Friday, November 18, 2011

Homes and Winter Park Economy

In Winter Park in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, homes were a social status symbol for the elite class of the Gilded Age. As Florida was being showcased to the emerging modern society of America, wealthy citizens looked at the it as an opportunity to further display their riches. Florida not only offered a dream vacation spot for people from the cold north, but also had no real existing lower class. Sure there were railroad workers and farmers, but the majority of the population was made up of elitists spending the winter months in growing towns such as Winter Park and St. Augustine. This was an appealing concept to rich Americans that had grown tired of dealing with the constant complaining and revolting of the poor. During this period of leisure in Florida, they felt the need to represent their lifestyle back home by constructing lavish homes with the latest technological inventions. Each home had a name, and many represented new architectural trends. Some popular design trends of the time were Victorian and the emerging Spanish-Mediterranean style.

The building of these homes laid an economic foundation for Winter Park. Businesses and transportation systems were instituted to accommodate the needs of the wealthy residents. Architectural firms were created, and colleges (such as Rollins) were started in response to significant local donors. Over time, houses were renovated, and larger ones were constructed to house more northerners, whom were typically from cities like Chicago.

The more houses in Winter Park, the stronger the economy. This is because more wealthy residents meant more production and importing of necessary goods. The consumers were demanding large amounts of material. With a lack of an enforcing lower class, the rich entertained the idea of an overall richer society. Consumption and the economy the both thrived from the widespread need for goods. In conclusion, more wealthy residents building luxurious vacation homes meant a larger economy to satisfy the wealthy consumers.

1 comment:

  1. "The more houses in Winter Park, the stronger the economy." This essential importance of this fact can't be over estimated. The home as symbol of Winter Park defines the experience for rich and poor alike.