About Winter Park Florida
Winter Park is a city in Orange County, Florida, United States. The population was 24,090 at the 2000 census. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2006 estimates, the city had a population of 28,083. It is part of the Orlando–Kissimmee Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is home to Rollins College, Full Sail University and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, which houses the largest collection of Tiffany glass on Earth. Winter Park enjoys more parkspace per capita than any other city in Florida.
Winter Park was founded as a resort destination by wealthy New England industrialists before the turn of the 20th century. It is recognized as the first centrally planned community in Florida; its main street includes not only public civic buildings and retail, but also art galleries, a private liberal arts college, museums, a park, a train station, a golf course country club, a historic cemetery, and a beach and boat launch. Winter Park is celebrated for a sense of place and history, uncommon to many parts of Central Florida. Many structures are more than 100 years old. The scenic Olde Winter Park area is punctuated by small, winding brick streets, and a canopy of old Southern Live Oak and Camphor trees, draped with Spanish Moss. The city draws thousands of visitors to annual festivals including the Bach Festival, the nationally ranked Sidewalk Art Festival, and the Winter Park Concours d’Elegance.
The site was first inhabited by Europeans in 1858, when David Mizell Jr. bought an 8-acre (32,000 m2) homestead between Lakes Virginia, Mizell and Berry. A settlement, called Lake View by the inhabitants, grew up around Mizell’s plot. It got a post office and a new name—Osceola—in 1870.
The area did not develop rapidly until 1880, when a South Florida Railroad track connecting Orlando and Sanford was laid a few miles west of Osceola. Shortly afterwards, Loring Chase came to Orange County from Chicago to recuperate from a lung disease. In his travels, he discovered the pretty group of lakes just east of the railbed. He enlisted a wealthy New Englander, Oliver E. Chapman, and they assembled a very large tract of land, upon which they planned the town of Winter Park. Over the next four years they plotted the town, opened streets, built a town hall and a store, planted orange trees, and required all buildings to meet stylistic and architectural standards. They promoted it heavily. During this time, the railroad constructed a depot (1882), connected to Osceola by a dirt road.
In 1885, a group of businessmen started the Winter Park Company and incorporated it with the Florida Legislature, Chase and Chapman sold the town to the new company. In a land bubble characteristic of Florida history, land prices soared from less than $2 per acre to over $200, with at least one sale recorded at $300 per acre.
In 1885, the Congregational Assembly of Florida started Rollins College, the state’s first four-year college. The following year saw the opening of The Seminole Hotel on Lake Osceola, a grand resort complete with the luxuries of the day: gas lights, steam heating, a string orchestra, a formal dining room, a bowling alley, and long covered porches.