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Discover Oakland during its heyday as the headquarters of the Orange Belt Railroad with a thriving business district and opera house and learn about the repercussions the Great Freeze of 1895 had on the town’s progress in becoming a major city in Florida. “Est. 1887,” the new exhibit at the Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center, explores Oakland’s history as an industrial and social hub of Orange County 135 years ago.
Featuring historic photographs, documents, and artifacts, “Est. 1887” traces the origins of the Town of Oakland and the major players behind its founding, like Peter Demens, an enterprising Russian immigrant with goals to build a railroad from the St. Johns River to Tampa, and James Gamble Speer, a landowner with dreams of a flourishing town on the southern shore of Lake Apopka.
Local Central Florida artists, including Joseph Warren, David Minichiello, Anne Fanelli, Heather Lorenz, and Mike Jakubowski, display complementary artwork highlighting the area’s unique charm and natural beauty.
Displays feature artifacts relating to Oakland’s incorporation and include historic minute books giving a glimpse into early government operations, the original Town seal, century-old railroad ties, and more. Visitors may also view the Center’s cornerstone, the historic Oakland Presbyterian Church’s beautifully illuminated stained-glass window, dating back to the 1919 brick structure.
The exhibit opens on Friday, April 1. The Center, located at 126 W. Petris Ave., is open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and during special Town events, like Celebration Among the Oaks on Saturday, April 9 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. For more information, visit www.oaklandfl.gov/artsandheritage.