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Southwest Orange Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019 2 months ago

Windermere board considers repairs to 1887 schoolhouse

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The historic 1887 Windermere Schoolhouse could see a series of repairs to its roof, siding and more.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

One of Windermere’s oldest existing buildings may be getting some needed renovations in the future.

Members of Windermere’s Historic Preservation Board discussed some potential structural and aesthetic work that could be done on the 1887 Windermere Schoolhouse at its Wednesday, Dec. 4, meeting.

Structural engineer firm HB Associates and Marc Black — a professional with experience in renovating historic buildings in Winter Garden — each took a look at the schoolhouse recently and noticed it could use some repairs. Some of the items mentioned during the meeting in need of replacement or repair included the metal roof, the roof rafters, the gable ends, the interior floor, the front and rear stairs, and more.

“If the (roof) gets weatherproofed and fixed, then the rain has a hard time getting in,” Board Chair George Poelker said. “It’s getting in through the gable ends right now — some of that’s rotten, and wind and rain can blow into the building.”

The board discussed splitting up the work into four phases, with the first phase handling the roof and gables, the second phase working on the siding, the third phase potentially removing the sidewalk and adding new stairs, and the fourth and final phase focusing on landscaping.

According to a historic marker outside the schoolhouse, the building is the only surviving one-room schoolhouse in Orange County and one of the few still standing in Florida. The building was communally constructed with milled heartwood from Florida long leaf pine trees.

Maude Adams, one of the first full-time teachers, taught 22 students at the schoolhouse on a salary of $22 per month. 

The historic marker also states that the schoolhouse served as a headquarters for the local board of trade, a women’s club, a union church, a polling station and a meeting hall.

The town stopped using the building as a schoolhouse in 1916 when a larger schoolhouse complex was established. The building has gone through a series of alterations that have been added and taken away years later to preserve the building’s identity as a schoolhouse. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with Windermere Town Hall and the Cal Palmer Memorial Building.

Poelker said the board hopes to repair and renovate the schoolhouse in a way that’s keeping with its historic character.

“You can technically do anything you want to with those buildings, but if you modernize them or change them radically it may change its status, so we want to make sure that we keep them in the national historic register,” Poelker said. 

The board will further discuss the potential repairs and costs at its next meeting in January, along with how it plans to present its proposal to the Town Council.

Tim Freed is the Managing Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

See All Articles by Tim

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