Touring Historic Longwood, Florida

Touring Historic Longwood, Florida

After the Second Seminole War ended homesteads were granted in 1870 and a community south of Sanford began. Settler Edward Henck of Boston named Longwood after one of his hometown’s most attractive suburbs and in 1876 he founded the first post office and became the first postmaster.

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Explore Historic 'Green Gables' and Melbourne, Florida

If you haven't ventured south to Melbourne, Florida you need to put it on your day-trip list.  It's about an hour and a half south of Orlando on the Atlantic Coast and I was amazed by what I found there.  First, let's talk about a visit to Green Gables

Green Gables was the winter home of William T. Wells and his family.  Wells was a metallurgist who was known for his patent on the manufacturing of rustless iron.  In 1894 Wells and his wife Nora, sons Stanford and Prescott, and daughter Gladys traveled from New York to find a healthier climate for Nora's health issues. 

Melbourne was the perfect mix of friendly neighbors, great fishing, and outdoor activities.  In 1896 Green Gables was completed on the high bluff facing the river just north of town. 

This Queen Anne style house was the first of its kind and unique to a property like this, the house has remained family-owned to this day.  However, after the 2004 hurricane season it was deemed uninhabitable. 

The house is now used for events and parties but needs extensive repairs and restoration. You'll see some damage in the photos. 

The Wells family contributed to the expansion of Melbourne both architecturally and culturally.  Mrs. Wells built the first auditorium in the region and stage boasted perfect acoustics.  She arranged the Chautauqua of the Tropics and had musicians, actors, poets, and lecturers come to visit and perform.  The Wells' dedicated a portion of their land to the public which became Wells Park and the main branch of the Melbourne Public Library.  They also provided the means for the first pubic high school.  They were generous and progressive and left a legacy that remains today.

This 122 year old structure is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has an unparalleled view of the Indian River.  What a spot to experience the beauty and history of Brevard County.

Green Gables 

To arrange a tour or visit, reach out by email at the address below.

Mail: P.O. Box 1086, Melbourne, FL 32902

Address: 1501 South Harbor City Blvd, Melbourne, FL
info@GreenGables.com
http://SaveGreenGables.org

 

Click below to watch the Townie Tourist walk through Green Gables. 👇👇

Greenwood Cemetery: An Orlando History Lesson

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Greenwood Cemetery is one of the most unique places to visit in Orlando.  It's close to downtown and in a neighborhood full of brick streets and historic residential homes.  The area is loaded with trees and wetlands and the air here is thick and humid.  Bring bug spray and sunscreen.  (I should just add that in my bio since I say it all the time.)

If you're looking for history and a tour like no other, then add Greenwood to your list of places to visit in Central Florida.  Never have I experienced a more informative, unique, and humorous walk through a city's history. 

Don Price is Orlando's Sexton.  Historically, a sexton is someone who looked after a church graveyard.  The meaning has changed a bit and this cemetery isn't affiliated with one specific church.  Don is a record-keeper, a historian, the story-saver of our region. 

His tour covers Orlando history from the beginning up to modern day.  We got him out on a Saturday morning to share an abbreviated tour with us. You can walk along with us at the bottom of this post. 

History of Greenwood Cemetery Up until the 1880s, the people of Orlando had no permanent burial location, leading to many lost graves and confusion. After a heady newspaper campaign, by publisher Mahlon Gore, eight Orlando residents pulled together $1,800 to buy 26 acres of land and the cemetery was created. 

The original layout of Greenwood Cemetery was designed by Samuel A. Robinson and is laid out in a unique circular pattern. It's true that you can't get lost. Just keep going left and you'll end up at the beginning. 

There are free walking tours available throughout the year, but your best bet is to send an email or call Don's office at the number below to be sure you can secure a date/time. In October he hosts night time haunted tours that are a hoot! Also kind of creepy. Be ready to walk about a mile and wear sturdy shoes. Maybe consider bringing a flashlight to that one.

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Greenwood Cemetery 

Greenwood Cemetery
1603 Greenwood St.
Orlando, Florida 32801
407-246-2616
greenwood@cityoforlando.net

For information in Spanish: Click Here!

 

Directions to Greenwood Cemetery

Coming from 408 East (Oviedo/UCF area):

  • Travel west on 408

  • Exit on 11B toward East South Street

  • Merge onto East South Street

  • Turn left on Mills Avenue

  • Take 3rd left onto Greenwood Street

Coming from 408 West (I-4/Downtown):

  • Travel east on 408 to exit 11B toward Mills Avenue

  • Merge onto East Anderson Street

  • Turn right on Mills Avenue

  • Take 3rd left onto Greenwood Street

 
 

Watch the Townie Tourist tour with Brendan from Bungalower and Don Price.👇

Lake Eola: Orlando's Central Park

Lake Eola was originally part of a 200 acre plot of land purchased by the 'Cattle King of Florida' Jacob Summerlin. On the south side of that land was a sinkhole, combined with the aquifer underneath, the body of water that formed was Lake Eola. 

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In 1888 Lake Eola was recognized as a park after being donated to the public in 1883. 

There are five types of swans you'll see: Black Neck swans, Whooper swans, Royal Mute swans, Trumpeter swans, and Australian Black swans. There's an annual round-up each year where they're checked out by a swan veterinarian, vaccinated, catalogued and returned to the lake. 

Swan Tip: Remember to only feed the swans spinach, lettuces, or duck pellets. 

The Linton E. Allen fountain spews out 6500 gallons of water every minute. It was built in 1957 and patterned after fountains of Europe. Struck by lightning in 2009, it underwent a renovation and has been completely restored. Did you know you can actually go INSIDE the fountain? Maybe we could do that for Townie Tourist. Wouldn't that be cool?

The Sperry Fountain is actually the second fountain. The original is now located in Greenwood Cemetery. The fountain is made of wrought iron and has a duck base and water flows from an acanthus leaf. 

The Band Shell was built in 1886 and originally placed on the south side of the lake. It was completely moved and reconstructed on the west side and now sits at the foot of Washington Street near the main entrance to the park.  

Winter Park Boat Tour

So last year, Brendan and I went on the Winter Park Boat Tour.  We also made a game out of it.  We passed a Corkcicle mimosa back and forth each time the boat captain said the word 'Rollins.' 

See, Rollins College is on the shore of Lake Virginia and it's been a big part of Winter Park history since 1886.  The boat tour is splendid and an amazing way to get some sun and feel a breeze, especially when it's topping one hundred on the thermometer.

Watch and be entertained. Or, go on the tour yourself. 

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Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida

I used to live in Sarasota and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite places to wander.  Named for Marie Selby who lived on the property with her husband, William, for over 50 years.  She loved nature and when she passed in 1971, she left her home and gardens to the community "for the enjoyment of the general public." 

Selby Gardens is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to epiphytes.  They research, study, display, and conserve these plants that live on other plants.  Like air plants, they don't harm the host plant but rather just hang around as pals.  Some of the best examples are orchids, bromeliads, and gesneriads.  (Say that three times fast!)

It's a place of research and the scientific staff here have discovered more than 2,000 plant species. The collections on property include an herbarium of more than 110,000 dried and pressed specimens and over 30,000 preserved in fluids with some of the rarest dating back to the 1700s. 

If you're in Sarasota, take a couple hours to visit Selby Gardens.  The LIVE video below takes you on a walking tour through this living museum and shows the unique Warhol: Flower in the Factory works all over the property.  The exhibit is open from February to June 30, 2018 and "explores the surprising, and little known, role of nature in Warhol's art and life."

Tour Greenwood Cemetery AT NIGHT

Brendan and I got a wild hair and thought it would be fun to video the Greenwood Cemetery Night Tour. Don Price is a CHAMPION of history and his walking tours are famously good. 

So, here's the thing about an iPhone at night. Um, it can't see things. It's not a cat. So, you're going to have to turn the sound WAY UP and sit in a totally silent room to hear this but honestly, you WANT TO HEAR THIS. 

I'll stop yelling at you now. Wait, one more. GO ON THE TOUR! Click here for the info and be sure to leave me a comment to tell me how much you liked it. 

Daytona Beach Turkey Rod Run: Daytona Beach, Florida

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I learned how to drive in a Model A Ford.  Back in 1986, my dad was slowly restoring a Model A and it was a just a chassis and engine.  I sat on a couple of tires to work the clutch and steer. Across the street from my childhood home at 117 Hattaway Drive, was an unused golf-course and orange groves that stretched all the way down to Lake Orienta.  I drove it everyday until I finally could clutch my way up the hill from Hattaway Drive to 436.  It's steep, and if you have a manual car, mastering that hill is key to being a good driver. 

So began my fascination with cars.  I love them, I do.  I've had quite a few different ones already.  I loved my diesel VW Rabbit, my red Acura Integra, and my Pontiac Fiero the best.  Collecting and restoring cars is an expensive hobby, and one well outside my means.  So, I headed off to Daytona to check out the Daytona Beach Spring Turkey Rod Run.  I thought maybe I'd get my fill and then not continue to shop CraigsList for Willys jeeps.   

Lots of cars, lots of collectors.

 

Click on the Townie Tourist video below to watch the show. You won't believe cars we see.👇👇👇

The Daytona Beach Turkey Rod Run is in spring and fall. This year it's November 22-25 at Daytona International Speedway. Click here for ticket and vendor info.

Morikami Japanese Garden and Museum

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This weekend I finally got to visit a place I have been wanting to visit since I heard of it four months ago, the Morikami Japanese Garden and Museum in Del Ray Beach.

Opened in 1977, the historical park is dedicated to a small group Japanese farmers, known as the Yamato Colony, who came to Palm Beach County in the early 1900s. Initially the group grew pineapples, but when Cuban imports of the fruit became more popular they turned to winter vegetables. The Yamato Colony did not find much success, with only 30- 35 farmers in the group, by the beginning of WWII few remained. 

In the the mid-1970s one of the last remaining Yamato settlers, George Sukeji Morikami donated his land to Palm Beach County to be used as a park to preserve his people's culture.

Since then Morikami has been a center for Japanese culture and arts with it's rotating exhibits, tea ceremonies, outreach programs to local schools and traditional festivals throughout the year. 

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The garden is about a mile long walk with flowers, waterfalls, a zen rock garden, special memorial statues, giant Buddha and a section dedicated to the many different types of bonsai trees. From small grey lizards to huge bright green iguanas, look out for reptiles along your walk. For the most part, the animals seemed completely unbothered by anyone's presence and stayed still for plenty of photos. 

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The Yamato-kan is Morikami's original museum and home to two permanent exhibits.  One space details theYamato Colony in Florida, while the rest of the building shows what Japan is like through the eyes of a child through mock a train station, classroom, main street and home. In the middle of the entire building is a beautiful rock garden with copper rain chains, which the Japanese have been using for hundreds of years as a more pleasing water feature to closed gutters. 

I really enjoyed my visit here and would definitely say it's worth the three hour drive. If I lived in the area I would become a member and visit all the time. There's a traditional Japanese restaurant in the park, which I was unable to eat at since they stop seating people at 3 p.m., that would probably serve as even more incentive for reoccurring visit.

There's also one of the best museum gift shops I've ever seen here. Pricier items include traditional kimonos for $150+, but you can also find origami paper, Asian candies and other trinkets from $1.50 - $20.

I left with a Chinese Wishing Pot for $18. According to tradition, wishes were believed to come true if they were written on a slip of paper, stored in ceramic pot and kept in a lucky place.  

The park is closed Mondays and major holidays, but you can stop in Tuesday - Sundays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Adult tickets are $15, seniors $13 and children $9. For info go here: https://morikami.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Howey Mansion: Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida

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Howey-In-The-Hills is a quiet town in Lake County that is a testament to old Florida. In between the fields of citrus trees and the amazing Yalaha German Bakery is a beautiful grandiose home that was once abandoned – Howey Mansion

William J. Howey, a politician, real estate developer and one of the state's greatest citrus growers, had the 20-room mansion built in 1925 on a 15-acre property. Howey died in 1938 and left the home to his much younger widow who lived in it until 1981. In 1984 Chicago heiress Marvel Zona became the Howey Mansion's second owner until she began living in a nursing home. Since 2009 the home was vacant, but in July 2017 brothers Brad and Clay Cowherd purchased the home and have since been reviving it. 

To address rumors and what many of you are probably wondering – Howey Mansion is not haunted. None of the wonderful people who work there have reported supernatural activities and ghost hunters who have toured the space have said they sense no ghostly spirits are haunting the home. 

The mansion is in the style of Mediterranean Revival with a red Spanish tile roof and makes great use of color from the walkway leading up to the home, to its exterior and flooring inside. Katharine Cotheal Budd, who developed temporary lodgings for women who visited male relatives at military training camps and is the first woman inducted into the American Institute of Architects, designed the place.  

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The home opens up to a foyer with a pretty blue ceiling and curved walls with Florentine beige marble squares on the lower half. In fact, these walls were created in complete secrecy by an Austrian artisan who banned all other workmen from the home and locked the doors as he compounded and poured the wall mixture in the foyer. 

There is so much more to the history and detail our amazing guide Alexis was able to share. Definitely book a tour to check this place out for yourself. Follow them on Facebook for restoration and event updates. 

Tours are generally offered Tuesday through Friday at 11am OR 2pm and Saturdays at 10am and 11:30am.

To get an idea of what you'll see and hear on a tour, check out the abbreviated version we got on our weekend show. 

Five Hours in St. Augustine, Florida

First stop of the morning was the the Hotel Ponce de Leon.  We took the tour of this mansion.  Given by Flagler students, every dollar of the tour fee goes back to student tuition and scholarships.  Our tour guide, Blake, knew every spot to point out, every door to approach, and shared secrets even we can't share here.  So much drama in this beautifully designed space.  Watch the full tour below to get your fill.  Cutting edge architectural features, indoor plumbing, and all the most modern of amenities 1881 could offer.  Look for nautical and religious themes throughout this truly majestic property.

 
If it looks like gold leaf, it is gold leaf.
— Blake

Gold leaf is everywhere.  From statues to water features to walls, ceilings, chandeliers, floors, and more.  All of it is glowing yellow in 22 karat gold.  There is a moment when Henry Flagler looked at the property and was so in awe of its perfection that he purposely had his masons create imperfections in the tile.  He believed that nothing could be perfect but God. 

We set out on foot from there.  In this supremely walkable historic district, balconies hang over cobblestone streets like they did in the 1600s.  It was easy to navigate up a couple blocks to the St. Augustine Distillery and Ice Plant Restaurant for brunch, which is served Saturday and Sunday from 10AM to 2PM. 

It really is an ice house.  Shaved, rock, sphere, and pebbled ice all happens here.  Carved from slow-frozen filtered water, it's some of the best ice I've ever watched melt into a drink.  On the menu?  Pancakes with fresh blueberries, blueberry sorghum syrup, distillery rum, whipped ricotta, candied lemon peel, and a dusting of powdered sugar. 

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We had to grab the potato and grilled sweet pepper hash, and buttermilk fried chicken and hoecakes, collards, giblet gravy, and apricot butter.  TO DIE for.  Going back, I'd also try the fennel sausage, house made English muffin, and watermelon and tomato salad with roasted Shishito peppers. 

A tour of the distillery comes with a varieties of tastings and ends in the shop.  Every tonic, bitter, and libation you can imagine is here.  If you're a mixologist or just really like a beautifully crafted cocktail, this place is a one-stop-shop for education and tools. 

We wandered on into town passing 93 King.  No joke, it really is the smallest hotel in the city and the most adorable.  I can't wait to go back and stay there.  The brochure says it all. "Let's face it  - if you choose 93 King, you're not really a tourist.  More like a traveller.  You're probably not going to pick up 3rd degree burns at the beach, bathe in aloe, then stand in line at some tourist trap for a 'Captain's Platter.'"  Finally finding a place that makes me know I'm at home in a new city is priceless.  Check them out and plan to stay.

And if you do stay and want to get around but not on foot, check out Pedicabs of St. Augustine.  They'll move you around the city without you having to worry about traffic or parking or tripping off a curb.  Just call dispatch and let them take care of you.

Looking for Colonial era textiles, costumes, accessories, or fabrics?  Look nowhere other than St. Augustine Textiles.  It's like an explosion of history in a workshop.  Redcoats and rebels, muskets, leather shoes, cotton petticoats.  If you've ever visited Williamsburg, Virginia it's a bit like that. How,  HOW did women wear all of that in the heat?  HOW?

The next place both awed and scared me.  Wolf's Museum of Mystery was something else.  Imagine a room depicting an alien attack, a room for Lizzie Borden, cases of taxidermy and found items from burial mounds and tribes all over the world.  Some of it humorous, other bits so disturbing I can never go back.  Not for the faint of heart, or stomach.

Needing a treat after the gore, we popped into Cousteau's Waffle & Milkshake Bar.  We opted for the Unpaid Intern - a Belgian Liege waffle, sweet and chewy, topped with powdered sugar.  A classic and a delicious choice.  We also opted for the Belafonte - a Belgian Liege waffle topped with fresh strawberries, Nutella, and whipped cream.  Going back, I'd get the Jaguar Shark - a Belgian Liege waffle with maple syrup, bourbon whipped cream, candied pecans and candied bacon. 

Obviously we stopped for coffee.  Relampago Coffee Lab and Roasting Co. was top of my list and they didn't disappoint.  Delicious roast in a lavender honey latte.  A great pick-me-up before getting back on the road. 

What a day!  A super-neat, history-filled, delicious day-trip.  If you're living or staying in Orlando, consider a quick trip up the East Coast to St. Augustine, Florida.  The oldest city in the entire country.

Pro Tip: Go early in the day to miss the throng of tourists.