The Pocket History of Orlando Florida brings you a thumbnail sketch of Orlando’s fascinating history, in word and through pictorial views of a nostalgic past.
Its goal is to stimulate an interest in the City’s history, to take care that necessary changes do not outrun improvement to see that progress is not only productive, but prudent and well-balanced.
The brief sketches herein are from E. H. Gore’s History of Orlando (1949), now out of print, and William Fremont Blackman’s History of Orange county, Florida (1927), recently reprinted.
From Pocket History of Orlando Florida – Jake” Summerlin and Lake Eola Park.
Mr. Jacob Summerlin was one of the most notable figures in the early history of Orlando. He was born in Lake City, February 22, 1820, in a fort erected as a defense against Indian attacks…
In 1873 Jake came to Orlando, where he built the Summerlin Hotel, gave Eola Park to the town, defeated Gen. Sanford in his effort to remove the county seat to Sanford, served on the Town Council some time, and in many ways played a conspicuous and generous part in the development of the town…
On May 10, 1883, Mr. Jacob Summerlin came before the Board and stated that he would give the Town of Orlando from forty to sixty feet of land around Lake Eola to be used for the purpose of a park, provided the town would improve and maintain it by planting shade trees, and make a race track around the margin of the lake. On August 29, Mr. Summerlin “presented a deed donating Lake Eola and a specified portion of the land around it to the Town.”
Pocket history of Orlando Florida. Orlando Fire Department – 1912 Fire Engine.
W. C. Sherman, who had been a member of the Boston Fire Department, came to Orlando in 1883… He at once organized a volunteer fire company and became its first chief. Their first equipment was a hose, reel and a bucket brigade, but in 1885 the men requested of the town council a horse, harness and hose wagon.
The first fire station was established at the corner of Orange and Central Avenues. It was later moved to Oak (now Wall) Street and occupied a two-story frame building on the Western Union site. The fire bell was located so that anyone could ring it night or day when a fire was discovered…
A large cistern was constructed in the ground in the middle of the intersection of Pine Street and Orange Avenue. This was the water supply in case of fire in the business district. It was kept full of water by the Orlando Water Company.
Some of the members of the first volunteer company were Messers. William Smith, assistant chief; Elmer Girard, Gus Roach, Charles McDowell, N. J. Merck, Billy Skinner, John Barlow, William Dean, Dick Ferrill, and Walter Wescott. The Macy Wagon Company operated a volunteer company among its employees. They tried to beat the city volunteer company to all fires.
The following is a list of Fire Chiefs: W. C. Sherman, 1883-1892; J. W. Gettier, 1893-1935; Gideon Dean, 1936-1939; Maxie Bennett, 1940-1949. William Dean was the first paid Chief and received $100 per month.
Orlando Street Railway.
In the year 1886 a street railway franchise was granted to J. M. Saunders and others. The franchise was signed for the city by F. S. Chapman, president of the council. The speed of the mule drawn cars was set at six miles per hour and the driver was ordered to stop at all street crossings to allow pedestrians to cross streets.
The street railway operated on Orange Avenue and Central Avenue, on Church Street to railroad station, and around the west side of Lake Lucerne via America Street to the original fair grounds west of the railroad on Parramore Street. The “Big Freeze” of 1894-95 put both the railway and the fair “out of business.”
Peruse additional images and the Pocket History under Attachments below.