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The History of Winter Park

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

the town of winter park florida

Winter Park has a rich history. In 1881, Oliver Chapman and Loring A. Chase, both from New England, visited Central Florida and purchased 600 acres of land near a chain of lakes. One year later, in 1882, the railroad depot was built, becoming the town’s first building. Soon after, Chapman and Chase built a store at the corner of present-day Park Avenue and Morse Boulevard that became the first mercantile establishment, post office, and assembly room.

In 1883, the first telegraph was received from President Chester A. Arthur and the first school opened. In 1885, the Winter Park Public Library was founded. That same year, Rollins College was founded as the first institution of higher learning in the state of Florida. The first public election was held in 1886, and just two years later, 102 voters incorporated the town.

The Citrus Groves of Winter Park

By 1886, nearby land was selling for $1.25 per acre and, thanks to the temperate climate, 850 acres of citrus groves were cultivated. The world famous “Temple” orange was discovered in Winter Park and grew in those groves. The original tree still stands today on a private property.

Chartered in 1887, the city was developed as a winter retreat for wealthy Northerners. The city’s name came from a casual conversation about basing it on a park in the winter — thus, Winter Park. From the start, the main focus of economic growth was tourism, particularly during the winter months. For many years, The Seminole, the largest hotel in the state of Florida, flourished here. By 1905, the population had grown to 461 residents.

Living in Winter Park Today

According to, Winter Park, with its urban-suburban feel, is considered one of the best suburbs in the Orlando area. With a strong public school system, great year-round weather, a diverse population, and numerous outdoor activities, it’s the perfect spot for young professionals and families looking to settle in Central Florida.

The town was originally designed around an 11-acre park called Central Park, and the park’s main street, appropriately named Park Avenue, is a cultural gem. It is home to many notable boutiques, cafes, and museums as well as the location of the nationally-recognized Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival.

Winter Park real estate is sure to have something for everyone. It’s a particularly competitive market, with homes selling, on average, just eight days after listing. If you’re hoping to join the nearly 31,000 residents who call Winter Park home, get ready to bid high: Over 33 percent of homes recently sold have closed for above list price.

You can find four previous installments of this blog series below:

Let The Urban Dog Group help you with your real estate needs in Winter Park and other areas of Central Florida! Contact Christine Elias at


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