Neighborhood History

From its founding in the 1870s, Orlando grew due to its central location and its importance as a commercial, rail, and citrus center. Orlando's population increased from 2,481 to 3,894 between 1900 and 1910. The original city limits, one mile square, were extended in 1924 to two miles by three miles, and currently measure approximately seven by eight miles.

By 1915 Orlando had six large hotels, five newspapers, four schools, two railroad stations, several· state and national banks, and an assortment of theaters, opera houses, lumber mills, packing houses, cigar factories, and machine works. Residential development increased greatly between 1900 and 1919 with neighborhood subdivisions being established around Lake Eola, Lake Lawsona, and Park Lake.

World War I slowed development of subdivisions and construction in Orlando's residential neighborhoods, but a Land Boom began almost immediately after the war.

During the Boom years between 1920 and 1930, Orlando's population jumped from 9,282 to 27,330 . Land values increased dramatically: property assessments rose from $7.4 million to $35.3 million between 1917 and 1927. During this time the police force increased to nineteen; a city planner was hired; a new train depot was built on South Hughey; a new high school was planned on East Robinson Street (now Howard Middle School); voters chose the current ExpoCenter area as the site of the City Auditorium (now Bob Carr Performing Arts Center); and WDBO (Wander Down By Orlando) began broadcasting.

Little residential development occurred near Spring Lake prior to the Land Boom, but in 1925 the Gentile orange grove, 80 wooded acres on the shores of Spring Lake, was sold to a Cincinnati syndicate for $250,000. The members of this . syndicate, Barnes (Vice· President), Biecker, Golden (Secretary), and Clifford (Vice-President), who did business as the Lafayette Development Company, Inc., platted Spring Lake Terrace, one of the loveliest residential developments in Orlando. The Orlando Country Club, which had been established in 1911 along the north and west shores of Spring Lake, made the area a scenic and exclusive region on the outskirts of Orlando. Approximately 125 choice home sites (30 lakefront) were offered for sale on newly bricked streets. Because of the quality of the houses and the desirable location, Spring Lake Terrace was attractive to wealthy buyers, even after the Boom collapsed in 1926. Over 21 buildings, many of which were constructed on two, three or four lots, were erected between 1926 and 1929. Nine more homes were built in the 1930s. Today, Spring Lake Terrace has 45 homes.

In the 1930s, children would gather around the big oak tree at Martha Helen King Johnson's house on the corner of Golden Lane and Springdale Road (originally called Kentucky Avenue) and tell ghost stories until their parents called them home just before dark.

In 1934, Pounds Ballroom Dance classes began in the Pounds· home on Clifford Drive, one of the earliest homes built in the Spring Lake neighborhood. For 18 years, the lessons continued at that location where many young people of Orlando learned dancing and manners. The classes were later moved to Edgewater Drive in College Park.

Some of the builders in the Spring Lake Terrace area were:

C.C. Clifford; WJ. Golden; Hill, James and Voorhis; WJ. Barnes; C.W Rex; VE. Taylor; E.D. Kenyon; C.W Chewning; Harold Curran; and A.W Spinney. Most of the buildings constructed during the 1920s reflected popular architectural designs of that time, including Mediterranean Revival, Tudor Revival, and Colonial Revival. Between 1935 and 1940, large, well-executed designs of the Monterey, Neoclassical, Italian Renaissance and Traditional Masonry residences were constructed.

The next section of the neighborhood, Country Club Estates, was developed by Chesley G. Magruder, who inherited the property from his parents, the J. B. Magruders, in 1925. This area west of Spring Lake Terrace which includes Alameda, Valencia, Ventura, Bis'cayne, Espanola, Monterey, and Rio Grande streets, was originally platted in 1926 by the Orlando Country Club Estates, Inc. (C.w. Chewning, Vice President, and WB. Crawford, Secretary). This area was platted much as it is today; however, the streets were to have been named Chester, Magruder, Crawford, Alexander, Autrey and Nielson Avenues. A roundabout containing a circular park was planned for what is now the intersection of Ventura and Espanola. This section was replatted in 1938 with the street design and names as they are today.

After the harshest effects of the Depression had subsided in the late 1930s, construction began in the Country Club Estates section. Most of the homes in this area were built in the 1940s and 1950s. The architecture varies greatly from Ranch, French, Neoclassical, Colonial Revival, Mediterranean Revival to Contemporary. Today, this section contains 81 homes.

Some of the builders in Country Club Estates were: W.A.

McCree; Ralph Williams; Ray Stevens and George Sipple; Jack Jennings; Jerry Gay; Fred Merriman; Clayton Brothers; and Charles Rex. Architects included: Earl DeLoe; James Gamble Rogers III; ~rt McCree; Bob Murphy; and George Sturgis.

In the 1950s Orange County, with a population of 114,024, earned the designation of Orlando Metropolitan Area. The last half of the 1950s was the era of the shopping malls, the arrival of the Minute Maid Company (1956) and the Martin Company (1957). West Colonial Drive was paved in 1958 from the Orange Blossom Trail to Orla Vista and then on to Winter Garden in 1959.

During the 1950s, the neighborhood children would leave their bikes on a vacant lot on Spring Lake Drive and walk through a tunnel under Colonial Drive to Concord Park School, with an occasional stop at Herb's Diner (present site of Wendy's at Colonial and Highway 441).

The neighborhood banded together in the late 1950s to protest commercial plans for the land west of Tampa Avenue which abutted the neighborhood. They were successful in their efforts, and the Country Club Townhouses were built instead.

The third section of the neighborhood, Spring Lake Terrace First Addition, was developed by Conway Kittredge during the 1960s. It was platted in 1956 by Spring Lake Terrace, Inc. (L.W. Fishback, President, and Charles E. Davis, Secretary). The boundaries of this section run from Country Lane to Texas Avenue and from Forest Club Avenue (which was originally platted as Amigos Street) to West Alameda Street. Early records show that in 1882 this land was sold by the State of Florida to the South Florida Railroad Company. In 1887, the railroad company sold the property to C.C. Elkins, who sold it to Alice Tiedtke in 1923. Later it was inherited by her daughter Marcia Louise Fowler, and Mr. Kittredge bought the property from Mrs. Fowler for $45,000 in 1955.

The first home built in this section, 1410 Country Lane (formerly Tampa Avenue), was completed in 1959. Bill Schwind was the builder. Almost all of the homes in this section were built in the 1960s. Other builders were: Ralph Williams; Bud Davis; George Shilling; Reggie Williams; Robert A. Herb; Charles Johnson; Mike Murphy; and John Brumback. This secti()Iltoday has 94 homes.

The population of the Orlando Metropolitan Area nearly doubled between 1960 and 1980, growing from 263,540 to 433,870. In 1971 Disney World opened, followed by Sea World, Universal Studios, MGM Studios, Epcot, Florida Tech (now University of Central Florida), and the Orlando International Airport. Orlando truly became a major tourist destination.

From its beginnings, the Spring Lake area has remained an attractive residential neighborhood in the heart of Orlando. As the years have gone by, more and more families have moved into the Spring Lake neighborhood, including children and grandchildren of original residents; and many neighbors have lived most of their lives here.

Larry Gentile grew up at 1245 Spring Lake Drive in the house his parents built in 1937. Larry's grandparents then built a home at 1715 Spring Lake Drive in 1953, where he resides today.