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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 3 months ago

WGHF exhibit highlights area's churches

“From Tents to Temples” documents West Orange County’s original churches in a series of photos at the Heritage Museum.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

Religious communities have been established in West Orange County since folks first began residing here in the late 1800s. The churches of yesteryear started in family room and under tents, and as congregations grew, so did the building funds.

The Winter Garden Heritage Foundation’s newest exhibit is “Praise! From Tents to Temples,” and it focuses on the area’s earliest churches.

The first churches typically were wooden structures, and as membership expanded, many of these buildings were razed and replaced by larger brick facilities on the same property. Some congregations simply moved to bigger spaces.

Segregation forced black citizens to create their own church families, and many of them were formed in Oakland and Winter Garden.

“Diverse faith traditions have always been a big part of West Orange County life, so I wanted to highlight various houses of worship that were established here over the past 150 years,” Jim Crescitelli, WGHF program director, said. “The photographs and religious artifacts in the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation’s archive show how determined the early settlers were to erect church buildings almost as soon as they arrived here.”

* Church photos courtesy of the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation


Church memorabilia is on display in “Praise! From Tents to Temples,” the newest exhibit at the Winter Garden Heritage Museum.


First Baptist Church, Winter Garden, originally organized in Ocoee in 1888 but moved to Winter Garden in 1896 — across the street from the current location. By the early 1900s, another building was constructed on the current site.


Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, in Oakland, was built on Jefferson Street in 1950 during a time when segregation forced black congregations to worship separately from the white churches.


The Assembly of God, Winter Garden, held services in a tent in 1924. Donations allowed a small wooden church to be built on Palmetto Street. It is now called Vineland Road Christian Fellowship.


Amy Quesinberry is the community editor of the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She was born and raised in Winter Garden, grew up reading the community newspaper and has been employed there as a writer, photographer and editor since 1990....

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