A Trip to Sanford, Florida

YOU ARE WHERE?  The orange-colored county is Seminole, Florida’s fourth smallest. There are an awful lot of us jammed in here– just over 400,000 souls– but there are a lot of green areas where they won’t be building any subdivisions any time soon. We live in the little corner of Seminole County just east of unincorporated Goldenrod, and just south of a little bit of Maitland; if I drive ten seconds south on 436, I’m already in Orange County (yellow). Sanford is located on the south shore of the large lake at the top of the map, which is Lake Monroe.

I go up every week or so to the town of Sanford, the county seat, for a Latin service. No, it doesn’t involve my dancing around in a toreador outfit with a hat trimmed in ball fringe and clutching a rose in my teeth; it’s the 1962 pre-Vatican II Latin Mass which still survives in the hearts of cranks like myself. I sang it in choir for almost five years, and I tried to quit once, but Sister  Mary Saint Claire wouldn’t let me. “You don’t want to grow up to be a quitter,” she said. “So I won’t let you quit.” I like to think that she forced me to stay in choir because my voice rivaled Julie Andrews’, but that’s probably not the case: I was cute then, and looked good in group photos.

Sanford is an old river town that’s never quite been totally gentrified to yuppie extremes, but you’ll still find a lot of big, dignified houses downtown. You’ll see many of them on Park Avenue. There are a lot of houses that look like this one:

When you see a house like that, you’re inspired to paint, write, take long walks through the quiet streets, or find a porch and do some reading. There’s a calm that lays over the residential areas.

Look at that upstairs gallery– there’s a bench where you can take a nap– an excellent suggestion!

And look at this place below; it’s being rehabbed even as I type. I hope they’re going to get rid of that second floor room that’s strapped onto the columns because that Greek revival portico needs to be free and clear.

A friend of mine lived in this next little house; she was one of the first people I knew who moved up there to fix up a place. It looks very different from the way she had it, which was much closer to the original plan.

And look at this beautiful gem:

The following are various shots from the downtown business district, now a collection of antiques shops, boutiques, etc. What struck me about the antiques shops? Twenty years ago I would have obsessed about buying Fiesta, Depression glass, Hull pottery, and refrigerator ware. Now I’m like let somebody else buy it. It’s amazing how free of collecting and accumulating I’ve become. How liberating… but how bad I am for downtown Sanford’s business model.

This is a side view of the 1887 Pico Building… and it’s for sale! It says that it’s available for office space, but I picture a lot of artists living in here; the light hitting the windows seems perfect. Offices, schmoffices… we need more artists.

Here’s the back door to the Masonic Temple. Doesn’t an unassuming little door like that make you want to go inside? I know I want to, and I don’t believe half the things that go on inside Masonic temples. Sssshhh… you’re not supposed to tell.

And on the side of the building is this parking space sign:

I was tempted to move my car into that  spot. After all, I can be masterful and I’m certainly worshiped on occasion, but I didn’t want to risk getting a ticket, or being towed. Who knows what troubles I would encounter! I’ve seen all those movies about southern judges, and I know all the lyrics to The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, so I kept my car where it was.

And here are some stained glass windows that have been restored and placed back inside All Souls, bit by bit. At the end of Sunday mass, everybody sings Holy God We Praise Thy Name,  a cappella, which means that the sixty congregants are singing in eighteen different keys. Some would call that charming; I call it Purgatory.

I think this was a good introduction to Sanford. Now that I am once again in possession of a camera, I think the next thing to do is drive up there and then get on the bicycle and do some further exploring. It’s the sort of little town that has something interesting lurking around every corner and down every shady lane.


14 responses

  1. Love the photos. I also have to say I agree with your thoughts on collecting. I have a closet full of Nippon and Carnival glass and now I feel all this stuff does is make you dust and tie you down.

  2. If Latin services really did involve you dancing around in a toreador outfit with a hat trimmed in ball fringe and clutching a rose in my teeth I would be there every week!

    Thanks for the tour. I would love to take that bike ride with you some day.

  3. Thanks Jimmy…Back in the 70’s some friends of mine lived in the 5th house down. Sanford, my hometown, was a wonderful place to grow up…

  4. Isn’t having a new camera fantastic. You begin to look at your known world closer, and unknown as well. The pictures are very good. I was watch Ovation just yesterday, a 2 hour special on Annie Leibovitz. The clarity of black and white! I think I need to formally begin the search for a camera. Thanks as always for your words, Jimmy.

  5. I am really enjoying the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility issues? A few of my blog audience have complained about my website not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome. Do you have any suggestions to help fix this problem?

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