An alternative view on the year

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This is Mrs. Patton. My mother worked at Rollins College, also as a maid, and Mrs. Patton was the housemother. Mrs. Patton was very kind to my mom, one of the few people that were. She was really kind, and she treated all of us Ã? gave all us gifts every Christmas. She was very concerned about her maid, Jeannie Walker, and she took care of the girls. Mrs. Patton made sure that the girls used my mom to do their ironing, which she did on weekends. That's how my mom made extra money to keep up with her bills. With the amount of money she was making, she was only making $25.00 a week, so the ironing put her salary up a little bit more. And so we just say thank you to Mrs. Patton.

Mrs. Carol Walker Everett
Teacher, Dr. Phillips High School
Lifelong Resident West Winter Park
February 16, 2002

"We can't look at now until we look at where we come from," says Peter Schreyer of the Crealdé School of Art. "I think this is where history, heritage and art really connect to give us an opportunity to slow down and really look at the beauty that is here and the richness in community life that is here."

And west Winter Park is one place where Schreyer has proven his theory.

Except for the rain that dampened attendance, the second annual Unity Heritage Festival, held Jan. 18 and 19 in Hannibal Square, with homegrown music, vendors and food in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr., represented a community moving forward as it embraces the past.

And some credit is due to Schreyer, who, in 1995, backed by a grant from the Winter Park Library, focused his camera on the black community. Developers were already closing in on the dying neighborhood, which was built on prime Winter Park real estate, much to the outrage of the families, some of whom had roots that dated back to the late 1800s. Schreyer went to work, capturing people and places that would soon be gone -- claimed by either death or taxes.

And though Schreyer would be loath to credit himself with inspiring a community, let's say that the results of his personal interest and research were empowering to many proud residents, such as businessman Robert Knight, who owns Sportz Inn, and Ronnie Moore, who works for the city of Winter Park.

Schreyer believed that if the history got lost, so would the essence of the community of people who lived there. And it would be a loss to everyone.

Later Schreyer would return under the auspices of Crealdé, armed with another grant (this time from the Community Foundation of Central Florida), leading the charge for "The Heritage Project," which debuted in January 2003.

Schreyer served as documentary photographer on a team that included historians, an anthropologist and volunteers who scoured the community for any vintage photos that could help piece together the community's history. Each historic photograph selected was paired with text edited from an oral history and a portrait of the person who shared the story.

The initial exhibition of "The Heritage Project" was a huge success; mounted on the walls of the Winter Park Community Center, it still draws frequent visitations, reports Moore.

That first showing was when Knight started to get serious about building a permanent home for the collection. Knight and Moore threw together the first Unity Heritage Festival in 2003 as a means of uniting the residents and the businesses, and raising community awareness.

Fortunately, funding came through for the second phase of "The Heritage Project." The new work was unveiled at last weekend's Unity Heritage Festival, with even more businesses and residents involved.

"Of the newer pictures we discovered," says Schreyer, "there was one of an old man, in the '60s and '70s, who was famous. A man who had a mule with a little wagon, and I think originally he was making deliveries. Later on, I think when he was retired, it was more like a fun thing, he let the children ride on it and so forth. There were so many people, black and white, who know about that man and remember him. There were newspaper stories about him but there no pictures of him in any archive or anything. Well, we found two pictures of him."

Knight says that next year, the Unity Heritage Festival will promote itself beyond the boundaries of west Winter Park. Hopefully, there will be an unveiling of Phase Three of "The Heritage Project" -- and perhaps an update on that permanent home for the collection.

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