Winter Garden Heritage Foundation
Former ACL Depot, now the Winter Garden Heritage Museum headquarters.
|Location||Winter Garden, Florida|
The WGHF operates two museums in Winter Garden, Florida: the Winter Garden Heritage Museum and the Central Florida Railroad Museum. The History Center is the headquarters for the WGHF, and serves as a family research center and administrative offices. The foundation also operates the Garden Theatre.
Activities of the WGHF include the identification, documentation, evaluation and protection of West Orange County's cultural and physical history and character. Public education in the form of a fully accredited school visitation program, theatre programs, historic walking tours, heritage events, historic workshops, displays, written resource materials and presentations.
Winter Garden Heritage Museum
The Winter Garden Heritage Museum is located in the 1918 Atlantic Coast Line train depot in downtown Winter Garden. The museum focuses on the history and culture of the area, with exhibits including local citrus labels, Native American artifacts, railroad memorabilia and historic photographs.
In 2008, the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation completed the restoration of the Garden Theatre, located at 160 West Plant Street in historic downtown Winter Garden, Florida. Originally operated as a movie theatre, it opened in 1935. The interior was complete with a Spanish tile courtyard, "Romeo and Juliet" balconies, and lanterns in the windows over the proscenium arch with palm trees decorating either side of it. The ceiling of the theatre was dark blue, resplendent with stars. Several renovations changed the face of the theatre until it closed in 1962, as movie attendance declined in the new age of television. The Foundation acquired the building January 1, 2004 through an operating agreement with the City of Winter Garden.
The Foundation's goal and vision is two-fold. The first goal is to restore this historic building back to its original architectural simplicity, in keeping with the character and revitalization of historic downtown Winter Garden, making the building an authentic period piece. The second is to become the heartbeat of the city as a performing arts center, movie theatre and multi-purpose venue.