City’s Historic Capen House to be Demolished

The Capen House: 520 N. Interlachen Avenue

The Capen House: 520 N. Interlachen Avenue

There are precious few houses in the city of Winter Park as old as the Capen House, located at 520 North Interlachen Avenue. Built in 1885 for James S. Capen, one of the city’s early settlers, the house was initially constructed in a Folk Victorian style, and celebrated by the local community.  City founder Loring Chase wrote in Winter Park Scrapbook on September 22, 1885, “Our handsome friend, J.S. Capen will soon move into his new house on the banks of beautiful Lake Osceola. It is an elegant house, but none too good for Seymour, who is the very best of men.”  Capen Avenue on Winter Park’s West side is testament to Mr. Capen’s importance as a city father, a former town alderman and developer of the “Dinky Line” train route through the city.  Capen was chosen as a member of the committee to greet President Benjamin Harrison when he visited Winter Park.

In 1923, the house was purchased by another prominent Winter Parker, Howard Showalter, who remodeled it to its current Tudor Revival style. The Showalter family built Winter Park’s first and only airfield, which would later become the gridiron where the Wildcats play and cheer on Friday nights.

Last week a demolition permit was granted by the City of Winter Park, allowing the 128-year-old home to be razed after June 13. Preservation-minded people are scratching their heads to connect the dots.  How did we get from there to here?

The recent history of the Capen House has been enigmatic.  In 2007, Clardy Malugen, the house’s former owner, engaged Steve Feller, a Winter Park architect known for his expertise in working on historic properties, to oversee an extensive restoration. Malugen says she spent over $700,000 restoring the floors and woodwork, and adding new plumbing, wiring, air conditioning, and appliances.   “I put my heart and soul into this house,” says Malugen. “There is no other house in Winter Park like it.”Capture 2

She was so proud of the restored house that she applied to have it listed on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places. The city historic preservation staff wrote in its report that “The Capen House has been kept in good condition through the years, retains its significance and is recommended for listing as a local landmark.”  The Winter Park Historic Preservation Board unanimously approved the application and on August 8, 2011, the Winter Park City Commission designated the house as an historic landmark (http://cityofwinterpark.org/Docs/Government/OrdinancesResolutions/2091-11.pdf).

Unfortunately, Malugen encountered severe liquidity issues when the real estate market – in which she was heavily invested – went south.   In fact, foreclosure proceedings by Sun Trust Bank were already underway in 2011 when the house was designated.  The house was repossessed on July 17, 2012, and the bank enlisted local real estate agent Kelly Price & Company to find a buyer.

On August  1, 2012, Price listed the home for $3.2 million.  The following is an excerpt from the description the realtor wrote to market the property: “In the heart of Winter Park, built in 1901 (sic), a historical masterpiece set on Lake Osceola. This traditional four bedroom, three bath home with a detached guest house is spectacular! Throughout this home are beautifully maintained pine floors, three fireplaces, an enclosed sun porch that wraps around the house with gorgeous views of the lake, along with a gourmet kitchen with top of the line appliances… This historic home has kept its charm and character with amazing wood details, glass doorknobs, and unique windows and doors… Do not miss out on this one of a kind lakefront property!” To see photos from the real estate listing, click here: http://www.estately.com/sold/520-n-interlachen-ave

Despite this glowing description, the powers that be clearly believed that the house would be more marketable as a tear down. Like most historic homes, the house has limitations when compared to more modern houses in the same price range: a somewhat odd layout of rooms which doesn’t optimize the lake view, a 1-car garage, and an upstairs master bedroom. Consequently, just two weeks after listing, Jason Searl, an attorney for Gray Robinson representing Sun Trust, wrote to City Planner Jeff Briggs, requesting that the house be stripped of its historic designation.  Searl argued in the letter that the bank had already begun legal proceedings to repossess the house when it was listed on the Register, casting doubt on Malugen’s right to encumber the house with the restrictions placed on historically designated properties.

On September 24, 2012 the Winter Park City Commission, doubtless fearing a lawsuit from one of Central Florida’s most powerful law firms filed on behalf of Central Florida’s largest bank, voted unanimously to remove the Capen House from the Register.  A month later, the price was slashed to a mere $2.1 million, and the house quickly sold.

The new owners, John and Betsy Pokorny, intend to raze the house and build a new one in its place.  The house, John told me, has serious mold and foundation problems, and the layout is untenable for his family’s needs.  He has contracted with a celebrated local architect and intends to build a ‘contemporary farmhouse,’ actually smaller than the Capen House.  John said that they love Winter Park for its history and charm, and understand the need to save historic buildings—in fact, a few years back, the Pokornys worked with Steve Feller to painstakingly restore their beautiful historic home on Virginia Avenue.  They considered remodeling the Capen House to meet their needs, but after meeting with numerous building professionals determined it would have been prohibitively expensive to solve the house’s problems and then ‘retrofit’ the house to their liking. When we spoke, he offered to donate the house to any group willing to move it, and contribute $10,000 toward the move.

It’s as easy to find excuses for the actions of each of the players in this unfortunate drama as it is to assign blame. Yet whether or not you believe the Capen House is salvagable, the fact remains that one of the city’s oldest homes, historically significant enough to be listed as a Winter Park Historic Landmark as recently as 2011, will likely soon be destroyed.  In a sense, all of Winter Park bears some responsibility in creating the barometric conditions where this perfect storm, resulting in the destruction of a historic, albeit somewhat compromised, house is allowed to occur.

Is the Capen House one of the most architecturally or historically significant homes in the history of Winter Park?  Thirty years ago, the answer may have been “no.”  But recent decades have witnessed the almost systematic demolition of scores of the city’s prized historic homes. For instance, in 2005, one of James Gamble Rogers’ most notable homes – the Tudor style house on the Isle of Sicily, owned for 50 years by philanthropists John and Sylvia Tiedtke—was demolished to make way for a larger, more modern home. Also that year, the large Mediterranean home known as “the Annie Russell House” on Via Tuscany was razed.  A 12,000 square foot 21-room “Moroccan-themed” compound was erected in its place.  Set against this backdrop, those who value the city’s heritage are apt to cling to each of the city’s scarce remaining historic homes, even those not in pristine condition. Your great-grandmother’s tarnished silver brooch becomes particularly dear if the diamond and emerald ones have been stolen.  It’s not perfect, and it might not fetch much at an antique show, but it’s all you have to remember her by.

If Winter Park is to remain the gem of Central Florida, all of the city’s stakeholders – the mayor, commissioners, city staff, people in building construction and design, real estate brokers, and citizens—must take stock of our shared historic assets and safeguard them. In many cases, this will mean putting community interests before self-interest. It will mean making difficult—indeed, sometimes heroic—efforts to save and refurbish rather than raze and rebuild. We can look to other communities—Wilmington, North Carolina, Macon, Georgia, or St. Augustine,  just to name a few—that have come together to save their civic and architectural histories, and have culturally and yes, even financially benefited from their hard work.

Winter Park is worth the effort.

A POSTSCRIPT, 32 HOURS LATER:

We have been surprised by the level of interest in this blog post. In the last 32 hours, more than 1800 people have visited this site. It shows that overwhelmingly, people still care about Winter Park’s retaining its unique historic value.

It is important in any discussion of an emotional issue to be intellectually honest. Therefore, a few clarifying comments are called for:

It is often said in historic preservation that losing a historic home is only half the problem. The other half comes when you see what’s built in its place.
In many – perhaps most – cases, a historic home being demolished results in an out-of-scale, builder-designed structure being put up in its place. Often this replacement house is of poor quality and poorer design.
Of course, there are no guarantees what will be built in place of the Capen House if it is demolished. However, Mr. Pokorny says that he intends to build a house of quality construction designed by a well-regarded architect. He is not interested in enlarging the house’s footprint. We take him at his word. His previous restoration of a historic home was impeccably sensitive in detail and authenticity. We believe that he values Winter Park and appreciates the city’s heritage. Knowing Mr. Pokorny, and the architect he is working with, the replacement structure will doubtless be tasteful and beautiful. We regret the invasion of privacy that goes along with bringing this story to light.
What is often lost in cases such as this, however, is that the destruction of every single historic home (excepting those that have fallen into abject disrepair) results in the erosion of the cultural and architectural underpinnings of the entire community. Especially when the home is prominently located, as this one is, the city’s historic charm and authenticity are significantly diluted. Because Winter Park has allowed countless of these demolitions over the past two decades, saving each remaining home takes on heightened importance.

One final note: in the internet age, no blogger can control how widely a post is disseminated, and how it might be twisted or taken out of context in its replication. This is the regrettable counterpart of the efficiency and scope of internet communication. We do reserve the right to only publish comments that are fair, polite, and based on truth.
Thank you for believing as we do, that Winter Park’s architecture and history matter.
Betsy Owens, Executive Director, Friends of Casa Feliz

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43 Comments

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43 responses to “City’s Historic Capen House to be Demolished

  1. Sandy Womble Winter Park

    I’m sorry to hear this. It’s particularly disappointing as I tried to get in to see it the week it went on the market only to be told the house had a buyer. At that point it was listed at $3 million which was far above the sales price so I was not about to pay that amount nor get into a bidding war with another buyer. It stayed on the market quite some time. I lost interest given they never lowered the price. I would’ve been happy to buy it for the final price it sold for. The Capen House had great bones and a uniqueness all it’s own. Steve Feller did an exemplary job updating the property. Boo hoo.

    • John D.

      If someone could get this house on the national historic registry. It would save it. It might be able to be done seeing how it has connections to when Mr Capen was the town representative to meet and greet the president. You might find out if in fact the president went to the house. Just a thought, The house I grew up in Amarillo is listed that way.

      • Kathleen

        Sorry to break it to you, but having a property listed in the National Register of Historic Places would not prevent demolition. The national listing is basically an honorary one, and would only protect a property if Federal funding was being used in a project that would impact the resource. Historic preservation protection is almost always provided at the local level.The authority to designate, and thus protect historic houses, comes through a local ordinance.

  2. People shouldn’t move into historic houses that don’t suit them and then try to make them fit. They should leave them to those of us who will cherish their eccentricities.

  3. Sally Flynn

    It is unconscionable for anyone to demolish such a piece of history in Winter Park. All the people involved in allowing this to be able to happen should really examine their conscience and stop this from taking place. We cannot afford to lose any more of what makes Winter Park Special. Please John and Betsy reconsider what you are doing.

  4. Marti Miller

    The Pokorney family needs to take a step back and realize just what they are doing. They could just re-sale this house to someone who would really appreciate it and preserve it. Or they could go forth and have many unhappy neighbors in WP. Too many times decisions are made in haste without the knowledge of just what this house means to WP. We have so little to preserve and are handing on to every spot. WP is such a historic city, like none other in the world.

  5. Cathy Engelman

    As a native of Winter Park, I am sicked by what is going on. We don’t have many homes left that are historical, and yet we give approval to have them torn down. What are they thinking?? I too tried to see the house and was discouraged from looking at it. I loved the pictures of it on-line and the guest house looked amazing. As Karen said above, there are many people who would have purchased that home for $2M and enjoyed it for what it was. So many people are looking at super sizing, but many people in Winter Park are trying to down size and would have loved that house just the way it was. So sad……

  6. Ashleigh Bizzelle

    I have been in this historical home many times and this is a travesty! The entire property has the incredible energy and integrity that belong only to structures that have been party of history. Hopefully, the Winter Park Commission will see fit to reconsider their previous decision and rescind it. Integrity on their part in regard to this issue would help restore some of the faith in our elected officials that has deteriorated so badly.

  7. Eduardo

    Can Casa Feliz accomodate this house on their property? Will the Town of Winter Park allow it? If so, raising the money for a move and restoration should not be all that difficult.

  8. We have been surprised by the level of interest in this blog post. In the last 32 hours, more than 1800 have visited this site. It shows that overwhelmingly, people still care about Winter Park’s retaining its unique historic value.
    It is important in any discussion of an emotional issue to be intellectually honest. Therefore, a few clarifying comments are called for:
    It is often said in historic preservation that losing a historic home is only half the problem. The other half comes when you see what’s built in its place.
    In many – perhaps most – cases, a historic home being demolished results in an out-of-scale, builder-designed structure being put up in its place. Often this replacement house is of poor quality and poorer design.
    Of course, there are no guarantees what will be built in place of the Capen House if it is demolished. However, Mr. Pokorny says that he intends to build a house of quality construction designed by a well-regarded architect. He is not interested in enlarging the house’s footprint. We take him at his word. His previous restoration of a historic home was impeccably sensitive in detail and authenticity. We believe that he values Winter Park and appreciates the city’s heritage. Knowing Mr. Pokorny, and the architect he is working with, the replacement structure will doubtless be tasteful and beautiful. We regret the invasion of privacy that goes along with bringing this story to light.
    What is often lost in cases such as this, however, is that the destruction of every single historic home (excepting those that have fallen into abject disrepair) results in the erosion of the cultural and architectural underpinnings of the entire community. Especially when the home is prominently located, as this one is, the city’s historic charm and authenticity are significantly diluted. Because Winter Park has allowed countless of these demolitions over the past two decades, saving each remaining home takes on heightened importance.
    One final note: in the internet age, no blogger cannot control how widely a post is disseminated, and how it might be twisted or taken out of context in its replication. This is the regrettable counterpart of the efficiency and scope of internet communication. We do reserve the right to only publish comments that are fair, polite, and based on truth.
    Thank you for believing as we do, that Winter Park’s architecture and history matter.
    Betsy Owens, Executive Director, Friends of Casa Feliz

  9. frenchie leftly

    people do not allow this to happen look around u anywhere u live do u see anything older than a hundred years i dont think so,when i came to this country my wife told me we had to visit st augustine as its the oldest place here in florida what is it 3 maybe 4 hundred years old my local church in dagenham essex uk was built in the year 890 ad and the pub next to it in the year 1050 ad these would not be here today if someone had said sure knock it down we will put something new in its place we dont need that old stuff here how can a building be listed one minute then with the powerr of the dollar taken away the next somethings need to be put right keep the old buildings get the cities to give grants to maintain them [they give out grants for much less worthy causes] our tax dollars should be put to a better use of leaving behind a heritage for our children and there children

  10. So sad that Winter Park is allowing the demolition of this historic home and shame on the owners who think it’s a great idea. I am sure they fell in love with the charm of Winter Park, which, in large part, is due to its quaint, historical homes and brick-lined streets that harken back to a more civilized time.

  11. Peg Nelson

    The City of Longwood has welcomed a couple of other historic homes that have been moved there…perhaps they have room…instead of turning it into a pile of splinters…

    • Pastor Jack

      Yes and Longwood has strict rules and also has several blocks of old homes that are on the historic National register which has more staying power than the local designation Winter park put on that home. I look at cities like Winter Garden that have done such a good job preserving their downtown and wondering what we are doing in the name of progress.

  12. Sandy Womble Winter Park

    I would like to take this opportunity to correct my previous post, present a different chain of events on the Preservation Winter Park article and clarify a point.

    Preservation Winter Park was right. Kelly Price & Company listed the house at $3.2 million last summer when the country was still mired in a housing recession. Given the house sold in 2008 at the height of the bubble for $2.6 million, I wondered the reasoning behind an excessively high price.

    Kelly Price’s office was contacted by interested parties including my Realtor only to be told she had a buyer. My Realtor called her within weeks of the sign going up. Why were other people refused consideration?

    It is my understanding another Realtor presented an offer last fall that was rejected by Suntrust. This Realtor asked for a counter that he could present to his clients, but never heard back from the bank’s representative, Broker Kelly Price. (That offer was close to the final sales price.)

    The price of the house was not slashed after the historic designation was removed. That defies logic given removing the historic governance simply expands the buyers’ market to include new construction possibly making the house more valuable. Moreover, why would a Fortune 500 institution pay a land use attorney to successfully rescind the historic designation then ‘slash the price’? (I’m not dissing the writers, I am simply questioning the information they were given.)

    I can confirm there was no price reduction when during the 2012 holidays one of the Kelly Price Realtors hosted an open house that I attended. The price was still $3.2 million. I asked if it was negotiable and was flatly told no. Again, I was discouraged.

    The closing on this property was March, 2013, not right after the revocation of the historic designation in September 2012.

    Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion, but I challenge the Pokorny’s reasoning for demolishing this estate (“….serious mold and foundation problems, and the layout is untenable….”).

    In the MLS records – after the designation was removed and after the Pokorny’s purchased the property, the description from the office of Kelly Price reads as follows:

    “…a historical masterpiece set on Lake Osceola. This traditional four bedroom, three bath home with a detached guest house is spectacular! Throughout this home are beautifully maintained pine floors, three fireplaces, an enclosed sun porch that wraps around the house with gorgeous views of the lake, along with a gourmet kitchen with top of the line appliances. The master suite is on the second floor with a wood burning fireplace, built in shelving in master closet, a fabulous master bath with a soaking tub that overlooks the lake. This historic home has kept its charm and character with amazing wood details, glass doorknobs, and unique windows and doors.”

    One can only wonder why this Broker refused other bidders who most likely would’ve matched the final sales price and kept the house intact. Kelly Price was the Transactional Broker which means she represented both the Seller and Buyer in the closing. Go do the math.

    What is most incredible in my mind is that a house that was so lovingly maintained and meticulously restored by Ms. Clarty, could lose its historic designation at meteoric speed. In a city that is arguably one of the most sought after cultural travel destinations in Florida because of its historical elegance, it is confounding that designating one’s property is meaningless. Maybe this episode will finally stir people into establishing a real (vs. unreal) historic preservation ordinance.

    Suntrust Bank lost out in their gamble. They came up short by paying an attorney the big bucks to remove the historical designation betting on a bigger price tag when in fact the house ultimately sold for fair market value – the same price many others were willing to match had there been a level playing field.

    Sadly, the community will permanently lose yet another historical asset at the end of the day.

  13. Robert Patterson

    Why aren’t these places put on the National Registry of Historic Places? If they were these problems would have easily been avoided.

  14. Sandy Womble Winter Park

    I’d like to make a correction on my last post. $2.9 million was the pricetag when I went to the open house during the holidays, lowered from $3.2 million. That was still back then or today prohibitively way too high.

    Again and more important, had the broker opened up a relationship with other qualified buyers represented by realtors, then possibly the other buyers would’ve been given an opportunity to bid on the house. That was never the case. She rebuffed my realtor and apparently she did others.

  15. excellent article and analysis Betsy, sadly what is happening in Winter Park is also happening in other desireable “real” places in Florida like Miami Beach and other towns… hopefully the powers that be will get the message and revisit the historic ordinances ANDdesign guidelines of Winter Park before its too late and it’s all mostly gone replaced by oversizedinferior designs… best of luck!

  16. well when you tear down these beautiful houses no one will come to your town anymore who wants to see a town full of new ugly Florida houses .. it seems to me you would be doing everything in your power as a town to keep your old beauties and keep people coming so the town gets money from them …heck you might as well go to 192 where old town is as go to a town of new no history Florida homes that all look alike right down to the color

  17. Robert Lemon

    Another sad episode in the city of “history and culture.” Throwing away remnants of the past merely diminishes our heritage for the future. Mammon is god.
    Robert Lemon, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, Art and Architecture History, Rollins College

  18. Bonnie Jackson

    I question many of the facts being thrown around. Why would Suntrust not oppose the historic designation if it would diminish their rights and/or the value of their collateral in the midst of a foreclosure? Why would the City approve historic designation when a Lis Pendens had been filed? Why would the City so easily rescind historic designation once granted? Why would someone purchase property with a historic designation with an eye toward tearing it down? None of these things make any sense. The facts simply do not add up, so it is difficult to discern where things went wrong. However, the City Commission needs to consider what it means to have historic designation, and what mechanism could be employed to discourage this sort of manipulation in the future.

  19. Reblogged this on That Pink House and commented:
    Whether or not you call yourself a “historic preservationist,” or if you only like to visit places/cities/towns with a strong sense of place, this blog post from a friend in Winter Park, Florida is definitely worth a read. Make sure to check out the link to the real estate listing of this wonderful and absolutely historically significant home. People need to realize that a place is the sum of its parts. As these parts are lost or destroyed, so is the charm and context of a community.

  20. Dear people of Winter Park, I am truly saddened for you. I hope the next time your elections roll around, you remember to ask candidates their stance on these issues. The only time preservation initiatives and programs have been successful is when there is political backing for them. It physically hurts to read in the blog post above about what has been torn down in recent years. I had the opportunity to visit Winter Park during a Florida Trust for Historic Preservation conference a couple of years ago, and we saw many wonderful renovation projects and success stories. The people need to rise up. This is not who you are. Mold issues and space issues are something that can be SOLVED. The new owner’s excuses are malarkey.

  21. Richard W.

    Just like the historic homes near Lake Eola, this house will be torn down in the name of progress. Serious mold issues – after investing $700k in renovations the make believe mold issues exist? Doubtful. Looks like a beautiful home I’m a proud owner of a craftsman built in 1920 it has its quirks and that’s why we bought it. If you want new move to Baldwin Park don’t tear down a piece of history.

  22. Ronald A.

    There is enough hand-wringing going on about this issue. Someone who really cares and who has resources needs to step up and move this house to a suitable location immediately. It is an extraordinary piece of Winter Park history that must not be destroyed!

    • PastorJack

      Yes and since the city of Winter Park caused this, Perhaps they can move it somewhere and make a museum ?

      • There is an empty lot a few doors down… Someone owns it. I wonder if they would consider? Also, there is land between to “homes” that Rollins seem to own across the street and next to FUMCWP. It sounds as if The Pokorny Family are open to helping. One cannot blame someone for something they bought. They don’t have to give anyone excuses and should not be torn down personally. With that said, people are interested in working on it and together. Please be courteous with your words like the ever-so-eloquent Betsy Owens. Good can happen when everyone can come together with open hearts and open minds. But at the end of the day, The Pokorny’s own the property.

  23. Just returning from a Capen family reunion. We are the core descendants of the Capen family in Boston and are just learning of the historic home in Winter Park. I am very interested in saving this home- moving it if necessary.
    June 13th is precariously near. Please advise.

    Warmest regards,

    Melissa Capen

    • Ashleigh Bizzelle

      Hi Melissa,

      I’m a close friend of Clardy Malugen who totally renovated the Capen House and was the owner from whom it was repossessed. I just texted her and asked if she had seen your post and she had not. She would very much like to speak with you. There isn’t much time to do something about the situation before the scheduled demolition. If you have a moment, she can be reached at Clardy@Malugen.com. Thank you for your interest — the whole thing is a travesty. All the best,

      Ashleigh Bizzelle

    • Hello Melissa,

      First of all, I am happy to see that as the descendants of the original owners of this property, you want to do what you can to preserve this historic house. Whatever can be done, whether by an intervention from the City Planning Department or by other legal means, preservation is necessary. Since the buyers are willing to donate the house and provide $10,000 toward moving it, that should help to convince them that they don’t need to rush into demolishing it. They can give it a little time. This proposed demolition was given only last minute coverage. I only found out about it less than a week ago when Channel 9 ran a short story on it.

      I think that Preservation Winter Park or the new owners should hire an architectural consultant to completely photograph every possible part of the house, catalog it, take accurate measurements and prepare as-built floor plans, elevations, sections and details. Then hire a deconstruction company to disassemble the house and its appurtenances, catalog the parts and store them appropriately. Some of it may not survive. But that’s just collateral damage that can be replaced. Then, when an appropriate site is found, either by a generous donation from a Winter Park benefactor or the City itself, the house can be reassembled on a new foundation using as many of the existing materials as possible. Whatever needs to be replaced due to mold, rot or other damage can be replaced with new or recycled materials at the time of reconstruction. Of course, historically accurate plans will need to be drawn and a building permit issued. I’m sure that the city will cooperate as much as possible. After all, it has already been noted that Winter Park is losing much of its architectural heritage and there isn’t much left to preserve, which brings me to a much more pressing issue.

      Because there is not much in the way of historic legislation in Winter Park to protect these vanishing relics of architectural heritage, there perhaps needs to be something written into law to protect it. Most cities have a designated historic district with strict historic restoration guidelines. Is there such legislation in Winter Park? If not, perhaps there should be. Please don’t misconstrue what I am saying. I don’t like legislation any more than anyone else. I am a firm believer in education before legislation. If people can be educated in the benefits of preserving our historic legacy, especially those related to architectural landmarks, then we would not need legislation to protect endangered properties. Everyone would be willing to rally around a preservation and work together to make it happen. Why should an 1885 historic home end up in a landfill as its final resting place?!?

      It seems that there is little respect for history and the precedents they have created in the architectural landscape of this country. Europe has a finer appreciation for such things and those people have gone to great lengths to preserve, protect, recreate and restore architectural landmarks. After World War Two, Paris, Dresden and Berlin were a few of the cities that suffered from bombings and the people banded together to put their cities back together using architectural research to do so. As a result, we have the privilege of seeing such structures in their highest state of preservation. Their architecture, however, dates back millenia, whereas ours only dates back about three centuries. They also used highly sustainable materials which stand the test of time. Here, we don’t seem to care about the life of the structure, just the temporary enjoyment of it until it seems to have outlived its usefullness. Then it gets torn down and something is built to replace it. A great example of such wastefulness is the Orlando Arena, which opend in 1989. My children remember when we went to its grand opening. 23 years later, it has lost its lustre, replaced by another behemoth on Church Street and torn down for a highly debated prospective creative village. I am not against progress, and I think a creative village is a great idea, but with advanced thinking and planning, such obsolescence in structure would not happen. How many people remember what stood in the place where the Arena was afterward? It was a historic softball stadium in a place where the Central Florida Fair was held each year. That history has faded from memory. Will Winter Park’s history fade from memory in a similar manner? Only if we let it happen.

      Paris learned that lesson after the Great Exposition of 1890. Most of the buildings, some of them quite unique and architecturally magnificent were torn down, much to the dismay of a lot of people. However, George Eiffel’s tower was left standing and we are glad that it was preserved, even though it was slated for the wrecking ball like the rest of the Exposition buildings. Imagine what it could have been like had they not been destroyed. Can we learn some of those lessons? Do any of us know what the rest of World Exposition Park looked like in 1891? No. We only have the Eiffel Tower to remember, see and experience.

      What will the future residents of Winter Park have to remember, see and experience from the past?

  24. Sally Flynn

    Melissa Capen..this is the most wonderful comment! I am from generations of family in Boston and we have always valued past history. I hope you have connected with Betsy Owens who is responsible for this Blog. I believe it is possible to move this home and save it. Winter Park will be indebted to you.

    Sally Chase Flynn

  25. I am just about ready to publish a piece on the Capen House: http://jimmyboi2.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/bulldozing-winter-park/
    In that blog are a number of posts documenting what’s still standing out there in west Orange County, too. Thank you for this posting, and for this blog!

  26. Here’s a link to the Junior League Winter Park driving tour from 1980… I scanned the booklet: http://jimmyboi2.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/historic-winter-park-a-driving-tour/

  27. I could write a book on this to include my full sentiments, but who has the time these days. I am one of the ‘watchdogs’ of yesterday, my focus now redirected to other business and perhaps weary for it, but my heart is still full of the love for Winter Park’s architectural wonders of the earlier centuries. I am encouraged by the energy of this blog and hopeful it is evidence of strength in our community to rise again to the “preservation” occasion. Unpaid ‘watchdogs’ are necessary to face the paid watchdogs such as lawyers whose footholds are the basis that ‘money’ can challenge any ordinance put in place for protection. Perhaps the Capen House project’s ‘lawyer’ of the ‘today’ generation was not there 20 years ago at the inception of the ordinance movement. Perhaps too, he is unaware of the large amount of historical structures now gone with the first wave of ‘mcmansioning’ in the 90’s. Structures that were either historical by the tales of their past owners, or by their adornment, are gone now mapped only by black and white archives in the library. It is most disconcerting to learn via this blog, that efforts put in place years ago by the last generation’s champions are now being challenged by those unsympathetic to Winter Park’s truest treasures. I support all those, 1800 or so and counting, who by their words or appearance at Commission, next Monday, elect to take charge on this subject.

    • Sally Flynn

      Mari Frith, Perhaps you are unaware that we have a Value We Share group and our clip art is a watch dog at the computer! So you do have others in this community that feel as you do. I am trying to let you know that you are not alone. I would like to communicate with you and so I give Betsy Owens permission to give you my email address. What you have written in the Blog is so accurate.

  28. Pingback: Want This Stunning Home? You’ll Have To Move It Yourself | Buzzelicious - Breaking News & More

  29. Pingback: Want This Stunning Home? You’ll Have To Move It Yourself

  30. Ann

    Maybe someone should blame Jason Searl, attorney of Gray Robinson Law Fire. Maybe people should not use this firm. Maybe Jeff Briggs city planning should be put out. Just like Lake Eola houses that were tore down. Who started that so they could build a parking lot. What a waste. I agree people have no respect for history or preserving it. They want to get rid of the old to replace with modern and they all look the same with a few quirks. Maybe it is money passing to their hands. It is to bad that our people have grown so evil they will do anything for a buck. Someone please move this house out of WInter Park who does not treasure it. Let us ban Winter Park from our list of places to go. Shut them down and maybe they will feel the heat

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