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Southwest Orange Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019 1 year ago

Sibling duo aims to help preserve Windermere history

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Windermere siblings Charles and Janine Matteson are working on their respective scouting projects, which will help preserve Windermere town history.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

Charles and Janine Matteson only moved to Windermere in July, but already, the sibling duo has concrete plans to help with the storied town’s historic preservation.

Charles, 15, and Janine, 14, have been involved in Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts, respectively, since they were young. And with the BSA allowing girls to join troops this year, Janine now participates in both organizations.

A sophomore at Windermere High, Charles is a member of BSA Troop 320 Blue, based in Winter Garden. Janine, a freshman at WHS, is a member of BSA Troop 320 Gold and also of the Girl Scouts of Citrus’ Green Oaks service community with Troop 2046.

And although they have called Windermere home for just five months, they already are making a difference. For Charles’ Eagle project, he is working on restoring the 1911 Cal Palmer building in downtown Windermere. Janine is working on digitizing the town’s old documents and artifacts to create an online library.

 

CAL PALMER BUILDING

The 108-year-old building near Windermere Town Hall holds a lot of stories within its walls; however, it also needs some work.

The 20-foot-by-26-foot building served as the town’s original post office and in the past also has served as the meeting place for the shuffleboard club and as an antiques shop. Currently, the town is using it for storage.

But the building’s exterior is in disrepair from the rains and humidity characteristic of Florida. Upon seeing it, Charles knew he wanted to help.

“We’re pretty much restoring the outside of it, making it look nice, painting it over, cleaning off the old paint that has water under it — not too much, because then it costs a lot of money,” he said. “So far, it’s going rather well. … I wanted to do something historical because I like history rather a lot, and my friend did a similar project where he redid the outside of an old World War II bunker that was turned into a museum. That project was really motivational for me to do something like that.” 

The scope of Charles’ project, which has been in the works for about three months, calls for matching historical accuracy. He and fellow Scouts will hand-wash the exterior and paint it white to match Town Hall. He also hopes to install a new American flag and possibly a descriptive historic marker.

He and fellow scouts will work on this for the weekend of Dec. 20. The plan calls for three days of work. He even has a spreadsheet with information on scheduling, a very precise guideline that will help him execute his project.

The Windermere Historic Preservation Board is the sponsor and beneficiary of the project. Chairman George Poelker, as well as town staff, helped Charles decide on his project scope. His scoutmaster, Aaron Drone, also has been out to the site several times to evaluate it.

For the paint and materials required, Charles has an active GoFundMe page to raise $2,115, the estimated cost of it all.

“Every time you walk around it, you get another person’s understanding of how to break it down,” said Charles’ mom, Charlene Matteson. “It was wonderful to be able to connect to the town that way. People have been so gracious with leading us to the next point of contact. It’s been a really great experience.”

 

WINDERMERE VIRTUAL MUSEUM

While her brother works on his Eagle project, Janine is digging into her quest to earn the Gold Award, which is the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts program. For her part, she is scanning and uploading the town’s old documents in the hopes of creating a virtual archive.

“I’m digitizing Windermere’s old documents … and making a little library or archive online,” she said. “I just moved here, and where we were from, it had a lot of history. I think history is cool, and I think that if I know more about here, I’ll like it more here. … We’re trying to make a blog or something where we could connect it (the archive) to the town of Windermere website and get people to see it and see what used to be here and what happened.”

Janine said in the town community room, there are multiple cabinets with four rows in each of them — all chock full of documents. Each row is full of boxes with old documents and paperwork. She takes a couple of boxes home each week to scan and then upload to a file for digitizing.

“Her concept was giving public access to those documents that nobody has access to and having longevity, that it passes on (to the next generation),” Charlene Matteson said.

Danielle Hendrix is the Associate Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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