PIECES OF THE PAST: A Sentimental Journey to Winter Park

Tacy Callies History

By Brenda Eubanks Burnette

Winter ParkThis year’s Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival poster featured a look reminiscent of the old citrus crate labels. The artist, Florida native Don Dewitt, noted the poster was also a “nod” to the Winter Park Farmers’ Market located by the old train depot on New England Avenue. The depot was built in 1926 when Winter Park was a central shipping point for citrus and other local commodities.

While looking up information on the old depot, I came across some interesting information about the Willcardo Fruit Company that had been donated to the Winter Park Public Library by Harold Ward, Jr.

The library noted that the Willcardo Fruit Company “owned a packinghouse in Winter Park, near what is now New York and Canton Avenues, and groves at the head of Lake Maitland comprising about 50 acres of citrus trees. The plant was destroyed by a fire in 1910 but was immediately rebuilt. In 1911, the company was purchased by the Citrus Growers Association, and Mr. William Chase Temple was the president at one time.”

While Temple was president, a sales brochure for the company described Winter Park as an exotic locale where grand trees “vie in their beauty and splendor with the glossy, emerald, waxy foliage of the Orange and Grapefruit, while broad-leaved Bananas whisper softly in the gentle, spicy breezes of the Southland … Truly this is a ‘Home for the gods,’ in which the sweetest efforts of nature have been assisted by the ablest efforts of man.”

The Citrus Growers Association slogan was “Touched by no hand but yours,” as all fruits were handled with gloves, and the packinghouse boasted a large sign that reminded workers “a doubtful orange is a cull.”

However, despite the flowery prose, the advertisement also noted that the company “desired correspondence from only those who are built on the same lines. Life is too short — and we are too busy — to waste time on triflers.”

Truly a sentiment I can understand in today’s fast-paced world!

Share Your Stories

If you have any photos, memorabilia or stories you’d like to share or donate to the Citrus Archives, please contact Brenda Eubanks Burnette at BBurne1003@aol.com or (561) 351-4314. Visit www.FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com to see photos, postcards, citrus labels and videos.florida citrus

Brenda Eubanks Burnette is executive director of the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. Pieces of the Past is presented in partnership with Florida Southern College’s McKay Archives Center in Lakeland.

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