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Black History

East Winter Garden receives new name, historic designation

Instant Photo Poster
By
Norine Dworkin

Editor in Chief

Saturday, February 10, 2024

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Norine Dworkin/VoxPopuli

An ebullient crowd of residents packed the commission chambers Feb. 8, 2024, for the passage of Resolution 23-04, which established the Historic East Winter Garden Neighborhood as a new historic district with a new name to reflect its new status.

The historically Black neighborhood East Winter Garden shall forevermore be known as “Historic East Winter Garden Neighborhood.”


Coming during Black History Month, the name change and, more importantly, the geographic designation, is the result of the city commission’s unanimous vote Thursday on Resolution 24-04, which established the historic district within the city. A website plus way-finding and pole signage are forthcoming, city officials said.


Approximately 850 people live in the neighborhood, established in the early 20th century by Black citrus industry workers. Some families have lived there for generations.


Introducing the resolution, Mark Hutchinson, the city’s economic development director, explained that the advocacy organization One Winter Garden came to the city last November with a proposal to “officially recognize and designate the East Winter Garden community as the Historic East Winter Garden Neighborhood.”


Hutchinson said the proposal was supported by the community at large and that the new name “better represents the spirit of the community in a manner that’s dignified and respectful of the community’s rich past and well-documented heritage.” He added that the city “supports this view and is enthusiastic to partner with One Winter Garden in this resolution …”


“We always want to celebrate the rich African-American culture, and always have,” said District 3 Commissioner Mark Maciel, who represents the neighborhood. He added, “The city is here for you and if there’s anything else you would like the city to do, we’re all ears.”


Maciel made the motion to approve the resolution, which was quickly seconded by District 2 Commissioner Ron Mueller. As the motion passed, the room, filled with people from the newly re-named neighborhood, many wearing One Winter Garden T-shirts, burst into applause.


Danykqua Faulk, president of One Winter Garden, thanked the commission and city staff for “recognizing our unique history and for including us during this process of this special designation, bringing additional dignity to our area, the Historic East Winter Garden Neighborhood.”


Chloe Johnson, the organization's vice president and a candidate for District 3 city commissioner, applauded the city for promptly redrawing the neighborhood map to include areas north of Plant Street that had not traditionally been included in the neighborhood but “were always a part of our community.” The first map of the area to establish the boundaries of the historic district had initially excluded them.


Pat Angry, a member of One Winter Garden, told VoxPopuli that she spoke up and said “You can’t leave those out.”


“Austin [Arthur, also a member of One Winter Garden] brought it back to [the city] and told them they couldn’t do that.” Angry, a longtime community activist, said she was pleased the city made the change. “They agreed on it, and I feel good about that.”


Community members who’d gathered in the commission chambers were ebullient after the resolution's passage.


“Good things come to those who wait, watch, and pray,” Charlie Mae Wilder, a former District 3 Commissioner and One Winter Garden member told VoxPopuli after the meeting. “We have done them all, and we are thankful to the city for their goodness, their mercy, and their presence in our community.”


“This neighborhood was born out of segregation and the evils of that have raged through for generations,” Arthur, a candidate for Orange County Commission, told VoxPopuli via text message after the meeting.


“But in the midst of what some meant for evil came out a very rich and vibrant culture and history of Faith [sic] and perseverance. Today, we see the City of Winter Garden stepping it up once again by working closely with residents to acknowledge their neighborhood as something historically significant and special. The overlay map is needed not just to bring further dignity but also a step toward further improvement and revitalization. This is what local government done right looks like; it’s community driven.”


Angelia Taylor-Dean, a One Winter Garden member who grew up in Historic East Winter Garden Neighborhood and still owns property there, told VoxPopuli she hopes the resolution proves more than a token gesture.


“It's been a long time coming, and I hope it's not just a statue … you know … a figurehead, that we see the progress continue on,” she said. “I hope that the city continues to work with us to improve East Winter Garden.”


In terms of historic declarations, however, City Manager Jon Williams made clear to VoxPopuli that this particular resolution does not landmark any of the buildings within the designated area. Neither does it  list the neighborhood or any of its structures in the National Register of Historic Places (as Downtown Winter Garden is) or in Florida’s Master Site File, the state inventory of all  archaeologic sites, historic cemeteries, bridges, structures, townships, maintained by the Florida Division of Historic Resources.  


“It pays homage to the history that exists within the community,” he said.


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