Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Capen House


On June 6th, there was a Winter Park City Commission Meeting in which the fate of the Capen House was litigated. The 128 year old Winter Park home was built by James Caspen who came from Illinois. He worked towards making Winter Park a solid community. He was the secretary for the Winter Park Land Company which was and still is the largest land owning company in town. He also served as commissioner on the town council.

The home was granted a historic designation in 2011 but Sun Trust Bank, the mortgage holder on the property had that historic designation revoked.  Clardy Malugen, the owner at the time had registered the historic home during the foreclosure process. The new owners, John and Betsy Pokorny want to demolish the lake front home to erect a bigger mansion. At the June 6th meeting the Pokorny's attorney granted a postponement of the demolition for 30 days so that options could be considered for preserving the house.

The Friends of Casa Feliz are working on finding a way to preserve the historic home. Casa Feliz had itself once been threatened with demolition. The entire brick building had been moved to it's new site on Park Avenue next to the golf course. The Friends encourage public dialogue that is thoughtful, considerate, and inclusive. It is the Friends' goal to find a solution to the precarious situation surrounding the Capen House, not to assign blame.Groups of concerned citizens have congregated on Facebook and other web platforms to advocate for 'saving' the Capen House.

Large hedges obstruct most views of the house at 501 Interlacken Drive in Winter Park. Several "Private Property" signs along with a chain blocking the driveway discouraged me from sketching a full view of the home. I sat on the driveway to sketch the best view available. There was a demolition notice on the garage door. A huge live oak spread it's ancient roots deep. Storm clouds rolled in as I sketched. I worked as fast as I could till rain drops started hitting the page. I packed the sketchbook away in my art supply bag and sprinted the mile or so back to my car. I had forgotten to bring an umbrella. As I write this, on July 6th the 30 day postponement is over. I'll have to go back and see if I sketch the home or bulldozers.

P.S. As of July 12th, 2013, the historic home might be moved across the lake to the Albin Polasek museum as it's new home.

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