The Winter Park Library began when nine women, all "well educated, capable, energetic, and affluent, came together on the morning of December 9, 1885, to affix the stamp of organization to the Winter Park Circulating Library Association." The nine women were: Mrs. Elizabeth Hooker, Miss Evaline Lamson, Mrs. W.O. Cady, Miss Mary McClure, Miss Alice Guild, Mrs. C.J. Ladd, Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Cook, and Miss Mary Brown. The Congregational Church parsonage was the site for the organizational meeting.
The Early Days
The porch and hall of the Lamson house was the first site of the newly-formed library. The house was located at 503 Interlachen Avenue, near the corner of Interlachen and Swoope Avenues.
On January 31, 1900, Eleanora Comstock, president of the Winter Park Circulating Library Association, called a special meeting to consider a building and a lot for the library. The Association moved forward with a fund raising campaign. By February of 1901 a subscription list for the building fund showed that 24 individuals pledged $1,216 toward building a library. The building committee contracted to build a public library building, 24 by 50 feet in size, at a cost of $1,600.00. The property on Interlachen Avenue was donated by the Francis Knowles Estate. The building plans were drawn by Boston architect, George D. Rand, and the library was opened the last week of April, 1902.
A New Location
In May 1975, Library Board president, Rachel Murrah, presented the idea of building an entirely new facility at another location. In September of 1976, the city purchased property at 460 East New England Avenue for a new library building. In July 1977, the Library recieved a grant for construction of a new building. The new building was serving the public well but it became apparent that expansion was necessary. A 1.5 million dollar project to add a third floor and renovate the first two floors was begun in 1994. This project would add approximately 11,000 square feet to the existing building and would provide opportunities for expanded services, particularly to Winter Park youth between the ages of 12 and 18.
In 2013, Shawn Shaffer became the Library’s new Director. During Shaffer’s tenure, a multi-year campaign to build a new state-of-the-art library facility took place. In 2016, a bond referendum was passed and planning began for a new facility. After Shaffer's departure in 2018, the Library's Board named Cynthia Wood as Interim Director. In 2019, Sabrina Bernat became the Library's new Executive Director. The Library's new facility opened in December 2021. It was designed by acclaimed architect Sir David Adjaye, and is located on the corner of Morse Boulevard and Harper Street. The new facility features more spaces and improved places, with a design that is both magnetic and vibrant—a true 21st century library for Winter Park. Over a century ago, several women with ideas and tenacity began this library, a library that continues today with much the same spirit. Winter Park Library continues to guide learning, connect people, and strengthen community