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
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
Winter Park Company
was established. At their 1st
meeting, the company voted to build a hotel. Work began on the
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
1886: The new
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.
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!
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.