In 1933 (or maybe it reads ’38), our postcard writers were in Orlando to attend a graduation at Rollins College. They stayed a few nights at the top floor of the Angebilt Hotel. The afternoon before the graduation they wrote the postcard to Kay in South Euclid, OH about their stay. It was signed “oceans of love, Daddy and Mary.”
The Angebilt is a great place to start this blog about Orlando’s past. An Orange Avenue landmark for 90 years, and for decades the premier hotel in Orlando. When it opened in 1923, it was a near skyscraper as the tallest building in the city at 11 floors.
A sign in the front advertised the 10th floor dining room as “The Height of Hospitality.” Aside from 250 rooms, guests could enjoy a beauty salon/barber shop, a drug store, and a cocktail lounge. With no other buildings as tall to block the view, the roof-top sky deck provided great views of Lake Eola and the area. The hotel hosted the University Club and at one time housed two radio stations.
Great Americans walked through the lobby doors during its long history. Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Thomas Edison, all stayed once at the Angebilt during a trip to Edison’s home in Fort Myers. In the early 60’s, Joan Crawford was on the board of Pepsi and attended a reception held in the ballroom for the soda company.
The hotel faced hardship at times. The early owner filed bankruptcy within months of the hotel opening and it changed hands within its first year. Decades later in the forties, a hurricane destroyed the top floor ballroom. By the ’70s, the elegance was long gone and it attracted a less upscale clientele.
In the 1990’s with the hotel no longer in operation, the building was converted into a temporary courthouse. This was while the new Orange County Courthouse was under construction.
What’s There Today
The Angebilt still stands on Orange Avenue looking much like it did 90 years ago. The decorative “A” can still be found on the entry way. The lobby has been restored to its original style and is often decorated with fresh flowers. CoLab Orlando, which provides shared office space for creative and technical professionals, is based here. Two business on the ground floor generate business at lunch and in the evenings. Finnhenry’s is on one corner and a Subway on the other.
Although it would be more appealing to see something other than a sandwich chain at the base, The Angebilt is a great example of a landmark building being redefined to keep its place in the community and remain part of its heritage.
A Guide to Historic Orlando; Steve Rajtar, The History Press, 2006
Orlando Magazine, March 2007