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Lakeland’s HOLLIS Garden’s History By Meredith Jean Morris | Photos by Sergio Cruz

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early 90 years ago, the promenade and seawall around Lakeland’s Lake Mirror were completed. Known as the “Civic Center” in the time of its construction, it was featured in the January 1930 issue of National Geographic magazine. A photo caption of the newly constructed promenade described it “like the ornate entrance to some vast Venetian palace… rising on Mirror Lake like a fairy city on an iridescent sea.” However, at the time of its completion

in 1928, there was a key piece missing in that “Venetian palace” – the gardens. “There was supposed to be a garden included in the original design,” says Stacy Smith, the foreman of Hollis Garden. “They never went farther to finish it due to the [stock market] crash.” The promenade’s designer, Charles Wellford Leavitt, was a student of Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape architect responsible for New York City’s Central Park and Golden State Park in San Francisco. “He included a tennis court, a new city hall, an auditorium, shuffle board, lawn

bowling and carpet golf,” Smith says. But, the gardens weren’t completed until Dec. 8, 2000. In 1998, Publix president Mark Hollis and his wife, Lynn, donated $1 million for the construction of gardens at Lake Mirror, Smith says. “They had traveled from garden to garden around the world, and the gardens here are based on a garden they saw in New Zealand,” he says. “They wanted to give the garden piece back to Lake Mirror.” The garden’s design and plants tell a story of Florida’s history, with Florida limestone represented in the grotto,

The 863 Magazine - March & April 2017  

Hollis Garden's History; Volunteerism in Polk; Canvas Creations; The 5 A's for Restoring Integrity; Non-Profit Spotlight: Talbot House. The...

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