WINTER PARK EXCURSION
Florida has been our home for more than three years, but we haven’t explored much beyond our immediate area. Thanks to the prompting of good friends, Alice and Bill, we made a short visit to Winter Park with them. Bill is a consummate organizer and tour guide (and driver!), and we were the beneficiaries of their combined knowledge from previous visits.
Winter Park is a lovely walkable town east of Orlando. Rollins College (founded in 1885) is a dominant force in the community and graces the town with its tasteful Spanish/Mediterranean architecture. Surrounding the campus are quiet residential streets with elegant houses and expansive churches of all flavors. Winter Park Avenue, the main street, offers four blocks of inviting small shops and restaurants, many with outside tables. There are also two small art museums. It was a charming and pleasant place and, for us, reminiscent of Palo Alto.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art boasts the largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s work and his glass pieces are certainly a highlight of the museum. It also has glass pieces, ceramics, and paintings by other artists.
I particularly enjoyed seeing not only the gallery of Tiffany lamps, but also the re-created rooms from Laurelton Hall, Tiffany’s Long Island residence, as well as the elaborate chapel interior with its intricate mosaic work made for the Chicago exposition of 1893.
It’s a gem of a museum (the building itself architecturally pleasing) and was well worth visiting!
We also had a brief look around at Rollins College’s small art museum, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, on the edge of their campus. We didn’t realize that they closed at 4:00 pm and so had to hustle a bit to see “Towards Impressionism,” featuring works by Corot, Monet, and Harpignies (the latter new to me), and a bit of the permanent collection. It’s noteworthy that contemporary works from the college’s collection are on display throughout the lobby and other public spaces in the Alfond Inn.
Owned by the college, Alfond Inn is one of the loveliest hotels I’ve stayed in. It’s been open for four years and still looks brand new. The extensive main floor showcases paintings and sculpture by a variety of artists, including some lovely prism-like glass shapes hanging from a glass dome that I thought were fabulous.
There is also a large outdoor courtyard with seating and a sculpture called “The Hermit” by Jaume Plensa.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say that we also ate well. The hotel breakfast included some different fare from the usual bacon and eggs. Lunches at the Parkview and Blu were tasty, and we sat outside watching the world go by. Dinner was at the elegant and very contemporary Luma on Park where we sampled some creative pasta dishes, Hamachi crudo, and diver scallops. As to shopping, we ladies bought shoes (a standalone Rieker shop) and greeting cards and browsed in Writer’s Block, a small independent bookshop, where I found Ant and Bee books for my granddaughters and succumbed to a paperback novel by an Australian writer.
All photos by JWFarrington (some rights reserved).