Latest Issue: November 2014
Happy 90th Birthday, Belle Isle!
“You get a line, I’ll get a pole, honey!” As the old Southern folk song goes, fishermen have always been lured to our lakes hook, line and sinker, and of course, sailors and water skiers too. Belle Isle is all about the water! In fact, the City is made up of 54% water. In 1924, the government of Belle Isle was established because of, what else, the water! The job at hand was the preservation of the pristine waters of Lake Conway. The new citizens unanimously voted on the city’s name, which means “beautiful island,” and now, ninety years later, Belle Isle is still a little gem nestled around the water! It was once said, “Each memory we keep with care means future happiness to share.” Linda Thomas Beery, of the Thomas Lumber family, fondly remembers summer vacations in Belle Isle.Her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Thomas Sr., would pack up the children and maids for a trek out of town, and out of the heat! The family only had to travel the distance from Downtown Orlando, but to Linda, it was a really big event. “At that time, Lake Conway seemed remote and far away,” she reminisces. “We would spend the summer at the family camp, which was really a big house on the lake.”
Another long-time Belle Islander, Ryan Heath, recalls riding in his uncle’s 1940 Studebaker to go swimming at Scotchman’sBeach. This popular beach was so named because the Scottish were considered frugal, and, while nearby Pleasure Beach had an admission price of 25 cents, Scotchman’s Beach was free. Back in the day, to get to this particular swimming hole, they would travel down a two- lane Conway Road, go around the Conway Circle (an early version of a roundabout), and head west on Hoffner Avenue. The white-sand beach and cool, sparkling water brought refreshment during the hot summers of the ‘40s and ‘50s. By 1960, private addresses were replacing the public beach. The Kuck family, founders of Regal Boats, built their home on the two lots that used to be called Scotchman’s Beach. In fact, the original flag pole still stands there today!
Long before ski boats were popular, a common sight on Lake Conway was sailboats dancing and flying across the water. Even prior to the Orlando Yacht Club’s regattas of the 1930s, William Wallace Harney, a poet who was one of the original settlers, wrote about the scattering of sailboats on Lake Conway. Many others will remember the coquina-rock building that housed the Yacht Club. This building was used for Belle Isle elections and as a local meeting place all the way into the 1990s.
Through the years, memories as well as urban legends, have been shared about life on this beautiful isle. One such enigma was the glinting shards of glass lining the top of the concrete block wall along Hoffner, surrounding what is now the home of William Price. For decades, there has been much speculation about that sharp, bauble encrusted header atop the high wall. Was the intimidating wall meant to keep prying eyes away from possible mafia activity? “Not so,” says Marnay Meredith Coleman, who grew up next door. In the 1930s and early 1940s, her sanctuary was surrounded by huge, elegant oak trees, giving it the name Merewood , which means “forest by the water. “ Most people now would recognize this as the Chapin’s residence. When the war began in 1941, the owners of the fortress had the glass menacingly placed on the wall to keep out possible invading German soldiers! No wonder, since it is rumored that this family had fled Nazi Germany! Included in the wall was a thick aqua-blue door complete with a lock for added protection and security. Apparently, war time had an unsettling effect on the lady of this dwelling, causing suspicion and angst against her neighbor. She even called the FBI to report that Marnay’s mother, Jane Meredith , was using a lantern to send signals to the Germans from her dock each night! When Marnay turned 14, her mother moved them to Downtown Orlando. She worried that a suitor would never travel as far as Belle Isle to date her daughter!
Yes, Belle Isle has always been, and still to this day is a charming community that embraces and cherishes one of the cleanest lakes in Central Florida. Many thanks to Mayor Bill Brooks and City Manager, Keith Severns, as well as the seven elected city commissioners who honorably serve the citizens. Belle Isle has always boasted some of the lowest taxes in Central Florida and has one of the lowest crime rates in the area, thanks to the dedicated Belle Isle Police Department. Many residents have been
heard to say, “We love Belle Isle.” Who wouldn’t want to live in such a magical place as this?Mark your calendars for Belle Isle’s 90th Birthday Celebration on Saturday, November 8th. It will be an exciting all day event so check the website for more information at www.cityofbelleislefl.org.
Cypress Grove Park’s Festival of Lights
Nov 08 2014
Ends in 27 days
Festival of Lights 6:30 PM Orange County Parks: Orange County Parks: Cypress Grove Park’s Festival of Lights Time: Dec. 8 - December 12, 2014 6:30 PM Location: Cypress Grove Park, 290 Holden Ave., Orlando Cypress Grove Park will be adorned with thousands of twinkling lights and holiday displays
Handel’s Messiah - 42nd Annual Performance
Nov 30 2014
3 pm At the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. The Messiah Choral Society, conducted by Dr John V. Sinclair with professional soloist and & ochestra. Free Adnission, no tickets needed. You can help feed the hungry during the Holidays by bringing a nonperishable canned/packaged food to the performace to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank. Visit our website for more information: messiahchoralsociety.org
Handel’s Messiah - 42nd Annual Performance
Nov 30 2014
3 pm At the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. The Messiah Choral Society, conducted by Dr John V. Sinclair with professional soloist and & ochestra. Free Admission, no tickets needed. You can help feed the hungry during the Holidays by bringing a nonperishable canned/packaged food to the performace to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank. Visit our website for more information: messiahchoralsociety.org
105 Years of Service
Jan 18 2015
9:30 Conway First Baptist Church will be celebrating 105 years of serving Christ in the heart of Conway. Mark your calendar to join us for homecoming on Sunday, January 18 at 10:30. Meet and greet at 9:30 to 10:15. Questions may be directed to the church office at 407-277-3040. Conway First Baptist Church.4000 S. Conway Rd. Orlando, Fl. 32812-8050.