAG AZI N E | SP RI N G 2014

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Though his successes were many, Blackman suffered from chronic nausea and insomnia brought on by the constant strain of raising funds. He resigned his post in 1915 and went on to become a successful rancher, businessperson and conservation activist.

than yourself.” Pearson, having inveigled the invitation, announced his further wishes: “I am an old man who wants quiet. I do not like a crowd. I seek rest and perfect quiet. I do not wish to get acquainted with anyone. I know more people now than I desire to.” The Blackmans would never forget the winter of 1906, when Pearson moved in. Lincolnesque in appearance with a spare frame and a granitelike face with a jutting nose, he spoke in a gruff manner that never included such social amenities as “please” and “thank you.” Though probably an understatement, “eccentric” was the most common adjective used to describe Pearson’s personal habits.

For example, the Blackmans had constructed a separate bathroom especially for their guest. But as far as the family could tell, he never used it for any purpose that entire winter. Every morning after breakfast he stuffed a handful of toilet tissue in his coat pocket and vanished into the adjacent woods. No one heard him take a bath nor saw him change his old-fashioned black garments, which were, according to Marjorie, “liberally embroidered down the front with a ghost of vanished meals.” But no description of Pearson can match Marjorie’s account of his most disgusting idiosyncrasy: “Doc had a full set of dentures. After every meal he removed them, dunked them up and down in his water glass, shook them onto the table cloth,

DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, OLIN LIBRARY, ROLLINS COLLEGE

horting, traveling to knock on hard doors, and harder hearts, wearily sitting in anterooms to talk to the wealthy and various foundations, taking disappointment and even humiliation.” Still, Blackman doggedly sought the funds to meet Pearson’s proposal. Through almost constant effort, by February he managed to raise all but $40,000 of the required sum In his first annual presidential report, he reminded the trustees that the college was still short of the goal, and he also issued a warning: “Failure would create a psychological effect that would be fatal to the college.” Despite this plea. on the deadline of April 14, 1904, the effort was still $20,000 short. With time running out, Morse, O’Neal and Blackman searched desperately for last-minute pledges. When the day ended, the entire sum had been collected or guaranteed. Upon the arrival of Pearson’s check, Blackman called for a rousing celebration. Classes were dismissed, games and entertainment were organized throughout the day and a commemorative dinner was held. There, Blackman noted that the trustees had chipped in half the funds, while the remainder had come from 73 separate contributors. He then read a letter from Pearson congratulating the college on its success, proposed a toast to the benefactor and led attendees in a college yell. With its first endowment, Rollins had taken a giant step toward financial stability. But the benefits were not to come without immediate cost. Although Ward had managed to make significant improvements in the college’s financial condition, Blackman had nonetheless inherited an operating deficit of $7,000. The matching funds campaign left him no time to raise money for the college’s day-to-day expenses. Consequently, at the end of Blackman’s first year, the deficit had doubled to more than $15,000. This “perplexing debt,” as Blackman described it, would plague his administration from the beginning to the end. The worsening shortfall was but one of the complications attending the Pearson gift; the Blackman family had to accommodate the additional burden of Pearson himself. The old philanthropist was in the process of disposing of $5 million, thereby remaining a potential source of revenue for the college. So, when Pearson wrote the Blackmans hinting that he would like to stay at their home when he next visited Winter Park, they were scarcely in a position to refuse. Blackman wrote in a generous tone that he and Lucy would “welcome no one more heartily W I N T E R PARK M AG AZI N E | SP RI N G 2014

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and shoved them back into his cavernous mouth. The first time this happened, I made a mad rush to the bathroom, where I lost my breakfast.” As a measure of their Christian character, it is noteworthy that the members of this cultured family accepted Pearson’s presence with a resolute cheerfulness. Ironically, except for a small gift to help build the library, the old man never gave the college another cent. In more ways than one the Blackmans had paid heavily for that $50,000 gift. During the first decade of the 13-year Blackman administration, the college realized substantial growth in all areas. The total number of students averaged around 170 annually, a three-fold increase since 1900. The campaign connected with the Pearson grant created an initial endowment that rose to more than $200,000 by 1912. Most notably, Blackman added three large buildings to the campus. Chase Hall, the result of a gift from Loring Chase, one of the cofounders of Winter Park, was a two-story brick building finished in 1908. Chase Hall, the first non-wooden structure built on the campus, contained 14 rooms, a large common area and a terrace overlooking Lake Virginia. A year later, prominent American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie offered a matching grant for the college’s first library, appropriately dubbed Carnegie Hall. The two-story, sand-lined brick building with a red tile roof contained an interior richly decorated with stained, carved wood. The first floor housed a reading room and space for bookshelves, while the second floor contained administrative offices, including the president’s. Blackman and the trustees felt that the library should be placed near the center of the campus, and came to the conclusion that Cloverleaf, a three-story women’s dormitory, occupied the ideal spot. Cloverleaf was therefore moved to the southeast of its original location, and the library was constructed in its place. The third building came as a result of a fire that destroyed Knowles Hall, leaving left the college without recitation rooms. The new Knowles Hall was built with an additional small gift from Carnegie and money from the Frances B. Knowles family. Placed on the east side of Cloverleaf, “Knowles II” contained, in addition to classrooms, a large chapel and science laboratories. Yet, despite more buildings and more students, the college continued to run a deficit. The Pearson and Carnegie gifts, both of which required

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matching funds, had forced Blackman and other administrators to devote their time to raising money for specific projects, thereby diverting their attention from routine operating needs. “After the increasing struggle of the past five years to meet conditional offers of this sort,” Blackman stated in his 1909 president’s report, “I feel both depression and elation in the view of the tasks set before us.” By 1912, the deficit had risen to $48,000. The tone of Blackman’s letters during this period reveal a sense of dejection and defeat. He had simply worn himself out in a fruitless and seemingly endless search for elusive funds. On Feb. 24, 1915, thoroughly humbled by his failure to improve the college’s financial condition, he submitted his letter of resignation. The years of fundraising and the prevailing “disturbed business conditions caused by the war in Europe,” had simply drained him of all his energy. He believed that once economic conditions improved, the college could find the funds it needed, but he could no longer “endure the strain of it.” Blackman admitted that he was suffering from chronic nausea and a “haunting” insomnia brought on by the worry and strain of the presidency. For several months prior to his resignation, according to Marjorie, he had managed only an “hour or two of sleep at the beginning [of each night] and then a lighted lamp and wakefulness most of the time until welcome daylight.” Marjorie later wrote that her mother invariably “read him to sleep every night, and as long as he could hear her voice, he slept peacefully. But when from sheer weariness her book fell from her hands and her eyes closed, he was wide awake again, worrying.” In retirement, Blackman bounced back. He bought a ranch in Sanford and founded the Bank of Winter Park. He was elected president of the Florida Conference of Charities and Corrections, an organization of educators that dealt with sociological challenges, and joined the Commission on Family Life of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America. Florida Gov. Sidney Johnston Catts named him to the Florida Livestock Sanitary Board in 1917. In 1921 he became president of the Florida Audubon Society and an activist for conservation causes. He wrote books, including a history of Orange County, as well as monographs on conservation, ornithology, religion and education. Blackman died in 1932, and his funeral was held at Knowles Memorial Chapel. For once, he did not have to worry about who would pay the bill.

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COMMENTARY

LOVING YOUR LIFE. IT’S TIME GET SERIOUS ABOUT PRESERVATION By Dr. Jack Lane

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itizens of Winter Park: Your historical city is vanishing. This is not hyperbole. It is actually happening. Almost every week some historic structure is demolished and a piece of our visual history disappears. One example: At this moment, a house on Lake Virginia built in the 1940s is for sale. It is one of the few cottages left in that neighborhood that reminds us of our past. I asked the person in charge if he would consider selling to someone who would promise not to demolish it. He replied that he would sell it to highest bidder. If the past serves as a guide, the house will disappear. I have learned that two more homes, one built in the 1890s and the other in the 1920s, will soon be for sale and subsequently torn down to make way for multimillion dollar mansions. This scenario is repeated over and over in our town almost every week. Unless it is in a historic district — we have only three — today anyone can demolish a historic home simply by submitting an application. No questions asked. Our city government seems to be a disinterested observer, even though it proudly proclaims on its website: “Winter Park is recognized for its Old Florida sense of place. The unique character of Winter Park is due in part to its historic architecture reflected in its vibrant downtown, gracious neighborhoods and landmark buildings.” I am not sure what a “gracious neighborhood” is, but I know what “landmark buildings” are — and they are disappearing. The city has before it two excellent studies on how to formulate more effective preservation policies, but no action seems to be forthcoming. Every day without such policies, a historic house vanishes. If the city doesn’t act soon, it may have to consider revising its website to state: Winter Park used to be a city with a sense of place that was filled with historic architecture. Visit our website for a visual tour of what it once looked like.” Winter Park Magazine is pleased to offer a forum for opinions on historic preservation and other topics. If you would like to respond to this column, ot to address any other issue of community interest, please contact the editor at randyn@orlando-life.com.

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DINING

The smoked duck is delivered to the table beneath a glass dome. As the dome is lifted, the scented smoke drifts about temptingly.

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MADE (SLOWLY) FROM SCRATCH The food at this funky little eatery is certainly ambitious. But don’t be in a hurry, and order everything you want the first time — despite what the server says. By Rona Gindin Photographs by Rafael Tongol

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ustin Haney thinks the reason he named his restaurant Scratch ought to be obvious. “We make what we can from scratch,” he says. “We have very little reliance on convenience products.” So, if it’s on the plate at Scratch, it almost certainty didn’t come from a can or a box. “We’re not making our own butter,” Haney admits. “But if we could, we would.” Making butter is pretty out of the ordinary, even for chefs with large kitchens and crews. Haney’s kitchen is a thin strip at the edge of the restaurant’s bar, and he has a staff of one sous chef. So churning fresh milk into a breadtopper isn’t an option. The kitchen’s first refrigerator was a 1950s contraption purchased on Craigslist. The Comet-green relic — its hue is the result of auto-body paint — is still in use, although Haney was able to buy a walk-in a full 12 weeks after opening. That story is Scratch in a proverbial nutshell. It’s a tiny restaurant, decorated to be warm and romantic with a mish-mosh of thrift-store items cleverly reupholstered or repurposed. “I call it organized chaos,” says Ashley Byrd, one of Haney’s partners and Scratch’s maître d’. “The space is a reflection of my brain.” The owners — including Michael Roller, who helps with operations — sewed 300 buttons onto a banquette and made the burlap hanging lamps. They turned old doors into a cover for the front of the bar. Paintings are by local artists, who get to keep all proceeds any time a work is sold. But what about the food? The menu, too, could be described as organized chaos. It’s a small-plates selection, with prices ranging from $5 to $14. Offerings are mostly American, but Haney uses classic French techniques and global flavors at his whim. In fact, as a young man Haney spent a great deal of time at Byrd’s house, where Filipino foods were served. You can see the influence in his pork belly adobo, described on the menu as “sous vide Lake Meadows pork belly. Soy glaze. Calamansi [Phillipine lime]. Black rice. Carrot puree. Micro cilantro. Scallions.” It looks like an artfully presented new-age dish, but it’s actually a contemporary take on a Filipino specialty made with chicken. “It’s a humdrum household meal,” he says. “I cleaned it up a little bit, fancied it up.” His smoked duck blends culinary cultures as well. He cures duck with lavender and orange, then smokes it and serves it with a corn maque choux, which is a Cajun corn stew, here mixed with duck instead of ham. It’s delivered to the table with a glass dome. As the server lifts the dome,

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DINING

the scented smoke drifts about temptingly. Elegant, but earthy. Scratch caught on quickly, with lines forming out the door almost immediately after its opening last November. It’s an ideal spot for a preor post-activity nosh along with one of 80-plus beers or a glass of any of 50-plus “obscure” wines from small vineyards. But some of the restaurant’s best qualities may ultimately prove to be its undoing. The owners want Scratch to be a place where guests can relax. There are, blissfully, no TVs, and the few tables are mostly clustered together. Diners chat with one another, whether they’re business moguls, Rollins students or wandering foodies. Light, fun music plays in the background. No one is rushed and servers advise against ordering too much food at once, thereby lengthening an already leisurely dining experience. That’s all wonderful. But only if you’re seated immediately and the place is empty. From what I hear around town, however, my experience was more typical.

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The grilled loup de mer (top left) is a Mediterranean sea bass filet with citrus-thyme marinade served atop potato-fennel hash. The pork belly adobe sous vide (above) is a contemporary take on a traditional Filipino dish that’s usually made with chicken.

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DINING

Scratch’s interior features an appealing mishmosh of repurposed thrift-store items. The owners sewed 300 buttons onto a banquette (above) and made the burlap hanging lamps. Daily specials are indicated on a blackboard (left), while other information is scrawled on the wall.

Told the restaurant doesn’t accept reservations, our party of four arrived at 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday. We were advised that the wait should be about 30 minutes. Friends of ours came and left when they were told the wait would be three times as long. Because I was on assignment, we remained. A full hour and a half later, after chatting at the bar and sipping interesting beers and wines, we got our chance at the banquette. We chose a bunch of menu items immediately and told the server we’d be adding others. “Let me just fire up four for now,” she said, “and then see if you still want more.” Clearly this friendly young woman, although trying to be helpful, didn’t understand that this quartet of middle agers, famished after a long

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wait, was quite able to gauge its own consumption capacity. We received four dishes quickly. Some were excellent, others fine. All were small. We added back the choices she’d told us to wait on and eventually ordered every other item on the printed menu — plus a special. Partway through, losing hope that we’d fill up, we joked that we’d have to stop at Burger King on the way home for Whopper Juniors to sate our appetites. Don’t get me wrong. The whole take-it-easy vibe is beyond fabulous, but it’s not practical. When the restaurant has a crowd, customers should be encouraged to order as much as they think they’ll wantso they can gobble — okay, not gobble, unhurriedly savor — and move on. I bring it up because I want this dreamy little spot with its super-nice staff to survive and thrive. That’s why I’m not going to scratch it off my list just yet. 223 West Fairbanks Ave. , Winter Park, 407-325-5165, scratchtapas.com.

Small Plates, Big Flavors Here are more places to get small plates in or near Winter Park. Mi Tomatilla. A contemporary spot for classic and creative Spanish tapas. 433 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 321972-4881. mitomatina.com. El Bodegon. An old-fashioned eatery with authentic Spanish tapas. 400 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-1078. bodegonrestaurant.com.

Partners Dustin Haney (standing), Michael Roller and Ashley Byrd have created a delightful restaurant that has been popular since it opened its doors last November. But to thrive over the long haul, it’s going to have to get diners in and out more quickly.

Santiago’s Bodega. An upbeat hangout for small plates with global flavors. 802 Virginia Drive, Orlando, 407-412-6979. santiagosbodega.com. Hawkers. Small plates of Asian street foods in a no-frills environment. 1103 N. Mills Ave., Orlando, 407-237-0606. facebook.com/hawkersstreetfare.

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DINING LISTINGS THE KEY $ Cheap eats, most entrees under $10 $$ Moderate, dinner entrees $15-20 $$$ Pricey, most entrees over $30 $$$$ Many entrees over $30 AMERICAN The Bistro on Park Avenue 348 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-644-2313 / bistroonparkavenue.com. Located in the Hidden Gardens, this low-key eatery’s glass-enclosed garden room offers one of the prettiest settings on Park Avenue. Specialties include chef crab cakes, shrimp or crawfish étouffée and bistro-style pot roast. Breakfast is served on Saturdays with an excellent brunch featuring a variety of eggs Benedict made with salmon and soft-shell crab. It’s German Night on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. $$-$$ Briarpatch Restaurant 252 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-8651. This Park Avenue institution is crowded during breakfast and lunch—and on Sunday for brunch— and incredibly noisy. Fare includes fancy burgers, such as the Grafton white cheddar and sugar-cured bacon burger, as well as sandwiches, salads and omelets. But most patrons are particularly fond of the oversized homemade desserts, including an array of ice creams and such super-rich treats as chocolate layer cake. A bit of trivia: The restaurant’s marble counter once topped the soda fountain at Irvine’s Pharmacy, an even more venerable Park Avenue institution that operated from 1925 to 1973. $$-$$$

as shrimp summer rolls, — and why wouldn’t you? — a skinnylicious item might be a smart choice. The original, relatively unadorned cheesecake is wonderful, of course, but there are more than a dozen decadent options, including chocolate-coconut cream, peanut butter cup fudge ripple and peppermint bark. The presence of what appears to be paid advertising in the menu is rather jarring — I’ll bring the newspaper if I want to look at ads — but that offense is somewhat mitigated by the fact that, after the sun sets, it’s too dark inside to see the menu. $$$ The Coop: A Southern Affair. 610 W. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 32789/asouthernaffair.com. This eagerly anticipated new restaurant from 4 Rivers Smokehouse owner John Rivers hadn’t opened at presstime — it was set to debut in March — but it’s certain to attract hoards of comfort-food lovers with such down-home fare as fried chicken, buttermilk biscuit sandwiches, Low Country shrimp and grits, smothered pork chops and rice, chicken-fried steak, fried catfish, shepherd’s pie, mac and cheese, po boy sandwiches, fried gizzards, pot roast and meatloaf. Desserts will include 19 varieties of “Sweetie Pies.” $$ Dexter’s 558 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 407-6291150 / 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. $$-$$$

Carmel Café & Wine Bar, 140 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-513-4912/carmelcafe.com. The menu updates the traditional flavors and foods of Mediterranean rim countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Greece and Morocco. Choose from small- or large-plate options and pair foods with an international selection of wines available in three-, six- or nine-ounce pours.Tableside iPads enable guests to control preparation and pacing of the meal, from drinks to dessert, by scrolling, tapping and sending selections.

Hamilton’s Kitchen. 300 E. New England Ave., Winter Park/thealfondinn.com. Named for the innovative former Rollins College president, Hamilton Holt, the warm and welcoming restaurant at the newly opened Alfond Inn boasts an early 1900s ambience, with a hearth-inspired kitchen window, exposed beams, farmer’s table and Dutch oak floors. The cuisine features traditional Southern offerings using locally sourced ingredients. Hamilton’s is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. $$$

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 quail. Snoutto-tail specials for parties of eight or more involve serving up an entire animal, usually a pig. Now open for lunch Wednesday through Saturday, the midday menu offers more salads and sandwiches along with more substantial entrees such as rabbit meatloaf and trout. Menus change often to reflect local harvests and fresh catches. $$$

Hillstone 215 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-7404005 / hillstone.com/hillstone. Formerly known as Houston’s, this Winter Park mainstay is part of a high-end 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. $$$

The Cheesecake Factory 520 North Orlando Ave., Winter Park. 407- 644-4220/thecheescakefactory.com. It’s generally always busy at The Cheescake Factory, but fans say the waits are worthwhile. Certainly, with a 20-page menu featuring more than 200 items, there’s something for everyone, including creative entrées as well as pizza, pasta, seafood and steak. There’s also a “skinnylicious” menu with lower-calorie options such

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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. $$ Marlow’s Tavern, 1008 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407960-3670/marlowstavern.com. Classic American tavern fare, including an array of big and juicy burgers, served in an upscale pub environment, with exposed-brick walls, dark wood accents and leather-upholstered booths. The appetizers are wonderful, especially J.T.’s Kettle Chips, including gorgonzola cheese and bacon. Outdoor seating is under a sizeable covered patio, where there’s sometimes live entertainment. $$

Park Plaza Gardens 319 S. Park Ave., 407-645-2475, 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. $$$-$$$$ Scratch 223 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-3255165/scratchtapas.com. This brand-new, shabby-chic hot spot features a tapas menu that emphasizes fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. The cheese plate is an excellent srtarter and there aren’t too many places in town where you can get pork belly, which here is soyglazed and enhanced by calamansi juice, micro cilantro, carrot puree, black rice and scallions. The shrimp and grits are tasty, too, but in a tapas restaurant, with its small servings, you need not limit yourself.The beverage menu includes craft beer, microbrews and fine wines. $$ 310 Park South 310 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-6477277 / 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 also a very nice, slowly roasted half duck finished with a plum demi-glace. If you prefer to dine at home, call ahead and pick up your favorite dish. $$-$$$ Toasted 1945 Aloma Ave., Winter Park 407-960-3922/ igettoasted.com. Yes, there really is a restaurant that specializes in that most beloved childhood comfort food, the grilled-cheese sandwich. But this isn’t Velveeta on Wonder bread; the menu includes combinations of exotic cheeses, artisan breads and other unexpected additions. For example, we doubt Mom ever served a “Fig and Goat” sandwich with goat cheese, fig preserves, basil and honey. This cheesy joint also offers an assortment of burgers and salads as well as vegetarian and vegan selections. $ 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

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DINING LISTINGS 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 restaurant chain, with more than 200 locations in North America, offers upscale Chinese classics artfully presented, with many sauces made tableside by servers. Signature entrées include diced chicken wrapped in lettuce leaves, orange-peel beef with chili peppers and wok-fried scallops with lemon sauce. The busy Winter Park Village venue features an outdoor patio. $$ Seoul Garden 511 E. Horatio Ave., Maitland, 407-5995199/orlandokoreanrestaurant.com. Seoul Garden is so Asian-focused that the “About Us” section of its website is written in Korean. That authenticity extends to the food. Barbecue meats are grilled to order in the dining room. Be sure to try the marinated beef short ribs and the soft tofu stew. $ BARBECUE Bubbaloo’s Bodacious Barbecue 1471 Lee Road, Winter Park, 407-628-1212/bubbaloos.com. It now has five locations, but the original Bubbaloo’s is a Winter Park institution, serving up traditional pork and beef platters as well as brisket, livers and gizzards and sides of beans, greens and mac and cheese. It’s definitely an experience best suited to the barbecue purist. $ 4 Rivers Smokehouse 1600 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-474-8377 / 4rsmokehouse.com. A diverse menu of barbecue specialties—from Texas-style brisket to pulled pork, smoked turkey and bacon-wrapped jalapenos—has gained this homegrown concept a huge following. The expanded Winter Park location also features scrumptious desserts created in the Longwood store’s in-house bakery. The Mississippi mud cake, in particular, is scrumptious. $ 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, 407-622-2010/ 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, steroid-free beef. The fries are thick cut and house made and there are some 120 beverages from which to choose, including tea, wine, soft drinks and craft beer. Frozen custard is a nice treat on a hot day. $-$$

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CREATIVE/PROGRESSIVE Luma on Park 290 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407599-4111 / 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. $$$ Fresh 535 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 321-2957837/freshcafe.wp.com. You’d expect globally inspired cuisine in a restaurant owned by partners who are Filipino-Italian and Panamanian-Lebanese, respectively. And that’s what you get at aptly named Fresh, where the ingredients are uniformly fresh and largely locally sourced. The ever-changing menu features such entrees as seared scallops with lime-ginger beurre blanc, butternut squash ravioli and succulent beef tenderloin. The grilled peach with mozzarella, prosciutto, lemon honey vinaigrette and mint is an out-of-the-ordinary salad. $$$-$$$$ The Ravenous Pig 1234 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-2333 / theravenouspig.com. After leaving their hometown for serious culinary training, Winter Park natives James and Julie Petrakis returned to open the region’s first genuine gastropub. Dinner reservations have been tough to snag ever since. The ambitious menu changes daily based on the fish, meat and produce that’s available, and it’s executed by a dedicated team that abhors shortcuts. Besides daily specials, The Pig always serves up an excellent burger, soft pretzels, shrimp and grits and a donut-esque dessert called Pig Tails. $$$ DINER

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 lemon-butter and pork tenderloin slathered with Dijon sauce. The intimate space has two sister enterprises: a below-ground wine cellar that hosts private meals for up to 30, and a lounge known as Hannibal’s that dishes up American and French favorites. $$-$$$ Croissant Gourmet 120 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407-622-7753 / croissantgourmet.com. Tucked onto a side street behind simple glass walls, Croissant Gourmet is so small you might not notice it. Seek it out. Under the expert guidance of pastry chef François Cahagne, this simple spot turns out tray after tray of the region’s finest croissants and pastries. Quiches are superb here, as are the grilled croque monsieur and madame sandwiches. $-$$ Dylan’s Deli 1198 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-6227578 / dylansdeli.net. In a disjointed little space featuring warm fresco colors and distinctive touches such as arched doorways, Dylan’s Deli offers not only the pastrami sandwiches you’d expect but also a wondrous assortment of French fare. Crêpes and paninis filled with an array of Gallic and international flavors make for satisfying lunches, while montaditos (platters of meats, cheeses, nuts and more) and charcuterie plates pair well with French wines and beers after dark. $$-$$$ 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. $

FRENCH

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. $$-$$$

Café de France 526 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407647-1869 / 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 house-made 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. $$-$$$

Sweet Traditions 212 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407622-2232. 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. $

Café 906 906 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-9750600 / 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. $

ITALIAN

Linda’s Winter Park Diner, 177 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-644-2343. Look up “diner” in the dictionary, and you’ll find a picture of Linda’s, which just celebrated its 25th year in Winter Park serving up hearty breakfasts and meat-plus-three lunch specials. It’s retro, but not in a precious, self-conscious way. It simply is what it is. Be sure to bring cash; Linda’s doesn’t take credit cards. $

Antonio’s 611 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-645-5523 / 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

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to leave room for such staples as wood-grilled salmon, rigatoni with chicken, fettuccine Alfredo, pollo marsala, veal picatta and much 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, 407622-7663 / 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. $$$ Pannullo’s Italian Restaurant 216 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-629-7270 / pannullos.com. Housed in one of Park Avenue’s oldest buildings, Pannullo’s is approaching its 20th anniversary and has become something of a fixture itself. The menu features everything from pizza to classic pasta dishes, but you can’t go wrong with the lobster ravioli or the chicken gorgonzola. And check out the veggie-heavy salad bar. $$ 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. $$$ Tolla’s Italian Deli & Café 240 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-0068 / tollasitalianrestaurant. com. Chef-owner Gary Tolla cooks up authentic homestyle Italian fare in this small café in a quieter part of Winter Park. The offerings range from hot subs and pizzas to antipasto and veal saltimbocca. Be sure to try the bruschetta. $$ 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 white-tablecloth 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. $$ MEXICAN/SOUTHWESTERN Cocina 214 151 E. Wellbourne Ave., Winter Park, 407790-7997. The area code of Dallas is 214, so this stylish eatery’s name makes sense when you consider that its menu offers creative, gourmet interpretations of traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. The huevos rancheros, flanked by Mexican rice and black beans, makes an ideal brunch, with fried eggs served atop corn tortillas and topped with melted queso blanco and red rancheros sauce. Also notable: the truffle mushroom quesadilla and braised pork tacos with mango as well as pescado rico, a large serving of mahi-mahi, wilted spinach and grilled veggies in a roasted poblano cream sauce. The main dining room encompasses freestanding tables and banquettes and there’s a spacious patio where pooches are welcome. $$ 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 Tex-Mex fare including chimichangas, fajitas, tostadas and, of course, tacos. A specialty of the house is the outrageously proportioned fundido, a deep-fried flour tortilla filled with your choice of shredded or blackened chicken, 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. $-$$ POLISH Anna’s Polish Restaurant, 3586 Aloma Ave, No. 7, Winter Park/ 32792. Enjoy Polish classics such as cabbage noodles, Cracovia chicken cutlet, beef goulash, pork schnitzel, potato pancakes and hunter’s stew with cabbage, mushrooms, beef, pork and sausage served with mashed potatoes. There’s also a delightful array of desserts and a kids’ menu. $-$$ 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. $-$$ Orlando Ale House 101 University Park Drive, Winter Park, 407-671-1011 / millersalehouse.com. Part of the Miller’s Ale House regional chain of casual-dining restaurants, most of which are in Florida, the Winter Park location offers daily lunch and dinner specials. Along with a huge beer selection, the Ale House features signature boneless chicken wings and “Captain Jack’s Buried Treasure,” a layered ice cream cake. $-$$

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 gluten-free 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. $$ STEAK Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster 729 Lee Rd., Orlando, 407-645-4443 / christnersprimesteakandlobster. com. Locals have been choosing this prototypically masculine, dark-wood-and-red-leather enclave for business dinners and family celebrations for more than a decade. Family-owned since 1993, Christner’s features USDA Prime, corn-fed Midwestern beef or Australian cold-water lobster tails with a slice of the restaurant’s legendary mandarin orange cake. And there’s a loooong wine list (6,500 bottles). On select nights, Kostya Kimlat hosts magic shows along with a prix-fixe menu in a private dining room. $$$$ Fleming’s 933 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-699-9463 / flemingssteakhouse.com. Fleming’s puts a younger spin on the stately steakhouse concept, featuring sleek décor and 100 wines by the glass along with its prime steaks and chops. The tempura lobster “small plate” with soyginger dipping sauce is a worthy pre-entrée splurge. For a taste of the old-fashioned, visit on Sunday, when prime rib is served. $$$$ Nelore Churrascaria 115 E. Lyman Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-1112 / neloresteakhouse.com. This is one of two Nelore Brazilian all-you-can-eat steakhouses—the other one is in Houston—where the servers, or “gauchos,” come to your table as often as you’d like bearing skewers of premier beef, chicken or pork. There’s a world-class salad bar and Brazilian cheese bread to keep you happy between meat courses. $$$$ Ruth’s Chris 610 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407622-2444 / ruthschris.com. With three old-school steakhouses and its corporate headquarters near Winter Park Village, Ruth’s Chris, a native of New Orleans, has become an Orlando special-occasion mainstay. Its service-oriented restaurants specialize in massive corn-fed Midwestern steaks served sizzling and topped with butter. Most side dishes are more than ample for two. $$$$ VEGETARIAN Café 118 153 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407-3892233 / cafe118.com. Raw foods—none cooked past 118 degrees—are the focus of this health-conscious niche café, which attracts raw foodists, vegans and vegetarians. The spinach and beet ravioli stuffed with cashew ricotta is an impressive imitation of the Italian staple. Thirsty Park Avenue shoppers might stop by for a healthful smoothie. $$

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events art, history, entertainment and more

Art in the Open Spring is in the air. In Winter Park, that means it’s time for the Winter Park Paint Out, sponsored by the Albin Polasek Museum & Gardens. The event, slated for April 20-26, brings together 25 of the nation’s finest plein air artists, who’ll fan out across the city and paint whatever strikes their fancy. Everyone’s invited to stop by the museum and watch artists at work. You can even buy a canvas before the paint is dry. The week’s festivities culminate with the Paint Out Garden Party, a ticketed event on Saturday, April 26 from 6-9 p.m. Tickets are $50 in advance and, if it isn’t sold out, $80 at the door. 407-647-6294. polasek.com or winterparkpaintout.org. S PRING 2 0 1 4 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E

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EVENTS VISUAL ARTS The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. Although the museum is dedicated to preserving the works of the famed Czech sculptor, it also stages frequent exhibitions from internationally renowned artists working in all mediums. Continuing through April 13 is The Holy Art of Imperial Russia: Icons from the 17th-Early 20th Century. From April 20- 26, the museum hosts the Winter Park Paint Out, during which 25 plein air (â&#x20AC;&#x153;in the open airâ&#x20AC;?) artists roam the city and paint what they see. Completed works will be hung in the galleryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Wet Room, where visitors can browse and buy. Debuting May 8 is MichLee Puppets and the Art of Puppetry, a collaborative exhibition exploring the rich and multicultural history behind the art of puppetry. Museum admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for students and free for children. During Paint Out, however, admission is free. 633 Osceola Ave. 407-647-6294. polasek.org. Art & History Museums-Maitland. The Maitland Art Center at 231 W. Packwood Ave., one of a trio of museums that anchor the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cultural Corridor, was founded as an art colony in 1937 by visionary American artist and architect AndrĂŠ 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. Continuing through May 25 is Film Stories, featuring works by Nancy Cervenka, who manipulates strands of celluloid into one-of-a-kind sculptures; and continuing through April 25 is Moving

Pictures, a collection of watercolor studies and digital images captured while artist Joyce Ely-Walker traveled across the country by train. Running April 25-May 25 is Camera Works, which showcases photography from the centerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s permanent collection. Monthly events include Family Days at the Museum, held the third Saturday of each month at 1 p.m.; Artistsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Critique and Conversation, held the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.; and Ladiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Art Lounge, held the first Friday of each month at 7:30 p.m. Additional components of the complex include the Maitland Historical Museum & Telephone Museum, 221 W. Packwood Ave. The museumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s permanent exhibit, Maitland Legacies: Creativity and Innovation, uses archival photographs, artifacts and documents to commemorate the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s founding families and earliest institutions. Opening May 15 is Veterans Remembered, which salutes local military veterans; followed on May 22 by Signal Corps Phones, which displays early information technology used by the U.S. armed forces. Continuing through May 3 is Environmental Pioneers, presented in conjunction with the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland. The third component of the complex is the Waterhouse Residence and Carpentry Shop Museum, 820 Lake Lily Drive, which was built by a pioneering Maitland resident and offers a snapshot in time of the way middle-class Florida families lived during the Victorian era. Running through May 4 is Springtime at the Waterhouse, during which the home is decorated for the season as it might have been when it was occupied by the pioneering Waterhouse family in the 1880s.407-539-2181. artandhistory.org.

Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Located on the campus of Rollins College, the museum houses one of the oldest and most eclectic art collections in Florida. Continuing is The McKean Legacy at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, which celebrates the cultural vision of Jeannette and Hugh McKean, legendary local philanthropists and patrons of the arts. Presented in conjunction with the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, which was founded by the McKeans, the exhibit runs through April 13. Glimpses of the Golden Age, which runs through May 11, highlights several works by Old Masters from the museumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own collection. John Hitchcock: Ghosts of Brutality, which runs through April 13, features images of weapons, such as tanks and helicopters unfamiliar mythological and hybrid creatures to explore notions of assimilation and control. An ongoing program is Conversations: Selections from the Permanent Collection, which aims to inspire dialogue about art created during disparate time periods and among various cultures. Works are grouped under four broad thematic categories: Religion Redefined, Gesture and Pose, A Sense of Place and History and Myth. Courtesy of Bessemer Trust, admission to the museum remains free throughout 2014. 407-647-2526. cfam.rollins.edu. Crealde School of Art. Established in 1975, this notfor-profit arts organization offers year-round visual arts classes for all ages taught by more than 40 working artists. Admission to the galleries is free, although there is a fee for classes. Opening April 15 is One Place: Paul Kwilecki and Four Decades of Photographs from Decatur County, Georgia, which encompasses 48 framed silver

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EVENTS prints spanning the artist’s career. The collection will be displayed at two locations: the Alice & William Jenkins Gallery at Crealdé’s main campus and at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center Visiting Exhibition Gallery. 600 St. Andrews Blvd. 407-671-1886. crealde.org. Hannibal Square Heritage Center. Established in 2007 by the Crealdé School of Art in partnership with residents of Hannibal Square and the City of Winter Park, the center celebrates the city’s historically African American west side with archival photographs, original artwork and oral histories from longtime residents. Admission to the center is free. 642 W. New England Ave. 407-539-

2680. hannibalsquareheriotagecenter.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. Currently on display is The Wreck, an 1880 oil painting by American artist and decorator Lockwood de Forest, which depicts five Bedouins riding their camels across the desert with the skeletal remains of a camel in the foreground. The 36-by-48-inch Orientalist

work is on view for the first time following extensive conservation. The exhibit includes other de Forest oil studies from the museum’s collection and will be supplemented by material, such as photos and essays, aimed at helping viewers develop a full appreciation of the painting’s creation, context and symbolism. Lullaby and Goodnight, which runs through January 2015, focuses on three authors noted for illustrating early children’s literature: Kate Greenaway, Mary Dow Brine and Eulalie Osgood Grover. The exhibit includes almost 20 books by these authors as well as a collection of vintage dolls, Rookwood ceramic nursery tiles and even a rocking chair from the childhood bedroom of the museum’s founder, Jeannette Genius McKean. Also running through January 2015 is Vignette: The Art of Fountain Pens, which displays more than 100 classic pens complemented by period advertisements, Tiffany desk sets and other writing accessories. Admission to the museum 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. PERFORMING ARTS Annie Russell Theater. The 2013-14 season at the beautiful and historic theater wraps up with The Lost Comedies of William Shakespeare (April 18-26), an improvisational romp celebrating the Bard’s birthday. Meanwhile, the Fred Stone Theater concludes its student-produced Second Stage Series with Gruesome Playground Injuries (April 9-13). Non-student admission to Annie Russell productions is usually $25 on opening night (which includes a reception) and $20 for subsequent nights. Admission to Fred Stone productions is free. Rollins College campus. 407-646-2145. rollins.edu. 79th Annual Bach Festival. The Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra will present Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky Suite on April 26-27 at Knowles Memorial Chapel on the Rollins College campus. The performance will feature mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore. Tickets range from $25-$55. 407-646-2182. bachfestivalflorida.org. Winter Park Playhouse. Winter Park’s only professional, not-for-profit theater brings down the curtain on its 2013-14 Mainstage Series with Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits (April 25-May 17). Opening June 20 is Shout! The Mod Musical, which features an irresistible collection of songs made popular by Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield. LuLu and other ‘60s and ‘70s icons. 711 Orange Ave. 407-645-0145. winterparkplayhouse.org. FILM Enzian Film Series. This cozy alternative cinema offers several film series: Wednesday Night Pitcher Show (first and third Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., free admission plus happy hour refreshments); Cult Classics (second and last Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m., $5 admission); and Saturday Matinee Classics (second Saturdays at noon, free admission). Enzian hosts the Florida Film Festival April 4-15 (see page 12 for more details). 1300 S. Orlando Ave. 407-629-0054. floridafilmfestival.com or enzian.org. LECTURES Laurie David: Fed Up! A Talk About What, Where and How We Eat. Concluding the Winter Park Institute’s spring lecture series, producer and environmental advocate Laurie David will discuss the negative impact of processed foods on health. David, one of the executive producers of the documentary film Fed Up,

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EVENTS will talk about such issues as Type II diabetes in children and will spotlight personal testimonials from two teenagers struggling with their weight. The institute, operated under the auspices of Rollins College, brings an array of speakers to the campus. All lectures are free and open to the public. David’s presentation is April 22 at 7 p.m., Tiedtke Concert Hall, Keene Music Building. 407-691-1995. winterparkinstitute.org. HISTORY Winter Park History 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 Growing Up Wildcat: Winter Park High School Through the Years. The exhibit, which runs through April 30, features old yearbooks, photographs and videos as well as other memorabilia that traces the history of the school decade by decade. Ongoing displays include artifacts dating from the city’s founding as a New England-style resort in the 1880s. Admission is free. 200 W. New England Ave. 407-644-2330. wphistory.org. The Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida. The center is dedicated to combating anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice with the goal of developing a moral and just community through educational and cultural programs. It houses permanent and temporary exhibit space, archives and a research library. Admission to exhibits, programs and films is free. 851 N. Maitland Ave. 407-628-0555. holocaustedu.org.

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BUSINESS Business After Hours. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these monthly gatherings attract business owners and community leaders who enjoy networking in a causal environment. Programs are typically held the third Thursday of the month, and appetizers and beverages are served. Upcoming dates are May 15 at Wells Fargo and June 19 at Regus. Hours are 5:30 -7:30 p.m. and admission is $5 for members, $15 for non-members. 407-644-8281. winterpark.org. Good Morning Winter Park. The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce welcomes early risers to morning meetups offering coffee and conversation about an array of issues. Programs are typically held the second Friday of each month. Upcoming dates are April 11, May 9 and June 13. 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. Small Business Education Series. A joint effort by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Resource Network, this program provides entrepreneurs and managers — and those who’d like to be — with advice on operating successful businesses. Upcoming topics and dates are: Community Relations ROI (April 18); Negotiation Techniques (May 16); and Sales Strategies (June 20). Admission is free for chamber members, $10 for guests. 151 W. Lyman Ave. 407-644-8281. winterpark.org.

Winter Park Executive Women. The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce offers lunchtime networking opportunities for women business owners and executives. Programs, which are typically held the first Monday of each month, feature guest speakers who address topics related to leadership development, business growth and local initiatives of interest to women. Upcoming speakers and dates are: Polly Anderson (April 7); Deb Cheslow (May 5); and Speed Networking (June 2). Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. with lunch and program at noon. Admission is $20 for chamber members, $25 for non-members. Reservations are required. 151 W. Lyman Ave. 407-6448281. winterpark.org. MARKETS Food Truck Fiesta. This family-friendly event, which takes place the fourth Saturday of each month, features live music and delicious food. Pets are welcome. Noon-5 p.m. Fleet Peeples Park, 2000 S. Lakemont Ave. 407-296-5882. cityofwinterpark.com. Maitland Farmers Market. This year-round, open-air market features fresh produce, seafood, breads and cheeses along with plants, all-natural skin-care products and live music provided by the Performing Arts of Maitland. The setting on Lake Lily boasts a serene boardwalk, jogging trails and a playground as well as picnic areas. 701 Lake Lily Drive. itsmymaitland.com. Winter Park Farmers Market. The region’s busiest and arguably most popular farmers market is held

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every Saturday, 7 a.m.-1 p.m. at the old railroad depot. There youĂ­ll find fine baked goods, produce, plants, honey, cheese, meat, flowers, crafts and other specialty items for sale. After shopping, make a morning of it with a stroll along nearby Park Avenue. Dogs are welcome to bring their people. 200 W. New England Ave. cityofwinterpark.org. EVENTS 30th Annual Winter Park All-British Car Show Saturday, April 5, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sponsored by the Central Florida British Car Breakfast Club, the event will be held at Mead Gardens and will feature live entertainment and a silent auction in addition to unique and collectable automobiles from the U.K. Advance registration is required. 407-620-0507. allbritishclub.com 29th Annual Taste of Winter Park. Wednesday, April 16, 5 p.m. This annual epicurean indulgence returns with mouthwatering selections from more than 40 popular Winter Park dining destinations. Enjoy an evening of unlimited food and beverage samples, live entertainment and raffle prizes at the Winter Park Farmersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Market. Admission is $40 in advance for members of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce; $45 for non-members; $45 at the door. 200 W. New England Ave. 407-644-8281. winterpark.org. Leadership Winter Park Graduation. Thursday, May 15, 11:30 a.m. Celebrate Leadership Winter Park Class XXIV and reconnect with alumni at the graduation luncheon, held at the Rachel D. Murrah Civic Center. Admission is $35 for individuals. Corporate tables are available and reservations are required. 1050 W. New England Ave. 407-644-8281. winterpark.org. Winter Park Political Update. Thursday, May 22, 11:30 a.m. The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce hosts a panel discussion featuring Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner and Florida House of Representatives Speaker Steve Crisafulli. Topics will include a recap of the spring legislative session. Held at the Rachel D. Murrah Civic Center, the event includes lunch and networking opportunities. Admission is $35 in advance for members of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce; $40 for non-members. Corporate tables are available and reservations are required. 1050 W. New England Ave. 407-644-8281. winterpark.org. Winter Park Sip, Shop & Stroll. Thursday, June 12, 5 p.m. The Park Avenue Merchants Association invites you to experience the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s signature street in all its quaint and quirky glory. Along the route, participating retailers and restaurants will be open extended hours and will offer food and beverage pairings. Tickets are $25. Reservations are encouraged. 407-644-8281. experienceparkavenue.com. Jamers Gamble Rogers II Colloquium on Historic Preservation. Sunday, May 17, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Nicole Curtis, star of the DIY and HGTV Networksâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Rehab Addict will headline the eighth annual event, sponsored by the Friends of Casa Feliz, which celebrates architecture in general and Winter Parkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most iconic architect in particular. At the morning session, held at the Tiedtke Auditorium at Rollins College, Curtis will speak on the topic â&#x20AC;&#x153;Restore, Repurpose, Reuse!â&#x20AC;? After a lunch break, shuttle busses will take attendees on a tour of local historic homes. Cost for the dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s activities, including lunch, is $50. Advance registration is required. 407-628-8200. casafeliz.us

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BACK PAGE

THE RIGHT CALL SUDDENLY, THERE WAS MORE AFOOT THAN A FOOTBALL GAME. BY JIM DESIMONE

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dreamed I was in our Winter Park church, walking my daughter Rebecca down the aisle. I released her with a kiss and stepped aside as Xavier, her groom, replaced me at the altar. At that moment, love overwhelmed me and guests leapt from their seats, roaring approval. The roar woke me. I was not at an altar, but in a daze at a Bank of America Stadium food court. The Carolina Panthers had scored a go-ahead touchdown against the New Orleans Saints. Fans stomped and screamed, and I realized I was saying good-bye to Rebecca and Xavier as they prepared to leave Charlotte, N.C., for a long drive home. Xavier looked relieved — even contented. He wanted to marry Becca, and just before the game, had asked my wife, Beth, and me for our blessing. It proved a moment of truth for him and for me. That Sunday morning, Beth and I — along with Becca, Xavier and our son Jack — had caravanned in two cars to the game. I thought we had cut short a vacation weekend in Tennessee simply to see a football game where the league championship was on the line for both teams. Arriving moments before kickoff, however, I sat in the stadium parking lot with Beth, Xavier and an unforeseen problem on my hands — Xavier’s surprise request. Nearby, it seemed that virtually everyone in this championship-starved city had arrived at the stadium for a feast. Beth and I had secured McGuireWoods box seats, where preppy lawyers, smart doctors and celebrity businesspeople would hobnob. The children scored nosebleed seats, one-row from the stadium rim behind an end zone. First, let me scotch a rumor inferring that the celestial location of these seats was my doing, that, oh, yes, Jim DeSimone knew his three young guests wanted to attend the event long before game day and bought tickets on the cheap. In fact, the children’s decision to attend was last-minute, resulting in a scramble to find tickets, any tickets. The location was no problem for

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Jack, who loves watching football, even sitting with his head brushing the underbelly of Sunday rain clouds. However, Xavier and Rebecca’s sudden interest in the NFL should have triggered alarm bells. Xavier, born in Ecuador and raised in West Palm Beach, prefers football of the soccer variety. He passionately follows World Cup qualifying rounds and plays club soccer, sometimes four evenings a week. But his passion for the Panthers? Not so much. Something even more curious was Becca and Xavier’s travel plans. Without any vacation time left, they needed to drive back to Northern Virginia on Sunday for work the next day. The 2½hour side trip to the Queen City, plus the football game, seemed a tad ambitious on top of the seven-hour drive north. Later, I realized the third giveaway was Xavier’s out-of-character car-seating request for the journey to Charlotte. However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Game day arrived, and I launched into the kitchen for breakfast. Xavier took me aside and asked to join Beth and me on the drive, abandoning his car to Jack and Becca. He uttered something about the two siblings “talking too much” and his need to escape the frippery. During previous family visits, Xavier had rarely left Becca’s side. The two had been dating since college. He had left for Jacksonville to work for a brokerage firm, she had moved to Washington to work for the feds. He had transferred to D.C. to be with her and now she had applied to graduate school. What would this new move mean? Xavier’s request seemed a bad omen. Turned out, however, to be a cleverly orchestrated conspiracy. After several hours on the road and two rest stops — where the boy fortified his resolve with his co-conspirator — Xavier finally spoke up in the stadium parking garage. And, there was the problem. What is a father’s duty here? I remembered my father-in-law — a Dutch Brahman whom I later

came to understand and love deeply — delivered a laundry list of conditions I would be required to meet before marrying his daughter. After I conceded every point, he fell silent. I remember aging, say several years, during this awkward pause. Finally, my future mother-inlaw kicked his shin under the tablecloth. On the other hand, my Irish grandfather took Dad out for a drink, where he wove a verbal tapestry of approval and camaraderie that both welcomed Dad into the family and expressed his expectations of how a husband should behave. For my part, I began like the Dutchman. Eyeing Xavier through the rear-view mirror and struggling to catch my balance, I yammered at the windshield about respect and caring. Shifting in the cockpit for the added power that eye contact could give me, we mapped together those lines Xavier would never cross if he valued my enthusiastic support. Soon, however, I had talked myself out, betrayed by a growing sense of inner bliss. I walked into the stadium to enjoy a football game with my future son-in-law, savoring celestial seats and good company that would last a lifetime. Jim DeSimone is a principal at Orlando-based Knob Hill Companies and is a founding partner of Winter Park Magazine. He was previously vicepresident of corporate affairs for Darden Restaurants, director of communication for the City of Orlando and a reporter and communications counsel for the Orlando Sentinel. He has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida, a masters degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Maryland College Park and a J.D. from the College of William and Mary.

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WInter Park Magazine Spring 2014  
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