The Orlando Historic Walking Tour takes place the first Friday of the month from October through May. The Downtown Historic District created in 1980 includes 60 buildings constructed during the latter part of the 19th century to the 1940s. Other Historic Districts in Orlando are Lake Ivanhoe, Holden – Paramore, Lake Adair, Lake Eola Heights, Rosemere and Griffin Park.
I won’t list all the buildings that the tour guide covered. Two art deco buildings featured are the First National Bank Building at 190 South Orange Avenue and the Kress Building at 15 West Church that was a five and dime store. The bank opened in 1930 and failed during the depression. The Nicholson-Colyer Building at 29 West Church owned and operated by J.A. Colyer a tailor and J.E. Nicholson a baker the only African-Americans who owned a business in downtown Orlando.
We walked to the Old Orlando Railroad Depot at 76 West Church Street. Built in 1889 and opened in 1890 by Henry Plant a railroad magnet. Across the street from the Railroad Depot is Gertrude’s Walk. In the late 19th century Charles Sweet, a city planner wanted a street named after his daughter once named the most beautiful girl in Orlando. A sculpture in bronze is dedicated in her honor.
Elijah Hand the first undertaker to embalm people opened a funeral home at 15-17 West Pine Street. Carey Hand joined his father in the funeral business and opened a funeral home across the street from his father at 36 West Pine Street that is now the downtown campus of the University of Central Florida. Joe Tinker a baseball player with the Chicago Cubs moved to Orlando and built the Tinker Building at 18 West Pine Street to house his real estate office.
I recommend calling to make a reservation. The tour is free, and the guide is knowledgeable. You can pick up a map and take the tour by yourself but its more enjoyable with a guide.
When you think of Orlando you don’t think of history. In fact Orlando has a quite interesting history and this tour gives you a taste of that history. Visitors should escape from the theme park world and see more of the “real Orlando”.
just so you know, next to Carey hand funeral home, was MY mothers beauty salon @ 18 West Pine Street. IT was called, Perlette Beauty Salon. She was in business there for 25 years before retiring in early 70’s. I played in that building as a child. I am writing a book now, speaking of many of the things I remember growing up in downtown Orlando. It surely has changed.