If ever I start to forget why I love my hometown of Winter Park, I need only return to the memories of yesterday, December 10, 2013, when the community came together to move a precious historic house across a lake. Yesterday was a triumph shared by many people:
- By Debbie Komanski, executive director of the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, who has been the definition of indefatigable throughout this six-month journey. When she first agreed to take on this project, she was told “all you really need to do is provide the land. We’ll take care of the rest.” That she is not only still speaking to the starry-eyed preservationist/blogger who made this promise–perhaps the most outrageous understatement in city history–but at every turn deflects credit from herself onto others, is incredible. She is grace personified.
- By the Preservation Capen team, a cross-organizational cadre of community leaders and technical experts who have met week after week, month after month, to strategize, publicize, raise money, make phone calls, speak to civic groups, and cheer-lead at the Farmer’s Market, at rallies, and parades. This group has provided the spiritual fuel, sweat, and goodwill that has propelled the Capen House project forward.
- By Christine Madrid French, a nationally renowned preservationist who by our good fortune found herself living in preservation-challenged (but improving!) Central Florida. As project director, she has capably steered the project to fruition, with a huge smile on her face and sparkles in her hair.
- By Pat and Randy Robertson, whose early donation to the project got us off the ground.
- By the boards, staff and members of the Albin Polasek Museum, Winter Park Historical Association and the Friends of Casa Feliz, who locked arms to devote their organizational resources to helping make history in Winter Park. I’ve never seen a stronger testament to teamwork.
- By the local press, who have belied the common complaint that the media only report bad news. The Orlando Sentinel’s David Breen and I LUV Winter Park’s Clyde Moore, and a whole bevy of print, TV, web and radio reporters have pursued this story with persistence, fairness and accuracy.
- By hundreds of financial supporters, whose contributions have made the dream of floating a house across a lake a reality.
- By property owners John and Betsy Pokorny, who have bent over backwards to cooperate with the community’s plans to move the Capen House. In a city that told them, “go ahead, you can knock it down,” they put their dream house on hold for many months so the preservation community could satisfy their dream of moving the house.
- By Thaddeus Seymour, an 85-year-old retired college president who by all rights should be sipping martinis on a golf course in Palm Springs, but instead has spent his retirement serving his adopted community of Winter Park. No task is too daunting or too picayune for Thad, who will spend a morning asking a community leader for a landmark donation and an afternoon printing out Capen House postcards on his Mac.
- By Frank Roark, the general contractor overseeing the project, who has juggled the often competing needs of the Polasek, the moving company, the city, the homeowners, the lawyers, the fundraisers, and the media, and has subjugated his own personal needs to all of the above. He loves Winter Park, and Winter Park loves him.
If you weren’t among the throngs of folks who witnessed this miracle first-hand, we hope you’ll enjoy some of these photos and videos from this jubilant day:
Video of the Move–Click Here