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Sorosis Club of Orlando Presents at Orlando Remembered, September 2022

                                                                                                                                                Photo by Juan Rivera

The Sorosis Club of Orlando and Orlando Remembered Members pictured in front of the Orlando Remembered Display at the Orlando Public Library, September 2022.

The Sorosis Club members pictured on the left beginning with the back row from left to right are Sorosis Club President Susan Barco, Sorosis Club Past Secretary Jane Barry, Sorosis Club Past President Winnie Suarez, Sorosis Club Vice President Susan Piner, in the front row Sorosis Club Treasurer Gwen Wallace on the left, and Sorosis Club Past President Barbara Nestle.
The Orlando Remembered members pictured on the right beginning with the back row from left to right are Mary Phillips, Orlando Remembered Secretary/Treasurer Grace Chewning, Steve Patrick, Gail Padgett, Mark Line, Bob Woodbery, Orlando Remembered Vice President Victor Ratliff, Saundra Gray, Charlie Gray, and Orlando Remembered President Jane Tracy.
The Orlando Remembered display documents the history of the Orlando Public Library beginning with “Orlando’s first library opened in 1923, due largely to the influence of The Sorosis Club which lent books before there was an actual library.” 
By special invitation, The Sorosis Club of Orlando presented A History of the Sorosis Club in Orlando at the September 21, 2022, Orlando Remembered meeting.
Sorosis Club Vice President Susan Piner provided the outstanding oral history dating from the club’s Orlando origins in 1893 to the present day $500,000.00 scholarship fund for Orange County Public Schools and the $200,000.00 General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Florida scholarship fund to help women returning to the work force.  
Juan Rivera the Senior Digital Media Design Instructor at the Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center of the Orange County Library System in Orlando, Florida presented his 3D Orlando Public Library 100 Year Celebration creation featuring the Sorosis Club and provided historical details for The Albertson Library escape game.
Orlando Remembered members shared history and personal experiences of the Orange County Public Library System and its contribution in our community and the world.
We invite you to listen as Sorosis Club Vice President Susan Piner tells the history of the Sorosis Club of Orlando and notes their legacy of philanthropy in Orlando.
Listen:  (52:23)

Our Sorosis of Orlando Woman’s Club has been serving our community since 1893. We are the oldest women’s club in Central Florida. And until recently we occupied a beautiful building on East Livingston Street. The club originally started with ten ladies who met as a study group in one of their homes. It was limited to 25 members due to the small space. Their dues were 60 cents a year. My how that has changed. After moving to their first clubhouse on Pine Street, they began to amass books and started a lending Library, the first in Orlando. In 1923 the club moved to Liberty Street location and they donated their books to the newly established Albertson Public Library. We understand that Captain Albertson had a big collection and he approached the City and said, “If you will build a building, I will give you my books.” So the first public library was called Albertson and not Sorosis.

In 1927 the first scholarships were awarded from our club. We have been able to continue giving scholarships for almost a hundred years.

During World War II, Sorosis provided the clubhouse for USO gatherings. Afterwards the club was instrumental in having a legislative bill passed to effect the future use of Loch Haven Park as a cultural center in perpetuity for Orlando which now holds the Orlando Museum of Art, The Orlando Shakespeare Theater, The Orlando Science Center, just to name a few. [Cut at 2:37.]

In early 1949, a proposal for a Book Mobile was presented to the Board of Albertson Public Library by the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. The ladies of Sorosis decided that a book mobile which would take books to people in the small communities of Orange County was a worthy venture. So they spearheaded a drive to raise $6,000. dollars for the purchase of the vehicle; $75,000. dollars in today’s money. The Board of Commissioners appropriated $10,000. dollars for the staffing, the books, and the upkeep of the vehicle and by November 1949 it was on the roads serving the people of Orange County.

In 1952 Sorosis won the National Federation Community Improvement Contest for purchasing of the Book Mobile and for presenting a medical school scholarship to a black medical student and for their involvement in a shopper’s nursery. In 1972 Sorosis opened the clubhouse at 501 East Livingston where prayer breakfasts were held each month. The beautiful setting with full stage and tearoom was a popular place for wedding receptions and public gatherings. We opened our doors to the public for games of bridge each month which included lunch for a nominal fee. At times we had 20 tables of bridge and our members were the ones who provided the lunch. We had several very good cooks in our clubhouse. 

An endowment and bequest fund established in 1983 and dissolved in 1996 donated $35,000. dollars to a family day room at the new Ronald McDonald House. In recent years we were known for our lavish teas complete with silver teapots crystal punch bowl and delicious finger sandwiches. For seventeen years the first graders of Saint James Cathedral School marched over to entertain us with their patriotic songs in honor of Veteran’s Day. 

We funded the overhead of our large building by renting to local groups some of whom met weekly. Then with the onset of Covid 19, our funds shrank to nothing as rentals ceased. It was with heavy hearts that the membership agreed to sell the building. 

Much of our history and memorabilia was donated to the Orange County Regional History Center. Although it was very traumatic, the sale produced 1.1 million dollars which has enabled us to continue our philanthropic work and leave a lasting legacy.

We established a $500,000.00 dollar scholarship fund with Orange County Public Schools which annually awards five $2,400.00 scholarships to local county high school seniors.

We also funded a $200,000.00 scholarship fund with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Florida to help women who are returning to the workforce.

In the beginning, ten women met in their homes. Now, twelve of us meet in restaurants. And we still have plans for making a difference in our community. 

Now for the name Sorosis. No we are not a group of women with liver disease. Sorosis is Greek for a gaggle of women attempting to improve their corner of the world. In pig Latin it means volunteer or you will be appointed. Actually, we adopted the name from the very first women’s club of America Sorosis of New York. I think we can all agree that it means sisterhood to us. But as sisters sometimes we don’t agree. But we will defend each other and our club to the end. 

In the past our club entertained USO troops and later we had first graders honoring our veterans with song. In the past we rolled bandages during the war. Later we stuffed Easter baskets for Hacienda’s Girls House. In the past we started the first lending Library. Later we gave scholarships to local high school students.

Our club has dwindled in size but not in spirit. We still regard our motto which is “Gaining Strength As We Go” to hold true. The future may be uncertain but we are certain that we made a difference. 

In closing I’d like to read a poem that was written years ago by two of our members, Midge Higgins and Helen McKay:

In the year eighteen hundred and ninety three some Orlando ladies gathered for tea.

They were at the home of Mrs. Robert Howe and they gossiped then as we gossip now.

They talked about the weather, they talked about the shops, they talked about high prices and about the orange crops.

They talked also, I’m sorry to say, about their neighbors in the usual way.

One lady was bored and picked up a book and settled herself in a quiet nook.

And then she began to read aloud and a silence fell on the babbling crowd.

She read and she read ’til the hour grew late and still they knew not of the hero’s fate.

So they decided to meet on another day to see if the tale would end the right way. 

Now when it was finished they started another and they met every week regardless of weather.

And from getting their literature in small doses, they started a club and called it Sorosis.

There’s a picture of the bookmobile on the web and it says Orange County Library. But under it, it says Gift of the Sorosis Club. So we’re proud of it. And I might add that were not finished with our philanthropic work. And when we voted on the places that we wanted our funds to go, the Orange County Public Library is one of those. We are going to be working on that this fall…

Jane Tracy: Thank you so much! Thank you for your presentation. Now we have another special guest who is on staff, Juan Rivera is our Senior Digital Media Design Instructor and he is working on presenting a 3-D presentation of the original Albertson Public Library. And so, he will tell you a little bit about the project and then we will open the floor so that everybody has an opportunity to share their memory of a library experience. 

Juan Rivera:  So, hello everybody! My name is Juan and I’m the Senior Digital Media Design Instructor here at the Library in the Melrose Center specifically. And I don’t know if you guys are aware or not, but next year we are celebrating our 100 year celebration of the opening of the Albertson Library. And, during the entire year, we are going to be hosting a series of events for the public, celebrating the 100 year celebration. So, different things on different floors. Every month they might change the theme to a different decade. And I suggested that for the celebration, I’m the Digital Media Design Instructor so I’m in charge of maintaining the game development technology that we have available in the Library. So I tend to teach a lot of computer video game design development classes including virtual reality. So I offered to create a virtual reality experience that will allow patrons to put on a VR headset and actually tour the Albertson Library. [Wow!] So I’ve been creating a 3-D model of the Albertson Library using a lot of the blueprints that are available in the Orlando Memory webpage. And, so I can get it as accurate as I can with size and everything. So I’m still in the process of creating this experience. And we’re going to have a couple of different options for anybody that may want to just take a nice peaceful tour of the Albertson Library and just look at what it might have looked like back then in 1923. 

But, of course, being a virtual reality experience we have to gamify it and make it fun for people to play it. So I want to show you guys the 3-D model that I’ve been working on which you may have already seen it since you were here. And it’s still in construction so I haven’t actually put in all the textures and everything in to it. But I just wanted to give you a little tour of The Albertson Library with all of the blueprints I’ve been able to recreate a lot of the building itself. So this is the main entrance, the stairs. It had a double door going into it that’s going to need some textures and everything and some windows on the outside. It actually was two stories. Part of the ground floor was underground. So the ground level was right here where this walkway is. So you can see how that actually covers part of the windows here. So I still have to build that grass area there.  And there’s a fence that comes around the property and there was a little sitting area outside on the sidewalk in the corner there that had a little circle bench and a table. And I imagine people would sit there and read a book or something like that on the outside. I still have to do that right there. But going into the front doors, let me show you the outside first. So the outside, they used to have a skylight in the middle of the lobby and then there’s a back room right here. This back room was called the Stacks Room and apparently back then patrons were not allowed to look through the collection of books. There was a receptionist and somebody would come to the Receptionist Desk and say, hey can I get this book or can I see this book? And they would go to the stacks room and find this book and bring it out to them. So that was that back room in the Main Library. And I’m learning this as I’m trying to build it because I’m trying to be as accurate as I can. 

So as you go inside, as I take you inside the building here. Please forgive me for not just bringing you in. You’ll see that there is a Reception Desk right here. And this is a 3-D model of the reception desk  that I was able to build with blueprints of the reception desk. So this is the actual reception desk that was there in 1923. And those are the doors to the Stack Room and over to the left of the receptionist there is a Reading Room and to the right of the receptionist there was a Reading Room as well. So it was full of like tables and chairs where people could go and read them over on the side there. Across from the desk here on the second floor there was a little mezzanine area with some stairs and this is where the Head Librarian would sit. That’s the Head Librarian’s Office. And they would look over the operations of the day over to the Receptionist’s Desk. I’m going to build a desk and there was railings here on the walls. And then I can take you over to one of the Reading Rooms over to the right. There were square tables and also round tables. I just haven’t built the tables yet. But this is also the lamps that were there. I have the blueprints that actually have the electrical wiring. So I could actually program, when you turn on the lights which ones can actually turn. And then on the ground floor they actually have more reading rooms. I don’t know too much about the ground floor. I’m still building that area. But the restrooms were on the ground floor. They were not on the first floor. They were only on the ground floor. 

So, yeah, I just wanted to show you that. Tell you a little bit about the experience. I’m going to try to build two experiences. One that has just a tour and you can actually navigate with the virtual reality headset or to gamify it I came up with a story and I wanted to reach out to the Sorosis Club because I wanted to make you part of that story. History doesn’t actually say much the involvement of the Sorosis Club. So I wanted to play on that history to make it like the Sorosis Club was a secret society and you were crucial the development to all of these services that the Sorosis Club was actually in charge but secretly. So that’s why, history it doesn’t show you that. So I have a whole game design with that in the center. The Sorosis Club is the secret society that holds the secrets that we need to solve to actually succeed in the game that I have designed. [Applause] Thank you. There’s a little bit of time travel. [More applause.] So I hope that’s okay with the Sorosis Club for me to write this game that uses the Club as a secret society. I have an image of your logo that you’re wearing and I was going to put it in the game as a coin that the player can use so that the Sorosis Club members in the Library would recognize that you are an agent of the Secret Society and they can open up to you and let you know the secrets. It’s kind of like an escape room experience. [Yes, excellent.] So is that okay?


Orlando Remembered Members & Guests Share Their Library Memories.

Gail Padget:  Gail Padget and I coming to the Albertson Library for Story Time and going down the steps into this basement. It was a darker room. And I remember how big the shares were. They were the big old wooden chairs with big backs. And the Story Time always included a filmstrip which I thought was terrific. And I do remember going up to the Main floor. I can vaguely remember how it looked. I had forgotten, I didn’t know about the Stacks. (25:00) But I never thought that I would come back here as a Librarian. Librarians, I was scared of them. 

Winnie Suarez: I’m Winnie Suarez and recall when they built this building here with poured concrete architecture there was so much discussion in the newspaper and on the radio and everything. You either hated it or loved it. And shortly after that I moved down to Miami, Florida and I was in graduate school and continued there. And their building is the poured concrete. I felt right at home so I just opened up those books and graduated. 

Jane Barry: I’m Jane Mixner Barry I grew up in Orlando. In fact, when I think about the Library I think about that front that you should going up steps. And now, when you pull up to the front of this Library, I’m like wait. This isn’t the Library, where are the steps? And this was, I’m pretty sure, the only library in town. There were no branches at that point, you know back in the fifties. And I was one who did not like the poured concrete I have to admit.

Barbara Nestle: I am Barbara Nestle a member of Sorosis. I have not been in this particular building only once or twice. I firmly remember there was an empty parking lot across the street which is now a parking garage. I have done most of my library work with the outside branches that you have. And that has been a wonderful, wonderful help because you didn’t have to come downtown which was great. (27:01)

Bob Woodbery: I’m Bob Woodbery, a native Orlandoan, and I remember when this was being built. And my parents and some of their friends were saying, oh, my God, that’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. You know, at the time. After a while, people got used to the architecture and now it’s just a masterpiece of the downtown architecture in general. But I’m going to back a little bit to about 1963. The temporary Library, I think when this was being constructed, was over on North Orange Avenue between Weber and Marks Street. They had a temporary facility and it was an old frame building. And I’d go in there, I went to Edgewater High School. And I’d go in there to do some research or studying and you couldn’t hardly be quiet because of the wooden floors were clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp. But I remember going there for about a year, a year and a half. And I was kind of intrigued by it because the old building was in the vicinity of the old bus station… And my dad used to say, “Don’t slip on the grease in there from those buses.” But anyway, we remembered going there. And then I remember coming back here 25 years later in this building and going into Quiet Rooms and working on my MBA. And thinking, oh, my gosh, what a transition. I love to come down here. I’ve brought my grandsons down here. I’m trying to get them off the internet and get them into books which sometimes is a little challenging in today’s world. But Orlando has done an excellent job with this. I understand they’re doing a stage or something out here that’s going to open up soon for some entertainment of some sort. If you all can help me on that?

Juan Rivera: So in the Melrose Center we are an educational co-working space. So being an educational co-working space we teach people how to use digital media technologies in general in software. One of the things that were missing is with the huge theatrical community in Orlando, it was one of the departments that were missing to teach how to do stage hand, lighting, and even we have added to our repertoire theater classes as well. So that’s what the main purpose of this stage is to be able to add all of this educational hands on experience with actual technology with the new lighting equipment that is being put out. All state of the art for the purpose of teaching the community how to do these jobs and hopefully they can apply it into the real world. 

Bob Woodbery: That’s great. That’s technical skills you need. And a lot of people don’t realize behind the scenes all the work that goes on in production. The lighting, it’s all computerized now….

Juan Rivera: Yeah, we have a lot of industry professionals. So the actual instructor that’s going to be teaching all the stage work, that’s what he does on the side. So live stage shows in Orlando. 

Mark Line: My name is Mark Line and the Albertson Library is meaningful to me because I recognize it as my hometown library which was very similar to that is Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A good distance away, but I have a lot of good memories from going there and doing research projects. So I can imagine what it might of been like in the twenties, thirties and forties when that library was there. Then when we moved here in 2000, I recognized this library for its architecture. It’s called brutalism. And I had seen brutalism in two other areas of the country. One is at St. John’s University in Minnesota where the architect, who is Norwegian, I believe. And also at Mary College in Bismarck, North Dakota. And so, I was familiar with the architecture. And I know on one’s first view, they think, oh, what is that? But when you study and realize that every one of those panels that are done in concrete are unique and different. They have texture to them and design. And I’ve heard a person or two talk about brutalism as architecture. I think we’re really fortunate to have a very unique building here in Orlando. Really, one of a kind.

Saundra Haygood Gray: I’m Saundra Haygood Gray and my family’s been here since the early thirties. But I loved this Library as a kid. And I remember going down the stairs. And I remember, I think the Librarian’s name was Miss Lane. I don’t know if there’s one of those in the history. But she was lovely. And the downstairs, there was a certain smell to the Library in those days, books. And they had a lot of books on pirates. And I remember going through a pirate phase and I think I checked them all out. 

Charlie Gray: I’m Charlie Gray, and before I start talking about the Library, I want to talk about The Sorosis Club. You know, we sometimes look at things and just take them for granted. And, I’ve often wondered how the Park came into being. I learned this morning that we owe The Sorosis Club for having that wonderful park, Loch Haven Park. And, I want to tell you how much I and I know our entire community appreciates it. So it’s a wonderful thing to learn how did that happen. 

Well, now I’m going to tell you how your new building that you sold happened. I was attorney for Southeast Bank. It was centered in Miami. They wanted a branch in Orlando. Asked me to form it. I did. I was forming it. They said, “Where do you want it located?” I said, “On Lake Eola.” They did a market study. It should not be on Lake Eola. I said, “I’m not going to do it unless it’s on Lake Eola. I was raised on Lake Eola and that’s where I want it.” “Okay.” They said, “Start acquiring the property.” So I acquired the property and the chairman said, “Well, do you need that much?” I said, “Yeah, you need more. This will be a financial center.” I got to the point where I acquired everything except The Sorosis Club. And I needed The Sorosis Club. And they loved their building because it was built by the Mayor in 1935 and they weren’t about to move. And so we got them to form a long range planning committee so I could deal with just a few people rather than everybody. And I really respected The Sorosis Club. And so, we talked and talked and finally decided that, that area on Pine Street, had a lot of vagrants and things back then. And I said, “Look, I could build you a building that you like (35:39) no further away from Lake Eola than you are now, but in a better section.” Were any of you all here in 1969? [Yes.] Well, you were here when this was going on then.

Would you then trade? They said, “Well if you can build it so we like it when it’s finished. We’re not going to sign a contract.” So I talked to the chairman. I said, “You know something, I think I can do this. I think I can build something that they just will love.” And I didn’t even have a budget. So I went and found property where this is. Much bigger than I needed so I had to buy bigger property and then sell off part of it to try to recoup some of the cost. And I remembered I hired architect – contractor Alan Trevillian. Alan has a way about him and I trusted Alan. I said, “Alan, here’s the project. We’ve got to build something that these ladies love. I’m way out on a limb. But, you know, they may not like it. And if they don’t I just have to eat a lot of crow and it will be terrible. So you’ve got to build something that they love. And I’m giving you an approximate budget. But, you know, if you go over it whatever they want I’m going to do.” And that’s the way we got it built and turn it over to you. And that’s now a part of the parking garage next to my office, Gray-Robinson. So a little history. You know, history is a wonderful thing. How did that happen? Some things you need to know how they happened. And I’m so glad you all were happy with the building. You saved my bacon. So.

Sorosis: It was a lovely building and we really hated to let it go. We just, you know we were down to about thirty members. We just couldn’t bring in enough money even after Covid was over.

Charlie Gray: Covid changed a lot of things. And I’m glad you made a good profit. 

Now let me talk for just a minute about the Library because there’s a little history that you might be interested in. I was County Attorney from ’77 to ’85 and we had several things that we had to to do with the County. First of all when I became County Attorney, I was warned by the previous County Attorney, they don’t pay any money. So we had to represent the County almost for nothing, $5,000.00 a month. So the things that we did were kind of extra. But as County Attorney we realized that the Library was underfunded and was having a lot of trouble just staying above water.

So I assigned one of my partners who I’d made Assistant County Attorney Tom Wilkes to solve the problem. And the solution to the problem was a dedicated source of revenue. 

I asked Tom if he could give us a little history on this. So I’m going to read this to you if you don’t mind:

“Some thoughts about the 1980 funding of the Library District not exactly founding the Orlando Public Library, but perhaps the most important event in the Library’s post founding history. The founding of the District that provides its legal and financial foundation. It may have been the moment of history thus far that the City Council and the County Commission cooperated most willingly. Leaders like Paul Pickett and John Newsom, both Library Board Members were crucial. Mayor Langford and Commissioner Allen Arthur, who we know as our Past President and one of my best friends, were equally crucial. It was one of the few times the two governments put aside squabbles and narrow interests and did something totally good for the community. 

As you remember, the City and the County tried different things for some two or three years an MSTU, which is a Municipal Service Taxing Unit, but the city taxpayers would not contribute. It would be paid for only by the unincorporated taxpayers. So a county wide millage, but then Winter Park and Maitland would be paying for two library systems and probably other options. They were stymied in every direction. Finally, they agreed, and we advised them. And we went to Tallahassee and supported a Special District created by a Special Act that was needed by all county taxpayers would pay the tax except Winter Park and Maitland. And that was a good thing. No need to get them riled up and heading to the polls to vote no. I think that was the last tax ever approved by Countywide voters in Orange County except the resort tax which is another story. Numerous taxes have gone on the ballot and lost most miserably. Glenn Miller repeatedly said before the November 1980 referendum that it would pass easily. A second vote also passed that day approval of the issue of some 30 million dollars in bonds for the expansion of the downtown Library. It likewise passed. As Glenn predicted, easily. Again, that was the last time bonds were approved by Orange County voters on a countywide basis. Note that small cities have gotten bonds approved, but not Orange County.

 To my knowledge there has been no material objection to the Library millage. It is only about .3 mills with most Orange County properties being taxed a total of 20 mills or so. The Library tax is only 1.5 % of the total property tax. The Library bonds were paid off some 10 to 12 years ago. No effort was made to keep the debt service millage or to raise operating millage when the District millage dropped off. A good show by the Library Trustees and the Board of County Commissioners. For 1.5 % of our property taxes we get the best library system, clearly, in Florida. Maybe in the southeastern United States. Maybe in the nation. Or maybe in the world. 

The Board of County Commissions approves the millage every year, but does not try to control operations and expenditures. For over forty years it has allowed the Board of  Trustees, three Board of County Commissioner appointees, two City appointees, to manage and operate the Library System. Good for the Board of County Commissioners. Great Library Directors since the District was created: Glenn Miller, Dorothy Field, Mary Ann Hodel, and just recently Steve Powell has been confirmed as the new Director. What superior talent would not want to be the leader of this District. It is the envy of the universe of Library Directors.”

And that’s the end of it. But I wanted to bring that in. And we still represent, our law firm represents the Library and will protect it. (Applause). Oh, let me just add one thing. 

Nils Schweizer was the architect. He was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. He designed this Library. And I was a member of The University Club since 1960. And I remember coming out of The University Club with a group of us looking at this facility and we were almost evenly divided. I thought it was the most divine architecture I had ever seen because it was forever. It was, you know, generational. It would be here. And about half the members said, “It’s the most God awful thing I’ve ever seen.” But I love it.

Grace Wendorff Chewning: Grace Wendorff Chewning and you wound up with the Library brat because I grew up next to Trinity Lutheran Church on Livingston Street. My mother didn’t go to work until I was six years old. So my earliest memories are of walking down here to Albertson Public Library almost every day. She taught me how to read and write when I was three years old and that was from spending all the time at the Library and everything. I was more into the Dr. Doolittle and Nancy Drew than pirates like Saundra. But libraries have just always been an important part of my life. In fact, I was Chairman of the Seminole County Library Board for six years on that. And I’m at that Library since I’m up in Seminole County now. I’m at that Library every Thursday I go. And I always said if I could pick the perfect place to live, it would be an apartment in this building. Because you’ve got everything in the whole world. You can check out paintings. You’ve got the movies. You’ve got the audiobooks. You can check out every newspaper or publication that there is. And there used to be a little restaurant here. I don’t know if they still have that. So it was your whole world. You wouldn’t have to leave. You could just stay right here in the Library. So I am a very strong supporter and it has just been a place of love and adventure for me my entire life.

Charlie Gray:  May I say one more thing of caution. We’ve always felt that the District, the Library District, would be here forever. We now learn that if you say the wrong things you can get your district destroyed and removed. So be careful what you say in today’s society.

Grace Wendorff Chewning:  We can still say we love it can’t we?

Charlie Gray:  You can still say you love it.

Susan Reger Piner:  I’m Susan Reger Piner,  I grew up here in Orlando. And I really remember coming to the Albertson Public Library and going downstairs into the basement into the Children’s Reading Room. I remember vividly the first book that touched my heart was Lorna Doone. And I think I had that relationship because I lived on West Central across from Lake Lorna Doone. So it just made a vivid memory in my mind. Then when they switched over to this architecture what I remember most is people saying, “When are they going to paint it?” Now it’s amazing that from the comfort of my home I can go to my iPad click on Orange County Library System order an ebook and listen to it immediately! So this is a grand transition to the future. 

Juan Rivera:  So my name is Juan Rivera I’m the Senior Digital Media Design Instructor at the Melrose Center. And I grew up in Puerto Rico up in the hills of Puerto Rico, very much farmer kind of upbringing. Moved here to Orlando, Florida in 1990. And I remember coming to this Library, but vaguely like maybe once or twice with a school trip that brought me here to just check out the architecture and check out a book if you want to. Just to encourage kids our age to go to the Library. And it was amazing, you know, to be here with my schoolmates and just checking out this new environment being from East Orlando and not actually coming down here that much.

But, when I was hired to come and work here for the Library. I remember it was in 2014. And what I remember about this particular Library was the high level of technology and accessibility that all of the people of this community have access to. There shouldn’t be any excuse as to, you know, I can’t do this or I can’t do that because it is available here to do this and to do that. So that was the biggest impression to me being an employee here for this library system….

Jane Tracy:  My name is Jane Tracy and I am the President of Orlando Remembered. My early Library experience was not in the Albertson Library, but the entrance to the Library was on Rosalind. And my parents would bring me here as a child. And my father, who I always felt was one of the smartest people that I ever knew, he told me that the Librarian was the smartest person… Mr. Robert Murray, that man is the smartest man in Orlando. And that really stuck with me as a child. And the other thing that stuck with me is that my dad showed me as a kid the property tax statement. And he said, “Do you see this right here?” And I was a little kid and I said, “Yeah.” He said, “That’s for the Library.” He said, “Do you see how much that is?” “Yeah.” And he said, “That is the best amount of money that this county spends  because that benefits everyone.” So now as an adult I look at my property tax statement and I think, you know, it really is a really good deal. So thank you, everyone.

Bunny Parish: (Retired Principal of Princeton Elementary School. Contributed via email.)

My mother was a member of Sorosis and I was a member of Mademoiselles….We ushered at the Bob Carr for our community service!

My first memories of the OPL were at the College Park branch…I checked books out all the time and really loved the notice we received for accomplishing reading goals during the summer…I walked from my house to the corner of Edgewater and Bryn Mawr back then (Olsen Law occupies that space now.)

My senior year the “new” library was being constructed and to do our senior research, we went to the temporary library at North Orange and Marks Street….

Now I mainly use the Ocoee branch to do genealogy research (and Zoom classes) and Lee Road to check out books and vote early! 

I love all our library system has to offer!

Presenter:  Susan Piner, Sorosis Club of Orlando Vice President

Recorded by:  Jane Tracy, Orlando Remembered President

Date:  September 21, 2022

Place: Orlando Public Library

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The Sorosis Club of Orlando and Orlando Remembered Members pictured in front of the Orlando Remembered Display at the Orlando Public Library, September 2022.

The Sorosis Club of Orlando and Orlando Remembered Members pictured in front of the Orlando Remembered Display at the Orlando Public Library,...

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Sorosis Club of Orlando Presents at Orlando Remembered, September 2022

By special invitation, The Sorosis Club of Orlando presented A History of the Sorosis Club in Orlando at the September 21, 2022, Orlando Remembered meeting.
Sorosis Club Vice President Susan Piner provided the outstanding oral history dating from the club's Orlando origins in 1893 to the present day $500,000.00 scholarship fund for Orange County Public Schools and the $200,000.00 General Federation of Women's Clubs of Florida scholarship fund to help women returning to the work force.  
Juan Rivera the Senior Digital Media Design Instructor at the Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center of the Orange County Library System in Orlando, Florida presented his 3D Orlando Public Library 100 Year Celebration creation featuring the Sorosis Club and provided historical details for The Albertson Library escape game.
Orlando Remembered members shared history and personal experiences of the Orange County Public Library System and its contribution in our community and the world.

We invite you to listen as Sorosis Club Vice President Susan Piner tells the history of the Sorosis Club of Orlando and notes their legacy of philanthropy in Orlando.

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Comments to “Sorosis Club of Orlando Presents at Orlando Remembered, September 2022”

  1. Robert Serros says:

    My mother, Anntonette Serros, was a club member in the late 40’s.
    She was also a member of the DOES Club, auxiliary of downtown Elks Club..She played piano for members as they marched into a lunchtime meeting.

    • Kim P says:

      Greetings Mr. Serros! Thank you for visiting Orlando Memory and telling us about your mother. How wonderful it must have been to hear and see her playing the piano as the members entered for their meetings! We hope you find more posts that bring back happy memories of days gone by. ORLANDO MEMORY TEAM

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