New Exhibit: The Building and Beyond: Orlando’s Post Office and Its Evolving Community

From its construction onward, the Downtown Orlando Post Office has been a physical symbol of the growing and evolving city that surrounds it. Opened in 1941, the post office experienced many changes that reflected national and local social and economic transformations. Demographic shifts, wars, economic booms and downturns, and social conflicts were reflected in the history of the Orlando Post Office. This exhibit examines the impact of some of these changes on the building itself and the people who worked there or used the agency’s services. Viewing the building over time allows us to see the impact it had on Orlando and to glimpse a reflection of the city itself. The post office building was more than just a government edifice; it became a symbol of the city that surrounds it.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Orlando was remarkably different from the city that is is today. The local economy, which relied on the citrus industry, had survived two devastating freezes in the winter of 1894-1895 to develop into a bustling town by 1900. As growth continued in the 1910s and 1920s, Orlando faced numerous infrastructural and logistical challenges. When the post office at Jefferson Street was conceived in the mid-1930s, it became a symbol of economic revitalization that the city sorely needed in the depths of the Great Depression.

To explore this exhibit, please visit https://richesmi.cah.ucf.edu/omeka/exhibits/show/building.

New Release of RMI

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New Additions to the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation Collection

Dr. Mary Mcleod Bethune with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1953.

RICHES MI has added a number of photographs to the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation Collection. The Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation is located on the Bethune-Cookman University campus at 640 Doctor Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard in Daytona Beach, Florida. The foundation was established on March 17, 1953, as “a place to awaken people and to have them realize that there is something in the world they can do.”  The foundation is housed in the Mary McLeod Bethune Home, which was inhabited by educator and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955). Also known as “The Retreat,” the home was built by African American A. B. Raddick around 1905. In 1913, chemist James Norris Gamble and Thomas White of White Sewing Machine Company, purchased the home for Bethune. On December 2, 1974, the historic house was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. In 2006, the museum closed for renovation and conservation. It reopened in April of 2011.

New Collection – Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens Collection

Albín Polášek’s home and art studio in 1950.

We’ve added a new collection to RICHES MI: the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens Collection. This collection features photographs, oral histories, and other items donated by the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, located at 633 Osceola Avenue in Winter Park, Florida. Albin Polasek, known internationally for his sculptures, retired to Lake Osceola in Winter Park in 1950. The same year that he had moved to Florida, Polasek suffered from a stroke, which paralyzed the right side of his body. Seven months later, he married one of his former students, Ruth Sherwood, who died just two years later. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Polasek was able to create 18 major works in his later years. In 1961, he married Emily Muska Kubat and the set up the Albin Polasek Foundation, opening up the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, located in parts of Polasek’s home and studio, which featured his personal galleries, chapel, and gardens. On May 19, 1965, Polasek passed away and was buried beside his first wife at Palm Cemetery.