Posts Tagged With: Orange Ave

Orange Court Hotel and Orlando’s First Indoor Swimming Pool

Orange CourtFrom 1924 until 1990 this corner of Orange Avenue and Colonial Drive belonged to the Orange Court Hotel. The Camden Apartments and the Residence Inn (under construction) towering over and just inches away from Mama B’s Subs are the newcomers.

Tropical Court Yard with palms and citrus trees

Tropical Court Yard with palms and citrus trees

Times were good in Orlando in the early 1920’s. A new 275 room hotel opened and brought another stylish Florida hotel to Orange Ave. The Angebilt and San Juan hotels were just blocks away. The new Orange Court Hotel was a resort destination with its Mediterranean architecture. G. Lloyd Preacher from Atlanta was the architect. His other works included Atlanta City Hall and the Briarcliff Hotel in Georgia.

Guests of the Orange Court enjoyed Orlando’s first indoor pool. The pool was, of course, steam-heated for those cold Florida days. The buildings surrounded a tropical courtyard landscaped with palms and orange trees. Overhead the rooms had private sun balconies naturally decorated with growing jasmine and the bright red flowers of flame vine. Wrought iron chandeliers welcomed guests into the lobby on their way to the ballroom, lounge, and restaurants.

Orlando's first indoor swimming pool

Orlando’s first indoor swimming pool

Throughout the years, Orlandoans came here for banquets, receptions, and businesses meetings such as an annual citrus industry meeting. In 1944, WDBO temporarily broadcasted from the Orange Court after a hurricane destroyed their studio down the street at the Angebilt. For a time, it was owned by Colonial Hotels, a chain that included the Key West Colonial (La Concha) as one of its properties.

The Orange Court faced business challenges early on. Not long after opening, a real estate bubble popped for the first time in Florida. Ownership would change hands seven times between 1924 and the 1960’s. The hotel closed for about a year in 1963. The following year it reopened owned by A.C. Kavli, who would own it until his death in 1985.

"Excellent beverages at reasonable prices"

“Excellent beverages at reasonable prices”

Mr. Kavli paid $500,000 in cash for the hotel. His goal was not restore it to its early glamor, but to run a budget priced hotel. He filled in the indoor pool and divided up the ballroom to create more rooms to rent. Rooms rented for the night, weekly, and monthly at affordable rates. In its last years in the 80’s, now called the Orange Court Motor Lodge, occupants included more long-term retirees as residents than tourists. A daily bus ran to Walt Disney World for the few bargain tourists staying here.  [Link to hotel brochure during Kavli’s ownership]

Efforts to save and renovate the Orange Court never materialized, and the building was demolished in 1990. Today the Orange Court is not completely forgotten. The apartment complex on the site shares part of the name (Camden Orange Court Apartments) and has a large picture of the old hotel on the side of its parking garage.  The neon sign from the hotel is in storage with the Morse Museum.

The Orange Court was part of Colonial Hotels

The Orange Court was part of Colonial Hotels

The Orange Court was the site of many business conferences

The Orange Court was the site of many business conferences

Sources:

  • Orlando Sentinel 11/1/1946, 6/29/1986
  • USF Digital Collection
  • Orlando, A Centennial History, Eve Bacon, 1975
Categories: Post Card Stories | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Checking Back into The Angebilt

Click to access the PDF of The Angebilt Hotel brochure.

Click to access the PDF of The Angebilt Hotel brochure.

The first post on Orlando Retro Blog was about the Angebilt Hotel.  We are checking back into the Angebilt with a circa 1940’s travel brochure and a restaurant menu from 1957.   (You can download a PDF of the brochure by clicking on brochure image to the left.)

This brochure is from a time when the highlights for Orlando travelers were:

  • Fishing and Swimming
  • Tangerine Bowl
  • The Washington Nationals Winter Home
  • Eastern Airlines
  • Rollins College
  • Ben White Raceway

The air condition dining room provided table de hote service.  (A Google search tells me we call that prix fixe today.)   From this 1957 menu, the restaurant offered a wide variety of seafood appetizers (Blue Point Oysters on the half shell $1, Crab Meat Cocktails Supreme $1.25), salads (a 20 cents up charge for Roquefort cheese dressing), and sides like Lyonaisse Potatoes (25 cents) and French Fried Onion Rings (30 cents).  Highlighted was the Deluxe Plantation Planked Burger: Our Specialty from the Plantation Lounge (Choice Western Beef, ground daily in our own Kitchen, Broiled on an Oak Plank with Ripe Tomato, Julienne Green Beans and Bordure of Whipped Potatoes) ($1.65).  An oak planked burger sounds rather culinary forward for 1957 Orlando.

Atop the Angebilt was a Sky Room or the “Top of the Town” for conventions and banquets.  Also a solarium where bathing beauties in the modest swimwear of the era could enjoy the “benefits of Mother Nature’s greatest helper ‘the sun'” as well as therapies and massages.  On the mezzanine was a lounge decorated in what looks like tropical prints on wicker furniture.

Untitled

The text of the brochure speaks highly of our City Beautiful, “Nowhere else in this whole wide world has nature smiled so lavishly.”  The staff is described as, “young in years” but “old in service.”  Guests are invited to stay a night, a week, or as a permanent resident.

Below I created a “then and now” of the hotel lobby with the picture from the brochure and a current shot.   The lobby has been restored and is in great shape today, and looks very much like it did in brochure.   No longer a hotel lobby but a business entrance now.  The front desk staff and the elevator operators are long gone, but it is reassuring that some of the charm remains in this once grand hotel.

The Angebilt Lobby in the 1940's and Today

The Angebilt Lobby in the 1940’s and Today

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The Round Building, Orange Ave and South St

Looking North on Orange Avenue at South Street Intersection 1960's and 2013

Looking North on Orange Avenue at South Street Intersection
1960’s and 2013

The Postcard

The view looking north up Orange Avenue is framed by city hall on the left and the mid-century modern American Federal Savings and Loan building (AKA The Round Building). Tall palm trees center the postcard, behind them are the Downtown Motor Inn, Sun Bank and the American Fire & Casualty Insurance buildings.

The view today looks similar to the 1960’s postcard even though all but one of the buildings in the postcard have been demolished. City hall was replaced with our current city hall. SunBank – now SunTrust – rebuilt near the same spot. The Downtowner and the American Fire & Casualty buildings are long gone. Now the Grand Bohemian sits on the corner. And at least for today, the former American Federal Savings is the only remaining building.

The Round Building (American Federal Savings and Loan Association)

Today: Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center under construction behind the Round Building.

Today: Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center under construction behind the Round Building.

In 1961, American Federal Savings and Loan Association purchased 60,000 square feet of property across from City Hall for $400,000. At the time, there were still some homes along this stretch of Orange Ave. A few houses and a four-unit apartment building were on the site when the bank bought the land. The close proximity to Lake Lucerne probably made this a very livable area, which would not be true today with the 408 Express overhead.

Robert Murphy, a local Harvard educated architect who later founded HuntonBrady Architects, designed the building. HuntonBrady continues to design buildings today. Their credits include Team Disney, The Mennello Museum of American Art, and the Orange County Convention Center expansion. Mr. Murphy designed the bank as a round building encircled in decorative concrete panels (the bris de soleil). It was originally built at only two stories. With equally important east and west entrances, the round design helped keep an even traffic flow. A head teller from the bank had the idea for a semi circular teller counter being the most efficient way to serve customers. A skylight in the center added natural light to the bank lobby. When it first opened, the bank created further attraction by putting $1 million in bills on display in the lobby.

American Federal Savings and Loan

American Federal Savings and Loan in the early 1960’s before the additional floors were added.

In the early 70’s, additional glass enclosed stories were added to the building. This changed the appearance to a sort of office tower rising from the decorative concrete. Visual Ephemera recently quoted Mr. Murphy’s wife as stating he was not fond of the added floors.

Left: Bris de Soleil panels being installed in 1960's. Right: First panel being removed in 2013

Left: Bris de Soleil panels being installed in 1960’s.
Right: First panel being removed in 2013

The days are numbered for The Round Building. Today, three old palms tower over the dry fountain at the west entrance. It will be demolished to make room for the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center currently under construction. There are efforts underway to remove and repurpose the exterior panels. One section of the bris de soleil panels has already been removed. If the efforts are successful, the familiar design will live elsewhere in Orlando as a reminder of this unique landmark.

Sources:

Central Florida Modern
Visual Ephemera
Orlando Sentinel, Florida Magazine 1961
Orlando, A Centennial History; Eve Bacon 1975
Categories: Post Card Stories | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Rutland’s and Orange Avenue in the 1940’s.

Orange Avenue and Washington 1940's/2013

Orange Avenue and Washington 1940’s/2013

The Postcard

The caption of the postcard reads “Orange Avenue looking North”.  However, north is the other direction and this postcard view is looking south.  The Angebilt and San Juan Hotels provide the backdrop to a time when Orange Ave was lined with department stores like Sears and Rutland’s.

Rutland’s and the Corner of Orange & Washington

Birdseye View Orlando Map 1884  Click to Enlarge

Birdseye View Orlando Map 1884
Click to Enlarge

In the heart of downtown, Orange Avenue and Washington Street are among the oldest streets in the city.    A 129 year old map shows at least a two-story building in the southwest corner of the intersection. (Near the red arrow in the thumbnail)  This building may be the county jail as some books reference a jail being built on the corner in 1884*.  Braxton Beacham bought the jail in 1917 and later built the Beacham Theater and a few stores on the property.

By the 1930’s the horse traveled dirt roads were brick covered and lined with businesses.  The St. Charles Hotel was built in the vicinity.  On the southeast corner, where Rutland’s would go, was a gas station and an Economy Cab taxi stand.

In 1940, Joseph Rutland, a Winter Park businessman, bought this lot for $78,000 to build and open his menswear store.   Rutland’s had a wide selection of menswear brands and custom tailored suits.  In its 30 years of doing business at this location, Rutland’s built a large customer base by selling the better brands of men’s clothes and providing well-known customer service.  Future U.S. senator Mel Martinez at one time was among the service staff having sold shoes at this location.

The building is Art Moderne style and was built by F. Earl Deloe.   Deloe was a local architect who started his career in Orlando at 19 working as draftsman for an architect.   He served in World War I also as a draftsman, and later worked for the Army in World War II as an architect.  In fact, before he went to work for the Army, some of the construction for the Rutland’s building took place during World War II.  Other buildings to his credit are the College Park Baptist Church (1945), Church of Our Lady of Lourdes (1931) in Melbourne, and an art moderne remodel in 1949 of the Sun-Ray Cinema in Jacksonville.   He continued with a long career as an architect in Orlando until his retirement in 1965 and lived out his years in College Park.  The Rutland’s building is perhaps his most recognizable work and one of the few remaining buildings representing this era.

Originally two stories, three more floors were added to the building in the 1950’s for added retail and office space.  In the years to come, shopping shifted from downtown and moved to the malls.  In the 60’s, Rutland’s moved its business from this location to a few malls in the area.  The last Rutland’s location remained in business until 1998.  When its last store closed at the Fashion Square Mall, the Orlando Business Journal wrote that Rutland’s $500 to $2000 suits (in 1998 prices) could not compete with the lower prices of places like Mens Wearhouse.  Rutland’s was another local company unable to compete with the low cost products of national chain.

Orange and Washington Today

Most of the buildings still stand in the southeast and southwest corners of Orange Avenue and Washington Streets that are in the postcard.  The Rutland’s building now houses Seacoast National Bank on the lower level.  Across Orange Avenue, the buildings built by Baxter Beacham in the 1920’s are today an assortment of bars, such as Independent Bar, and entertainment venues, like The Social.   The Sears seen in the foreground is long gone and the 20 floor Regions Bank Tower was constructed on the site in 1986.

Sources

*”From Florida Sand to the City Beautiful, A Historical Record of Orlando, FL” E.H. Gore 1949
Orlando Business Journal, April 27th 1998
Orlando: In Vintage Postcards, Lynn M. Homan, Thomas Reill 2001
Categories: Post Card Stories | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Beacham Movie Line Up in September 1933

“Cock of the Air” on Sunday and Monday.  According to IMDB, the movie was about opera diva who set her sights on a womanizing army officer.  On Saturday, the kiddos can see Mickey Mouse for a nickel.  The latest news was shown with each feature.Beacham Sep 23 33

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Remember when you could buy a Hupmobile on Orange Ave?

Hupmobile

An ad for a Hupmobile Dealer from the 1921 Orlando Business Directory.  At 209 S Orange Ave, this would have been around the Church Street intersection.

And what is a Hupmobile?

Hupad

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Angebilt Hotel

Click to read the reverse

Click to read the reverse

The Postcard

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.

Angebilt Hotel

Ange

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.

The Angebilt Hotel in the 1930's and the building today.

The Angebilt Hotel in the 1930’s and the building today.

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.

Angebilt A

Sources:

A Guide to Historic Orlando; Steve Rajtar, The History Press, 2006
Orlando Magazine, March 2007

Categories: Post Card Stories | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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