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PINE CASTLE PIONEER DAYS 2019

February 23-24

"OLD FASHIONED FUN!"

Those early settlers in the area that we know as Pine Castle must have found life to be very challenging.  Pretty much a wilderness, the area required them to work hard to tame the land and carve out places to make a home for their families.  When young Will Harney arrived shortly after the War Between the States, he found it lightly settled with farmsteads here and there.  As with others life demanded a hard price.  Will lost his young wife soon after arriving but he was determined to make it a home for his family.  He constructed a building of native pine which resembled a castle and thus it became a landmark for all those traveling in the area.  The area soon took on the name of Pine Castle.  Even way up until the middle part of the 20th century, life was simple and hard.  But those hardy peoples did take some time to rest and enjoy themselves with homemade entertainment and neighborly visits.

We invite you to participate with us at PineCastle Pioneer Days February 23-24, 2019

The annual family-oriented, community-sponsored/planned event promoting the living history of the Pine Castle area thru demonstrations and other educational opportunities for attendees. Pine Castle Pioneer Days is proud to provide our communities with an event that is:

Family Friendly

Affordable

Fun for all ages

Admission fees:

$5.00 - Adults

$3.00 - Children (under 18)

Event Location

Again for 2019 we are pleased to return to Cypress Grove Park, 290 West Holden Avenue, Orlando, FL 32809

https://www.pinecastlepioneerdays.org/

Cherokee School Blog

CherokeeSchool.jpg

Transformations and WhispersTransfomations and Whispers

By John A. Dalles

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cherokee Junior High School - Architect Howard M. Reynolds - 1926

Cherokee Junior High School - Architect Howard M. Reynolds - 1926

My Monday meandering took me to some side streets in Orlando, in order to photograph some splendid architecture from the 1920s. Among the most wonderfully whimsical is Cherokee Junior High School, with a style and grace that would befit a motion picture palace or a grand hotel. But it is home to eager learners and teachers day in and day out. The school is the brainchild of Howard M. Reynolds, who was among that dozen or so architects in Orlando in the 1920s who were working hard to create a distinctive Florida architecture. I think he more than achieved it, here, in this Mediterranean Revival building that is among Central Florida's architectural treasures.


It would be fun to try to trace the historic antecedents of Mr. Reynolds' design. Certainly the arched entry with the terracotta embellishments owes something to Brunelleschi's Foundlings Hospital in Florence, right down to the della Robia coloration of the composite columns and capitals, festoons, keystones and swags. Andrea della Robbia (October 24, 1435 – August 4, 1525) was an Italian Renaissance sculptor, especially in ceramics, from Florence, noted for his terra-cotta roundels and for their bright colors, especially blue. He was much admired in the late 'Teens and 'Twenties (some of the Roseville art pottery of that era was also based on and named for della Robia's work). Put the word "dellarobbia" in your search engine for "images" and you will see what I mean.
Triple arched forms were employed by most of Orlando's leading architects when creating work evocative of sunny Spain or thereabouts, and Howard Reynolds uses them here to pleasing effect. The arched parapet has a central cartouche in which is a lighted lamp, as in the Statue of Liberty's hand. The lamp of enlightenment. The parapet is flanked by barrel tile shoulders and the protruding towers are graced by castellated arches and more "della Robia blue" roundels.


The school is hidden on a side street, a charming side street, but it needs the kind of breathing room that several of the other fine Orlando schools enjoy such as the Alamo-esque Marks Street Senior Center (it began as the Marks Street School, also by Howard Reynolds) and F. H. Trimble's Delaney School, now the Beardall Senior Center. Absent a lawn to set it off, you have to crane your neck and take time to look up, through the limbs of the mature trees, and linger, to enjoy the beauty and joyfulness of this Reynolds design. As you do, such details as the rectangular insets and the twisted Solomonic columns help to create the harmonious whole. Here are some close ups, for which the Cherokee School is ever-ready...

I'm not sure if you can see them, but the capitals of the columns have as their main design stylized owls, symbolic of wisdom, naturally. If you look at the photos above, and below, especially if you double-click on them to view them large, you will see the hooded eyes staring out from between the acanthus leaves. Now, if you doubt my interpretation of the owl face, read on...

You will perhaps forgive the number of detail photos I have included here. I find the colors and forms very pleasing. Reynolds must have had fun working out all these designs.

It is good that the schools in Orlando have plaques on them to identify who was behind the building of them, include the name of the architect and the date. Would that all buildings were signed by their architects, it would make the architectural historian's job so much simpler!

Between the large rows of windows, on the main facade, you can find the detail shown below. At the cornice, the round window, surrounded by della Robia wreathes and rosettes and the bundled fasces, an ancient symbol of authority...though thankfully, without the axe blade. Along the wall below, the elongated rectangular inset (with the wonderful zigzag detail that owes more to the Art Deco movement than to the Renaissance), another wreath, and below it, the three long twined ropes that are pure Prairie Style design.

The patient observer will walk to the north, while facing the school, and at the north end, will find a small alley. Down that alley is a side tower with arched entry porch that you see, below:

 And yes, there on top of a column is an owl in all of its glory. Insightful, wise, protective. What fun! Harry Potter would love this school, even if it isn't Hogwarts.As with Isabel Roberts, Ida Annah Ryan and Frederick H. Trimble, I have been researching Howard M. Reynolds. Much of what I have learned has made its way into the wikipedia article about him and is in this biographical sketch:

Howard Montalbert Reynolds, Sr. (June 17, 1885 - October 21, 1943) was an American architect practicing in Orlando, Florida in the 1920s. He designed gracefully proportioned, notable public buildings in the prevailing fashionable styles of the 1920s, including Mediterranean Revival, Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial, Egyptian Revival, Art Deco and Art Moderne.

Among Reynolds' best know works are a number of educational buildings still in use as schools or community centers in Central Florida. Many of Reynolds' suave, stylish buildings have been designated as Orlando Historic Landmarks.

Reynolds' was among a small but active group of ten architectural firms listed in the Orlando phone directory in 1926, the others including: Frank L. Bodine, Fred E. Field, David Hyer, Murry S. King, George E. Krug, Ryan and Roberts (Ida Annah Ryan and Isabel Roberts) and Percy P. Turner. This group of architects felt it important to create a distinctive regional architecture, an effort which they described in the Florida journal The Florida Circle in 1924 as follows:

"Just as architects of old created styles to harmonize with their environment, so have the architects of Florida been creating, from native motifs, a style that is carefully adapted to the climatic conditions and surroundings of the state. This style has an individuality all its own and should have a fitting name to express its origins . . . The Florida Association of Architects will give a prize of $25.00 for the name selected." [1]

On February 21, 1916, Reynolds married Doris Crandall who was born on January 25, 1896 (died 1978). They were the parents of three children: Marie (Mrs. Harry H. Fetters), Howard M. Jr. (1922-1990) (married Darlene Lentz) and Robert (married Mary Elizabeth Saine). Both Howard and Doris Reynolds are buried in Edgewood-Greenwood Cemetery, Apopka, FL.[2]

This list of works by Howard M. Reynolds is incomplete; you can help by expanding it, by letting me know of others of his works. Simply email me via the church website you see on the right sidebar of this blog.


Howard M. Reynolds Residence, 104 South Brown Ave., Orlando, Florida - circa 1922 (simplified 2-story Prairie Style)
Jones High School, 101 North Parramore Avenue, Orlando, Florida – 1922[3]
First Congregational Church of Winter Park, 225 S Interlachen Ave., Winter Park, Florida - 1924[4]
Osceola County High School – 1925
Marks Street School (now, Marks Street Senior Center), 99 East Marks Street, Orlando, Florida -1925[5]
Winter Park Junior-Senior High School – 1926
Orange County Chamber of Commerce, 113 East Central Boulevard, Orlando, Florida – 1926[6]
Osceola County Court House, remodeling – 1926
Grand Avenue Elementary School, 800 Grand Avenue, Orlando, Florida - 1926[7]
Princeton Elementary School, 311 W. Princeton St., Orlando, Florida - 1926[8]
Cherokee Junior High School; 500 South Eola Drive, Orlando, Florida – 1927[9]
Howard M. Reynolds Residence, 204 South Brown Ave., Orlando, Florida - circa 1928 (2 story Colonial Revival)
Kissimmee Band Shell and Community Building, additions and remodeling – 1929 and 1937[10]
Mann Hall, Pell-Clarke School for Girls (Cathedral School)(demolished) - 1929[11]
First National Bank Building, 190 South Orange Avenue, Orlando – 1930[12]
Howard M. Reynolds, Sr., Residence, 1315 Buckingham Road, Winter Park, Florida - 1930 (1-story Cape Cod with detached garage)
Howard M. Reynolds, Jr., Residence, 1485 Westchester Ave., Winter Park, Florida - n.d.

References:


1. The Florida Circle, Jacksonville, FL, Vol. 1 No. 2, May 1924
2. 
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=43178097
3. 
http://www.cfhf.net/orlando/1921.htm
4. 
http://www.fccwp.org/
5. 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/9621287@N06/2807870704/in/photostream/
6. 
http://www.cfhf.net/orlando/1927.htm
7. A Guide to Historic Orlando By Steve Rajtar
8. A Guide to Historic Orlando By Steve Rajtar
9. 
http://www.cfhf.net/orlando/1927.htm
10. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http://www.geocities.com/yosemite/rapids/8428/hikeplans/kissimmee/plankissimmee.html&date=2009-10-26+00:29:38
11. A Guide to Historic Orlando By Steve Rajtar

Posted by John A. Dalles at 6:16 AM 

 

The Smith House

The Smith House

529 South Eola Drive/621 Palmer Street

Martha Lee Smith, better known as Mattie, was born in Leesburg, Florida, in 1862.  Her father, George Lee, one of Leesburg’s first aldermen, also served as a State Senator.  In 1885, Mattie married Holly Read Smith, an attorney who was born in Illinois in 1861.  In 1889, the family relocated to Orlando. They lived at Lake Lucerne Terrace when their second child was born in 1890, and bought property on South Eola Drive in 1899.  Holly R. Smith, admitted to the  Orange County Bar in 1896, practiced law and operated an abstract business in the Court House until his sudden death in 1901.  He left 39-year-old Mattie a widow with four children, the youngest a year old.   

 Mattie L. Smith raised her children in a large house facing Lake Cherokee between South Eola Drive and Summerlin Street, with Palmer Street on the south.  Her son, Frank A. Smith, followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming an attorney in 1914, a county judge and, in 1925, a circuit judge.  In 1980, Holly Smith’s great-granddaughter was admitted to the bar.  The Smith’s daughter, Marion H. Smith, worked and travelled for many years as the assistant business manager for the Orlando Sentinel.  When Mattie Smith died in 1938, her obituary eulogized her as a “beloved woman,” who “bequeathed to her children the precious, priceless virtues of character and goodness.”  In addition to Judge Frank A. Smith, and Marion H. Smith, Mattie Smith left daughters, Mrs. Margie Holbrook, and Mrs. Helen Ange, eleven grandchildren, and many friends.

Mattie L. Smith surrounded her house and property with gardens and citrus trees, which she asked for time to move when she sold her property for the Cherokee School in 1926.  The Great Florida Land Boom of the 1920s brought new families to Orlando and with them came children.     Newly-established neighborhoods needed schools quickly, and each new school required real estate.  Having chosen the fine residential Cherokee Park neighborhood in southeastern Orlando for a new junior high school, the local trustees found Mattie Smith’s property and an adjoining lot belonging to Bruce L. Compton, a suitable location.  The three existing structures could be moved and the two property owners could be persuaded to sell. 

Mattie Smith owned almost all of Lot C of Block 6 of the Revision of F. T. Poynter’s Addition to the Town of Orlando, and Bruce L. Compton owned all of the smaller Lot B.  The school board spent $120,000 on the 3.27-acre parcel, paying $30,000 to Bruce Compton and $90,000 to Mrs. Smith.  They paid out only a portion of the total price, giving the sellers interest-bearing bonds in the amount of $50,000 to Smith and $15,000 to Compton. 

While Mattie Smith had owned and lived there for more than twenty-five years, Bruce Compton had acquired his property on the death of his father the previous year.  James H. Compton, grove owner and president of the Bank of Clermont, whose wife had died in 1910, bought the Orlando property in 1919.  He moved there to live with the Theodore Bethea family about three years before his death in 1925.  His son, who lived in Philadelphia, negotiated the sale to the school board. 

The three existing houses remained on the property, but their positions shifted to make room for the new school building.  Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for 1925 and 1928 show that Compton’s house, originally set well back from the street facing west toward South Eola Drive, was moved a few feet to the east and turned to face Summerlin Street, where it became the school’s manual training department.  Mattie Smith’s two houses moved to Palmer Street, where they lined up, one behind the other, to provide housing for school teachers.

School board-owned apartments or rooming houses were often called “teacherages,” as church-owned homes for ministers are known as “parsonages.”  Teachers needed to live near their work and in the 1920s, many were unmarried ladies who needed safe and respectable places to live.  The Smith houses, on the grounds of the Cherokee Junior High School first appeared in the city directory in 1928 as The Teacherage, at 621 and 623 Palmer Street, and that listing continued until 1931.  The superintendant of schools occupied one of the houses from 1930 until 1932, and Orville R. Davis, later principal of Edgewater High School, lived there from 1933 until 1940.  The other house was vacant from 1932 until 1934.  Both houses were vacant in 1940, and neither address appeared in 1943.

In 1933, during the Great Depression, the county ran out of money to pay school teachers. Hoping to use some of the money owed to bond holders to pay salaries instead, the school board renegotiated some of its outstanding bonds.  In the process they found that the purchases of the Cherokee School property were illegal because the proper procedure had not been followed.  Having selected the properties and settled on the terms, the local trustees went ahead with the purchase, when they should have reported to the school board, who would have referred it to the county commission, who would have called for a special vote of the freeholders.  Only when the citizens agreed could they move on with the purchase.  The school board’s attorneys ordered that  payments to the bond holders be stopped.

Mattie L. Smith agreed to exchange her $50,000 notes on the property for negotiable paper worth $42,000, accepting a loss of $8,000.  She also reduced the interest rate from eight to six percent.  Bruce Compton asked for the $15,000 and interest the school board had originally agreed to pay within five years of the 1926 purchase.  He sued for the money, which was past due, but when it became obvious that he had little chance of getting money, he asked for the property to be returned to him.  The Sentinel headlines announced: “Wants Cherokee School.”  Federal Judge Akerman ruled that Compton should return all the money before he asked for the return of property sold in an illegal sale.     

 Across Palmer Street from the school site, the Sanborn maps show vacant lots in the 1920s, and the city directories show no address numbers for those lots until 1945.  The addresses, and presumably the houses at 621 and 623 Palmer Street, on the Cherokee School grounds, disappeared from the city directories about a year before address numbers showed up on the south side of Palmer Street.  The Orlando Sentinel reported in June of 1939, that, “Workmen were busy yesterday moving a house from a site at 621 Palmer Street to a new location directly across the street, in the southeast section of the city.”  The school board owned the house and its new location across the street.  In 2019, directly across Palmer Street from where The Teacherage once stood, the footprint of the Palmer Apartments looks amazingly like the footprint of the old Smith House as shown in the Sanborn Atlases in 1925 and 1928.  In addition, the façade appears much like a photograph of the Smith House from the Holly Read Smith record in Ancestry.com.  The evidence suggests that, after two moves and more than one hundred years, the Smith House remains standing.

Tana Mosier Porter

2019

 

 

 

The Cherokee School

The Cherokee Junior High School

555 South Eola Drive

The Great Florida Land Boom of the 1920s brought thousands of new residents to Orlando, increasing the city’s population three-fold between 1920 and 1930.  By 1921, the effect on the city schools was already evident, with a 40 percent increase in school enrollment in just one year.  The Orlando Sentinel announced in a headline on October 7, 1921, that the city “Outgrows School Buildings Fast As Completed.”  By the decade’s end, the school board had built eight new schools, among them the Cherokee Junior High School, which opened in 1927.

The school board specifically wanted to locate a school in the southern residential district around Lake Cherokee, first considering property owned by Harold Bourne, before settling on two lots in Block 6 of the F. T. Poynter Addition to Orlando, for which they paid $120,000.  With only three residences and two owners for 3.27 acres of land in a choice residential area, the property suited the requirements for the new junior high school.  The board planned to move the three residences on the site to nearby lots for eventual rental to school teachers.  

Bruce and Elizabeth Compton, who lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, owned Lot B and one of the houses, while Mrs. Mattie L. Smith owned most of the larger Lot C and two houses located there, including her family home at 529 South Eola Drive.  Mrs. Smith reserved her right to remove landscaping and citrus fruit from her premises within six months of the date of the sale.  Her houses were moved to become 621 and 623 Palmer Avenue and remodeled into apartments, known for several years as “the Teacherage”.  Compton’s large house on Lot B was moved a few feet east and turned to face Summerlin Avenue, where it became the Manual Training Center for the new junior high school. 

Architect Howard M. Reynolds drew the plans for the school building and the Peterson Construction Company won the contract to build it with a low bid of $304,500.  Construction began in August 1926, at South Eola Drive and Palmer Avenue.  Reynolds designed the two-story building around an open court, where he put its steam heating system.  Intended to accommodate one thousand students, the school included an auditorium to seat the same number of people.  The auditorium occupied a major part of the first floor, along with a cafeteria, and offices.  In a separate structure, between the main building and Summerlin Avenue, a gymnasium featured locker rooms for both sexes.

The following year, the Orlando Sentinel pronounced the nearly-completed Cherokee Junior High one of the “finest and most magnificent” schools in the South.  The paper characterized the Mediterranean Revival construction as a blend of Moorish and Spanish architecture, with colorful, decorative terracotta features.

Eighty-five years later, in his blog, Transformations and Whispers, John A. Dalles found the Cherokee School “wonderfully whimsical,” and an “architectural treasure” incorporating Art Deco and Prairie Style influences, as well as Classical.  Most notably, he saw the work of the Renaissance sculptor, della Robia reflected in the colorful terracotta “festoons, keystones, and swags.” He pointed to the “stylized owls” topping the columns, “symbolic of wisdom” as appropriate for a school.  Dalles praised Howard M. Reynolds, one of several architects working to create a distinctive Florida architectural style, for his success with the Cherokee School.

Reynolds became the County School Board’s choice for school construction after a 1922 conflict between the Local Trustees for Orlando’s School Taxing District Number 1, which had little if any authority, and architect F. H. Trimble, the designated architect for the Orange County School Board, who designed and built Delaney Elementary school in 1921 and a new high school on Magnolia Street  in 1922.  The controversy, ostensibly over safety issues, dragged on into 1923.  Meanwhile, Howard Reynolds designed and built the new Jones High School in 1922.  Trimble began accepting design work out of the area and Howard Reynolds, evidently on the strength of his Jones High School work, designed the Marks Street School in 1925, as well as six other 1920s-era school buildings, including the Cherokee Junior High.

Six years after the Cherokee School opened to junior high students living south of Central Avenue, controversy developed again.  In their efforts to renegotiate bonds to shift money from paying for real estate to paying teachers during the Great Depression, school attorneys determined that the purchases of property for the Cherokee School were illegal and that no more payments should be made on those properties.  In the frenzy of the Land Boom, the urgent need for land for school construction resulted in the Local Trustees overlooking the legal process for acquiring property.  Once the trustees made their choice of land, they should have informed the county board, who would turn the matter over to the county commissioners, who would call a special election of freeholders.  The process had not been followed, and the board argued that the money used for interest and note payments on the properties for the Cherokee School could legally be used to pay teachers’ salaries.  

Seven people held notes on school property purchases in Orlando, for a total of $226,250.  In the case of the Cherokee Junior High property, Mrs. Mattie Smith held the largest note, for $50,000.  Mrs. Smith agreed to take negotiable paper of $42,000 value in return for the notes on the property.  She also agreed to reduce the interest rate to the school board from eight to six percent.  The other major note holder, Bruce L. Compton, sued to recover $15,000 principal and interest yet due on the site of Cherokee School.  Compton admitted that he had little chance of getting any more money and requested the return of his land.  The school board asked to have the suit dismissed, arguing that Compton, who had received $15,000 at purchase, plus interest on the additional $15,000, should return the money before he asked for his property back.

The Cherokee School, no longer a junior high school, remains a part of the Orange County Public School system.  Students and teachers come and go, passing the owls Howard Reynolds designed nearly a century ago to symbolize learning and wisdom.  The Compton and Smith houses are no longer on the school property, and cars park on the large open space at the corner of South Eola Drive and Palmer Street that probably started as a playground or sports playing field.   The structure itself, though, appears as beautiful as ever, and in 1981, the Lake Cherokee Historic District became Orlando’s second locally designated historic district, with the Cherokee School its most architecturally significant institution.  The school’s future may be uncertain, however.  In 2016 the school board announced coming changes in the program housed at the Cherokee School, but provided no definite decision about the school or any timeline for making such a decision.

Tana Mosier Porter

2019     

 

 

 The Cherokee Junior High School

555 South Eola Drive

The Great Florida Land Boom of the 1920s brought thousands of new residents to Orlando, increasing the city’s population three-fold between 1920 and 1930.  By 1921, the effect on the city schools was already evident, with a 40 percent increase in school enrollment in just one year.  The Orlando Sentinel announced in a headline on October 7, 1921, that the city “Outgrows School Buildings Fast As Completed.”  By the decade’s end, the school board had built eight new schools, among them the Cherokee Junior High School, which opened in 1927.

The school board specifically wanted to locate a school in the southern residential district around Lake Cherokee, first considering property owned by Harold Bourne, before settling on two lots in Block 6 of the F. T. Poynter Addition to Orlando, for which they paid $120,000.  With only three residences and two owners for 3.27 acres of land in a choice residential area, the property suited the requirements for the new junior high school.  The board planned to move the three residences on the site to nearby lots for eventual rental to school teachers.  

Bruce and Elizabeth Compton, who lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, owned Lot B and one of the houses, while Mrs. Mattie L. Smith owned most of the larger Lot C and two houses located there, including her family home at 529 South Eola Drive.  Mrs. Smith reserved her right to remove landscaping and citrus fruit from her premises within six months of the date of the sale.  Her houses were moved to become 621 and 623 Palmer Avenue and remodeled into apartments, known for several years as “the Teacherage”.  Compton’s large house on Lot B was moved a few feet east and turned to face Summerlin Avenue, where it became the Manual Training Center for the new junior high school. 

Architect Howard M. Reynolds drew the plans for the school building and the Peterson Construction Company won the contract to build it with a low bid of $304,500.  Construction began in August 1926, at South Eola Drive and Palmer Avenue.  Reynolds designed the two-story building around an open court, where he put its steam heating system.  Intended to accommodate one thousand students, the school included an auditorium to seat the same number of people.  The auditorium occupied a major part of the first floor, along with a cafeteria, and offices.  In a separate structure, between the main building and Summerlin Avenue, a gymnasium featured locker rooms for both sexes.

The following year, the Orlando Sentinel pronounced the nearly-completed Cherokee Junior High one of the “finest and most magnificent” schools in the South.  The paper characterized the Mediterranean Revival construction as a blend of Moorish and Spanish architecture, with colorful, decorative terracotta features.

Eighty-five years later, in his blog, Transformations and Whispers, John A. Dalles found the Cherokee School “wonderfully whimsical,” and an “architectural treasure” incorporating Art Deco and Prairie Style influences, as well as Classical.  Most notably, he saw the work of the Renaissance sculptor, della Robia reflected in the colorful terracotta “festoons, keystones, and swags.” He pointed to the “stylized owls” topping the columns, “symbolic of wisdom” as appropriate for a school.  Dalles praised Howard M. Reynolds, one of several architects working to create a distinctive Florida architectural style, for his success with the Cherokee School.

Reynolds became the County School Board’s choice for school construction after a 1922 conflict between the Local Trustees for Orlando’s School Taxing District Number 1, which had little if any authority, and architect F. H. Trimble, the designated architect for the Orange County School Board, who designed and built Delaney Elementary school in 1921 and a new high school on Magnolia Street  in 1922.  The controversy, ostensibly over safety issues, dragged on into 1923.  Meanwhile, Howard Reynolds designed and built the new Jones High School in 1922.  Trimble began accepting design work out of the area and Howard Reynolds, evidently on the strength of his Jones High School work, designed the Marks Street School in 1925, as well as six other 1920s-era school buildings, including the Cherokee Junior High.

Six years after the Cherokee School opened to junior high students living south of Central Avenue, controversy developed again.  In their efforts to renegotiate bonds to shift money from paying for real estate to paying teachers during the Great Depression, school attorneys determined that the purchases of property for the Cherokee School were illegal and that no more payments should be made on those properties.  In the frenzy of the Land Boom, the urgent need for land for school construction resulted in the Local Trustees overlooking the legal process for acquiring property.  Once the trustees made their choice of land, they should have informed the county board, who would turn the matter over to the county commissioners, who would call a special election of freeholders.  The process had not been followed, and the board argued that the money used for interest and note payments on the properties for the Cherokee School could legally be used to pay teachers’ salaries.  

Seven people held notes on school property purchases in Orlando, for a total of $226,250.  In the case of the Cherokee Junior High property, Mrs. Mattie Smith held the largest note, for $50,000.  Mrs. Smith agreed to take negotiable paper of $42,000 value in return for the notes on the property.  She also agreed to reduce the interest rate to the school board from eight to six percent.  The other major note holder, Bruce L. Compton, sued to recover $15,000 principal and interest yet due on the site of Cherokee School.  Compton admitted that he had little chance of getting any more money and requested the return of his land.  The school board asked to have the suit dismissed, arguing that Compton, who had received $15,000 at purchase, plus interest on the additional $15,000, should return the money before he asked for his property back.

The Cherokee School, no longer a junior high school, remains a part of the Orange County Public School system.  Students and teachers come and go, passing the owls Howard Reynolds designed nearly a century ago to symbolize learning and wisdom.  The Compton and Smith houses are no longer on the school property, and cars park on the large open space at the corner of South Eola Drive and Palmer Street that probably started as a playground or sports playing field.   The structure itself, though, appears as beautiful as ever, and in 1981, the Lake Cherokee Historic District became Orlando’s second locally designated historic district, with the Cherokee School its most architecturally significant institution.  The school’s future may be uncertain, however.  In 2016 the school board announced coming changes in the program housed at the Cherokee School, but provided no definite decision about the school or any timeline for making such a decision.

Tana Mosier Porter

2019     

 

 

 The Cherokee Junior High School

555 South Eola Drive

The Great Florida Land Boom of the 1920s brought thousands of new residents to Orlando, increasing the city’s population three-fold between 1920 and 1930.  By 1921, the effect on the city schools was already evident, with a 40 percent increase in school enrollment in just one year.  The Orlando Sentinel announced in a headline on October 7, 1921, that the city “Outgrows School Buildings Fast As Completed.”  By the decade’s end, the school board had built eight new schools, among them the Cherokee Junior High School, which opened in 1927.

The school board specifically wanted to locate a school in the southern residential district around Lake Cherokee, first considering property owned by Harold Bourne, before settling on two lots in Block 6 of the F. T. Poynter Addition to Orlando, for which they paid $120,000.  With only three residences and two owners for 3.27 acres of land in a choice residential area, the property suited the requirements for the new junior high school.  The board planned to move the three residences on the site to nearby lots for eventual rental to school teachers.  

Bruce and Elizabeth Compton, who lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, owned Lot B and one of the houses, while Mrs. Mattie L. Smith owned most of the larger Lot C and two houses located there, including her family home at 529 South Eola Drive.  Mrs. Smith reserved her right to remove landscaping and citrus fruit from her premises within six months of the date of the sale.  Her houses were moved to become 621 and 623 Palmer Avenue and remodeled into apartments, known for several years as “the Teacherage”.  Compton’s large house on Lot B was moved a few feet east and turned to face Summerlin Avenue, where it became the Manual Training Center for the new junior high school. 

Architect Howard M. Reynolds drew the plans for the school building and the Peterson Construction Company won the contract to build it with a low bid of $304,500.  Construction began in August 1926, at South Eola Drive and Palmer Avenue.  Reynolds designed the two-story building around an open court, where he put its steam heating system.  Intended to accommodate one thousand students, the school included an auditorium to seat the same number of people.  The auditorium occupied a major part of the first floor, along with a cafeteria, and offices.  In a separate structure, between the main building and Summerlin Avenue, a gymnasium featured locker rooms for both sexes.

The following year, the Orlando Sentinel pronounced the nearly-completed Cherokee Junior High one of the “finest and most magnificent” schools in the South.  The paper characterized the Mediterranean Revival construction as a blend of Moorish and Spanish architecture, with colorful, decorative terracotta features.

Eighty-five years later, in his blog, Transformations and Whispers, John A. Dalles found the Cherokee School “wonderfully whimsical,” and an “architectural treasure” incorporating Art Deco and Prairie Style influences, as well as Classical.  Most notably, he saw the work of the Renaissance sculptor, della Robia reflected in the colorful terracotta “festoons, keystones, and swags.” He pointed to the “stylized owls” topping the columns, “symbolic of wisdom” as appropriate for a school.  Dalles praised Howard M. Reynolds, one of several architects working to create a distinctive Florida architectural style, for his success with the Cherokee School.

Reynolds became the County School Board’s choice for school construction after a 1922 conflict between the Local Trustees for Orlando’s School Taxing District Number 1, which had little if any authority, and architect F. H. Trimble, the designated architect for the Orange County School Board, who designed and built Delaney Elementary school in 1921 and a new high school on Magnolia Street  in 1922.  The controversy, ostensibly over safety issues, dragged on into 1923.  Meanwhile, Howard Reynolds designed and built the new Jones High School in 1922.  Trimble began accepting design work out of the area and Howard Reynolds, evidently on the strength of his Jones High School work, designed the Marks Street School in 1925, as well as six other 1920s-era school buildings, including the Cherokee Junior High.

Six years after the Cherokee School opened to junior high students living south of Central Avenue, controversy developed again.  In their efforts to renegotiate bonds to shift money from paying for real estate to paying teachers during the Great Depression, school attorneys determined that the purchases of property for the Cherokee School were illegal and that no more payments should be made on those properties.  In the frenzy of the Land Boom, the urgent need for land for school construction resulted in the Local Trustees overlooking the legal process for acquiring property.  Once the trustees made their choice of land, they should have informed the county board, who would turn the matter over to the county commissioners, who would call a special election of freeholders.  The process had not been followed, and the board argued that the money used for interest and note payments on the properties for the Cherokee School could legally be used to pay teachers’ salaries.  

Seven people held notes on school property purchases in Orlando, for a total of $226,250.  In the case of the Cherokee Junior High property, Mrs. Mattie Smith held the largest note, for $50,000.  Mrs. Smith agreed to take negotiable paper of $42,000 value in return for the notes on the property.  She also agreed to reduce the interest rate to the school board from eight to six percent.  The other major note holder, Bruce L. Compton, sued to recover $15,000 principal and interest yet due on the site of Cherokee School.  Compton admitted that he had little chance of getting any more money and requested the return of his land.  The school board asked to have the suit dismissed, arguing that Compton, who had received $15,000 at purchase, plus interest on the additional $15,000, should return the money before he asked for his property back.

The Cherokee School, no longer a junior high school, remains a part of the Orange County Public School system.  Students and teachers come and go, passing the owls Howard Reynolds designed nearly a century ago to symbolize learning and wisdom.  The Compton and Smith houses are no longer on the school property, and cars park on the large open space at the corner of South Eola Drive and Palmer Street that probably started as a playground or sports playing field.   The structure itself, though, appears as beautiful as ever, and in 1981, the Lake Cherokee Historic District became Orlando’s second locally designated historic district, with the Cherokee School its most architecturally significant institution.  The school’s future may be uncertain, however.  In 2016 the school board announced coming changes in the program housed at the Cherokee School, but provided no definite decision about the school or any timeline for making such a decision.

Tana Mosier Porter

2019     

 

 

 The Cherokee Junior High School

555 South Eola Drive

The Great Florida Land Boom of the 1920s brought thousands of new residents to Orlando, increasing the city’s population three-fold between 1920 and 1930.  By 1921, the effect on the city schools was already evident, with a 40 percent increase in school enrollment in just one year.  The Orlando Sentinel announced in a headline on October 7, 1921, that the city “Outgrows School Buildings Fast As Completed.”  By the decade’s end, the school board had built eight new schools, among them the Cherokee Junior High School, which opened in 1927.

The school board specifically wanted to locate a school in the southern residential district around Lake Cherokee, first considering property owned by Harold Bourne, before settling on two lots in Block 6 of the F. T. Poynter Addition to Orlando, for which they paid $120,000.  With only three residences and two owners for 3.27 acres of land in a choice residential area, the property suited the requirements for the new junior high school.  The board planned to move the three residences on the site to nearby lots for eventual rental to school teachers.  

Bruce and Elizabeth Compton, who lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, owned Lot B and one of the houses, while Mrs. Mattie L. Smith owned most of the larger Lot C and two houses located there, including her family home at 529 South Eola Drive.  Mrs. Smith reserved her right to remove landscaping and citrus fruit from her premises within six months of the date of the sale.  Her houses were moved to become 621 and 623 Palmer Avenue and remodeled into apartments, known for several years as “the Teacherage”.  Compton’s large house on Lot B was moved a few feet east and turned to face Summerlin Avenue, where it became the Manual Training Center for the new junior high school. 

Architect Howard M. Reynolds drew the plans for the school building and the Peterson Construction Company won the contract to build it with a low bid of $304,500.  Construction began in August 1926, at South Eola Drive and Palmer Avenue.  Reynolds designed the two-story building around an open court, where he put its steam heating system.  Intended to accommodate one thousand students, the school included an auditorium to seat the same number of people.  The auditorium occupied a major part of the first floor, along with a cafeteria, and offices.  In a separate structure, between the main building and Summerlin Avenue, a gymnasium featured locker rooms for both sexes.

The following year, the Orlando Sentinel pronounced the nearly-completed Cherokee Junior High one of the “finest and most magnificent” schools in the South.  The paper characterized the Mediterranean Revival construction as a blend of Moorish and Spanish architecture, with colorful, decorative terracotta features.

Eighty-five years later, in his blog, Transformations and Whispers, John A. Dalles found the Cherokee School “wonderfully whimsical,” and an “architectural treasure” incorporating Art Deco and Prairie Style influences, as well as Classical.  Most notably, he saw the work of the Renaissance sculptor, della Robia reflected in the colorful terracotta “festoons, keystones, and swags.” He pointed to the “stylized owls” topping the columns, “symbolic of wisdom” as appropriate for a school.  Dalles praised Howard M. Reynolds, one of several architects working to create a distinctive Florida architectural style, for his success with the Cherokee School.

Reynolds became the County School Board’s choice for school construction after a 1922 conflict between the Local Trustees for Orlando’s School Taxing District Number 1, which had little if any authority, and architect F. H. Trimble, the designated architect for the Orange County School Board, who designed and built Delaney Elementary school in 1921 and a new high school on Magnolia Street  in 1922.  The controversy, ostensibly over safety issues, dragged on into 1923.  Meanwhile, Howard Reynolds designed and built the new Jones High School in 1922.  Trimble began accepting design work out of the area and Howard Reynolds, evidently on the strength of his Jones High School work, designed the Marks Street School in 1925, as well as six other 1920s-era school buildings, including the Cherokee Junior High.

Six years after the Cherokee School opened to junior high students living south of Central Avenue, controversy developed again.  In their efforts to renegotiate bonds to shift money from paying for real estate to paying teachers during the Great Depression, school attorneys determined that the purchases of property for the Cherokee School were illegal and that no more payments should be made on those properties.  In the frenzy of the Land Boom, the urgent need for land for school construction resulted in the Local Trustees overlooking the legal process for acquiring property.  Once the trustees made their choice of land, they should have informed the county board, who would turn the matter over to the county commissioners, who would call a special election of freeholders.  The process had not been followed, and the board argued that the money used for interest and note payments on the properties for the Cherokee School could legally be used to pay teachers’ salaries.  

Seven people held notes on school property purchases in Orlando, for a total of $226,250.  In the case of the Cherokee Junior High property, Mrs. Mattie Smith held the largest note, for $50,000.  Mrs. Smith agreed to take negotiable paper of $42,000 value in return for the notes on the property.  She also agreed to reduce the interest rate to the school board from eight to six percent.  The other major note holder, Bruce L. Compton, sued to recover $15,000 principal and interest yet due on the site of Cherokee School.  Compton admitted that he had little chance of getting any more money and requested the return of his land.  The school board asked to have the suit dismissed, arguing that Compton, who had received $15,000 at purchase, plus interest on the additional $15,000, should return the money before he asked for his property back.

The Cherokee School, no longer a junior high school, remains a part of the Orange County Public School system.  Students and teachers come and go, passing the owls Howard Reynolds designed nearly a century ago to symbolize learning and wisdom.  The Compton and Smith houses are no longer on the school property, and cars park on the large open space at the corner of South Eola Drive and Palmer Street that probably started as a playground or sports playing field.   The structure itself, though, appears as beautiful as ever, and in 1981, the Lake Cherokee Historic District became Orlando’s second locally designated historic district, with the Cherokee School its most architecturally significant institution.  The school’s future may be uncertain, however.  In 2016 the school board announced coming changes in the program housed at the Cherokee School, but provided no definite decision about the school or any timeline for making such a decision.

Tana Mosier Porter

2019     

 

 

 

The Autrey House

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The Autrey House

108 Hillcrest Street

The handsome red-brick mansion built in 1921 for L. M. Autrey stands on Hillcrest Street, at the south-east corner of Magnolia Avenue, just outside the Lake Eola Heights National Register Historic District.  North Carolina native, Latta M. Autrey, vice-president of the Lake Wales Naval Stores Co., relocated to Orlando with his wife and six children in 1920.  He took out the building permit for a house to cost $30,000 in January 1921.

Orlando architect Murry S. King designed the two-story residence in the Chicago/Prairie Style, with the typical horizontal profile, low hip-roof, wide eaves, and rows of windows.  He added Tuscan columns and white concrete trim.  Mr. Autrey bought three lots in the Chauncey Holt Addition to the Town of Orlando, which provided ample space for lawns and landscaping and a porte cochere rear entrance from Magnolia Avenue.  The plans for the elaborate structure, to be built of solid brick, rare for Orlando construction, included a center porch, open terraces and an enclosed porch with a large fireplace.  The living room, reception room, library, dining room, and breakfast room completed the first floor, with four bedrooms, four baths, dressing rooms, closets, and sleeping porches on the second floor, for a total of about 7,000 square feet.

Mr. Autrey took an active role in his new community, which elected him mayor in 1925.  During his three-year term, Autrey brought his progressive vision to Orlando, completing a long list of beautification and improvement projects, but he declined a second term, citing family considerations.  The ending of the boom times no doubt influenced his decision.  The Autrey family moved in 1929, to Valdosta, Georgia, the site of his naval stores business. In 1930, Autrey sold the house at 108 Hillcrest Street, by that time vacant for nearly a year, to Clarence Thomas. Latta Autrey died in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1938.

Clarence Thomas, a millionaire owner of chain stores in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a winter resident of Orlando, paid $65,000 for the Autrey House in 1930, one of the city’s showplaces, rumored to have cost more than $100,000 to build.  A pioneer in chain marketing, he built his original Grand Rapids store into one of the Michigan city’s leading businesses, adding new stores throughout the area until he had more than one hundred stores.  He bought another chain store company, and in 1929, he sold his entire holdings to Kroger Stores, reportedly for about $3 million. He next started a chain of hardware stores in Grand Rapids.  The Thomas family lived in the palatial Autrey house with its spacious grounds for twenty-seven years, though they may have divided that time between Orlando and Grand Rapids.

Westwood, Inc., the firm of Carl T. Langford and William Slemons, paid $100,000 for the Autrey house in 1957, with plans to use it as an office for their real estate, insurance, and mortgage businesses.  Clarence Thomas, who possibly bought a smaller house in the area after the sale of the Autrey House in 1957, died in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1973.   

The various enterprises of Langford and Slemons occupied offices in the Autrey House from 1957 until about 1969, when they dissolved their partnership.  Carl T. Langford, elected Mayor of Orlando in 1967, closed out his business interests to devote his time to the city.  In 1970, a local insurance company headed by Frank C. Drane, Jr., bought the Autrey House and announced plans to restore it as much as possible to its former appearance and to dedicate it to the memory of Mayor Autrey.  The first floor would be furnished as the original home, with commercial offices on the second floor.

The Autrey House sold again in 1975, when three attorneys bought it for $205,000 as an investment.  They sold it in 1980 to Robert Oreck for $305,000.  Oreck, who had started his own restoration of the brick mansion he called the Embassy House., intended to make it the headquarters for his new development firm.  He sold it two years later for $500,000.  It sold again after about a year for $460,000.  The new owners, the law firm of E. Clay Parker, held the property from 1983 until 1994, when Parker bought it.  He sold in 2007 to another law firm for $1,435,000.  That firm sold to an investment company in 2017, for $1.4 million.  In 2019 the investment firm still owns the Autrey House.

 The impressive mansion looks much as it probably did when new.  Its quality design and solid brick construction remain sound, though parking lots and multi-lane streets have whittled away at the once beautiful grounds.  Mayor Autry’s vision for Orlando came true, built on the many accomplishments of his administration, including an adequate water supply, an airport, miles of brick-paved streets, sidewalks, drainage wells, sanitary sewers, storm sewer, and fire hydrants.  He set out to beautify the city, and his own residence contributed to his vision.

Tana Mosier Porter

2019

 

Busy Weekend for Preservation

Two recent high profile events celebrated the importance of historic preservation in our community.  The first celebrated the architectural design detail of mid-century and the other the preservation and rehabilitation of a residential structure in a moving way.

 

The first event was on Saturday December 1st out front of the Orange County History Center  with the unveiling of a portion of the brise soleil that adorned the round building that was once where the new Dr. Phillips performing Arts center now stands. The ceremony was presided by John Kaiser of Designage. In attendance were civic officials and leaders,  members from Nils Schweitzer Modern Group, and the many partners who donated services and materials.

 

The second event was the relocation of the 1921 structure that once stood on the corner of Broadway Ave and Ridgewood Street in the Lake Eola Heights neighborhood. It was moved two blocks north and east to the corner of E. Livingston St and Cathcart Ave.  While there had been some controversy of its inclusion as a contributing structure in the local Lake Eola Heights Historic District it is a contributing structure in the Lake Eola Heights National Register District.

Many residents, who patiently endured the utility outages and traffic disruption, as well as media watched as the large structure made its way through the neighborhood to its new home. The new site which had a rear structure was able to accommodate the home as it had never been fully developed. The vacated site is planned for a 5-unit condominium development.

John Kaiser(l) Orlando Comm Patty Sheehan(r)

John Kaiser(l) Orlando Comm Patty Sheehan(r)

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The Sam Robinson House

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 419 N. Magnolia Avenue

One of Orlando’s oldest and most elegant houses stands on the east side of North Magnolia Avenue near Livingston Street.  Sam Robinson built it in 1884. According to Orlando historian, Eve Bacon, the large Colonial-style frame residence “featured a gable and widow’s walk.  It had famous plate glass windows that puzzled the town because of their near invisibility.  The only running water in the home was through a hose in the bathroom off the ground floor master bedroom, which connected to the faucet on the back porch.  Its installation was considered almost grotesque modernity on the part of Mr. Robinson.” 

 Samuel Austin Robinson came to Orlando from Michigan in 1876 to help his older brother, Norman, set out a citrus grove in what is now Lake Eola Heights.  A civil engineer, Sam Robinson soon established a surveying practice in Central Florida and worked for seventeen years as Orange County’s Surveyor.  He also served as tax assessor and tax collector, alderman, school trustee, and city surveyor, in addition to two terms in the State Legislature.  Robinson laid out the downtown streets, and with Otto Fries, he surveyed the new Greenwood Cemetery. 

Sam first built a log house on Norman Robinson’s grove land at the northeast corner of Hillcrest Street and Cathcart Avenue, followed in 1884 by one of the first houses in the Lake Eola Heights area. Robinson built on land deeded to him in 1878 by his brother before the area was platted, resulting in difficult property descriptions.  His acreage eventually became part of the Speirs and Lockharts Subdivisions, but efforts to trace property ownership remain complicated.

Robinson lived in the house until 1900, when he sold it to Levi Dodge, for $2000 and release from the mortgage Dodge held on the property.  Sam Robinson relocated at that time to the North Main and Washington Streets area, where he occupied several different houses over the years and died in 1926.  At some time, probably before 1913, renovations to the front façade of the Magnolia Avenue house, including the addition of the four two-story columns, changed the Colonial Revival house to an imposing Classical Revival mansion. 

 In 1902, Dodge sold the same property to Isaac C. Mann, who lived there until his death in 1917.  His widow, Lizzie Mann, sold it to Alice H. Baker for $5000 in 1919. John and Alice Baker sold the house in 1920 to T. C. Brannon.  Brannon, a citrus inspector, conductor on the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, realtor, and prominent Orlando citizen, occupied the residence, advertised as “The Magnolia,” for fifteen years.    The very social Brannon family gave numerous parties and gatherings, and they operated a boarding house, renting out rooms in the former Robinson house. The Broadway Methodist Church was organized at a meeting in the house in 1922.

In 1934, the Majefee Corporation, a housing construction firm which held a mortgage encumbering the property on Magnolia Avenue, foreclosed on T. C. Brannon.  The judgement required that the property be sold at auction for no less than $9,000 and Majefee was the highest bidder.  The house, called “The Colonial,” operated as a boarding house for the next ten years.  In 1936, the Colonial Tea Room advertised in the Winter Park Topics: lunches, dinners, special parties, and rooms by the day or the week.  The Orlando Sentinel society column praised the colonial atmosphere, furnishings and architecture, and noted “the particular charm” of the house.

By 1946, when the Majefee Corporation sold the property to William C. Haynie, commerce had begun to move out from the city along Magnolia Avenue.  Luther and Virginia Damron bought the house in 1948, with plans to open a twelve-room tourist hotel to be called “Magnolia Manor.”  The Damrons paid $32,500, with $13,000 remaining to be paid on $15,000 mortgage granted to the Majefee Corporation.

The Damrons sold the property to W. O. Daley, a certified public accountant, in 1954, and Daley’s newly organized firm, Four Nineteen, Inc., occupied the structure until 1986.  The Daley family sold in 2015 to Thorne Properties.

Today, Sam Robinson’s Colonial Revival residence that fronted a vast orange grove in 1884, has become a Classical Revival mansion on a heavily-traveled street in the heart of Orlando’s downtown.  Parts of the residential neighborhood that replaced the orange groves has itself given way to commercial concerns, and 419 Magnolia Avenue, a business for more than a half-century, led the way.  The imposing four-columned mansion appears wedged between two unfortunate additions of its own with businesses flanking those.  The oak trees that Sam Robinson planted are all gone in this section of Magnolia Avenue, which has been realigned so that the house is set back from the one-way street on a curve, obscuring it from the fast-moving traffic.  Many Orlandoans who pass every day have probably never noticed the beautiful and historically important house at 419 North Magnolia Avenue.

Tana Mosier Porter 2018

  

ORANGE COUNTY MAYORAL CANDIDATES

FORUM ON HISTORIC PRESERVATION

PRESENTED BY:

ORANGE PRESERVATION TRUST

AND

THE LAKE EOLA HEIGHTS HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION

THURSDAY, AUGUST 9, 6-7PM

TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH SANCTUARY

123 E. LIVINGSTON ST ORLANDO, FL 32801

Church lot parking is limited however free on-street parking available starting 6pm

For more information contact OPTrust@gmail.com or lehhna@gmail.com

Grace Hagedorn Receives Awards at OPT 2018 Spring Event

Orange Preservation Trust  Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation Award  Grace Hagedorn, (l) Raymond Cox (r)

Orange Preservation Trust

Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation Award

Grace Hagedorn, (l) Raymond Cox (r)

City of Orlando Grace Hagedorn Day Proclamation  (Richard Forbes,l, Grace Hagedorn,c, Raymond Cox,r.)

City of Orlando Grace Hagedorn Day Proclamation

(Richard Forbes,l, Grace Hagedorn,c, Raymond Cox,r.)

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On Sunday April 29, Grace Hagedorn was awarded OPT's 1st Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation Award.

Surrounded by family, friends and fellow preservationists OPT president Raymond Cox gave the presentation including a quick review of her years of activism.

Not only did Grace receive OPT's award, on behalf of Mayor Dyer, Richard Forbes the Orlando Historic Preservation Officer, presented Grace with a City Proclamation that proclaimed April 29, 2018 Grace Hagedorn Day in the City of Orlando.

OPT would like to thank all the attendees, donors and especially Chad and Patty Lalonde for opening their beautiful 1911 historic home in the Lake Eola Heights Historic District for the event.