This week in West Orange County history: Nov. 30, 2023

These are the people and events who made headlines in West Orange County's past.

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85 years ago

Winter Garden burst into pre-holiday gaiety this week as strings of colored lights were placed on the streets by the Florida public service company and stores began featuring Christmas merchandise more heavily than before.

The moving of the Windermere Clubhouse was started, some 10 feet of progress having been made the first day. When placed in its new location in the center of Windermere, the clubhouse was to be remodeled by the Works Progress Administration.

60 years ago

The Winter Garden Lions Club, with Mervin Lee as president, announced plans were underway for the club’s annual needy Christmas basket distribution.

50 years ago

The West Orange Junior Service League presented 11 girls at its annual Debutante Ball at the Bay Hill Club: Leslie Ann Arnold, Alison Burch, Julia Emrick, Robert Ison, Leigh Ann Jowett, Joan McLatchey, Lorraine Pearson, Teresia Roberson, Amy Tompkins, Donna Williams and Kim Wingfield.

Donald G. Ficke, a man with 17 years of law-enforcement experience, accepted the post of Winter Garden police chief.

45 years ago

One of the happiest groundbreakings ever held in West Orange County took place as the West Orange YMCA marked the first phase of construction on its new facilities.

40 years ago

The Winter Garden Police Department raised more than $400 for its Toys for Tots Christmas program at a car wash at McDonald’s. The department’s total goal for the year was $2,000. The Police Explorers unit helped wash vehicles.

Jim Beech and Mary Anne Swickerath, both of Ocoee, received special Apple From The Teacher awards given by the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association in connection with American Education Week. Twenty-two special contributors to public school education were chosen through countywide nominations by teachers. Beech, a physical education teacher at Forrest Park School, was honored for his work with the Cerebral Palsy Games and for his dedication to the progress of physically impaired students. Swickerath was recognized for her school news and sports coverage for The Times, as well as her school volunteer work.

30 years ago

The new name choices for the West Orange Trail, the 17-mile path for walkers, joggers and cyclists planned from the Lake-Orange County line to Apopka, were Orange Belt Trail, Orange Belt Rail Trail, Florida Sunshine Trail and Sunbelt Historical Trail.

20 years ago

Olympia High School welcomed Robert Avossa as its new principal, replacing Dr. Jan Pratt, who left to become associate superintendent of Workforce Instruction and Curriculum Services at the Educational Leadership Center downtown.


NOV. 25, 1993

After Thanksgiving, businesses typically begin advertising their December holiday specials, and Pittman Jewelers was no exception in 1993.

To celebrate its 48th anniversary as a jewelry store, the family-owned and operated business offered sale prices on a variety of women’s jewelry, including gold chains and gold bracelets, diamond solitaire rings and earrings, an assortment of watches (Seiko, Bulova, Caravelle and Wittnauer), bridal sets, and pendants.

A holiday clearance also was being held on men’s diamond rings.

Pittman’s was located in the Highland Lakes Center at the corner of Hiawassee Road and West Colonial Drive.


The Great Depression did not actually have a devastating impact on our region. People have to eat, and we were well on our way to becoming the world’s largest shipper of citrus and vegetables for a time. This photograph, taken in the 1930s, attests to the fact that two hardware stores co-existed on the same block.

Many changes have come to this block. Ruben Anderson and manager Elisha Gunter Akin are seen standing in front of the A&P store once located on West Plant Street. (Its site now occupied by the yellow brick office structure). Bray Hardware is next, followed by Harrell’s Café; the little eatery stood in a building since replaced by the structure that houses Urban on Plant and the walkway adjacent to it. Joiner’s Radio Service follows, and to its west is Winter Garden Hardware. The Garden Theatre is seen at the far right.



Amy Quesinberry

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.

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