Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dr. Phillips House


On December 13th I went to sketch the Doctor Phillips House built in 1893. It is located at the courtyard at Lake Lucerne, 211 N. Lucerne Circle, Orlando FL, just south of the New Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts downtown. It is dwarfed by the ramps and overpasses of the East West Expressway at the end of a dead end street. It seems out of place, a refuge among the urban sprawl all around it.

Dr. P. Phillips is a Central Florida legend who was a major force in the development of the Orlando area. His past is seasoned with interesting and controversial tales, but whether he was a saint or a tyrant, all agree he made an enormous impact on The City Beautiful.

In 1912 the Dr. Phillips family moved into the Peckham House. The house was remodeled according to the specifications of the Dr.'s wife, Della, by Philadelphia architect L. Percival Hutton. The work included the removal of a two-story porch which was replaced with a large portico on the outside. The interior was modernized with electricity to replace the gas-burning lights. A cellar and two bathrooms were added to the main house, while a carriage house was built for their two sons. This included a second floor ballroom where live entertainment was featured every few weeks. The carriage house and the ballroom were destroyed over the years when local fraternities were housed there.

Dr. and Mrs. Phillips were prominent supporters of the arts in Central Florida. They formed the Mendelssohn Club, a forerunner of The Florida Symphony Orchestra and the mansion was host to many Sunday afternoon musicales for members of the community. These events featured concerts by celebrated musicians from around the world followed by sumptuous buffet suppers, and were Orlando's main society events at that time.

Today, Dr. Phillips, Inc. and The Dr. Phillips Foundation continue the work which was started nearly a century ago. The profits realized by Dr. Phillips, Inc. are returned to the community by the Dr. Phillips Foundation in the form of gifts and grants to educational, cultural, and charitable organizations ensuring that Central Florida continues to reap the benefits of "Doc's" work.  A gift from the Dr. Phillips Foundation provided the seed money to turn the old power plant into Lake Ivanhoe into the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts.

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