One thing the SoDo district in Orlando is not short on is history. Reader David B. submitted a question to Pulptown, asking us to share more about the history behind important landmarks in SoDo that have been around for hundreds of years. We’re digging in.
Atlantic Coastline Station: You may have taken the SunRail at the SoDo station or even the Amtrak to Savannah, but what you may not know is that the station has been around since 1927. During the 1920s, the Atlantic Coastline Station was built as an effort to increase tourism to the area. The designer of the building, architect M.A. Griffith, traveled to the Pacific coast to study Spanish architecture before returning to Orlando and building the station. Next time you’re riding SunRail, take a few minutes to sit inside and marvel at the hundreds of thousands of people who have passed through the station. While it’s no Grand Central Terminal or Penn Station, it’s something.
Orlando Health: Did you know that one of SoDo’s longest tenants is Orlando Health? Founded in 1918 at the end of World War I, Orlando Health was originally Orange General Hospital, and was a 50-bed, un-airconditioned hospital that was supported financially by community members and a dedicated group of doctors. Now currently serving 1,780 beds, Orlando Health is celebrating its 100th birthday and is recognized as one of the top performing hospitals in Florida.
Gore House: The prestigious Gore House on Lake Copeland is named after Orlando’s 13th mayor, Mahlon Gore. Before he was mayor, Gore purchased the Orange County Reporter newspaper and helped to found the First Unitarian Church of Orlando. Mayor Gore died in 1916 and is buried in nearby Greenwood Cemetery. In case you’re looking for a new home, it’s currently on the market for a cool $699,000.
JJ Bridges House: The Bridges home was built in 1916, and was the first Colonial Revival style home of its kind in the city. According to the City of Orlando, it’s important because it “inspired a documentable second generation of residences, which are simple and elegant as opposed to the more massive, opulent, columned ‘great houses’ of the late 1920s and 1930s.” The home was built by the late Rev. John J. Bridges, D.D., and his wife Isobel, who retired in Orlando from New York.
Kaley Street Elementary School: It was built in 1936 during the Great Depression and due to lack of resources, was built from eight-pound bricks removed from neighborhood streets. This Tudor Revival school is the only example of this style utilized as a non-residential building in the city.
Lake Cherokee: Lake Cherokee, formerly Lake Eva and Lake Minnie, has been a mainstay of SoDo since the 1870s. In the 1880s, an onslaught of newlyweds began building their homes around the lake, and the neighborhood earned the nickname “Honeymoon Row.” Today two homes built in 1887 remain: The Queen-Anne Style Poyntz-O’Neal House and the Gunby House. Lake Cherokee is also home to one of Central Florida’s finer examples of the 1930s and 1940s art deco style homes, like the Wellborn Apartments that still stand today.
Other historical places to round out your SoDo history tour include the William Davis House, Cherokee Junior High School, Grand Cherokee School, Beardall Senior Center (formerly Delaney Elementary School) and Greenwood Cemetery.