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Winter Park     The history of our city from: 1881 - 1891

1881: When Loring Chase visited Florida,
he immediately saw the potential of this area. He enlisted the help of his boyhood friend, Oliver E. Chapman, and together they purchased a 600-acre tract of land that was encircled by the lakes. They subdivided the lots and had it surveyed, platted, and mapped out. They received their first deed to the property on July 4th, 1881 and began to lay out the town, designating sites for a hotel, churches, schools and parks. On August 29th they officially gave the town its name. The next steps were to encourage the purchase of lots and the erection of buildings. On September 8, 1881, Chapman & Chase issued their first prospectus.

1882: The first building in town, a depot, was dedicated by a picnic. A few months later, the second building (the Rogers House) was opened. Not a street had yet been cut . . . the town was simply woods through which ran trails. The first "cottage" in Winter Park was built for Oliver Chapman. The first general store was built and it was rented to Ergood & White. The upper story of this building was fitted to serve as the Town Hall. Soon, property was purchased, more stores were erected, homes were built, and the population started to slowly grow. A post office was established in the Rogers House and in lieu of a church building, the Town Hall served as a meeting place for worshippers and a Sunday School organized. The town was beginning to take shape.

1883: A telegraph office opened at the train depot on January 1st and the village's first public school opened two weeks later in the Town Hall. President Chester Arthur visited at the invitation of a friend. The first child is born in the town.

1884: The planting and caring of orange groves is popular with landowners. The Congregational Church was organized and a church building was erected. The 1st annual meeting of the Florida Congregational Association was held and talk of establishing a college in Winter Park began.

1885: Osceola ceased to be a separate village. Residential homes and businesses continued to be built by new arrivals. The Winter Park Company was established. At their 1st meeting, the company voted to build a hotel. Work began on the Seminole Hotel, to be located at the end of New England Avenue on Lake Osceola. Also in 1885, Oliver Chapman sold his interest in Chapman & Chase to his partner, Loring Chase, who then conveyed his title to all of their Winter Park properties to the Winter Park Company. A Reading Circle was organized . . . the group later became the Circulating Library Association of Winter Park." Winter Park was chosen to as the site for a new college, which was named Rollins College . . . it opened on November 4th.

1886: The new Seminole Hotel had an extravagant opening night. The site of the hotel was the area bordered by Lake Osceola, Chase Avenue, Osceola Avenue, and Osceola Court. The first municipal election took place. All Saints Episcopal Church was organized.

1887: The town of Winter Park was incorporated and it included the old town of Osceola and Hannibal Square. The Orlando & Winter Park R.R. was organized and groundbreaking was held at the foot of Ollie Avenue. The Winter Park Improvement Association was formed and the Public School was opened on the top floor of Ergood's store.

1888:Yellow Fever appeared in Tampa and Jacksonville. Orange County declared a quarantine, forbidding either freight or passengers to enter the county. Rumors of Yellow Fever in the towns of Sanford and Enterprise proved to be unsubstantiated. The quarantine eased up in October. Many new business were established this year. The businesses included: hotels, dentists, a dressmaking shop, lumber, surveying, real estate, nurseries, pharmacies, and groves.

1889: The Orlando & Winter Park R.R. (the Dinky Line) was formally opened to the public. One the first trip, the rear coach ran off the track during its route and, as it approached Rollins College, the other coach ran off the track. Before the end of the year, the locomotive gave out and another had to be purchased. Work was begun on a railway station on Ollie Avenue. The first issue of The Advocate newspaper was published. It was conceived in Hannibal Square and it was edited by S.A. Williams. Winter Park boasted two brass bands!

1890: Knowles Public School (said to be the finest school in Orange County!) was established and dedicated on February 11th. That same evening, another school was dedicated in Hannibal Square for the African-American community. S.A. Williams was the principal. The first graduating class from Rollins College consisted of Clara Guild and Ida May Missildine. Graduation exercises were held in the Congregational Church.





Item: Photograph
Description: Oliver Chapman, Winter Park founder

Date: c.1881

Item: Photograph
Description: Loring Chase, Winter Park founder

Date: c.1881

Item: Map
Early map of Winter Park from a brochure that Chapman & Chase used to advertise the newly developed town.

Date: 1882

Item: Photograph
Description: First building erected in Winter Park: The train depot

Date: 1882

Item: Photograph
Description: Second building erected in Winter Park: The Rogers House

Date: c. 1881

Item: Photograph
Description: First home built in Winter Park: The Oliver E. Chapman home

Date: c. 1881
Item: Photograph
Description: An early business in Winter Park: The Ergood Block

Date: c. 1881
Item: Photograph
Description: The first hotel built in Winter Park: The Seminole

Date: c.1888
Item: Photograph
Description: Early location of the Circulating library: Miss Evaline Lamson's home

Date: undated
Item: Photograph
Description: Early church: The First Congregational Church.

Date: 1885
Item: Postcard
Description: Winter Park gets a college! An early photograph of Rollins College.

Date: 1890

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