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LIVING IN WINTER PARK 37 The museum, which opened in 1993, has explored various aspects of Winter Park’s history, including exhibits on turpentine, peacocks, railroading, businesses in the 1960s and Winter Park High School. Its current exhibit, Winter Park: The War Years, 1941-1945 – Homefront Life in an American Small Town, uses photos, oral histories, films, letters and war artifacts to examine how World War II impacted locals. “One thing that stands out is how the war unified the town,” says Susan Skolfield, the museum’s executive director. “Even the children would get involved, going around neighborhoods collecting string, rubber and aluminum for the war effort.” Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free to the museum, which stages a children’s show, Princess of the Peacocks, on Mondays at 10 a.m. Call 407-644-2330 or visit wphistory.org for more information. Just a straight shot down New England Avenue from the museum, the Hannibal Square Heritage Center is in the heart of Winter Park’s bustling west side, which from its founding in the late 1800s to well into the 1960s was a segregated African-American community. Created in 2007 as an outreach effort of the Crealdé School of Art, the center is actually two museums in one, pairing revolving art exhibits with vintage photographs and oral histories from west side residents, some of whom can remember working for wealthy Winter Park families by day and knowing they had to be “back across the tracks” by nightfall. A modern-day echo of that east-west duality presides over the museum, which occupies a two-story building fronted by three graceful live oaks. It sits squarely in the middle of gentrified Hannibal Square, which was redeveloped as an upscale retail and dining district in the early 1990s. Inside the museum, you’ll encounter the work of African-American folk artists such as “Missionary Mary” Proctor. In one of her pieces on permanent display, an angel is carried aloft on wings Proctor made by crumpling up the pages of the hymnal she carried as a child. “I asked her how she could do that — destroy a precious keepsake from her childhood,” says Cyria Underwood, the museum’s manager “She just smiled and told me, “‘I pay my respect to it better this way.’” Among the many stories you’ll encounter here via videotapes and photo displays is that of a local hero by the name of Richard Hall. A full-sized “lifecast” of Hall, in a red sports jacket and red cap, stands just next to the front door of the museum. During World War II, Hall served in the Army Air Force as a Tuskegee Airman, from the so-called “red tail” squadron: a legendary group of African- American military pilots who formed the segregated 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Force. Now 92, Hall lives in a home that’s a museum in its own right, filled with memorabilia and decorations from a military career that included service in both Korea and Vietnam. Standing in a hallway lined with pictures of his family and from his military career, Hall leaned on his walker and pointed to a photo of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen at a 2007 ceremony honoring them at the White House. “See where I am? Right there,” he says, leaning forward and tapping the glass with the tip of his finger. “Front row seat, next to the aisle. President Bush shook my hand twice. Once when he walked in, and again when he walked out.” Our visit to Richard Hall’s personal museum was free. So is admission to the Hannibal Square Heritage Center. It’s open Tuesdays through Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 407- 539-2680 or visit hannibalsquareheritagecenter.org for more information. THE CHARLES HOSMER MORSE MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART It’s time to double back to Park Avenue, this time to its north end, to visit a stately, shimmering kaleidoscope of a museum that’s not only Winter Park’s cultural crown jewel but one of the most remarkable privately owned museums in the world. Charles Hosmer Morse, a Chicago industrialist, made Winter Park his vacation home in the late 1800s, then retired here. In 1904, Morse bought nearly half of Winter Park’s acreage and began developing his holdings with the goal of creating a sophisticated and vibrant community of well-to-do kindred spirits. The museum, which celebrates its 75th birthday in 2017, was founded in 1942 by Morse’s granddaughter, Jeannette Morse Genius, as a small, out-ofthe way gallery on the Rollins campus. Twenty five years later, she and her husband, Rollins President Hugh McKean, took on a daunting challenge. They would salvage and preserve the fabulous stained-glass windows and other architectural artifacts from Laurelton Hall, the Long Island mansion of Louis Comfort Tiffany, best known for his luminous stained-glass lamps and windows. When the 65-room home fell into disrepair after Tiffany’s death and was damaged by a fire in 1957, Jeannette and Hugh bought everything they could pack into moving vans and hauled it all to Winter Park They kept most of these treasures in storage, displaying what they could in their small museum. Jeannette died in 1989 and Hugh carried on, making plans for a substantial facility to properly display the now-priceless collection. Friends counted themselves lucky when the dapper old gentleman volunteered to take them on a tour of the warehouse, filled with soot-smudged columns decorated with blown-glass daffodils. Hugh died in 1995, just months before the grand opening of the present facility at Park and Canton avenues. These days, visitors from all over the world come to Winter Park to see those fabulous Belle Epoch treasures as they have been faithfully reassembled to evoke Tiffany’s long-lost Xanadu. On display are Tiffany lamps and windows as well as galleries that evoke the lavishly appointed living room, chapel and outdoor terrace of the fabulous country estate. When Laurence Ruggiero, previously director of Sarasota’s Ringling Museum of Art, first began discussions with McKean about taking the director’s post at the Morse, he was hardly an expert on Louis Comfort Tiffany. “I didn’t know who the hell Tiffany was,” Ruggiero flatly admits. “Nobody knew about Tiffany. He wasn’t taken seriously.” So when he finally saw the Morse’s Tiffany collection, he was overwhelmed. “Oh, my God!” he remembers thinking. “I can’t believe it! This stuff is gorgeous! I had no idea!” Ruggiero, who signed on with the Morse in 1992, has taken Tiffany very seriously ever since. He was instrumental in the museum’s 1995 move to its current location, and has overseen such major projects as the addition of the Tiffany Chapel in 1999 and completion of a new wing re-creating portions of Laurelton Hall in 2011. Tiffany scholar Richard Guy Wilson says he thinks that Tiffany “wanted people to feel like they just walked inside one of his stained-glass windows” when they visited Laurelton Hall. It’s a wish that’s fulfilled, almost every day, at the Morse. The museum is closed on Monday but open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Closing time is extended to 8 p.m. every Friday from November through April. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $1 for students. Children under 12 are admitted free. Call 407-645-5311 or visit morsemuseum.org for more information. THE CASA FELIZ HISTORIC HOME MUSEUM Winter Park must have a thing about moving old houses. The Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum, like the Capen-Showalter House, was transplanted from its original site on the shores of Lake Osceola. Architect James Gamble Rogers II designed the Andalusian-style masonry farmhouse in 1932 for Massachusetts industrialist Robert Bruce Barbour. Most of Rogers’ work at the time was inspired by traditional styles he thought best suited Winter Park and its Old World ambiance. But the Barbour House,


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