The postcard depicts the Court House Annex. The two colors of exterior tile made it look modern for the era. Across the street is a 5 cents parking lot, which is the property where the library stands today. If you’ve been downtown recently, 5 cents won’t get you 5 minutes on the meter.
Orange County Court House and Annex
The property on which the Orange County Courthouse Annex stood has been significant since Orlando’s earliest days. A log cabin on this site in 1857 served as the first courthouse. Orlando’s original city limits were set to be one mile to the north, south, east, and west of this spot.
Several courthouse came and went as the community grew. In 1892, a large red brick Victorian Style courthouse with a clock tower stood here. That Victorian style courthouse was replaced by this structure in 1959. The modern-for-its-time annex was built next to the 1927 courthouse. While the aqua exterior may have been more Miami Beach than Orlando, the building brought a contemporary edge to downtown.
On the fifth floor was a jail featuring a progressive kitchen where meals were prepared by prisoners for the 165 inmates in the facility. This is also the building where Ted Bundy’s trial was held in the 80’s.
During construction in 1959, a time capsule was buried in the courthouse. It contained artifacts from the decade such as a rubber stamp from Christmas, FL and 50 pennies. (Today that time capsule awaits its 2059 opening at the History Center).
Although the annex was constructed to last for a century, it barely lasted 40 years. Asbestos made the building unsafe. In 1989, the county moved 300 employees and 200 inmates out of the annex. Some courtrooms were temporarily moved to the Angebilt Hotel. The cost of removing the asbestos was high. It was an estimated $30 million to make it safe enough to use again. In the end, only the first three floors were cleaned up and used again while the current courthouse was under construction.
The annex was demolished and the site was converted into Orlando Heritage Park by the early 2000’s.
Sources:Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida Orlando Sentinel, 11/26/1998, 10/25/1990