Preservation Winter Park is a blog published by the Friends of Casa Feliz.
This blog is born out of an April, 2013 strategic planning session of the Friends Board of Directors. An important part of our organizational mission is “to engage the public through education and advocacy for the purpose of preserving and promoting the community’s rich architectural, historic and cultural heritage.” And while we hope to serve as a beacon to historic preservation efforts all around Central Florida, it is in Winter Park where the Casa is located, and frankly, Winter Park where the alarm bell needs to be sounded.
The Friends believe strongly that what differentiates Winter Park from other communities–what makes the city one of the nicest places to live and visit in Central Florida–is not the chain of lakes, the upscale shops and restaurants, or the lovely tree canopy. Not that those things aren’t vitally important. But what makes Winter Park truly unique among towns in Central Florida is its rich architectural heritage: the old homes and buildings that tell the story of the community’s past, that continue to bring pleasure in the present, and will, if properly cared for, inform and inspire the future. Yet in Winter Park, these our most valuable assets are sadly our most defenseless: vulnerable to the forces of insensitive development masquerading as progress and myopic self-interest disguised as private property rights. It’s important to recognize that Winter Park’s historic buildings don’t just belong to us, or even those people who currently hold the deeds. In the words of early preservationist William Morris, “These old buildings do not belong to us only, they belong to our forefathers and they will belong to our descendants unless we play them false. They are not in any sense our own property to do with as we like with them. We are only trustees for those that come after us.”
It is in this spirit that, through this blog, we aim to open a dialogue about preservation in Winter Park, and what we can do to safeguard our historic buildings for future generations. We hope that readers will use this blog as a platform for discussing issues pertaining to Winter Park’s architecture, heritage, and future. We welcome your feedback.
One final note: unless otherwise stated, the blog is written by Betsy Owens, Executive Director of the Friends. It is difficult to write a blog post worth reading that 100% of people will agree with, and this blog is no exception. The opinions expressed will not always represent the thoughts of every member, or even every board member, of the Friends. But we consciously make the choice to provoke discussion and occasionally offend, rather than to remain agreeably and benignly ineffective.
Thank you for reading.