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
Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.