Downtown Orlando and Lake Eola Tour
This walking tour includes a number of historic buildings in downtown Orlando before moving west and taking visitors to see historic monuments and landmarks around Lake Eola Park.
This historic Episcopal church was constructed between 1926 and 1927 for a congregation that was established around 1882 by Francis Wayles Eppes, a grandson of Thomas Jefferson. The Gothic Revival-style building was later expanded in 1987. The congregation established Orlando's first hospital, which operated from 1895 to 1918. The church is also home to the famous Orlando Deanery Boychoir, which has performed at venues such as the White House and Carnegie Hall. Today the Cathedral of Saint Luke is the head church of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida and is open to the public.
The Beacham Theatre, built in 1921, played an important role in the music and entertainment history of Orlando. From vaudeville to electronic dance music, this theatre has served as a gathering spot for movie-goers, music lovers, and performers to gather for nearly a century. Owing to its long history, the building was granted local landmark status in 1987.
The Old Orange County Courthouse was built in 1927. In 1989, the courthouse was recognized as a historically significant landmark and a task force was appointed to determine the best possible re-use of the building after a new courthouse had already been in use for many years. The plan to renovate the existing courthouse for use as The History Center was endorsed by the Board of County Commissioners in 1993 and the design process began in 1995, the new courthouse was completed in 1997 and the 1960s annex that stood in what is now Heritage Square Courtyard was destroyed the next year. Renovations to the building began in 1999 and The History Center opened its doors in September of 2000. The current occupant of the building, the Orange County Historical Museum, opened in Orlando’s Loch Haven Park in 1976. Exhibits throughout the museum display nearly 12,000 years of Central Florida history.
The Orlando Public Library located in downtown Orlando, Florida, is the headquarters of the Orange Country Library System (O.C.L.S). Originally known as the Albertson Public Library, it was established in 1923. In 1966, construction began on the site of the former Albertson building for an expanded facility. The 290,000 square foot library occupies an entire city block and is one of the largest public library buildings in Florida.
The Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain, also known as the Centennial Fountain, is the centerpiece of Orlando’s Lake Eola Park. The fountain was built in 1957 for the one-hundredth anniversary of Orlando’s founding. In 1965 it was renamed after local banker Linton E. Allen. The fountain is popular with locals because of its distinct design and colorful nightly light shows; it has become the unofficial symbol of Orlando. In 2009 the fountain was damaged in a lightning strike. It eventually underwent a complete restoration in 2011.
Lake Eola is a popular public park located in the heart of Orlando, Florida. The park was officially established in 1892 thanks to donations of land surrounding the lake. It is made up of over forty acres -including the twenty-three acre lake- and is surrounded by Rosalind Avenue, East Central Boulevard, North Eola Drive, and East Robinson Street. Lake Eola is well-known for its plethora of events year-round, ranging from concerts and festivals to ceremonies and farmers’ markets. The park is home to many monuments and public art, the most famous of which is the Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain. Constructed in 1957 for Orlando’s centennial, the fountain has become a symbol of Orlando and is popular for its nightly light shows. Another popular site is the Walt Disney Amphitheatre, which hosts many lakeside concerts and performances.
This simple plaque was placed at Lake Eola in 1939 by the students of Cherokee Junior High School in honor of Orlando Reeves, the alleged namesake of the City of Orlando. According to popular legend, Orlando Reeves was a soldier in the Second Seminole War who was killed by Native Americans near present-day Orlando. Military records dispute the existence of such an Orlando Reeves, however, and several other theories exist as to how Orlando received its name. Today the plaque remains at Lake Eola and serves as an example of how myth and legends can become embedded in our history.
In 1911 the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected a monument in Orlando in honor of Confederate veterans of the Civil War in Florida. The forty-one-foot tall monument is dedicated to "The Soldiers, the Sailors, the Statesmen of the Confederate States of America." Nicknamed "Johnny Reb," the statue is one of many monuments and memorials to the Confederacy that was created by white Southerners in the twentieth century. Originally located in front of the Orange County Courthouse, the monument was moved to Lake Eola in 1917. The monument has raised controversy in recent years owing to the pro-slavery stance of the Confederacy and the racial worldview of the members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy at the time of the monument's dedication. In the summer of 2017 the statue was removed from Lake Eola and transferred to Greenwood Cemetery.
This monument was erected at Lake Eola in 1999 by the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge organization (now the Battle of the Bulge Association). The six-foot tall sculpture of an American soldier was placed in honor of those who fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. The Battle of the Bulge, occurring from December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945, was a last ditch effort by Adolf Hitler to halt the advance of Allied forces in western Europe. After heavy fighting the Allies were able to halt the German offensive. The battle left German forces severely depleted and unable to effectively defend their country's borders; Germany would surrender by May 1945. Every December a memorial service is held at the Lake Eola monument in honor of all veterans.