The small city of Fruitland Park, Florida, has a unique history of British clubs, horse racing, a casino and a church built of domes. Test your knowledge about this quiet southern town.
Why did Fruitland Park have two names at once (Fruitland Park and Gardenia)?
A. The townspeople could not agree to one name.
B. The postal authorities did not approve the name Fruitland Park, but the railroad authorities did.
Correct answer: B. Postal authorities did not approve the name Fruitland Park because there was already a Fruitland in Florida. But the railroad authorities would not change the name to Gardenia on its literature. From 1884 to 1888, all mail was addressed to Gardenia, but railroad freight was addressed to Fruitland Park. Finally, the postal authorities approved the name of Fruitland Park in 1888.
What was the Bucket and Dipper Club?
A. Only British people were allowed to join this club where the only refreshment was water dipped from a bucket.
B. People who came to a wishing well to drink its water were said to belong to this club.
Correct answer: A. People of British birth and their children were allowed to join and participate in parties, dances and theatre. This was part of the so-called English Colony, a settlement on Zephyr Lake (formerly Skillet Pond). A large boarding house called Zephyr Hall was built by the lake. The English Colony included stables for the American, British and Colonial Racing Association, which conducted horse races and fox hunts.
From whom did the Episcopalians buy land for their church?
A. A member of the African-American community called Tannersville.
B. A member of the English Colony.
Correct answer: A. Land for Holy Trinity Episcopal Church was purchased from Sam Tanner, a member of the large Tanner family that homesteaded many acres in Fruitland Park. The church, located at 2201 Spring Lake Road, was built in 1888 for $2,150 in the Carpenter Gothic architectural style. The lych gate, modeled after lych gates used in British churchyards, is the oldest in Florida. The traditional use of the lych gate was to rest a coffin there on its way to the graveyard. “Lich” is the Scottish world for “corpse.” Hitching rings for horses may be seen in some trees by the church. It was customary for some horse riders to race at the English Colony after church services. The church belongs to the National Register for Historic Places.
What was the name of the community that was abandoned?
Correct answer: A. Chetwynd was started in 1886. For awhile it was a thriving community with a post office, stores and a hotel near Lake Ella. But after a short time, the community proved to be a bust for the New York syndicate that promoted it.
Which agricultural products were successfully grown in Fruitland Park in the 1880s?
A. Tulips and lilacs.
B. Olives, pineapples and citrus.
Correct answer: B. Horticulturist Orlando P. Rooks moved to Fruitland Park for his health in 1877. He had the first nursery in the town. In this nursery that covered several acres, he grew olives, pineapples and citrus.
How did Fruitland Park residents persuade the railroad to come through Fruitland Park?
A. They offered to build the Gardenia Hotel by the depot.
B. The town granted 160 acres to the railroad.
Correct answer: B. Originally the railroad had planned to go east of Fruitland Park. The narrow gauge railroad reached Fruitland Park in 1883. Standard gauge tracks replaced it in 1896.
After the town was incorporated in 1925, why were town meetings held in a casino?
A. The casino was used for community gatherings.
B. The town leaders were fun-loving.
Correct answer: A. According to historian Steve Rajtar, the casino that was built in 1914 was used for a variety of community uses, including theatre productions. It boasted electric lights, running water, and steam heat. It is now used as a community recreation center and continues to be called the Casino.
How was the land in Lake Griffin State Park used before the Europeans settled there?
A. Native Americans used it as a stopping point on trading trips.
B. Native Americans used it for burial mounds.
Correct answer: A. The land was convenient to the Oklawaha River and the St. Johns River.
Why was Pilgrims’ United Church of Christ built with monolithic domes?
A. It was the cheapest building design.
B. The domes have religious significance.
Correct answer: A. According to the church’s web site, the domes were the least expensive building design. Also, the insulation in the domes has reduced heating and cooling bills. The problem of noise reverberations inside the domes was solved with carpeting, banners, and upholstered furniture.
The settlers of Fruitland Park, from the first settler in 1876 to the present day, have shown resourcefulness and creativity in their endeavors. The city has survived major freezes and the disbandment of communities. Today it has a state park and community services that maintain the quality of life in this small Florida city.