Tuesday, 03 February 2004
The Edgewater Hotel, located in Winter Garden, Florida, which is home to a quaint bed and breakfast style inn, is the headquarters for Hands In Art, Inc. and the production facility for puppetkit.com. Recently, on the city's 100th birthday, The Edgewater reopened its doors to welcome guests into its 22 beautifully restored hotel rooms and small companies into its several renovated business suites. Besides Hands In Art, the Edgewater Hotel is home to Wavelight Digital, a Digital Graphics and Computer Animation company. Though this shiny building seems as if it has stood glowing for all of its years, if these walls could talk they would tell of a triumphant story that began with an ambitious dream by two enterprising partners, Max Blanchard and Michael Lanza, who were looking for a place to house their growing video production business.
While searching in Winter Garden for that perfect place to move their business, Max was quoted as saying, "This is it!" and began excitedly planning the restoration process of a building that would seem to anyone else a lost cause. Although the Edgewater Hotel had opened on January 26th, 1927 and was a working hotel for 44 years, it was shut down in 1971 and remained closed for 32 years. During that time the elements took their toll on the exterior and interior of the building and made its appearance so unappealing there was a vote by the city to have the building torn down. The motion wasn't passed, however, due to the efforts of The Heritage Foundation and their movement to make it a property of the National Registry of Historic Places. When Max and Mike happened onto it in 1995 the city was anxious for a group to take on the task of nurturing the Edgewater Hotel from its dilapidated condition into a polished reflection of its former self.
The good news was, for all its visible faults, the building's structure was still strong. A structural analysis proved that the building was as sound as ever. The bad news was that there was significant damage to door casings, windows, and window frames, not to mention the walls, floors, and ceilings.
As time passed the two partners drew upon their past experiences and helpful family and friends to clean up the debris left by years of neglect, some unwarranted additions to the wall structures by small businesses and homeless people, and flocks of untidy pigeons. By September 28th, 1996, their one year anniversary at the hotel, Max and Mike opened up the doors to curious townsfolk for a glimpse inside the first floor of the Edgewater and a nostalgic walk through a gallery of photos provided by long-time family residents of Winter Garden. They knew they had their work still cut out for them, but for the moment the two partners could see the fruits of their labor in the tearful eyes of their reflective neighbors as they reminisced of a simpler time.
Seven years and 72 tons of refuse later the Edgewater Hotel stands nestled in the heart of Winter Garden. From a distance or up close you would never know the near tragic story that could be apart of this old town's history. If not for the care and vision taken by two unsuspecting men the residents of Winter Garden may have never seen the rebirth of this great building and the loving effort to make her again the proud gathering place she once was.
||On January 26th, 1927, the Edgewater Hotel opened its doors for the first time. Because of Winter Garden's temperate winter climate and proximity to some of the best fishing in Florida, the Edgewater became a popular destination for businessmen and families from farther north, even hosting the Washington Senators during several seasons of Spring Training.
Promoted as one of the safest and most technologically advanced hotels of its time, the Edgewater's entire 30,000 foot floorplan was protected by an automatic sprinkler system. In addition, the Edgewater had the area's first manually operated Otis elevator (which is in perfect condition and is still in operation today).
This is a photo of the hotel circa 1927.
||Restored to its 1920's splendor, today's Edgewater hotel is a fantastic experience for anyone headed toward central Florida. Its restaurant is hard to resist. Choctaw Willy's serves up its Famous Unusually Fine Barbeque and offers a relaxing family-style dining experience. And the availability of local activities makes the Edgewater a perfect place to stay.
To find out more, you can visit the Edgewater online at historicedgewater.com, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 407-654-6921. People often confuse Winter Garden with Winter Park. The Edgewater Hotel is conveniently located 14 miles west of downtown Orlando.