It is obvious to anyone walking, cycling, or driving on Palmer Avenue that something is missing. One of the most beautiful views on Lake Osceola is unobstructed now for all to see. Missing is an historic family home that was demolished late last year. Its name was “Carlova.”
Long before the house was built, the property was associated with the development of Winter Park and Rollins College. The first owner of the property was pioneer Thomas J. Mathers who purchased it from the General Land Office of the United States in 1876. He owned the only vegetable and meat market in town. Mr. Mathers sold the property to the Palmer family from Columbia, South Carolina. General John B. Palmer, his wife, and son were very prominent people in Winter Park. They built a home on the property.
In 1894, General Palmer died and the property was sold to the Temple family. William O. Temple’s contributions to Winter Park, the state of Florida, and the country were numerous. He served as mayor of Winter Park for three terms, president of the Board of Trade, Trustee of Rollins College, general manager of the Florida Citrus Exchange, first president of the South Florida Chamber of Commerce, part owner of the Pittsburgh National League baseball club, and introduced the idea of a World Series. The Temple orange was named after him. His wife, Carrie Wood Temple, was vice-president of the Woman’s Club and contributed $10,000 to build its clubhouse. She was a board member of Orange General Hospital. The Temples platted the subdivision and began selling lots.
In 1914, lots 14-32 were sold to Halsted W. Caldwell and his wife Margaret Caldwell. He immediately began construction of a home in an English Tudor style. Mr. Caldwell was from Ohio. He named his home, Carolova, for the three states he had lived in: Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia.
Like previous owners of the property, the Caldwells were prominent citizens and philanthropists. A mining engineer, Mr. Caldwell became a civic, religious, and educational leader in Winter Park. He served on the Rollins Board of Trustees for twenty- eight years and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree. Mrs. Caldwell was elected to the Orange County School Board.
The Caldwells sold Carlova in 1936 to Woodbury T. Morris and his wife Florence Malott Morris. At that time extensive remolding was done to transform the home from an English home into a French style. James Gamble Rogers worked on the plans. Subsequently, additional remodeling was done to the home by another owner, the prominent Winter Park dentist, Dr. James W. Hickman.
In 1974, the home was acquired by Winter Park natives, Captain Hope Strong and his wife, Margaret Caldwell Strong. “Peggy” finally returned to her childhood home. Captain Strong graduated from Winter Park High School, the United States Naval Academy, and served as commander of the USS Shangri-La at Mayport, Florida. Captain Strong and Peggy were also prominent citizens and philanthropists. He served as Winter Park mayor from 1981-1987 and came up with the legendary signs, “Please Drive With Extraordinary Care.” Peggy was a docent at the Historical Association and the Morse Museum. She was a founding member of the Friends of Casa Feliz and was passionate about saving “old” Winter Park. Their son, David C. Strong, also served as Winter Park mayor from 2006 – 2009.
Peggy Strong was born and died in Carlova, her beloved family home. For years, residents would often see her walking her dog on Palmer Avenue. The view of the lake on Palmer Avenue is open for all to see until a new home is built, but missing is a kind and gracious lady and a large piece of Winter Park history.
Special thanks to the Winter Park History & Archives Collection for content; the Strong family for photos, and Phil Eschbach for digital enhancement of photographs.