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Dedicated to the Cause of Preservation

In Central Florida, "history" only seems to go back about 50 years. In Winter Park, though, it's everywhere you look.

Jeff Briggs, Winter Park’s director of planning and transportation for close to 40 years, is an enthusiastic promoter of the city. “Winter Park is unique, going all the way back to its inception in 1882. We’re the recreation of a New England town, started by New Englanders, and designed for the educated elite of the north. We’ve stayed on that brand for all these years, with our brick streets, oak trees and Rollins College. That’s what makes us distinct in visual character from most other places in Florida.”

One of the reasons he can say this today is the city’s dedication to historic preservation. In 2001, Winter Park adopted its first historic preservation ordinance and regulations. Since that time, the city has created two neighborhood historic districts, two National Register Historic Districts, and a program that gives residents the opportunity to have their home designated a Historic Landmark property. Today, there are more than 140 homes on that list.

The oldest house in Winter Park, Comstock-Harris House (Eastbank), is one of three properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2021, the city celebrated its 150th anniversary with a proclamation. Beck Hutchinson and her entire family, whose grandparents purchased the house in the 1930s, have embraced the mission of preserving their home for future generations. “We make decisions together as a group, because everyone is so committed. We’ve all been raised here, and we get it.”

Sometimes preservationists have to go above and beyond to rescue a historic property from destruction. When Casa Feliz was slated for demolition in 2001, a group of dedicated preservationists came to the rescue. Community members raised $1.2 million in private donations to save the house, have it moved, and ultimately restored.

Twelve years later, in 2013, the community rallied once again to save the 1885 Capen-Showalter House from demolition, raising $450,000 to have it relocated to the Albin Polasek Museum. To move the 200-ton building, contractors had to cut the house in two halves, float the parts across Lake Osceola, and reattach them on the other side.

01 // The Comstock-Harris Home ("Eastbank") was built in 1883 as a winter residence, surrounded by 60 acres of orange groves. The cottage was constructed in the shingle style, with an extensive porch, irregular roof line and a corner tower. "Eastbank" had three floors featuring 9 rooms, and three spacious pantries.

02 // Located on the eastern shore of Lake Osceola,"The Palms" was built by Edward Hill Brewer as a winter cottage in 1899. James Gamble-Rogers II redesigned the interior in 1937-38 at the request of the owners at that time, Mr. & Mrs. Frederick Detmar Trismen. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

03 // The Winter Park Farmers Market began as a freight warehouse in 1927, and was bought by the City of Winter Park in 1977 for preservation. Two years later, it was converted to a farmer's market, which is still thriving today.

04 // The Geer-Van den Berg Home is perhaps the best preserved, most Victorian cottage still standing in Winter Park. The house boasts steep roofs and Gothic trim, and was improved greatly by the restorations of the Van den Berg family in the 1970s.

  • Casa Feliz
  • Capen-Showalter House
  • Comstock-Harris Home
  • The Palms
  • Winter Park Farmers Market
  • Geer-Van den Berg Home