The Other Lake Eola Fountain

Sperry Fountain 1940's and 2013

Sperry Fountain
1940’s and 2013

The Other Lake Eola Fountain

We all know the fountain in the middle of Lake Eola — the one surrounded by swan boats and serves as a city icon for Orlando.  That fountain is the Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain, better known as the Centennial Fountain.  However this post is not about that fountain, this is about its less popular sister, the Sperry Fountain.    Not much attention is directed toward the Sperry Fountain, which has been part of the scenery at Lake Eola for a century.

An Orlandoan gives Mayor Sperry advice on cars speeding down Orange Ave. Morning Sentinel - Jan 9 1914

An Orlandoan gives Mayor Sperry advice on cars speeding down Orange Ave.
Morning Sentinel – Jan 9 1914

E. F. Sperry was one of Orlando’s pioneers.  Originally from Connecticut, he moved to Orlando in 1885 after vacationing in the area.   Within a year of moving here, he co-founded the South Florida Foundry and Machine Works.  Providing metal works for iron stairs, balconies, trains, and fencing, it grew into one of Orlando’s earliest industries.  Mr. Sperry did well for himself.  He had a home on East Pine Street and owned property that included the southwest portion of Lake Eola.

When he later sold his interest in the machine works, he remained active in the community.  Sperry served on the city commission, the park commission, the Orlando Citrus Exchange (as president), and was a founding member of the First Unitarian Church of Orlando when it started in 1912.  A progressive man, Sperry was the first president of the Men’s Equal Suffrage League, which worked to help woman gain the right to vote.

His civic involvement led to his election as mayor in 1914.  Around this time he donated his Lake Eola land to the city.  His property completed the shoreline for our city’s most famous park.  (Pioneers Jake Summerlin and J. P. Mussellwhite contributed the rest of property to the city.)   Sperry also provided the $2000 for the fountain that bears his name.

Sperry fountain in the 1960s

Sperry fountain in the 1960s

Sperry never finished his first mayoral term and suddenly passed away in 1916.  His legacy continued when his successor, Mayor James L. Giles, continued the fight for women to gain voting rights.  Less than three years after Sperry’s death, the City Council voted to amend the city charter allowing women to vote in Orlando.

March 2014 will mark 100 years of operation for Mayor Sperry’s fountain.

___________________

  • Orlando Sentinel, 9/8/1996
  • From Florida Sand to “The City Beautiful”, E.H. Gore 1949
  • Orlando, A Centennial History, Eve Bacon 1975
Categories: Post Card Stories | Tags: , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “The Other Lake Eola Fountain

  1. Love this fountain! I grew up around Lake Eola. My grandparents lived at 613 E Pine and we used to go to the park quite often, many times on roller skates! We’d circle the park and always loved the area where this is located.

  2. Fountainhead

    Why were the plant containers capped off from the fountain in the renovation?

    • I really don’t know. There are a lot fewer flowers growing in the park than in year’s past. Maybe it was too much upkeep to keep plants growing in them.

  3. Pingback: Retro Links | orlando retro blog

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