LAKE LAWSONA HISTORIC DISTRICT
The Lake Lawsona Historic District contains approximately 500 buildings that date back from 1911 to the 1950s. The Lake Lawsona Historic District represents a diverse mix of structures that represent a window into the development patterns of Orlando during this time.
Encompassing the neighborhoods of Lawsona/Fern Creek and Thornton Park, the Lake Lawsona Historic District was established in 1994 as a local historic district. Platted and developed between 1911 and the 1950s, the district contains approximately 500 buildings and is illustrative of the growth patterns of the city in the first half of this century with its mix of residential, educational and commercial structures.
A variety of architectural styles and forms can be found in the district including bungalows, Craftsman, Minimal Traditional and Colonial, Mediterranean, Mission, Neoclassical, and Tudor revivals. Bungalows are the predominant contributing structures in the district.
Three sites within the Lake Lawsona Historic District have been recognized as local historic landmarks. They are H.H. Dickson Azalea Park (1935), the Washington Street Bridge (1926) and Orlando High School, now Howard Middle School (1927).
Dickson Azalea Park is named for a city beautification advocate and co-founder of one of Orlando’s earliest department stores, Dickson-Ives. The park consists of five acres of lush vegetation through which Fern Creek flows. Rustic stairs and walls direct the visitor through the park and out of the ravine. Above the creek’s embankment is the Girl Scout Little House (1940) at 119 North Celia Lane, which has served as a clubhouse for more than half a century. Just south of the Girl Scout Little House is the Beaux Arts-influenced Washington Street Bridge which traverses the park and Fern Creek.
The Neoclassical Revival Orlando High School is located at 800 East Robinson Street. The last class graduated in 1952 when Boone and Edgewater high schools opened. Distinguished alumni include astronaut John Young, former Orlando mayor Carl T. Langford, actor Buddy Ebsen, and Nobel Prize winner for medicine, Dr. Marshall W. Nirenberg.
Before you make certain exterior changes to your property, a Certificate of Appropriateness must first be issued by the Historic Preservation Board. Exterior changes that will minimally impact the appearance of a structure such as re-roofing, fences, paving, and repair with matching materials can be expedited by the Minor Review Committee of the Board in 2 to 10 days. Major modifications that would significantly impact a property in the district, such as alterations, additions, new construction, relocation, and demolition, require a hearing of the Board for approval. Expect approximately seven weeks from the closing date until the Certificate of Appropriateness is issued. The City charges a $50 fee for a Certificate of Appropriateness.
There are exceptions to these requirements. Approval does not have to be obtained for landscaping; any change to the exterior that is not subject to view from one or more public streets, parks or lakes; color; and emergency repair that will not change the exterior design. In addition, chain link fences may not be installed where they are visible from the street, parks or lakes.
The City takes an active role in preserving the architectural heritage of the Lake Lawsona Historic District and offers a property tax exemption for contributing buildings in the district. The property tax exemption is to encourage property owners to substantially rehabilitate contributing structures in the district. This 10-year exemption applies to 100% of the City’s portion of the property taxes attributed to the increase in property value due to rehabilitation. The exemption period remains intact with the sale of the property.
For further information regarding the Lake Lawsona Historic District or questions concerning modifications to structures or property within the district, contact the Historic Preservation Officer at 407.246.3350, or the Historic Preservation Board recording secretary at 407.246.3416. The Office of Permitting Services, located on the ground floor of City Hall, can assist you with questions regarding the necessary permit(s) for your project. Contact Permitting at 407.246.2271.