Past Articles and Articles of Interest from Members…
GREAT THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN PINE CASTLE
It is said that dreams create the future. Today, a multitude of dreams are coming together to
create a great future for Historic Pine Castle (Belle Isle, Conway, Edgewood and Pine Castle). This
Historic Pine Castle area was the birthplace of Orlando but its very significant history has been
lost in the mists of “progress.” The following organizations and businesses are out to change that!
When a car crashed through one wall of the Pine Castle Woman’s Club, we were forced to close for a
year and renovate our venerable clubhouse, proving that a tired old building can become a community
showplace! Our “Memory Garden” now honors local residents; our Corner Rose Tea Room, which raises
money for the Russell Home for Atypical Children, has become famous. We mount quarterly history
exhibits in our clubhouse. We honor two old timers each month as “Pine Castle Pioneers”; we have
published two important books on Orange County history; and we founded the Pine Castle Historical
Society. We worked with Fulvio Romano of Rabits and Romano Architects, to renovate our 50+ year old
kitchen in order to better serve the community.
The Russell Home, which is recognized as one of Florida’s best homes for “Atypical Children” of all
ages, recently doubled the size of their facility. When the state realized that they were a home
for both children and adults they faced having to remove one of the groups. After a multitude of
phone calls and letters to state officials by area residents, a compromise was worked out and the
state awarded them $1,000,000.00!
The Pine Castle Historical Society was organized by the Pine Castle Woman’s Club in 2014 with the
goal of preserving local history through the publication of books and other printed materials. When
we learned that one of the area’s few remaining old country homes was slated for demolition we
voted to try to save it. We saved the house and moved it to a lot in Old Pine Castle where we are
working to create a much needed hometown history center, the Pine Castle History Center. We hold an
annual BBQ, Beer and Barn dancing every October to help raise funds for this center.
SunRail opened in 2015 and the Pine Castle Station in South Orange County now has the largest
ridership. SunRail reports that plans are in development for an east/west line which will connect
the Airport with the Convention Center and that Pine Castle will be the Hub. This portends major
development in our area.
The Orange County Planning Department holds monthly meetings at the Pine Castle Woman’s Club to
solicit input from local residents and businesses regarding their redevelopment plan for the South
Orange Avenue area. Plans include: changes in zoning laws to make it quicker and easier to develop
new businesses; incorporation of mixed use areas; creative ways to combine water retention areas
into attractive landscaping plans; increased landscaping along Orange Avenue; and creative planning
for speed reduction.
The cities of Edgewood and Belle Isle have both completed major projects which benefit South
Orlando. Beautiful Bagshaw Park is in constant use for all types of community gatherings and they
have improved the intersection at Holden/ Gatlin and South Orange. Belle Isle is now the home of an
excellent charter school, Cornerstone Academy and Cornerstone High School. Both cities are
cooperating in ways to benefit the community and both are represented on the Boards of the Pine
Castle Historical Society.
Many new businesses are relocating on South Orange Avenue and a number are expanding and/or
upgrading their facilities.
And last, but not least, the South Orange Chamber of Commerce is a dynamic force in the community
offering excellent speakers at their monthly “Lunch & Learn” meetings and providing networking
opportunities for members at monthly “After Hours” meetings held at area businesses.
You are invited to become active in one or more of these groups and help put Historic Pine Castle
back on the map of Orange County!