Thursday, April 2, 2009

Scanning Winter Park History: A Winter Park Nursing Home

While I actually scanned my items from the fire department a while ago (at the beginning of last week), I am just now taking a closer look at them and am starting to work with them. While I still need to find some more historical background on the items in order to put them into local context, I have already read and summarized the items.

Two of my five items have to do with fire safety in the Winter Park region, specifically with fire safety in a local nursing home. The two documents are newspaper articles from 1954 and the specific nursing home is the Haven House. The Haven House was a nursing home on East Lyman Avenue. In November 1954 the nursing home, operated by Mrs. Alice Dunn, came under scrutiny for violating 15 different fire code laws, as was discovered after an inspection by the Winter Park Fire department. The main recommendation from the firemen for the nursing home was to install a sprinkler system in the building(s).

A subsequent article (also in 1954) then reported that the nursing home complied with the measures recommended and installed a modern sprinkler system, after city commissioners had pressured Mrs. Dunn to do so. The fire department now called the nursing home on of the safest in the city. Along with the effort of installing a new system, Mrs. Dunn took advantage of the renovating effort and also re-decorated the interior of the nursing home, along with re-doing the exterior landscaping. Total cost of all renewals were $4000, the financing of which Mrs. Dunn had originally cited as the delay for the installment of a sprinkling system.

Scanning has been an interesting project in the sense that it allows me to find out more about local Winter Park history. The locations and street names in my articles sound and look familiar, yet it is seldom that we walk down Park Avenue or its surrounding areas and think about these places in a historic context. The scanning project has opened my eyes to the many different aspects of Winter Park history and has expanded my knowledge of Winter Park history beyond the story of the founding of Winter Park, the creation of Rollins College and the few historical anecdotes one gets to hear on the Winter Park scenic boat tour – which I took a long time ago and certainly found less educational than this project. In subsequent blogs, I will share a little bit more about my findings of Winter Park history and its broader significance.

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