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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018 2 months ago

Mead Botanical Garden upgrades little amphitheater

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Mead Botanical Garden is nearing completion of upgrades to its little amphitheater, including new benches, a wheelchair-accessible area and trees.
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

One of Winter Park’s most beloved wedding venues is getting a facelift.

Work is underway to renovate the little amphitheater at Mead Botanical Garden, which soon will feature new benches, new hardscaping for a wheelchair-accessible seating area and some new trees.

The project is part of an ongoing public-private partnership between Mead Botanical Garden Inc. and the city of Winter Park’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“The board and staff at Mead Botanical Gardens are very excited about this project,” Mead Garden Executive Director Cynthia Hasenau said. “We knew that it was looking less than its best and the old green benches hadn’t been upgraded in many, many years. We took the approach of a long-term, sustainable approach.”

The old painted plywood benches are being replaced with ipe wood, also known as Brazilian walnut. It’s a much sturdier wood that will withstand the elements. It’s naturally resistant to rot and decay.

Visitors also can expect to see a new paved area at the back of the amphitheater that can accommodate wheelchairs, which enable seniors to get closer at events. 

Six magnolia trees and a live oak now sit behind the stage as well, Hasenau said.

The total price tag of the project falls just under $30,000, Parks and Recreation Director Jason Seeley said.

“It was a very good initiative between (Mead Garden and the city) to get this little amphitheater upgraded and kind of give it a facelift,” Seeley said. “The benches in there were painted green and have probably been there since the 80s, if not longer. It was time for those to be brought up to a better standard. Mead Botanical Gardens Inc. took care of the replacement of the benches, and we assisted with removal of some benches and some hardscape work.”

“The nonprofit has been working hand-in-hand with the city for a number of years — for well over a decade — to restore, revitalize and improve the garden,” Hasenau said. “When we approach projects like this, part of our reasonability is we’re identifying enhancements and community needs and opportunities out here in the garden. With this one, the venue itself has some historic implications.”

Built in 1956 and gifted by a women’s group called Fashions in the Garden, the amphitheater has been the site of outdoor weddings, concerts, sunrise services and community events. 

The original wrought-iron grill work along the perimeter of the amphitheater is there to this day, while the bench seats were added later.

Mead Garden also has been working on upgrades to the nearby Garden Clubhouse, home to the Winter Park Garden Club. Some recent renovations include new lighting, windows, ceiling tiles and a stage. Other improvements such as new flooring and an ADA-compliant restroom are on the way.

Hasenau said she looks forward to seeing even more community events take place at the little amphitheater now that it’s receiving a fresh look, which should be finished by the end of September. 

She added the venue has been the site of thousands of weddings over the years and that the garden may consider hosting a romantic event soon for couples who said, “I do,” at the little amphitheater. 

 

 

Tim Freed is an Associate Editor with the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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