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Hello From Orlando: An Orlando Jewel, The Wells Built Museum Of African American History And Culture

After I had received a general overview of the history of the Orlando area in the Orange County Regional History Center, I wanted to delve a little deeper into the social history of the Orlando area, and the Wells Built Museum of African American History and Culture was going to give me a more in-depth look into Orlando's African American history.

To this day this area west of I-4 is primarily inhabited by African Americans and the difference in housing and facilities betw...

hello from,orlando,florida,museum of african american history

After I had received a general overview of the history of the Orlando area in the Orange County Regional History Center, I wanted to delve a little deeper into the social history of the Orlando area, and the Wells Built Museum of African American History and Culture was going to give me a more in-depth look into Orlando's African American history.

To this day this area west of I-4 is primarily inhabited by African Americans and the difference in housing and facilities between this area and the downtown area is quite notable. As a matter of fact, the very name "Division Street" points to a distinct historical line of demarcation between black and white residential areas.

The origins of the Wells Built Museum date back to a prominent local African physician by the name of Dr. William Monroe Wells who started building the Well's Built Hotel in 1926 to provide lodging to African Americans during an era of segregation when accommodations were not available to them in other areas of Central Florida.

Next door to the Wells' Built was once the South Street Casino, a performance hall, which featured musicians that traveled the 'Chitlin Circuit' performing for audiences all over the country. The hotel opened with three storefronts on the first floor and hotel rooms on the second floor.

Dr. William Monroe Wells was one of Orlando's first black physicians and came to the area in 1917. Born in Ft. Gaines, Georgia, in 1889, Dr. Wells completed his medical training at Meharry Medical College. During part of WWII, Dr. William Monroe Wells was the only African American physician in Orlando.

During segregation, white physicians did not treat African American patients. African American doctors, therefore, earned their money from people of their own race. He worked very hard to serve the growing African American population in Orlando. With the help of his assistant, Mrs. Josie Belle Jackson, Dr. Wells is known to have delivered over 5,000 babies in Orlando.

He treated patients who suffered from pneumonia, influenza, scarlet fever and other serious illnesses before drugs like penicillin were introduced. Many of Dr. Wells' patients were extremely poor. He treated their illnesses though they many times could not afford to pay his fee. This allowed them to speak forcefully against poor conditions that existed in the African American community without fear of losing their livelihood.

Although African Americans were taxpayers like other residents of Orlando, they did not have access to recreational facilities, good schools, police protection, health care and other services that were provided to white citizens. This led him to build the South Street Casino and the hotel next door.

Dr. Wells booked bands and other big name entertainers to perform at the South Street Casino. Many famous performers that we know today played at South Street Casino within the Chitlin Circuit. A few examples of these performers are:

- Ray Charles
- B.B. King
- Louis Armstrong
- Guitar Slim
- Bo Diddley

African Americans came from all over the surrounding areas to Orlando to shop and take in performances of popular musicians at the South Street Casino. After the performances at the casino, the artists checked in at the historic Wells' Built Hotel. In its heyday, the Wells' Built provided lodging for clientele such as Pegleg Bates, Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Campenella, Thurgood Marshall, and Jackie Robinson. The entertainers and athletes who frequented this establishment made it one of the most popular venues for African Americans in the South.

Today the museum features over 6,000 square feet of display space. It retains the original hotel facade, a guestroom featuring authentic furniture, beading and decorations of the 1930's, and also bears an original interior wall reflecting important architectural elements and designs unique to the period. Exhibition material collected for display include: official hotel documents, an original Negro League baseball jersey, photographs, artifacts, books, multi-media exhibits, slave records and other items of historic significance.

Dr. Well's home has been moved to the site of the Casino and will be restored and opened to the public. The Well's Built Museum of African American Culture and History is located just west of I-4 near Church Street at 511 West South Street, Orlando 32801, tel. (407) 245-7535.

This entire article including photos is located at http://www.travelandtransitions.com/stories_photos/orlando_wells_built_museum.htm

 

Hello From Orlando - Central Florida's Parks And Gardens Offer An Abundance Of Colours, Shapes, And Textures

Florida has a great amount of biodiversity and nature lovers will enjoy the great variety of plants found in the Sunshine State. On our recent trip to Orlando we had a chance to visit several locations with a beautiful parks and gardens, such as the Harry P. Leu Gardens and the Historical Bok Sanctuary. Even my excursion on the Scenic Boat Tour in Winter Park brought me up close to some of the fascinating flowers and plants found in the Orlando area.

Florida has a mix of s...

hello from, orlando, florida, travel

Florida has a great amount of biodiversity and nature lovers will enjoy the great variety of plants found in the Sunshine State. On our recent trip to Orlando we had a chance to visit several locations with a beautiful parks and gardens, such as the Harry P. Leu Gardens and the Historical Bok Sanctuary. Even my excursion on the Scenic Boat Tour in Winter Park brought me up close to some of the fascinating flowers and plants found in the Orlando area.

Florida has a mix of subtropical and tropical climates and the area around Orlando are more subtropical. Central Florida has a hot, but often stormy climate and experiences many thunderstorms with a frequent risk of hurricanes.

Geographically, the Central Florida area encompasses Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Brevard, and Volusia counties, and some consider Polk and Sumter counties also to be part of Central Florida. This low-lying area is dominated by hundreds of lakes surrounded by marshland. Historically predominant industries include cotton, citrus and cattle-raising. The climate favours a great deal of plant and animal species.

Nature lovers will revel in Central Florida's abundant gardens and parks which give them a perfect opportunity to enjoy nature up close. Here is a collection of parks and gardens that will give you great exposure to Central Florida's natural beauty:

Archbold Biological Station P. O. Box 2057, (Old State Road 8), Lake Placid, FL 33862 Phone: (941) 465-2571. "The Station fosters long-term ecological research on native plants and animals of central Florida and also provides environmental education for K-12 children."

Bok Tower Gardens 1151 Tower Boulevard, Lake Wales, FL 33853-3412; Phone: (941) 676-1408. "Historic Bok Sanctuary offers visitors Florida's most abundant opportunities for aesthetic, cultural and personal enrichment. The lush landscapes of the Olmsted gardens, the majesty and music of the carillon tower and the splendor of Pinewood Estate create an experience that inspires all who visit."

Cypress Gardens 2641 South Lake Summit Road, Cypress Gardens, FL 33884; Phone: (800) 282-2123. "Standing sentinel in the historic gardens is the giant Banyan tree, which was planted in 1939 from a seedling during the parks early years. Topiary Trail features a collection of colorful topiaries, including a variety of animals such as a rabbit, swan and serpent. The crowning gem in this trail of jewels is the waterfall, a sparkling cascade accented by brilliant floral blossoms. The Plantation Gardens grace the manicured landscape of Snively Mansion and include the aromatic herb garden, a glorious rose garden and the butterfly garden adjoining Wings of Wonder."

Disney Wilderness Preserve 6075 Scrub Jay Trail Kissimmee, FL 34759; Phone: (407) 935-0002. "Fifteen miles south of Walt Disney World, in the heart of Central Florida, lies the Disney Wilderness Preserve. The site, originally the Walker Ranch, is now owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy, a private, non-profit conservation organization that is responsible for the largest network of private conservation lands in the world."

Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens 1920 N. Forest Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803-1537; Phone: (407) 246-2620. "Miles of paved scenic walkways that take you through garden settings, including: America's largest Camellia collection outside California and the largest formal rose garden in Florida, a house museum dating from the 1880's, a palm garden and bamboo garden. New gardens include the Tropical Stream Garden and the new Kitchen Garden with herbs, vegetables and a butterfly garden!"

Highlands Hammock State Park 5931 Hammock Road, Sebring, FL 33872; Phone: (941) 386-6094. "The contrast of the dark swamp waters against the bright trunks of the bare trees is reminiscent of more northerly forests. White-tailed deer munch their way through the campsites, enjoying the scattering of acorns around the base of many oaks. Bobcat tracks are found each morning in the damp sands along the roadways, and the Barred owls call as soon as the sun goes down. Visitors are enjoying viewing alligators as they soak up the warm sun that follows the cool nighttime temperatures."

Lake Kissimmee State Park 14248 Camp Mack Road, Lake Wales, FL 33853; Phone: (941) 696-1112. "Florida's cowboy heritage comes alive with living history demonstrations of the early Florida "cow hunters" in an 1876-era cow camp, open 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekends and holidays. White-tailed deer, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, turkeys, and bobcats have been seen in the park, located on the shores of lakes Kissimmee, Tiger, and Rosalie. Visitors enjoy boating, canoeing, and fishing in the picturesque lakes. Nature students can hike over 13 miles of trails to observe and study the abundant plant and animal life. Six miles of trails are open to equestrians. A large, shaded picnic area with pavilions is available. The park has full-facility campsites, as well as a primitive camping facility. The youth camping area can accommodate up to 50 people. The dark skies make stargazing a popular nighttime activity for campers."

Ocala National Forest USDA Forest Service, 17147 E. Hwy 40, Silver Springs, FL 34488 Phone: (352) 625-7470. "The Forest offers 383,573 acres of unique ecological sites, trails, natural springs. There are hundreds of camping sites throughout the forest offering everything from full-service campgrounds to more rustic sites. The National Forest also has designated trails for horseback riding. Hunting is permitted in designated areas where the enforcement of state regulations is strict. Recreation areas include Alexander Springs, Fore Lake Recreational Area, Juniper Springs, Lake Eaton Loop Trail, Lake Eaton Sink Hole, Mill Dam Recreation Area, Salt Springs and Salt Springs Trail. Specially marked walking/hiking trails are located throughout this wonderful resource. Lake Eaton Sinkhole and the Lake Eaton Loop are only two of the trails that allow the visitor to explore the area on easily traveled interpretive trails."

Silver River State Park 7165 N. E. 7th Street, Ocala, FL 34470; Phone: (352) 236-1827. "This park has more than 14 distinct natural communities, dozens of springs, and miles of beautiful trails. The adjoining Silver Springs attraction houses the headwaters of the Silver River, which flows through the park into the Ocklawaha River. The park is home to a pioneer cracker village and the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center. The center is operated by the Marion County School District in cooperation with the park and is open to the public on weekends and holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00. p.m. Admission to the Museum is $2.00 per person.Children 6 and under are free."

Silver Springs P. O. Box 370, (5656 E. SR-40), Silver Springs, FL 34489; Phone: (800) 234-7458. "Silver Springs is a 350 acre nature theme park surrounds the headwaters of the beautiful Silver River, the largest artesian spring formation in the world. Located 90 miles north of Orlando, just east of Ocala, Florida. Here you can view the underground springs from our famous glass-bottom boats, where you’ll see fish, shellfish, turtles and alligators in water that’s up to 80 feet deep and 99.8% pure. Walk the beautiful grounds and experience the natural habitats of Florida’s largest alligators, endangered bears and panthers, Kritter Korral petting zoo, plus an entertaining variety of wildlife shows from Birds of Prey to snakes and reptiles. There are rides and exhibits for all ages in a natural setting of stunning beauty. "

University of Central Florida Arboretum 4000 Central Florida Blvd. Orlando, FL 32816-2368 Phone: (407) 823-2141. "The Arboretum of The University of Central Florida was founded in 1983. From the original 12-acre "quick view" garden with a mix of ornamental and native plants in the pond pine community adjacent the Stockard Conservatory Greenhouse, The Arboretum has grown to nearly 80 acres. North of the 9 acre man-made lake and the Engineering E-2 parking lot, trails take visitors through a 5-7 acre cypress dome and a picturesque 2-3 acre oak hammock. North of the oak hammock the trail crosses an open area with wild rosemary and sand pine, and oak scrub, returning to the cypress dome. An unmarked trail circles the cypress dome on the north, club mosses and carnivorous sundews lining the sides, before rejoining the main trail on the southwest side of the dome. Follow the broad white sand trail west through a 'mature' [last burned in the 1950's] sand pine and wild rosemary community for a quick exit to the University Field House road, or return on Arboretum trails."

Winter Park Kraft Azalea Gardens, Winter Park, Phone 407-599-3334: Located on Alabama Drive off Palmer Avenue. Thousands of azaleas, tropical shrubs and trees grow luxuriantly along the shores of Lake Maitland where cool breezes and breathtaking sunsets can be found. Azaleas bloom January through March.

Although the Orlando area is mostly known for its big-thrill attractions and theme parks, nature lovers will find plenty of parks, gardens and wilderness areas to enjoy. For more information about the Orlando area contact the Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau.

This entire article including photos is located at http://www.travelandtransitions.com/stories_photos/orlando_florida_plantlife.htm

 

Hello From Orlando - Central Florida's Wildlife: An Abundance Of Diversity

When you go to Florida, wildlife confronts you everywhere. Especially all the exotic birds fascinated me, often you come up close to subtropical bird species while playing golf or picnicking in a public park.

Central Florida is actually a much more interesting destination for naturalists than I would ever have expected. Both Florida's plant life and wildlife are surprisingly diverse and Florida is the 3rd most ecologically diverse state after Hawaii and California.

It i...

hello from, orlando, florida, travel

When you go to Florida, wildlife confronts you everywhere. Especially all the exotic birds fascinated me, often you come up close to subtropical bird species while playing golf or picnicking in a public park.

Central Florida is actually a much more interesting destination for naturalists than I would ever have expected. Both Florida's plant life and wildlife are surprisingly diverse and Florida is the 3rd most ecologically diverse state after Hawaii and California.

It is a nearly flat lowland that gently slopes to the sea on the east and west coasts. This lowland has unique physical features that are associated with the diverse ecosystems that exist here. The predominantly low-lying topography was created by fluctuating sea levels over time. Coastal features include dunes, barrier islands, lagoons and tidal rivers, which were formed by tides, currents and winds.

The interior of Central Florida is characterized by swamps, marshlands and inland lakes, a haven for birds. South of Orlando is the Lake Wales Ridge, a ridge of sand hills paralleled by flatlands and sandy rolling hills. This ridge used to be an island in earlier geological times when ocean levels were higher. As a result many of the species that exist here are unique to this area.

The Florida Birding Trail (http://www.floridabirdingtrail.com) is a collection of sites throughout Florida selected for their excellent bird watching or bird education opportunities. This 2000-mile trail is designed to conserve and enhance Florida's bird habitat and promotes bird watching activities, environmental education and economic opportunity.

Florida truly is a birder's paradise, due to its unique geographical location between tropical and temperate regions. Florida is also a destination for many migratory birds from the north, some birds fly 3,000 miles to get here. In total Florida is home to more than 470 verified species of birds. A great article about the different species of birds found in Florida can be found at the Florida's Birders List, provided by Visit Florida.

Some of the unique birds to watch in Florida include the following:

American Avocet Limpkin
American White Pelican Mottled Duck
Anhinga Pine Warbler
Bald Eagle Purple Gallinule
Black-Bellied Whistling Duck Roseate Spoonbill
Black-Necked Stilt Sandhill Crane
Crested Caracara Snail Kite
Eastern Bluebird Swallow-Tailed Kite
Florida Scrub-Jay Wood Stork

Naturally, one of the most well-known Florida animals is the American alligator. And although this time we didn't see any (except for a gator tail sticking out from under some shrubs on our Swamp Buggy Tour), alligators have made an incredible comeback after they were headed for extinction due to overhunting earlier in the 20th century. Alligators were taken off the federal endangered species list in 1987, and on particularly warm days they can be seen sunning themselves on the edges of ponds and waterways.

Different species of fish also exist in Central Florida, a fact that makes it a popular destination with anglers. The species include large-mouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, sunshine bass, speckled perch, catfish and a variety of other sweetwater fish.

The wildlife of Florida is rich and varied, yet most of us are familiar with only a dozen or so species. Florida's amphibians include amphiumas, mudpuppies, newts, salamanders, sirens, frogs and toads.

Many interesting mammals can also be found in Florida, including armadillos, bears, beavers, bobcats, deer, feral pigs, foxes, manatees, minks, moles, opossums, otters, panthers, pocket gophers, rabbits, raccoons, seals, shrews, skunks, squirrels, and weasels.

Of course reptiles don't only include the American Alligator, but also anoles, geckos, lizards, skinks and turtles. Hobby naturalists will really enjoy their getaway to Central Florida.

A wonderful summary of Florida's wildlife can be found in a Wildlife Calendar at Visit Florida.

This entire article including photos is located at http://www.travelandtransitions.com/stories_photos/orlando_florida_wildlife.htm

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